Shock and awe. Speaking at a news conference Thursday, U.S. defense leaders called ISIS, the terror group scourging northern Iraq, the most dangerous threat the United States has faced in years. Because of its ample funding and unwavering ideology, containing the group won’t work in the long term, said Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He called ISIS “an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated.” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel also appeared at the news conference and said of ISIS: “This is beyond anything we have ever seen.”
Push for peace. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports a possible EU and U.S.-backed resolution to end the war in Gaza is headed for the UN Security Council. The document reportedly calls for returning the Gaza Strip to the control of the Palestinian Authority, reconstructing the strip under international supervision, and “restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the basis of the pre-1967 lines.” The resolution also would call for reopening border crossings and ending Israel’s and Egypt’s blockade of Gaza. Hamas, the terror group fighting Israel in the Gaza Strip, claims it has executed 18 Palestinians accused of being Israeli informants.
A high price. Slightly more than 191,000 people had died in the Syrian civil war by April of this year, the United Nations reported today. The death toll in the conflict has more than doubled since the previous April, when the UN estimated just more than 92,000 people had died since the conflict began in March 2011. The UN count likely is a gross underestimate of the actual number of casualties. Friday’s report only includes people whose name, date of death, and place of death were recorded. Analysts threw out more than 50,000 incomplete records in compiling the report.
Hallmark’s awkward moment. The Brigham Young University bookstore has removed greeting cards for same-sex weddings that were stocked by an unknowing Hallmark vendor. Bookstore employees discovered the cards that read “Mr. and Mr.” and “Mrs. and Mrs.” on the shelves not long after they were placed there. The Mormon university prohibits homosexual behavior in its honor code for students. BYU representatives said they are working with Hallmark to make sure it doesn’t put similar cards on the bookstore shelves in the future.
Truckin’ on. Russian aid trucks pushed across the border into eastern Ukraine today, against the wishes of the government in Kiev. The trucks are headed for the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are fighting against the government. Despite assurances from the International Committee of the Red Cross, some in the Ukrainian government suspect the 280 vehicles are part of a military operation. One official called the convoy’s movements a “direct invasion” of the country. Ukraine had given the trucks a green light to proceed Wednesday, but then held them up again because of intense shelling in Luhansk.