It’s bordering on madness. Militants have reportedly overrun the last state-held border between Syria and Iraq. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government forces fled the al-Tanf crossing in Homs Province, yielding to ISIS just days after they took over the towns of Ramadi, Iraq, and Palmyra, Syria. If true, this bolsters the jihadists’ ability to move men and arms between the countries. Meanwhile, ISIS is also reportedly moving east from Ramadi to head off Iraqi troops gathering to retake the city.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Green may shine brightest on the rainbow today. Irish voters are heading to the polls to decide on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, perhaps becoming the first nation to approve such equality by popular vote. Ireland, which only decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, already recognizes gay civil partnerships. Pre-election polls suggest the “yays” have it — with nearly 60 percent support — but activists fear that opponents may have shied away from pollsters … only to speak loud and clear with ballots.
Welcome to your weekend longread. Many of the emails, which are from the personal account Hillary Clinton used while Secretary of State, cover the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. They’ve already been seen by Congress, but now the public can sift through them too — and this is only the first wave, as there are 55,000 emails currently being reviewed for release. Clinton says she’s happy they’re public, and early analyses indicate they don’t contain any campaign-sinking scandals. The rest of the emails may be released in January.
After a crackdown on their terrorist cells, ISIS is retaliating again Saudi Arabia’s government. A suicide bomber who detonated an explosive belt killed at least 21 people on Friday and wounded 123 others at a Shiite mosque in Qatif province. The region is the Shiite heart of Saudi Arabia, which has a Sunni majority, and Sunni Saudis are decrying the attack as an assault on all Muslims, regardless of sect. ISIS has claimed responsibility on Twitter, but the Saudi government isn’t commenting — instead, they’re launching they’re own investigation into the bombing.
The court is demanding answers. Six Baltimore cops have been indicted on multiple charges — ranging from second-degree “depraved heart” murder to assault — linked to the in-custody death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. State attorney Marilyn Mosby said the grand jury also added a count of reckless endangerment for each officer. Gray’s neck was broken, allegedly after he was shackled and placed head-first into a police van. The accused, who could face decades behind bars, will be arraigned in July.
Will the kingdom dump black gold for the next big rush? Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi says the country could phase out fossil fuel as early as 2040. Many think it’s ambitious, considering more than 25 percent of its 10 million daily barrels stay in Saudi Arabia, and some predict it’ll need to import oil by 2030. But perhaps that’s greasing the wheels of change: Naimi says his country will become solar and wind energy experts instead and will soon be known for exporting renewable energy.
Police arrest quadruple homicide suspect in Washington, D.C. (Washington Post)
Myanmar conducts first migrant boat rescue. (DW)
Nigeria relocates former Boko Haram victims. (BBC)
South Korean court releases ‘nut rage’ air executive from jail. (The Guardian)
Omaha police officer killed hours before starting maternity leave. (ABC)
They’ve decided to shrug it off. When President Obama got a Twitter account this week, it came with millions of followers … and more than a few racial slurs and violent threats. The White House, though, has responded philosophically, with Press Secretary Josh Earnest saying that efforts to block such messages would mean wasting “a lot of time blocking people on the Internet.” He did note, however, that the Secret Service may take a different approach.
Merci et à bientôt! A cannabis merchant in Marseille is reportedly giving rewards cards to clients that include business hours, a price list and a typical punch system — 10 punches gets you €10 ($11) off your next purchase. The weed dealer says the stunt is causing a buzz and upping his customer base. But French police — and the law abiding public — see it as a sign that it’s high time to crack down on illegal drugs.
They’re not whistling while they work. One in five employees born between 1978 and 1999 have suffered from depression on the job, a study shows. That’s more than any other generation — Gen Xers and Baby Boomers suffered at a rate of 16 percent — and negatively impacts productivity, attendance and the office environment, not to mention their overall health. Researchers are urging employers to launch awareness campaigns to help depressed young adults find balance … and on-the-job fulfillment.
How many points do you get for T-R-E-N-D-Y? The tiled word game, trying to lure a new generation of fans by approving slang they think young people use, has added a host of new terms, including “Lolz,” “Newb” and “Thanx.” Purists are angry about the change, and millennials should be fuming over the official Scrabble dictionary thinking that’s how they talk. But the game is clearly marching — or “twerking,” another new inclusion — into the future.
Heroics weren’t enough. Despite Houston’s James Harden taking control of Game 2 in the Western Conference finals with 38 points, Stephen Curry and Golden State were able to stop him on the last possession, nabbing a 99-98 win. Curry, who beat out Harden for the league’s MVP, had another hot night with 33 points. But with Rockets star Dwight Howard back in the lineup, the teams have everything to play for as they move to Houston for Games 3 and 4.