GAME ON. (EXCEPT IT'S NOT A GAME.) President Barack Obama last night gave the go-ahead to drop bombs on the Islamic State, the Sunni militants looking to establish a caliphate over large parts of Syria and Iraq. The Pentagon has since confirmed those airstrikes have begun. The Islamic State, better known as ISIS, has come closer and closer to conquering Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan. Irbil has long been a haven for American and foreign workers and diplomats owing to its relative safety during the Iraq war—and that was a red line for Obama, along with some humanitarian concerns about already-conquered Iraqis. Obama now joins his immediate three predecessors in ordering bombs (and also food drops) over Iraq. ISIS, meanwhile, has been just as busy marching through Syria.
GAME ON. (EXCEPT IT'S NOT A GAME.) Just a wee bit before a three-day cease-fire in Gaza officially ended, rockets went flying back into Israel, its military says. It's not clear if anyone was killed—although some injuries were reported. Israel promptly replied with a series of airstrikes—reportedly killing some Palestinians and sending thousands more fleeing for shelters.
The Ebola epidemic murdering hundreds and incubating its way across West Africa has been declared a global public health emergency—although the World Health Organization has yet to ban travel into affected countries. Countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia have seen their low-powered medical infrastructure apocalyptically overwhelmed. At a government hospital in Sierra Leone, so many doctors and staffers have succumbed that patients think they'll have a better chance of not dying elsewhere—“Don’t touch the walls!” a Western medical technician yelled out. “Totally infected.”—infecting their neighbors instead of seeking isolation.
Meet the cutest terrorist in the world! A toddler squeezed through the White House gates, causing a security alert. It was almost like In the Line of Fire, except way more adorable.
The Russian folk hero who'd declared himself leader of a breakaway republic founded by Ukrainian separatists has stepped down. Lest people get the
right wrong idea and think Russia is secretly propping the rebels up.
Montana Senator John Walsh, caught up in a horror show after someone figured out he plagiarized a gigantic part of a college thesis, has bowed out of this fall's re-election race. The departure of Walsh, a Democrat, makes it that much more likely Republicans seize the Senate this fall. Montana doesn't have many good Democrats wiling to jump in.
Dozens of Denver's chronically homeless residents have been loaded on buses and sent far away from the city—which sounds bad, except it's actually been part of an interesting, and voluntary treatment program. The men and women live in drug-free housing in an old VA hospital far from the temptations of city life—but full of services like counseling, college classes, and AA meetings. The residents can leave whenever they want, but they can also stay as long as they need.
Turns out you can't get away with killing an unarmed black woman who showed up at your door looking for help after a car crash, just because you decided doing so was a matter of "self defense." A Detroit man was convicted of murder after deciding the person knocking on his door at 4:30 am was an attacker and shooting his shotgun first, without bothering to check and see if that wasn't maybe the case.
The still-living Bob Barker has written Metro a letter demanding it retire 52-year-old elephant Packy (who gets photographed eating faux cakes, but also has leg problems and tuberculosis and lives in an enclosure) from the Oregon Zoo.
AND NOW LET'S REMEMBER—40 YEARS TO THE DAY—WHAT A REAL POLITICAL SCANDAL LOOKS LIKE! (AND LET'S ALSO WATCH A DOOMED PRESIDENT JOKE ABOUT THINGS LIKE PICKING HIS NOSE FOR 20 MINUTES.)