This is terrible
July 24, 2014
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The U.N. has stated that militant Islamic group ISIS has ordered all females, including women and young girls, in the northern Iraq city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation.

U.N. official Jacqueline Badcock told the BBC that the order applies to females aged 11 to 46. The edict could affect roughly four million women and girls, the U.N. estimates.

"This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists," Badcock told the BBC. Meanwhile, the U.N. General Assembly called for all its members to ban female genital mutilation in 2012.

ISIS seized Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, in June, and the order comes as militants expand their reach across northern Iraq.

Update: While the BBC and the U.N. have reported the ISIS decree, others question whether it is a hoax. Shiraz Maher, a senior fellow at King's College London, told The Independent that the order may be a false rumor spread by one of ISIS' adversaries. Meghan DeMaria

ISIS
5:02 a.m. ET

Islamic State controls a chunk of territory about the size of Belgium, and that territory doesn't govern itself. You probably already know about the self-proclaimed "caliph," Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but if you've ever been curious about the rest of ISIS's organizational chart, BBC News tries to fill in the blanks. Given the nature of ISIS, the BBC isn't able to provide a complete chart — al-Baghdadi's "inner circle is secretive and keeps changing as members are killed," BBC News notes — but it's an interesting look at the big picture, and in just 90 seconds. Watch below. —Peter Weber

Quotables
4:28 a.m. ET
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

If you are wondering how Art Garfunkel feels about erstwhile musical partner Paul Simon, Nigel Farndale at Britain's The Telegraph has a pretty candid interview with the singer-poet. "He's a hard man to get the measure of, Art Garfunkel," Farndale writes. "On the one hand he still seems eaten up by bitterness about his divorce from Paul Simon, yet he also talks about his old friend (they were at school together) with deep affection."

"I want to open up about this," Garfunkel told Farndale when he asked about Simon breaking up Simon & Garfunkel in 1970, at the height of their popularity.

I don't want to say any anti–Paul Simon things, but it seems very perverse to not enjoy the glory and walk away from it instead. Crazy. What I would have done is take a rest from Paul, because he was getting on my nerves. The jokes had run dry. But a rest of a year was all I needed. [Garfunkel]

Later in the interview, Garfunkel said that he is absolutely willing to tour with Simon again, as he has been since 1971. Then he seemed to rhetorically address Simon: "How can you walk away from this lucky place on top of the world, Paul? What's going on with you, you idiot? How could you let that go, jerk?"

Read the entire interview for Garfunkel's jaundiced views of Paul McCartney, his 1970s math-teaching career, and his fail-safe pickup line, among other revelations. But Garfunkel ended with a bang, suggesting that Simon has a Napoleon complex, that he befriended him in grade school because he felt sorry for his short stature, and that "that compensation gesture has created a monster." Peter Weber

It's about time
3:50 a.m. ET

"It tastes like beer," is pretty high praise for a non-alcoholic brew. It's also the surprise verdict of The Wall Street Journal's Emma Moody, when presented with Clausthaler's new Amber Dry Hopped near-beer. Reporter Charles Passy presented the non-alcoholic beer to show Memorial Day weekend drivers that there are alternatives to sparkling water or DWIs, but beer without a buzz is useful for people who aren't able to drink alcohol for whatever reason, like pregnancy or a desire to enjoy the day but drink beer with breakfast.

The usual problem with non-alcoholic beer is that it tastes awful, or at least nothing like beer. The addition of delicious Cascade hops (from Yakima, Washington, which Passy mangles — it's pronounced YEAH-kih-ma) appears to solve that problem. It isn't exactly an IPA, but it's pretty close, and "it's definitely drinkable," Moody says. "I think it's refreshing for a summer day," Passy adds. That's more than can be said of most alcohol-free beer. —Peter Weber

critically endangered
2:08 a.m. ET

Conservationists have a dire warning: Maui's dolphin, the smallest and rarest of the world's dolphins, could be extinct within 15 years if they are not better protected.

There are fewer than 50 Maui's dolphins left in the wild, researchers say, found only in the waters off New Zealand. The German conservation group Nabu said that fishing must be banned across their habitat so they won’t get caught in nets, or else their extinction is a "matter of when, not if," leader Dr. Barbara Mass told BBC News. These figures are a "loud wakeup call," she said. "New Zealand has to abandon its current stance, which places the interests of the fishing industry above biodiversity conservation, and finally protect the dolphins' habitat from harmful fishing nets, seismic airgun blasts, and oil and gas extraction."

Scientists estimate that five Maui's dolphins are killed every year by gillnets or trawling, and a spokesman for New Zealand's minister for conservation said the office would not comment until recommendations are made in June by the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission. Catherine Garcia

Watch this
1:56 a.m. ET

You've never heard "Roxanne" performed like this, probably. You can judge whether or not that's a good thing after watching the video below, from last Friday's Tonight Show. Barbershop is a new direction for the musically adventurous Sting, but when Jimmy Fallon gets a bit randy during the song, Sting showed that he, at least, is familiar with the genre. And if you don't like a barbershop treatment for The Police, well, at least it has Sting's stamp of acceptance. —Peter Weber

on the market
1:45 a.m. ET

If you've ever wanted to own your very own historic ghost town, act now: Johnsonville, Connecticut, is back on the market for $2.4 million, just a few months after it sold at auction for $1.9 million.

Listing agent Jim Kelly said the buyer's financing fell through, and now there are several interested parties, from individual investors to a solar power company to a religious summer camp. The town is spread across 62 acres, and in the 1830s was a hub of the twine industry, CBS News reports. Although twine was still produced in Johnsonville during World War I and II, by the 1960s, the town was deserted and millionaire Ray Schmitt purchased it with the intent of turning it into a tourist destination.

Wanting to make the town feel authentic, Schmitt dipped into his personal collection of Victorian items and placed them around town, and even bought buildings like a 19th century Quaker meetinghouse and brought them to Johnsonville. The tourist trap never took off and after Schmitt died in 1998, the plan changed to turn the town into a residential community for seniors, an idea that was eventually dropped. Whatever Johnsonville turns into in the future, buyer beware: It's rumored that the town is now haunted by the ghost of Schmitt. Catherine Garcia

wedding bells
1:33 a.m. ET

On Monday, Sen. Thad Cochran's office announced, in one terse sentence, that the 77-year-old Mississippi Republican had married longtime aide Kay Webber at a private ceremony on Saturday. The marriage comes five months after the death of Cochran's wife and a year after Cochran's re-election campaign denied rumors that the senator and his executive assistant were having an affair, during a heated GOP primary battle.

Webber "is a member of the staff and a trusted aide, and any other suggestion is silly gossip," spokesman Jordan Russell told Jackson, Mississippi's The Clarion-Ledger at the time. She is also Cochran's landlady, renting him the basement of her $1.6 million Washington townhouse, and accompanied him on at least 30 overseas trips between 2002 and 2014, for no apparent official reason, with her expenses costing taxpayers at least $150,000, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

Webber, 76, started working in Cochran's office in 1981, and earns about $140,000 to help arrange travel and constituent events, The Washington Post reports. A Cochran spokesman said Webber will continue working at her husband's office. Peter Weber

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