KRWG

Amy Held

Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes, thousands of acres scorched and hundreds of buildings reduced to ash. It hasn't even been one week since the latest string of wildfires broke out in Southern California, but the toll is staggering.

Even so, by Saturday, some bright spots began to emerge in the fire-ravaged region.

Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State Saturday after its forces drove out the group from its final area of control along the Syrian border, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told a conference in Baghdad.

"Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border," Abadi later tweeted. "We defeated Daesh through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people."

It wasn't criminal; it was celestial. A police dashcam in New Jersey caught a dazzling sight in the early hours of Saturday: a meteor soaring through the sky in a flash of fiery brilliance. A second or two passes and then with a burst of light, it's gone and the sky returns to blackness.

Hamilton Police Sgt. Michael Virga was on patrol around 3 a.m. when he saw it. "It was a pinpoint in the sky, then a bright lime green streak and then it disintegrated," he tells NPR.

A bankruptcy judge has granted struggling retailer Toys R Us permission to pay millions of dollars in bonuses to executives after the company argued it was necessary to motivate its top brass during the critical holiday shopping season.

David Ermold once again stepped inside the Rowan County, Ky., courthouse on Wednesday, except this time he wasn't asking for a marriage license — he was asking for Kim Davis' job. She is the Rowan County clerk who refused Ermold and his partner, among other couples, a marriage license on the basis of her religious beliefs against same-sex marriage.

Former President Barack Obama's tweet this summer in response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., was the most-liked among those on Twitter's most-retweeted list for 2017.

After a night of drinking, South Carolina man Alex Bowen couldn't sleep and decided to get something to eat early Thursday. The Waffle House in West Columbia, S.C., fit the bill, so he stepped inside and waited 10 minutes at the register, but nobody attended to him, he tells local news station WIS-TV.

That was when he realized there was an employee there, the worker just happened to be fast asleep in a corner booth. And Bowen didn't waffle.

Shoppers hunting for Black Friday deals seemed to include a record number of those in the market for firearms; the FBI says it fielded 203,086 background check requests for gun purchases on the day after Thanksgiving — the highest daily total ever, reports USA Today.

Updated at noon ET Monday

The time-honored tradition is as steeped in lore as Father Christmas himself: child nestles on Santa's knee, rattles off the coveted goodies, then a snap of the camera preserves the memory in all of its seasonal glory.

Or, this:

Interminable lines, artificial pine and a whiskered stranger decked in red. It's more than some kids and, yes, even parents, can take.

The U.S. Navy has named the three sailors lost in Wednesday's C-2A aircraft crash southeast of Okinawa, Japan in the Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the Navy identified Lt. Steven Combs, of Florida; Matthew Chialastri, an aviation boatswain's mate airman from Louisiana and Bryan Grosso, an aviation ordnanceman airman apprentice, also from Florida.

Kenya's opposition leader is asking for "international intervention" as violence is escalating in the country's post-election crisis. Overnight into Sunday at least four people were killed in an "area that's opposition heavy," reports NPR's Eyder Peralta from Nairobi.

"The country's just really tense," Eyder says.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga said those who died overnight were his own supporters and called their deaths "state-sponsored thuggery," reports The Associated Press.

Updated at 5:15 a.m. ET on Monday

A noon Monday deadline for President Robert Mugabe to voluntarily step down has come and gone with no word whether the longtime strongman of Zimbabwe will comply. Parliament has promised to initiate impeachment proceedings to remove him.

Three UCLA freshmen have been suspended indefinitely from the basketball team, one day after returning home from China, where they were detained and accused of shoplifting, announced head coach Steve Alford at a news conference at the university on Wednesday.

Editor's note: This post contains language that some may find offensive.

In her onetime role as a Dallas County assistant district attorney, Jody Warner was accustomed to prosecuting others, but she found herself on the defensive after an Uber driver released audio, recorded Friday, in which she can be heard hurling insults and curse words at him. By Monday, Warner had lost her job.

