Sunni militants expanded their offensive against the Iraqi government over the weekend, capturing the key border town of Al-Qaim along with three other towns in the area. The territories lie along the border with Syria, raising the threat of foreign militants and weapons pouring into the fray, and of a cross-border conflict spreading well beyond Iraq. Hence, President Obama on Sunday warned, "We're going to have to be vigilant generally" because the violence "could spill over into some of our allies like Jordan."
ISIS insurgents capture key Iraqi border town
John Kerry arrives in Egypt for talks with new president
Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Egypt on Sunday to meet with the nation's newly-elected president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Kerry is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit al-Sisi since he was inaugurated earlier this month. A State Department official told reporters the visit came at a "difficult juncture" for Egypt, adding that the U.S. had "serious concerns about the political environment" there.
Putin endorses Ukrainian cease-fire
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday publicly backed the Ukrainian government's call for a cease-fire to the violence between government and separatist forces. Putin called on both sides to find a middle ground, saying in a statement that they should "halt any military activities and sit down at the negotiating table." Separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, who have sparred with the government in a series of deadly clashes over the past few months, have sought to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei opposes U.S. intervention in Iran
Iran's top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday came out strongly against the idea of a U.S. intervention to mitigate the escalating crisis in Iraq. In a statement, Khamenei said the Iraqi government was capable of handling the situation itself, and he accused the U.S. of "seeking an Iraq under its hegemony and ruled by its stooges." U.S. officials had suggested, then dismissed, the possibility of coordinating militarily with Iran inside Iraq. And though President Obama last week said the U.S. would not be sending troops back to Iraq, he left open the possibility of launching targeted air strikes to beat back the insurgency.
Gov. Bobby Jindal warns of "hostile takeover" of D.C.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Saturday suggested an anti-government rebellion was percolating around the nation, one that could take down Washington, D.C. Speaking at the annual Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, Jindal said he could "sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States," adding that "people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren." Jindal is believed to be considering a White House run in 2016, and has made a habit of excoriating Washington in general and the Obama administration in particular of late.
Hope Solo arrested on domestic violence allegations
Soccer star Hope Solo was arrested Saturday after allegedly assaulting her sister and nephew during a party at her home. The goalkeeper for the U.S. women's soccer team was "intoxicated and upset," according to the police report, which noted that there were visible injuries to her two relatives. Solo was charged with two counts of domestic violence, and is being held without bail.
Mass graves uncovered in Texas
Forensic scientists in Texas made a surprising discovery when they exhumed burial sites in a local cemetery, finding dozens of bodies dumped into the graves. The researchers were attempting to identify immigrants who died along the U.S.-Mexico border, but instead, when they began the exhumations at the Sacred Heart Burial Park in Falfurrias, in 2013, they found unidentified remains carelessly scattered in trash bags, or dumped bare into the ground. "To me, it's just as shocking as the mass grave that you would picture in your head," Krista Latham, a University of Indianapolis forensic anthropologist said. "And it's just as disrespectful."
Pitcher helmets make their MLB debut
San Diego Padres reliever Alex Torres on Saturday became the first pro player to wear the newly-approved protective headgear for pitchers during a game. Major League Baseball approved the bulky caps for use starting this year, though many pitchers, including some proponents of protective headgear, criticized the approved design as a work in progress. Torres explained that a close call in spring training spooked him badly enough to make him switch from soft to hard hat.
U.S. plays Portugal for spot in World Cup knockout round
The United States men's national soccer team takes on powerhouse Portugal Sunday in its second World Cup match. After beating Ghana in it's opening contest, the U.S. can advance to the knockout round with a win. Portugal's star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, has been dealing with a knee injury, and the team's top defender, Pepe, will miss the match altogether after receiving a red card against Germany in the team's last game.
Rosario Dawson joins 'Daredevil' cast
Actress Rosario Dawson has signed on to Netflix's upcoming series based on Marvel's Daredevil franchise. It's unknown what role Dawson will play, though its rumored she could be the titular character's love interest. Dawson is no stranger to the comic book-turned live-action genre; she had a starring role in the film adaptation of Sin City.