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The Iraqi government appears to have lost control of its western borders after Sunni militants reportedly captured crossings to Syria and Jordan.BBC
Officials said the rebels took two key crossings in Anbar on Sunday, a day after seizing one at Qaim, a town in the province that borders Syria.
The strategically important airport in the northern town of Tal Afar has also reportedly fallen to the rebels.
Isis-led militants have cut a swathe through parts of Iraq.
Since the fall of Mosul in early June, Isis - the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant - have helped win large areas in the west and north.
They have taken four strategically important towns in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province - Qaim, Rutba, Rawa and Anah - in the last two days.
Gunmen reportedly captured the border posts of al-Waleed, on the Syrian frontier, and Turaibil, on the Jordanian border, on Sunday after government forces pulled out.
Syria crisis: Ceasefire agreed for Yarmouk refugee camp
The Syrian government and rebel groups have reportedly agreed a truce in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.OTOH
A copy of the ceasefire deal, seen by the BBC, says the main entrances to the Syrian camp will be opened and basic services will be restored.
About 18,000 people have been besieged since last July. Rights groups say more than 100 people have starved to death.
Syria has been engulfed in a bloody conflict between government and rebel forces over the past three years.
The ceasefire is said to include the Syrian regime, rebel groups based in Yarmouk, which is south of Damascus, and many Palestinian factions, Sana news agency reports.
It is not clear when the truce will begin. Previous truces have been broken.
Both food and medicine are in scarce supply in Yarmouk and large parts of the suburb lie in utter ruin, the BBC's chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet reports.
The military said it had attacked nine targets in response to the killing of a 15-year-old boy in a strike in the occupied Golan Heights on the border between the two countries on Sunday.Al Jazeera America
Two others, including the boy's father, an Israeli defence contractor, were injured when a blast hit their vehicle.
Israel called the boy's death the most substantial incident in the Golan since start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.
It is unclear whether Syrian rebels or government forces were behind the incident.
Israeli military spokesman, Lt Col Peter Lerner, told AP news agency the firing from Syria was "clearly intentional" but it was unclear whether it was the result of mortar fire, a roadside bomb or shelling.
The Golan Heights, a rocky plateau in south-western Syria, was seized by Israel from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East War.
Court upholds sentences against Muslim Brotherhood, more than 180.
An on-going and ever-changing story.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader and more than 180 others were sentenced to death Saturday by an Egyptian court in the latest mass trial following last year’s overthrow of the country’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi..
The ruling by the southern Minya Criminal Court is the largest confirmed mass death sentence to be handed down in Egypt in recent memory and comes from Judge Said Youssef, who earlier presided over the mass trial. It is the second death sentence for the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie since the crackdown against his group began.
The court acquitted more than 400 others in the case, and family members of the accused wailed or cheered the verdicts.
The case stems from an attack on a police station in the town of el-Adwa near the southern city of Minya on Aug. 14 which killed one police officer and one civilian. Similar revenge attacks swept across Egypt following a security force crackdown on Cairo sit-ins supporting the ousted Morsi. The crackdown left hundreds dead. The charges in the case ranged from murder, joining a terrorist organization, sabotage, possession of weapons and terrorizing civilians.
Initially, Youssef sentenced some 683 people to death over the attack, then sent the case to Egypt’s Grand Mufti, the country’s top spiritual leader. The Mufti offered his opinion, then sent the case back to Youssef to confirm his sentence.
Al Jazeera America
Detroit Activists call for UN help as city shuts off water for thousands.
Detroit has too much of some things – stray dogs, abandoned houses – and not enough of others, such as residents who pay their water bills.As more and more water systems worldwide are privatized this will not be an isolated event.
The latest sign of Detroit’s decline came from the city’s water department, when it said in March it would begin shutting off water for up to 3,000 homes and businesses a week in an attempt to stop the utility from sliding even further into debt.
The announcement sparked outrage among activists groups, who say the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) is going after the city’s most vulnerable citizens to shore up its bottom line.
Now those groups have called on the United Nations to intervene. In a letter sent to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation last week, local nonprofit Detroit People’s Water Board, Food and Water Watch and Canada-based Blue Planet Project pleaded for the world body to weigh in on the shutoffs.
"What we see is a violation of the human right to water," said Meera Karunananthan, an international campaigner with the Blue Planet Project. "The U.S. has international obligations in terms of people’s right to water, and this is a blatant violation of that right. We’re hoping the U.N. will put pressure on the federal government and the state of Michigan to do something about it."