It began when Shaun Platt was driving Warner, 32, home from a bar and she disagreed with the route he was taking.

Mattel unveiled its first hijab-wearing Barbie doll on Monday, modeled after fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who has broken ground herself as the first U.S. Olympic athlete to compete in the head scarf.

As Mexican authorities continue to crack down on drug smugglers, criminals continue to aim high in a bid to evade them. Last week, Mexican authorities seized a jury-rigged bazooka and nearly one ton of marijuana in the border town of Agua Prieta in Sonora state, the Mexican Attorney General said in a statement.

Keurig Green Mountain's motto is "brew the love," but it was more like bitter vitriol boiling over on social media after the single-serve coffee maker said it was pulling advertising from Sean Hannity's show on Fox News.

The back-and-forth has now reached near cofveve levels of muddling, so bear with us.

An Australian girl described by her dad as "bright and bubbly" died Saturday after her drag racing car crashed into the track barrier.

Anita Board celebrated her eighth birthday less than one week ago.

At a press conference Monday from the site of Anita's accident, her father Ian Board said, "Her passion for motorsport, drag racing and being here as a family with her sister at the track was the highlight of her life."

From the San Diego Museum of Man to Boston's City Hall, more than 50 buildings and structures across the country lit up in orange Wednesday night to mark one month since the Las Vegas massacre, in honor of the victims of the biggest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Scott Rechler, chairman and CEO of New York-based RXR Realty, worked with the gun-control organization Everytown for Gun Safety to launch the campaign.

A 21-year-old Pakistani woman, unhappy in her new arranged marriage, is charged with murder after poisoning her husband's milk that some two dozen members of his extended family later drank, resulting in 17 deaths, according to police.

The alleged incident took place in a rural village near the city of Multan in the eastern Punjab Province.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. EDT Thursday

Police have apprehended a man they say went on the run Wednesday after fatally shooting two men and a woman at a Walmart outside Denver as hundreds of terrified customers ran for cover.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters decrying the Catalan government's push for independence came together in Barcelona on Sunday, in one of the biggest gatherings of Spanish unity supporters.

Waving flags and singing "Viva España," the marchers gave voice to what some have called the silent majority in a region whose government declared independence from Spain on Friday.

Updated at 4:52 p.m. Eastern

On Sunday the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority cancelled the highly disputed $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy, a tiny American company tasked with restoring power to the still storm-ravaged island. PREPA spokesperson Carlos Monroig confirmed the news to NPR.

The announcement came hours after Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló demanded the contract's cancellation, amid ongoing local and federal audits.

Somali security forces finally put an end to a deadly siege Sunday that had dragged on through the night at a hotel in Somalia's capital, but not before at least 23 people were killed. Al-Shabab claimed the attack as the Islamic extremist group wages a bloody insurgency in the country and elsewhere in Africa.

A close loss was followed by a rough flight for the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team early Saturday, when its chartered flight landed at Chicago's Midway International Airport with the nose of the plane caved in.

The plane touched down safely and on schedule around 1 a.m. local time, albeit not totally intact, following the Thunder's 116-119 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night in Minneapolis.

Several players immediately took to social media with photographs of the damage and to express their incredulity about the size and cause of the crater.

This summer's fatal collision between the USS John S. McCain and a tanker ship off the coast of Singapore was "preventable," the U.S. Navy said Tuesday while announcing that the ship's commander and his deputy have been relieved of their duties.

The U.S. 7th Fleet, based in Japan, said in a statement that commanding officer Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez "exercised poor judgement" and executive officer Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez "exercised poor leadership of the ship's training program."

In a move that shakes up more than a century of tradition, the Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that starting next year, it will welcome girls into some Scouting programs.

"Everyone should stand" during the national anthem, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to all 32 teams, adding that the NFL will present a plan next week to help "move past this controversy."

In the memo sent Tuesday, Goodell said he is "very proud of our players and owners who have done the hard work over the past year to listen, understand and attempt to address the underlying issues within their communities" and expressed respect for players' "opinions and concerns about critical social issues."

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