German Chancellor Angela Merkel will win a fourth term after Sunday's national elections, while the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) became the first far-right party to gain more than 5% of the vote since WWII. Unlike the US, voters don't choose the head of their executive branch directly - instead, voters choose a party, and the party with the most votes forms coalitions with smaller groups to collect over 50% of the parliament (German politics 101). Merkel's party - the center-right Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) - gained almost 33% of the vote, followed by the Social Democrats (21%), AfD (13%), and others. Merkel will look to build a coalition with the Green (9%) and Left (9%) parties after the Social Democrats announced a break from the coalition that had governed since 2013.


A weekend of protests and public statements ensued after President Trump criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem (running list of responses). The comments came while stumping for Sen. Luther Strange ahead of Alabama's special election to replace Jeff Sessions. In one jarring scene, the Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the locker room, while a single player - Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger - stood for the anthem in the tunnel (photos from around the NFL). The White House also pulled an invite from NBA champs the Golden State Warriors, before the team could decide on attending the traditional White House visit. Trump said his response on players kneeling during the anthem was about "respect, not race". Despite the uproar, Strange believes the comments will propel him to a win in tomorrow's GOP senate primary. 

Iraqi Kurds are voting in an independence referendum today, ignoring warnings from neighboring Iran, Turkey, and the Iraqi central government. With 30 million people (see 101), Kurds are the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East - but have never had their own state, instead occupying an area that straddles Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria (see map). The part that overlaps into Iraq is recognized as an autonomous region, meaning Iraq has no legal recourse to stop the vote. Kurdish fighters - known as Peshmerga - have played a key role in fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The vote is non-binding but is expected to give regional Kurdish President Massoud Barzani leverage in pushing for secession talks with Baghdad. 
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Historybook: Congress proposes Bill of Rights (1789); HBD Barbara Walters (1929); HBD Christopher Reeve (1952); Little Rock Central High School integrated (1957);  Sonny Liston defeats Floyd Patterson in famous boxing match (1962); HBD Will Smith (1968); Sandra Day O’Connor sworn in as first female Supreme Court justice (1981); RIP Arnold Palmer (2016)
-Christopher Reeve

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