Al Jazeera America
Pope condemns effort to legalize marijuana
Pope Francis on Friday condemned the legalization of recreational drugs as a flawed and failed experiment, lending his voice to a debate that is raging from the United States to Uruguay and beyond.C/Net And here you thought you decided to read OND.
Francis told delegates at a drug-enforcement conference in Rome that even limited attempts to legalize recreational drugs "are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects."
The pope's comments come on the heels of Jamaica's decision last week to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. While not an all-out legalization of pot, the move was seen as a milestone in a country where the plant is grown and sold widely.
Francis also said that providing addicts with drugs doesn't solve the problem and is "rather a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon," he said.
"Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: the problem of drug use is not solved with drugs!"
The pope's comments did not seem to touch on the issue of a drug war in the U.S. and beyond that has raged for decades with little to show for it other than prisons overcrowded with people given harsh sentences for low-level drug offenses.
I had always thought that I was a reasonably free-thinking individual, faults and all. However, I can see now that my behavior is nothing more than the result of electric interference.USA Today
Please forgive this rampant confession, but my mind has just been twisted by another piece of research from a fine educational establishment.
I had always thought that the University of California, Davis, was merely full of aspiring winemakers. However, Live Science informs me that it has a Center for Mind and Brain.
Its researchers have just released a mind-altering piece of research titled "Spontaneous Neural Fluctuations Predict Decisions to Attend." It suggests we may have no free will. Because there isn't any.
Instead, they posit that the notion of free will -- the feeling that you're doing something just because you want to -- is merely the result of electric activity in the brain.
Woman who stopped for ducks faces life in prison
(NEWSER) – A Canadian woman parked her car on a Montreal-area highway in 2010 to help a group of ducklings; almost four years to the day later, Emma Czornobaj was on Friday found guilty of causing the deaths of a motorcyclist and his passenger daughter who smashed into her car.USA Today
The jury was unanimous in convicting the 25-year-old on two counts of criminal negligence causing death, a charge that carries a maximum life sentence, and two counts of dangerous driving causing death, which comes with a maximum of 14 years in jail.
The Canadian Press reports Andre Roy, 50, who was traveling with his 16-year-old daughter, Jessie, on his Harley-Davidson, was driving an estimated 70 mph to 80 mph in a roughly 60 mph zone.
His wife was following behind them at a slower speed and avoided injury, and has said she doesn't blame Czornobaj for the deaths; her husband died in her arms, and her daughter, who was pinned beneath the Honda Civic, died later in a hospital.
Federal authorities announced they had canceled their plan to fly nearly 300 Central American immigrants to Southern California from Texas, but left the door the open to the possibility that the plan could be reinstated.Raw Story Finally a positive story.
Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio told the Associated Press Sunday that he didn't know why the flights had been canceled, and described the planning as being "in a very fluid state."
Even as the flights were put on hold, workers at a federal training site in New Mexico erected a fence around its grounds over the weekend in preparation for the expected arrival of hundreds more illegal border-crossers later this week.
The arrangements are part of the Department of Homeland Security's latest efforts to apprehend and process what it says is a surge in illegal border crossings by children in the Rio Grande Valley. Thousands of the children are not traveling with an adult.
While overall border apprehensions remain at historic lows, a recent dramatic increase in the number of people under age 18 illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, especially in Texas, presents "unique operational challenges" for federal authorities, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Imagine if you will, you have packed up the family, Griswold style, for a vacation to see the splendors of America. There you are, on the cusp of the Grand Canyon watching the most majestic sunset ever when, out of nowhere, the scene is spoiled by the low buzzing not of a swarm of mosquitoes but rather by an inconsiderate operator of an unmanned aerial vehicle, better known to you and me as a drone.
Thankfully, with a ruling by the National Park Service ( NPS), this scenario won't play out again anytime soon. That's right, the above situation actually occurred to a group of visitors just two months ago. Additionally, a private drone was confiscated by NPS park rangers after it was flown above visitors who were seated in the Mount Rushmore National Memorial amphitheater. The confiscation was justified by the NPS due to visitor safety.
Another incident at Zion National Park in Utah was witnessed by volunteers as a drone flew in low enough to disturb a herd of bighorn sheep. For these and other reasons, several individual parks had enacted their bans on drones independent of one another.