July 24, 2014
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The terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has reportedly surpassed al Qaeda's recruiting ability in Iraq and the broader Middle East. Younger militants seem to increasingly view al Qaeda as outdated and ineffective, expressing their dissatisfaction in online message boards. ISIS, by contrast, is increasingly seen by young extremists as the more vibrant terror network, thanks to its rapid sweep through Iraq and Syria; its targeting of Shi'ites, women, and Christians; and its pattern of brutal tactics like crucifixion.

The U.S. State Department has now labeled ISIS "worse than al Qaeda." Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk said at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday that ISIS has matched and exceeded "al Qaeda in its doctrine, ambition and, increasingly, in its threat to U.S. interests." He also cautioned that ISIS is "no longer a terrorist organization. It is a full-blown army."

ISIS is an al Qaeda offshoot in Iraq that was disavowed by its parent organization for being too extreme. ISIS's goal is to establish a Sunni caliphate in the Sunni-majority regions of Iraq and Syria, a goal they announced was completed on June 29. Before the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, there was no al Qaeda presence in Iraq. Bonnie Kristian

2:00 a.m. ET
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Syrian forces backed by the United States launched an offensive on Tuesday to capture what one U.S. official called the Islamic State's "last remaining funnel" to Europe, Reuters reports.

The area of northern Syria known as the Manbij pocket has been used by ISIS to move foreign fighters back and forth to Europe, and a goal of the operation is to isolate ISIS and make it difficult to get supplies to and from its de facto capital of Raqqa. Thousands of fighters have been preparing for the offensive for weeks, U.S. officials told Reuters, and while some U.S. special operations forces will serve as advisers and offer support on the ground, they will not engage in direct combat. The operation will also involve air strikes from the U.S.-led coalition and firing positions from the ground in Turkey.

The forces are mostly comprised of Syrian Arabs, with about one-sixth members of the Kurdish YPG militia, officials said. Turkey views Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters as terrorists, and opposed the idea of the militia taking control of the Manbij pocket, Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia

1:20 a.m. ET

An Oklahoma insurance executive and one-time volunteer sheriff's deputy who said he confused his handgun for his stun gun during a sting, resulting in the fatal shooting of a suspect, was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday, the maximum penalty recommended by jurors.

Robert Bates, 74, was found guilty last month of second-degree manslaughter. He fatally shot Eric Harris while working with Tulsa County sheriff's deputies in an illegal gun sales sting. Harris, who was unarmed, had run from deputies, and Bates shot him after he was already restrained. The incident was caught on video, and during the course of an investigation, an internal memo was uncovered that questioned Bates' qualifications as a volunteer deputy, The Associated Press reports. The memo also mentioned that Bates was a close friend with the sheriff at the time, and had donated thousands of dollars in cash, cars, and equipment to the department.

Bates was given credit for time served since his conviction, and upon his release, he has to serve nine months of probation. Catherine Garcia

12:36 a.m. ET
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In a press conference on Tuesday, Donald Trump took umbrage at reporters asking him to account for the $6 million he said he raised for veterans charities back in January, resorting to name-calling and other invectives when reporters questioned his attitude to being questioned. "Instead of being like, 'Thank you very much, Mr. Trump,' or 'Trump did a good job,' everyone's saying: 'Who got it? Who got it? Who got it?'" Trump groused. "I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job."

