Amy Held

Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes, thousands of acres scorched and hundreds of buildings reduced to ash. It hasn't even been one week since the latest string of wildfires broke out in Southern California, but the toll is staggering.

Even so, by Saturday, some bright spots began to emerge in the fire-ravaged region.

Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State Saturday after its forces drove out the group from its final area of control along the Syrian border, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told a conference in Baghdad.

"Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border," Abadi later tweeted. "We defeated Daesh through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people."

A bankruptcy judge has granted struggling retailer Toys R Us permission to pay millions of dollars in bonuses to executives after the company argued it was necessary to motivate its top brass during the critical holiday shopping season.

David Ermold once again stepped inside the Rowan County, Ky., courthouse on Wednesday, except this time he wasn't asking for a marriage license — he was asking for Kim Davis' job. She is the Rowan County clerk who refused Ermold and his partner, among other couples, a marriage license on the basis of her religious beliefs against same-sex marriage.

After a night of drinking, South Carolina man Alex Bowen couldn't sleep and decided to get something to eat early Thursday. The Waffle House in West Columbia, S.C., fit the bill, so he stepped inside and waited 10 minutes at the register, but nobody attended to him, he tells local news station WIS-TV.

That was when he realized there was an employee there, the worker just happened to be fast asleep in a corner booth. And Bowen didn't waffle.

Updated at noon ET Monday

The time-honored tradition is as steeped in lore as Father Christmas himself: child nestles on Santa's knee, rattles off the coveted goodies, then a snap of the camera preserves the memory in all of its seasonal glory.

Or, this:

Interminable lines, artificial pine and a whiskered stranger decked in red. It's more than some kids and, yes, even parents, can take.

The U.S. Navy has named the three sailors lost in Wednesday's C-2A aircraft crash southeast of Okinawa, Japan in the Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the Navy identified Lt. Steven Combs, of Florida; Matthew Chialastri, an aviation boatswain's mate airman from Louisiana and Bryan Grosso, an aviation ordnanceman airman apprentice, also from Florida.

Kenya's opposition leader is asking for "international intervention" as violence is escalating in the country's post-election crisis. Overnight into Sunday at least four people were killed in an "area that's opposition heavy," reports NPR's Eyder Peralta from Nairobi.

"The country's just really tense," Eyder says.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga said those who died overnight were his own supporters and called their deaths "state-sponsored thuggery," reports The Associated Press.

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