When a popular Afghan journalist was killed shortly before the April election, his colleagues stopped reporting Taliban statements and downplayed violence on election day. Some say it was an acceptable display of nationalism; others see it as a sign that the young media need to get tougher and more objective in covering the runoff election.
President Obama said that he will help the Iraqi military break the momentum of the militants on the march to Baghdad. The Pentagon said that one possible option could include airstrikes. But the president said that any military help must include political solutions from the Iraqi government, which has helped fuel the unrest by failing to reach out to its Sunni minority.
The Sunni militant group ISIS, known for its brutal tactics and harsh interpretation of Shariah law, is pushing farther into Iraq. The organization is considered so extreme that even al-Qaida leaders want nothing to do with it.
As this animated map shows, the extremist group now known as the Islamic State has made major gains since early last year with the declared goal of establishing an Islamic empire, or caliphate, in large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Afghanistan is about to get a new leader for the first time since the Taliban were driven out in 2001 and replaced by the current president, Hamid Karzai.
Saturday's presidential runoff will be a historic event in Afghanistan, marking the first time in the country's long and often painful history that power has changed hands through the ballot box.
Karzai is barred from running again, and the only two names on the ballot will be Abdullah Abdullah, an ophthalmologist and former foreign minister, and Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank official.
Al-Qaida-linked Sunni militants continued their march across the country, and a representative of the country's most revered Shiite cleric urged Iraqis to defend their nation, increasing the possibility of sectarian strife in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters filled the vacuum created by fleeing Iraqi forces, and pressure built on President Obama to take action in Iraq.
The extremist Islamist group ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, shocked the world this week by conquering the northern city of Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities and home to some 2 million people.
ISIS is also a key player in the Syrian civil war, fighting both the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and more moderate rebel forces.
The group is made of Syrian, Iraqi and foreign fighters who slide back and forth between the two countries for attacks on opponents or to take safe haven in the territory they control. Mosul is by far their biggest conquest yet.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. Iraq seems to be breaking apart at the seams. Sunni extremists have taken more territory as government troops abandon their posts. Today, President Obama said Iraq needs help to counter the extremist group known as ISIS - Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
We now return to NPR's Michele Kelemen on how the White House is weighing its options in aiding Iraq and its Confrontation with ISIS extremist and finding limited options.
MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: For those experts who argued that the U.S. should have tried harder to reach an agreement with Iraq to leave some troops there rather than pull out completely in 2011 this is their nightmare scenario. Retired Army officer Rick Brennan did a study for the RAND Corporation that showed that Iraqi security forces just weren't ready.
U.S. relations with Russia are at their lowest point since the Cold War thanks to the crisis in Ukraine. Russian defense officials are talking about a new doctrine of subversive warfare between major world powers. They accuse the West of using popular uprisings to topple unfriendly governments. And some analysts say Moscow itself is employing that strategy in eastern Ukraine. More from NPR's Corey Flintoff.
I'm not sure that cities like Miami and Rio de Janeiro truly appreciate the sun. They clearly enjoy the sun, what with their beach volleyball games and their fruity cocktails. But to really appreciate the sun, I think you have to live in a place that gets dark by 4 p.m. in the winter. A place where a typical summer day involves drizzle. A place, in short, like London.
U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio after a flight from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, according to a Pentagon spokesman. He will receive medical treatment and will be reunited with his family.