TPM News

NEW YORK (AP) — For President Barack Obama, the participation of five Arab nations in airstrikes against militants in Syria marked an unexpected foreign policy victory as he plunges the U.S. deeper into a military conflict in the Middle East that he has reluctantly embraced.

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The dramatic release of 49 Turkish hostages being held by ISIS in Mosul over the weekend was a welcome piece of good news amid the deteriorating situation in Syria and Iraq that necessitated Turkey closing its border for the first time officially this week. After over a hundred days of captivity the safe and triumphant return still shrouded in mystery over the exact terms reached between Ankara and the ISIS caught most of the world by surprise. Turkey’s unwillingness to date to publicly support America’s growing coalition against ISIS has caused many in Washington to scratch their heads, but was generally chalked up to the hostage situation. Now that this has been resolved, Ankara is a necessary partner and the most critical country for America to win over if ISIS is to be defeated.

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“The Wire” is one of television’s crown jewels and remains a cultural touchtone, but it’s not just a closely detailed vision of how institutions in an American city are failing individuals that gives it such a place. David Simon, writer and director (pictured, left, next to Wendell Pierce who played Detective Bunk), also threaded through his drama clear allusions to our ventures into the Middle East, and strangely, as we reenter the chaos of Iraq and confront the rise of ISIS, these allusive yet potent metaphors are still playing out.

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Whither the Obamacare truther?

Last week, top administration official Marilyn Tavenner announced that 7.3 million Obamacare enrollees had paid their premiums, as they must to receive and continue receiving their coverage. On its face, it was a relatively minor news event, a reminder that millions of people did sign up for insurance.

But it was also the end of one of the GOP's favorite anti-Obamacare memes. Those 7.3 million paying customers meant that more than 90 percent of the 8 million people who President Obama himself said had enrolled in coverage had paid for it. That might not seem surprising. But it was just a few months ago that Republicans were routinely questioning the official enrollment story being told by the White House, theorizing that a third or more of Obamacare sign-ups weren't paying their bills and that the successes being sold by the administration were a sham.

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One month ago, the Obama administration tweaked its birth control mandate to address concerns of religious nonprofits who said filling out a form to opt out of paying for contraceptives would still make them complicit in sin.

Since then, various entities that sued have made clear they aren't satisfied with the new accommodation, and will keep fighting for a complete exemption so that they can block off insurance coverage for contraceptives, which they view as sin, for their women employees.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon says the U.S. and partner nations have begun airstrikes in Syria against Islamic State militants, using a mix of fighter jets, bombers and Tomahawk missiles fired from ships in the region.

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby says that because the military operation is ongoing, no details can be provided yet. He says the decision to strike was made early Monday by the military.

The strikes are part of the expanded military campaign that President Barack Obama's authorized nearly two weeks ago in order to disrupt and destroy the Islamic State militants, who have slaughtered thousands of people, beheaded Westerners, including two American journalists, and captured a large swath of territory stretching from within Syria to land across northern and Western Iraq.

Democratic State Rep. Paul Davis' lead over Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has decreased among likely voters, according to a Rasmussen poll released Monday.

In the Monday poll, 47 percent said they would vote for Davis and 43 percent said they would vote for Brownback. In an August Rasmussen poll, 51 percent of likely voters said they favored Davis and 41 percent said they favored Brownback.

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