Baghdad bombing, border blame and sporty cable cutting
Today's INTERNATIONAL story
US kills Iran-backed militia leader in Baghdad
What happened? A U.S. drone strike Wednesday night killed a high-ranking commander of the Iran-backed Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah as his car drove through a busy Baghdad street. Kataib Hezbollah, the group the U.S. blames for an attack that killed three Army reservists in Jordan, identified the slain commander as Abu Baqir Al-Saedi, head of its Syria operations.
Who said what? The strike killed the "commander responsible for directly planning and participating in attacks on U.S. forces in the region," U.S. Central Command said. "There are no indications of collateral damage or civilian casualties." This was a "clear aggression and violation of Iraqi sovereignty," an Iraqi military spokesperson said. "America is the devil," chanted crowds gathered around the wreckage.
The commentary The first wave of U.S. retaliatory strikes aimed to "make it harder for these groups to target American forces," but now the U.S. is "going after the brains of the operations," Middle East analyst Andrew Tabler told The New York Times. The U.S. seems more "willing to accept the political risk of Baghdad growing increasingly less tolerant" of America's military presence than to risk a "broader regional escalation by targeting Iran directly," said Jonathan Lord at the Center for a New American Security.
What next? The strike will "inflame ongoing tensions" between Washington and Baghdad as they discuss "winding down" the U.S. military presence in Iraq, The Washington Post said.
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Today's POLITICS story
Did Republicans just lose the border fight?
What happened? Senate Republicans on Wednesday voted down the bipartisan border security bill they had negotiated after insisting it be linked to Ukraine military aid.
Who said what? Republicans asked for "this exact bill," President Joe Biden said, and Americans are "going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends." Blaming Trump for the border crisis Biden created is a "brazen, pathetic lie," said Trump spokesperson Karoline Leavitt.
The commentary "The GOP owns the border now," Michael Tomasky said at The New Republic. After "caterwauling for months — years — about the porous border," they "killed" the most restrictive bill in decades because "they'd rather have the issue than fix the problem." Biden "must really think voters are stupid" if he believes they'll buy that "transparently cynical" argument, GOP strategist Scott Jennings told The New York Times.
What next? The Senate on Thursday will revisit passing security aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan without the border legislation.
Today's ENTERTAINMENT Story
New sports streaming bundle roils sports, cable
What happened? Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery announced a new sports streaming bundle Tuesday that combines NFL, NBA, MLB and other games from ESPN, ABC, TBS, and Fox Sports networks. The NFL, NBA, and other leagues were caught off guard by the deal, The Wall Street Journal said Wednesday.
Who said what? This is a "major win for sports fans" and "the media business," Disney CEO Bob Iger said. The NFL is "still gathering details to understand this proposed new streaming service," said spokesperson Alex Reithmiller.
The commentary Sports fans, this is the "bundle we've been waiting for," said MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson. It "knocks down one of the last major pillars of cable, removing one of the last reasons to pay steep monthly fees" for channels you don't watch, USA Today said. You can also see why sports leagues are "concerned" this could weaken their "leverage," said USC sports business professor David Carter.
What next? The streaming collective "does not yet have a name, pricing information or a specific launch date," USA Today noted.
It's not all bad
A year after deadly earthquakes that rocked northwestern Syria and southern Turkey, hundreds of cats and dogs rescued from the rubble are living their best lives at Ernesto's Paradise For Animals Under War in Idlib. Luckily, there has been a concurrent surge in pet adoptions at Ernesto's Paradise, as people in the area believe animals can warn of natural disasters, Al Jazeera said. Owner Muhammad Watter is thrilled, as there are lots of animals in need of homes.
Men and women under 30 are experiencing a rapidly growing ideological divide. Globally, women in that age group are becoming more liberal in their ideology while men are becoming more conservative, according to wide-ranging data. The combined shifts opened a significant chasm in the groups' beliefs.
In the U.S., "young women, trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people lean further to the left than young men," according to data from Change Research shared with Teen Vogue. One of the key triggers for the widening gap was the #MeToo movement, but changes in technology and abortion rights have also fueled the divergence.
These shifts have been "exacerbated by the fact that the proliferation of smartphones and social media mean that young men and women now increasingly inhabit separate spaces and experience separate cultures," said the Financial Times.
In South Korea, the "marriage rate has plummeted and birth rate has fallen precipitously, dropping to 0.78 births per woman in 2022, the lowest of any country in the world," the Financial Times said. The growing ideological divide in the U.S. could lead the country down a similar path.
Nationwide abortion restrictions in the U.S. have also put a strain on relationships and people's desire for marriage. "Unlike differences of opinion on tax rates or land use, these disagreements can't be reduced to mere partisan intolerance," said The Atlantic, "because they shape the answers to basic questions about how a relationship or a household works."
On this day
February 8, 1971
The Nasdaq Composite index and Nasdaq stock exchange begin operations, becoming the world’s first completely electronic stock market. The Nasdaq has grown over the decades into the world’s second-largest stock exchange by market capitalization, behind the New York Stock Exchange. Both are headquartered in New York City.
"Senate Republicans block bipartisan border package, scuttling deal they had demanded from Democrats," the Miami Herald says in a long headline on Thursday's front page. With the border deal dead, the Senate "pivots to Ukraine, Israel aid proposal," The Wall Street Journal reports. That package faces a steep road in the House, The New York Times says, asking: "Can Ukraine rely on US? Doubts grow," in Washington and in Europe.
Residents in one West Tampa, Florida, neighborhood have been hearing mysterious noises since 2021, and a scientist thinks he has figured out the source: the mating of black drum fish. To confirm the theory, a local resident launched a $2,500 fundraiser to install microphones in the bay during black drum fish mating season, Fox 13 reported. The plan is to keep the microphones down there through April, then have the scientist analyze the recordings.
Morning Report was written and edited by Catherine Garcia, Justin Klawans, Harold Maass and Peter Weber, with illustrations by Stephen Kelly and Julia Wytrazek.
Image credits, from top: Murtaja Lateef / AFP via Getty Images; Samuel Corum / Getty Images; sinseeho / Getty Images; Illustration by Julia Wytrazek / Getty Images