Iraq's would-be conquerors—the Sunni-led, Al-Qaida-rejected Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS!)—have now been parked a couple of hours' drive from Baghdad for two days, notably slowing their roll after a too-easy jaunt through the country's north. The Iraqi capital sits at the doorway to the country's Shiite-dominated south, where hundreds of men have been joining up with militias—in some cases coming home from Syria, where they'd already been fighting ISIS forces as part of that country's civil war.
International aid is arriving, but not yet from the United States, which is "urgently" weighing the worth of bombing runs against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. On-the-ground help has come, instead, from Iran, Iraq's powerful Shiite neighbor. An Iraqi government source says 2,000 elite Iranian soldiers have come over in the past two days to shore up Baghdad, along with a prominent Iranian general. This development lends credence to theories that ISIS' invasion is really part of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran for control of the Middle East.
And howzabout some more jihad? Mainline Al-Qaida has distanced itself from ISIS for its willingness to kill impurely Islamic civilians. But it's enough of a fan to cite the group's success in a call to arms over Kashmir, the Himalayan province claimed by both Pakistan and India.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the other country George W. Bush occupied without much heed for the rest of the 21st century, voters are risking the vengeance of the Taliban to choose a new president (the country's first after more than 10 years) in a runoff election.
The modern American diet! “The equivalent of this is foie gras. You have to force feed ducks to get fatty liver, but people seem to be able to develop it on their own.”
Don't forget Ukraine! Amid restarted economic negotiations between the former Soviet state and Russia, its former Soviet overlord, pro-Russian separatists fighting the Ukraine government out east shot down a military transport jet, killing 49 and embarrassing officials in Kiev.
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has yet to be told his rescue from the Taliban, thanks to a prisoner swap, has been mired in the worst kind of partisan controversy possible. He's still being eased into life outside captivity, a challenge that's grown after the Army learned Bergdahl passed two entire years in solitary confinement without seeing another human face.
New York City cops, even under liberal mayor Bill de Blasio, are still disproportionately targeting Latinos and African Amercaisn for marijuana possession arrests, never mind that the plant's been decriminalized there for years.
Senator Ginny Burdick reportedly endured a death threat after restating her fervent desire for sane gun controls after it was learned, in the Reynolds High School shooting, that the gunman was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle. Mayor Charlie Hales this morning has issued his own statement of support for Burdick.
Same-sex marriages in Wisconsin are legal, technically. But because an appeal by the state's attorney general hasn't yet worked itself through the courts, the federal judge that overturned the state's ban has reluctantly put the marriages on hold.
"For me, it is a wall." Pope Francis has stopped using the bulletproof Popemobile" his predecessors have relied on ever since an attempt on John Paul II's life in 1981. He says he's so old that he "doesn't have much to lose" if someone shoots him. And also that "I cannot greet the people and tell them I love them inside a sardine can."
THIS HAPPENED ON MY BIRTHDAY. I GOT PRESENTS AND CAKE ANYWAY.