As crises continue around the world, the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) Project yesterday unveiled an interactive map, which visualizes the many protests and conflicts occurring globally. Take a look and follow along as we roll through today’s crises.
Let’s start with Europe: the Associated Press reports that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced today that he is resigning. Meanwhile, yesterday, a fist-fight broke out among members of the Ukrainian Parliament. USA Today has footage. (With all the violence, who can blame Yatsenyuk?)
According to the Wall Street Journal, “If you’re one of those who thought the attack on a civilian plane with Russian missiles would change everything, or even something, you lost.” Indeed, yesterday, Ukrainian rebels shot down two military planes flying over separatist-held territory in the eastern part of the country. The Post and Time share details.
A report released by the Dutch Safety Board yesterday declared that the black boxes on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were not tampered with after the crash. Time has more details.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Ukrainian separatist Vostok Battalion, admitted that rebels did possess BUK surface to air missiles. The U.S. believes such a missile system was used to shoot down MH17. Khodakovsky then noted that the anti-aircraft weapons could have been removed following the crash.
A recent poll released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs demonstrates that American favorability ratings of Russia have “fallen to their lowest levels since the Cold War,” yet few would want to intervene in Ukraine, even if Russia attempted to invade the rest of the country.
Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf declared yesterday that France’s € 1.2 billion deal to supply Russia with two Mistral-class warships is “completely inappropriate” at this time. Defense News writes more on the agreement.
In War Is Boring, Michael Peck informs us of a CIA mission that “hijacked” a Soviet satellite and mined it for information. According to Peck, when and where the theft occurred is still classified.
In the cases of two Guantanamo detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the European Court of Human Rights ruled today that Poland violated its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights to prevent torture by housing a CIA “black site,” where U.S. spies sought to “break” al Qaeda suspects. Reuters has details on the decision.
Meanwhile, the Post reports that Berlin still has a problem with the U.S. over CIA spying in Germany.
Moving on to the Middle East: yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who expressed frustration in response to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) suspension of all U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv. The Post examines the Israeli response to the short-lived FAA action. According to Politico, the FAA lifted the ban late last night.
Today, the Israeli Defense Forces bombed a Gaza school run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. Reuters reports that at least 15 are dead. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera describes the network of Gaza tunnels, which have become the target of recent Israeli military action.
As a reminder, Haaretz has live updates of the ongoing situation.
The Wall Street Journal outlines a new cease-fire plan, being prepared by the U.S. and Middle East allies. The AP notes that while diplomatic officials work out this agreement, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) sent a letter to President Obama yesterday, insisting that “any viable cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants must eliminate the threat posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels.” The Post Editorial Board seems to agree with the three lawmakers.
However, America’s many ties to Israel “are reviving questions about whether the United States can be an honest broker for peace,” writes the Post. Indeed, according to the New York Times, though many Americans are still largely supportive of Israel, the rest of the world appears to be turning against the Jewish State. Yesterday, the United Nations Human Rights Council agreed to examine purported war crimes committed by Israel. The Guardian shares more on the probe.
Meanwhile, in Politico, Henry Siegman argues that “Israel provoked this war.”
The dance in Iraq these days seems to go like this: one step forward, two steps back.
Reuters reports that on Thursday, Iraq’s parliament elected senior Kurdish politician Fouad Masoum president. While the election of Mr. Masoum is a positive step, electing a prime minister may be far more difficult. The Army Times tells us that Iraq’s sitting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has rejected an attempt by Iran, the Shia politician’s staunchest ally, to persuade him to step down.
According to Reuters, the United Nations is reporting that the Islamic State has ordered all women and girls in and around Iraq’s northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation. Such a decree could affect up to 4 million females in the area. This comes as an attack in Baghdad killed 52 prisoners and nine policemen today. Reuters also has information.
