Need To Know

Kurdish forces say they’ve finally driven out the Islamic State from the key Syrian town of Kobani, near the Turkish border. They did this, of course, with ample help from US airstrikes. But if you want proof that the fight for this now symbolic town is far from over, you can read this nearly identical claim from Kurdish fighters from mid-October. And then this story from several days later.

Truth is, it’s the entire world against the Islamic State and yet — almost four months since US airstrikes began — little has changed on the front lines. The Islamic State still holds “large swaths” of Iraq and Syria.

And the prolonged fight against the terror group has only eased the international pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who continues to brutally crush any town he perceives as rebellious. His renewed confidence was on display Monday when in an interview with Foreign Affairs he suggested that the United States and Syria should “cooperate” to fight the Islamic State. The last thing the United States wants is to be seen as helping Assad.

As a reminder: More than 200,000 people have so far been killed in the Syrian conflict.

Want To Know

Americans know the South Korean company Samsung for its smart phones and televisions. But in Seoul, someone can go about their entire day interacting with Samsung creations without even realizing it, right down to the apartment building where they live.

Samsung is a corporate giant, and working for Samsung is a South Korean dream. From a very young age, little kids begin studying with the hope of someday working for Samsung. But this isn’t Google or Apple. When the day comes to apply for that job, it’s not a well-crafted resume, cover letter and an aced interview that will do the trick. Instead, hopeful candidates must take the Samsung SAT, a brutal test that determines whether you go on to corporate glory, or not. There is now a whole test prep industry surrounding it.

It isn’t even funny. South Koreans work so hard for this opportunity. And if they fail it’s such a cultural humiliation that suicide rates have soared. Every six months, some 100,000 Koreans swarm campus test centers for a shot at Samsung glory. One in 20 will earn the title of “Samsung Man.” Seriously.

Strange But True

In Australia’s bodybuilding subculture, it is the women who are the stars — by far. And to go inside the world of Australian bodybuilding is a journey not for the faint of heart. The first thing that hits you, for instance, is the smell. It is a combination of cooking oil and a thick tanning paste nicknamed “Vegemite” for its resemblance to the Australian yeast-paste snack. The bodybuilders smear this concoction all over their bodies to highlight their definition and popping veins. And the women told GlobalPost that most of them get breast implants in Thailand. “It is cheaper there and they’ll go bigger with the implants than doctors in Australia would.” That's just the start. Enjoy this story.