Trump read off 41 organizations that had received $5.6 million from his January fundraiser, including $1 million of his own money. "Most of the money went out quite a while ago," Trump said on Tuesday. "Some of it went out more recently. But all of this has gone out." The Associated Press called each of the 41 organizations, 30 responded, and about half said they only got checks from Trump last week, with the biggest batch going out on or around May 24 — the same day Trump finally spoke with The Washington Post, which had been publicly digging around to account for his donations. Trump's $1 million check went out May 24, too

Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the timing was coincidental. "Mr. Trump's team worked very hard to complete this lengthy process prior to Memorial Day weekend," she said. Trump's likely Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, saw things differently. "The problem here is the difference between what Donald Trump says and what Donald Trump does," she said. "He's bragged for months about raising $6 million for vets and donating $1 million himself, but it took a reporter to shame him into actually making the contribution." That's one way to raise questions about Trump's judgment for cutting checks on the same day he was nailed by reporters for failing to fulfill a public promise. Here's another:

On the other hand, Trump's only been running for president for a year. Peter Weber

12:21 a.m. ET

General Mills is recalling 10 million pounds of flour "out of an abundance of caution," due to an E. coli scare.

State and federal officials say flour is likely the link between 38 illnesses across 20 states, NBC News reports; many of the people who became sick say they ate raw flour. In a statement, General Mills said it is working with health officials to investigate a possible E. coli 0121 contamination, and has issued a voluntary recall of Gold Medal flour, Wondra flour, and Signature Kitchens flour, sold in Albertsons, Vons, Jewel, Shaws, Safeway, United, Randalls, and Acme stores.

E. coli 0121 is one of the few forms of the bacteria that can cause illness, and the last outbreak was in 2014, linked to clover sprouts. General Mills said that during the course of the investigation, "E. coli 0121 has not been found in any General Mills flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility, and the company has not been contacted directly by any consumer reporting confirmed illnesses related to these products." Catherine Garcia

May 31, 2016
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On Tuesday, the U.S. government sued to keep the family of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook from receiving $275,000 from life insurance policies he took out in 2012 and 2013.

Prosecutors say while planning a terrorist attack, Farook obtained a $25,000 life insurance policy in 2012 and a $250,000 policy in 2013. His mother, Rafia Farook, is the beneficiary for both policies. "Terrorists must not be permitted to provide for their designated beneficiaries through their crimes," U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said in a statement. "My office intends to explore every legal option available to us to ensure these funds are made available to the victims of this horrific crime. We will continue to use every tool available to seek justice on behalf of the victims of the San Bernardino terrorist attacks."

On Dec. 2, 2015, Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, shot and killed 14 people and injured 22 others after storming into a training session attended by Farook's San Bernardino County co-workers. Catherine Garcia

May 31, 2016
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More than 50 years after its release, Mary Poppins is getting a sequel.

Mary Poppins Returns will hit theaters on Dec. 25, 2018, starring Emily Blunt as the magical nanny with the bottomless carpet bag and Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack the lamplighter, a new character. The 1964 Disney classic starred Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, and won five Academy Awards.

Mary Poppins Returns will be set in Depression-era London, with Jane and Michael Banks now adults, The Hollywood Reporter says. Michael is a father of three, and they are visited by their beloved nanny after the family is hit by tragedy. The movie will be directed by Rob Marshall. Catherine Garcia

May 31, 2016
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Documents serving as evidence in a class-action lawsuit against Trump University show instructors were told how to bring in customers, convince them to spend more money on additional classes, and counter objections they might have.

Close to 400 pages out of Trump University playbooks were ordered released last week by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, after a request by The Washington Post. The now-defunct real estate school was created by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and his attorneys objected to the move, saying the documents contain trade secrets. The pages reveal that instructors were given detailed directives on everything from how to run an event to how to dress, CNN reports. Students filled out profiles, which included listing their assets, and instructors were told to sort through those profiles and separate those with liquid assets over $35,000 from those with less than $2,000.

The playbooks also directed instructors to push the Gold Elite package on students ("if they can afford Gold Elite, don't allow them to think about doing anything besides the Gold Elite"), which came with a $34,995 price tag, and if students voiced concerns, instructors were given retorts — for instance, if a student said he didn't want to go into debt by using credit cards, he was asked: "Do you like living paycheck to paycheck? Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dream cars with huge checking accounts? Those people saw an opportunity, and didn't make excuses, like what you're doing now." Read more about the playbooks at CNN. Catherine Garcia

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