Need To Know

Drones on. The US is poised to send spy planes into Syria to track Islamist militants, preparing the way for possible air strikes against jihadists there, according to a senior US official. The surveillance aircraft, including unmanned drones, seek to gain a clearer picture of the Islamic State (IS) activities in both Syria and Iraq.

Timing is everything. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dissolved parliament on Monday, paving the way for a new election. "I have decided to prematurely end the authority of parliament," he said on Twitter. By law, an election must now be held within 60 days, which could mean the end of October.

Kyiv said Monday that it has captured 10 Russian paratroopers and was questioning them as part of a criminal probe. The soldiers were taken near Donetsk and are reported to have crossed into Ukraine illegally. Incidentally, their capture comes hours before Poroshenko is due to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the first time in months. The pair is at a summit in Minsk, Belarus.

Want To Know

Go their own way. The Shetland islands have 0.5 percent of Scotland's population — but 50 percent of its oil. That puts them in a rather odd position given the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence. Right now Scotland's oil revenue goes to the queen, and that's one of the chief reasons folks argue Scotland would be better off splintering from the UK. But if the referendum passes (don't hold your breath) Edinburgh might call the shots. And who knows what Edinburgh will do. That's far away these tiny islands too. Shetlanders are of two minds when it comes to Scottish independence. Which is to say nothing of the sheep. 

Semantic gymnastics. People often say "genocide" and "Khmer Rouge" in the same sentence. But do they really go together? No Khmer Rouge official has yet been convicted of that particular crime, and 35 years after the fanatic Maoist regime was ousted, well-intentioned experts debate whether the term legitimately applies.

Occupational hazard. Imagine you’re in the ER, waiting to be seen by the attending physician. It’s been an hour. You ask how much longer. You’re told to check the list. Then, the guy next to you stabs the doctor. In Turkey, this actually happens. “Two of my colleagues got their arms broken, one was stabbed with a pair of surgical scissors,” says Caner Celik, recalling a day last spring. “Two others were bruised up.” Celik is an emergency room doctor. In this country, that means he’s a target. Why? Read on.

Strange But True

Courting controversy. He’s done it again. British evolutionary biologist, atheist and provocateur Richard Dawkins ignited another firestorm on Twitter after expressing his views about what a woman should do if told her fetus has Down syndrome. It was only a few weeks ago that “The God Delusion” author sparked a savage backlash for tweeting “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse." This time, he responded to a woman who said she would have a “real ethical dilemma” if she found out her baby had Downs. Dawkins' reply wins points for being brazen and insensitive.