The long, largely futile international effort to mediate Syria's four-year-long civil war took a few big hits on Tuesday. Most concretely, special United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi quit as official mediator between the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the rebels trying to oust him. "It's very sad that I leave this position and leave Syria behind in such a bad state," he told reporters. "Apologies once more."
France and Human Rights Watch also cast doubt on one of the few apparent successes of the international mediation efforts: The bilateral pledge to stop using chemical weapons in the fight. Human Rights Watch said in a report released Tuesday that it has strong evidence Assad's forces dropped chlorine bombs from helicopters onto at least three northern Syrian towns in April, violating its pledge. And French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there are "indications" that the Assad regime had conducted 14 chemical weapons attacks since signing the treaty.
Fabius also said he wished the U.S. had stuck Syria in August 2013, declaring, "we feel that it would have changed many things." France was willing to take part in a U.S.-led military strike, he added, but didn't want to go it alone. Peter Weber
Uber hired the two men who gained notoriety after remotely hacking a moving Jeep Cherokee in July, the company said Friday. Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek will join the company's Pittsburgh-based Advanced Technologies Center, which has been upping its research on the technology behind self-driving cars, Reuters reports.
Miller and Valasek join the same center where Uber hired away dozens of Carnegie Mellon University's top scientists and researchers earlier in 2015. The company, valued at more than $50 billion, also announced Tuesday a partnership with University of Arizona focused on mapping research and safety technology for self-driving cars.
For what's believed to be the first time in history, the U.S. Open women's singles final sold out before the men's singles final, ESPN reports.
There's one reason why: Serena Williams. A victory for the tennis goddess and upcoming tournament's top seed would make history by completing her 2015 Grand Slam sweep, a feat no woman has accomplished since Steffi Graf in 1988. Williams has 21 Slam titles to her name, just three fewer than record holder Margaret Court.
Seats for the women's final, which doesn't even sell out some years, are trading at three times their usual value, according to the United States Tennis Association.
Open play begins Monday. Julie Kliegman
A ghost of Republican Party past sat down with its current presidential frontrunner Friday night. Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, both known for their colorful, unpredictable sound bites, were surprisingly tame throughout the One America News Network interview, which was more lovefest than hard-hitting policy chat.
"They need someone to fire all those political correct police," Palin said by way of introducing Trump. Trump later called Palin a "terrific person" and also praised her family. He's said before he'd love for Palin to join his administration should he win office.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) addressed the Democratic National Committee in Minneapolis on Friday, taking the opportunity to criticize party leaders over the midterm elections and their hesitancy to take his candidacy seriously, Politico reports.
"Let me be very clear. In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor's races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout," said Sanders, who is not a member of the party.
Frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who reportedly has a strong grip on party superdelegates, expressed frustration Friday at the continuing focus on her use of a personal email server while secretary of state. Long-shot candidates Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee also spoke, while Jim Webb skipped the meeting. Julie Kliegman
An Egyptian court sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to prison Saturday in a case sparking sharp criticism from human rights groups, Reuters reports. Canadian national Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, and Australian journalist Peter Greste all received three years in prison for operating without a press license and broadcasting "fake news." Mohamed's sentence is six months longer because he reportedly had a spent bullet casing at the time of his arrest.
The new verdict came a year after the men received sentences of seven to 10 years, which prompted an international outcry and a retrial order from Egypt's highest appeals court.
"This is a farcical verdict which strikes at the heart of freedom of expression in Egypt," Amnesty International said in a statement.
Amal Clooney, Fahmy's attorney, said she plans to appeal the verdict. Julie Kliegman
Former President George W. Bush on Friday visited New Orleans to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a catastrophe that was one of the low points of Bush's tenure. Bush praised the city's post-hurricane recovery, saying, "New Orleans is back, and better than ever." President Obama toured the city on Thursday, praising the city's resilience while also saying more needs to be done.
Turns out, Donald Trump was born this way. Even back in his college days, he was the same "brash, blunt, and sometimes bombastic personality" that we're all watching dominate the Republican presidential stage. Indeed, according to a new profile of The Donald in The Boston Globe, his signature antics may date as far back as the second grade.
While Trump is now merely throwing verbal punches at his foes, as a second grader he actually socked his music teacher because he "didn't think the teacher knew enough about music," The Globe reports. From there, Trump's story unfolds with one Donald-esque moment after the other. Here are some of the best:
- Trump was voted "Ladies Man" by his all-male high school peers.
- In college, he gave a professor this response when the class was asked why they'd chosen to study real estate: "I'm going to be the king of New York real estate." "Sit down, you [expletive]," one of his classmates recalls thinking.
- One of Trump's former roommates recalls him being so meticulous that he "fold[ed] his underwear into squares and stack[ed] them neatly on a shelf."
- During rides home from high school on a Port Authority bus, Trump would point out all of his dad's buildings in Queens. "My dad, he built all those homes over there," one classmate recalls him saying.
- Trump's college attire, according to actress Candice Bergen, consisted of a "two-piece burgundy suit with matching burgundy patent leather boots, and, a particularly nice touch, a matching burgundy limousine." Bergen turned down Trump's request for a date.
But perhaps even better than these young Trump tales is this quote from one of The Donald's old classmates that sums him up all too well: "Tact wasn't his strong suit then and it isn't now."