Need To Know

Perhaps part of the problem with US President Barack Obama's strategy to defeat the Islamic State is that some of his key allies fighting on the ground are, really, just as bad.

GlobalPost's Tracey Shelton investigated the US-backed and trained Iraqi forces and their “band of ruthless Shia militia groups.” What she found, according to multiple sources, sounds like a checklist for the Islamic State: They have executed hundreds of prisoners without trial and arbitrarily arrested villagers along sectarian lines. They have hung bodies from power lines to instill fear. They have gunned down dozens of civilians as they gather to pray.

Iraqi forces or their militia proxies are labeling Sunni civilians “terrorists” or “Islamic State supporters” based on nothing more than ethnicity or sect, and in some cases arresting or executing them without a second thought.

These are the men the United States is now supporting in its effort to fight the Islamic State, and this story is a must-read. And here's a 54-step guide to remind you how this mess all began.

Want To Know

The best way to save the planet is to stop recycling. Well, that's a provocative thing to say. But it's exactly what Michael Braungart, a celebrity chemist, told GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Jason Overdorf recently.

Braungart wants to make recycling, which has its own negative impacts on the environment, unnecessary. The idea is to launch a new Industrial Revolution, but this time one that is entirely eco-friendly. It sounds lovely. It is also entirely possible and, in some small ways, is already being done.

Braungart calls the process cradle-to-cradle, has proven it can work, and is now pushing his ideas into the mainstream as fast he can because, as we've heard, time is running out.

“Just like socialism was never social, ecologism doesn't help the ecology,” Braungart says about well-meaning but ultimately harmful recycling. “It just keeps us busy.”

Strange But True

Thailand’s traffic police are all of a sudden not taking so many bribes. This is no small thing in Bangkok, where together with gridlock and flooding, the common indignity of being extorted for petty bribe money by police is practically factored into one's monthly budget. 

But, as GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Patrick Winn writes, “this sudden change is not because the police now realize that corruption corrodes law and order, which they’re meant to exemplify.” Instead, it's because the new moralizing military junta, which seized power in a May coup, is — wait for it — bribing the cops.

If a cop refuses a bribe from a civilian, he could get a $300 reward. The irony here is that the problem of police bribery is usually rooted in their abysmally low salaries. Winn reports that some rookie cops in Thailand make as little as $185 per month.

“That’s roughly $50 less than a newly hired 7-Eleven cashier makes in Bangkok, where the minimum wage is higher. The real money comes from petty bribes, protection rackets and other underground sources of income,” Winn writes.

So why not just pay the police more? Because no one in Thailand thinks the police deserve more money. Catch-22! So really this whole scheme is just semantics. Instead of a "raise," they are calling it a "bribe" so it will be more acceptable to everyone. Thailand, everybody!