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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Good Morning, News!

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Sat, Jun 21, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Gone to Chili's lately? Of course you have! Because you like "the deals"! Because you appreciate salt and casual, family-friendly dining options in strip malls and along six-lane state highways! And now guess what? Our friends at Chili's are making it even easier to put their sumptuous wares right into your road-weary maws: Expensive, overwhelmed servers are vanishing—only to be replaced by cheaper tabletop tablets that process orders (and take your money!) as fast as your uncontrolled impulses can place them.

The insurgents slicing up Iraq are not like regular insurgents. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) can be funny (instead of just taciturn), cracking jokes about American service warranties on captured helicopters. They know about Twitter. They're good with money.

They're also winning over what people who think about these things, things like war and occupation and invasion, call "hearts and minds." The fear of a Taliban-style righteousness in the cities claimed by ISIS has so far failed to materialize. And residents are returning home and realizing life might be even better than it was before, with terrorism always lurking and Iraq's Shiite-led government never not treating them shabbily.

But that's northern Iraq. In the south, dominated by Shiites, militias and other terror groups are spoiling for battle— fusing themselves into what's left of the country's American-trained (and soon to be American-assisted) military. Given that many of these militias actively fought the Americans before their withdrawal, this newfound common cause has become a headache. It's stirring concerns the Pentagon will be feeding and watering terrorist enemies.

A ceasefire in Ukraine is looking more and more like the (not actually very) calm before the (massive Russian) storm. Thousands of Russian soldiers have been put on combat alert and sent into intensive drills. Attacks from pro-Russian separatists haven't actually stopped. And the Americans are now publicly accusing the Russians secretly shipping armaments over the Ukraine border.

Nearly 200 Egyptians—most of them leaders in the briefly legal and empowered Muslim Brotherhood movement—have been sentenced to death. It's on account of blood spilled in a southern town after last year's coup against former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The imminent arrival of government drones over American skies will be a dystopian civil liberties nightmare, sure. But what about the logistical reality of cramming all those machines into our airspace? That will be just as bad. Since 2001, human error and mechanical failure has sent some 400 drones over Iraq and Afghanistan crashing into homes and roads and other not-targets frequented by innocents.

Brazil's so daffy for the World Cup that even the most remote and isolated tribes in the nether reaches of the Amazon are going through ridiculous and inconvenient lengths to watch the games. It's kind of amazing.

Pope Frank just excommunicated the mafia. Maybe he's never seen the Godfather Part III.

This isn't so reassuring. Dozens of workers in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been potentially been exposed to live anthrax germs, and the reason was a simple, too-easy "breach of protocol."

LGBT families got some more good news from a White House hellbent on ignoring Congress and doing what it can to promote equal rights. Same-sex couples legally married in any state are entitled to federal family leave benefits in every state.

The Mexican border isn't nearly as out of control as nativist Republican talking points would have you believe. Immigration, authorized or not, has been slowing down. And now, for the first time in 20 years, most Hispanics working in the United States are native-born.

The summer solstice happened a little before 4 this morning—while you were sleeping peaceably or (way more likely) barfing up whiskey and pancakes and scallions. The darkness will be back before you know it.

SO HERE'S ANOTHER APEX WORTH CELEBRATING, BUT FOR PRIME-TIME VARIETY SHOWS.

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