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The Obama administration said Friday that the United States and its allies had formed a coalition to fight Sunni militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, unveiling a military and political campaign that officials said could serve as a model for combating extremist groups around the world.

In a hastily organized meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit meeting here, diplomats and defense officials from the United States, Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark conferred on what they called a two-pronged strategy: working to bolster allies on the ground in Iraq and Syria, while attacking Sunni militants from the air. They said the goal was to destroy the Islamist militant group, not to contain it.

“There is no containment policy for ISIL,” Secretary of State John Kerry said at the beginning of the meeting, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. “They’re an ambitious, avowed, genocidal, territorial-grabbing, caliphate-desiring quasi state with an irregular army, and leaving them in some capacity intact anywhere would leave a cancer in place that will ultimately come back to haunt us.”

But he and other officials present made clear that at the moment, any ground combat troops would come from either Iraqi security forces or Kurdish pesh merga fighters on the ground in Iraq, or from moderate Syrian rebels opposed to the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. “Obviously I think that’s a red line for everybody here: no boots on the ground,” Mr. Kerry said.

For President Obama, assembling a coalition to fight ISIS is critical. The president is loath to be viewed as going it alone in Iraq now that the United States has been dragged back into a combat role there. And even as Mr. Obama weighs expanding airstrikes into Syria, both he and his administration have been questioning what might happen after launching those strikes, especially as targeting ISIS in Syria would help the government of Mr. Assad, who President Obama has said must yield power.

An administration official on Friday said there were concrete reasons for assembling a coalition that went beyond the political cover that such an alliance might offer the president from a war-weary American public. For one thing, the official said, certain countries bring specific expertise, like Britain and Australia in special operations, Jordan in intelligence, Turkey in border control and Saudi Arabia in financing.

“Sure, the American military can handle airstrikes,” the official said, speaking on grounds of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic and military negotiations. “But it’s always nice to have help from your friends.”

The New York Times, "U.S. and Allies Form Coalition With Intent to Destroy ISIS."

Get these murderous bastards.

"Life is so mean."

The late JOAN RIVERS, from the documentary film Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work (2010).
Later on, in an understated guest spot on the FX series Louie, she dispenses wisdom to the title character about their chosen profession:
"It doesn’t get better.  You get better.  I’ve gone up, I’ve gone down, I’ve been bankrupt, I’ve been broke.  But you do it, and you do it because,… because we love it more than anything else.  …You want a real job, honey?  There are a million things you can do.  But what we do is not a job… what we do is a calling, my dear.  We make people happy.  It’s a calling."
Rest in peace, Joan.

"Life is so mean."

The late JOAN RIVERS, from the documentary film Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work (2010).

Later on, in an understated guest spot on the FX series Louie, she dispenses wisdom to the title character about their chosen profession:

"It doesn’t get better.  You get better.  I’ve gone up, I’ve gone down, I’ve been bankrupt, I’ve been broke.  But you do it, and you do it because,… because we love it more than anything else.  …You want a real job, honey?  There are a million things you can do.  But what we do is not a job… what we do is a calling, my dear.  We make people happy.  It’s a calling."

Rest in peace, Joan.

ICE, ICE, BABY  For years, Death Valley presented visitors with a mystery: those of the famed “sliding rocks.”  What made these small boulders seemingly glide across the playa, leaving tilled soil tracks in their wake?  The answer appears in the scientific journal PLOS One: a layer of ice, and a push from the wind.  Nature’s game of curling, we’d guess.  (Photos [from top]: Richard Norris / Jim Norris / Michael Hartman via The New York Times)

The four-hour tours offered by one of the big gun ranges here are a popular tourist attraction. Starting at $200 a person, a bus will pick up visitors at their hotel in Las Vegas, 25 miles to the north, show them Hoover Dam and bring them to a recreational shooting range called Last Stop, where they can fire the weapons of their dreams: automatic machine guns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers. A hamburger lunch is included; a helicopter tour of the nearby Grand Canyon is optional.

But on Monday, one family’s adventure went horribly wrong. A 9-year-old girl from New Jersey accidentally shot and killed her instructor with an Uzi submachine gun while he stood to her left side, trying to guide her. A video of the shooting, which her parents recorded on a cellphone, suggests that the girl, in pink shorts and with a braided ponytail, was unable to control the gun’s recoil; the instructor, Charles Vacca, 39, was rushed to a hospital in Las Vegas, where he died Monday night.

The parents turned over the cellphone video to the sheriff’s department, which released it publicly. As they spread online and on television, the images of a small girl losing control of a powerful war weapon during a family vacation created a worldwide spectacle, prompting some commentators to castigate parents who would put a submachine gun in the hands of a child.

“What in the name of Jesus is wrong with us, Americans?” one person wrote on the TripAdvisor page for Bullets and Burgers, the tour company that brings people to Last Stop, amid other reviewers who raved about the great time they had firing guns there. “Automatic weapons as toys? And now a man is dead, for no reason, and a 9-year-old girl is scarred for life.”

Some gun owners took to Twitter to defend the practice of letting children use firearms and pointed out that it is both legal and commonplace in the Las Vegas area and elsewhere. But even the owner of the Last Stop, Sam Scarmardo, said he would reconsider the practice in light of Monday’s accident. He said he had been in business 14 years and had never had a problem before.

“It is pretty standard in the industry to let children shoot on the range,” Mr. Scarmardo said in an interview. “We are working with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, and we’ll make a decision if we’ll make any changes after we review all the facts.”

Mr. Scarmardo said that the girl’s parents “were very familiar with weapons” and that Mr. Vacca and a tour guide had driven the family to the shooting range from their hotel in Las Vegas.

“We lost a friend — basically we lost a brother — we are all very close, we are a tightknit organization and community,” Mr. Scarmardo said. “Everyone here at Last Stop is either former military or police officer. We are all highly trained in firearms and safety.”

There is nothing illegal about a girl handling an Uzi. In Arizona, there are no age limits for firing guns, and while federal law prohibits people under 18 from possessing a handgun, there are exceptions for shooting ranges, said Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a legal nonprofit that works to strengthen gun laws.

Some ranges in the area do prohibit young children from handling such heavy weapons, but Last Stop allows children as young as 8 to participate. Bullets and Burgers said on its website that customers could “shoot a wide variety of fully automatic machine and belt fed guns including the AK-47, Colt M-16, MP5/40, FN FAL, Bren, M4, M249, M60, PKM and M203 Grenade Launcher.”

But Uzis are considered particularly tricky because they are light — unloaded, they weigh just under eight pounds — and powerful, making recoil tricky to handle even for adults, gun experts said. Designed for the Israeli military in the 1950s, Uzis are known for their simple design and operation, and they have been featured extensively in popular movies and video games.

“We allow children to shoot, but not a fully automatic Uzi,” said Genghis Cohen, owner of an indoor shooting range, Machine Guns Vegas. He called the shooting on Monday tragic, but added, “It was completely and utterly avoidable.”

“It was just a result of a lapse of attention,” Mr. Cohen said, “but I would never let a girl of that size shoot a fully automatic gun of that size — never.”

The New York Times, "A 9-Year-Old At a Shooting Range, A Spraying Uzi, and Outrage."

Everyone, from the irresponsible parents who allowed their daughter to even pick up and fire a gun, to the owners of the business who also allowed a nine-year-old to pick up and fire said gun, is responsible for this needless tragedy.

And more silence from the NRA, BTW.