The Post notes that in the United States, lawmakers continued to clash on Wednesday over the American response to Iraq’s growing militant groups. At a House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republicans suggested drone strikes should have been authorized months ago, while even some Democrats appeared to question the Administration’s approach. According to the Wall Street Journal, Brett McGurk, Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Iraq and Iran, described the Islamic State as a “full-blown army” that is worse than al Qaeda. Foreign Policy has more from the hearing, including information on how the Iraqi government ignored U.S. warnings about the ISIS threat to the country.
In their efforts to push back against the Islamic State, Human Rights Watch has accused the Iraqi military of killing dozens of civilians and wounding hundreds more in indiscriminate air strikes, many of which they claim have used barrel bombs. The group said the United States should stop providing weapons to Baghdad “until it complies with international law.” The Post has the story.
Ben Hubbard in the Times writes about life inside the Islamic State, where order and some semblance of normal life comes at the cost of public executions and strict social codes.
Meanwhile, the threat from militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq may already be spreading to the West. The Associated Press has a startling report that Norway’s intelligence service has been warned of an imminent, “concrete threat” against the nation from people with ties to Islamic fighters in Syria. The head of the Norwegian security service said that some kind of attack may occur “within days.” Norway estimates that at least 50 people have traveled to Syria from Norway as foreign fighters, and that at least half have returned.
Along the same lines, the Times reports that a 25-year-old from British Columbia has been charged under a new antiterrorism law. He is accused of joining Islamists fighters in Syria, after leaving Canada in January.
And as the profile of the Islamic State rises, al Qaeda is continuing to rebrand itself in an effort to counter the new group’s support within the jihadi community. Jihadica has more on the “recasting of Mullah ‘Umar,” who is now not only the leader of the Afghan Taliban, but also a counter-Caliph.
Perhaps too predictably, an audit of the Afghan presidential election is not going well. On Wednesday, election authorities halted the inspection of the 8 million ballots, raising concerns that the process could take months to complete. The inquiry was expected to resume today; the Post shares more.
With political chaos in the capitol, two Finnish female aid workers were killed in the western Afghan city of Herat today. The Post provides more details on the murder, which Finland’s prime minister has called “a great tragedy.”
Turning to Africa: the fiercest fighting since the war to oust Gaddafi continued today in Libya. Reuters reports that at least nine people were killed and 19 wounded in clashes in Benghazi as the government tried to drive Islamist militants from the city.
Michael Pizzi, writing in Al Jazeera, details the story of a rogue and controversial Libyan ex-general, Khalifa Haftar, who has mounted an offensive to defeat extremists militias in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi.
Suicide bombings have killed at least 82 people in Nigeria since yesterday, reports Reuters. According to the report, the attacks carried all the indicators of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
As violence escalates in Somalia, five people, including two women in the United States, have been charged with providing financial support to Al-Shabab. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, each woman has been charged with 20 counts of “providing material support to a foreign terrorist group.” Al Jazeera has more.
This morning, a plane operated by Air Algerie and traveling from Burkina Faso to Algiers crashed in Tilemsi, Mali. According to the Wall Street Journal, around 1:55 am local time, air traffic controllers lost radar contact with the jetliner, which was carrying 116 people. The Post also carries the story.
Politico examines deliberate threats to civilian aircraft and “our new fear of flying.”
On the home front: the Hill reports that U.S. Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation that would force President Obama to give Congress power to reject a deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions if a final deal does not meet their expectations. The bill would also impose a November 28 deadline on negotiations.
Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux inform us in the Intercept of recent updates to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)’s guidelines for naming someone a terrorist. The new revisions to the “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance” “allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations.” The Post and National Journal have more on the story, while Wells shared the Intercept story on Lawfare.
The Post’s Scott Higham outlines the brewing controversy behind the FBI’s new “Insider Threat Program” and how similar programs may prevent legitimate whistleblowers from coming forward.
The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency announced that because its competition to create a human-like robot has so far exceeded expectations, some of the teams involved will have an extra six months to “raise the bar.” Roll Call has the story, and seriously, watch the video.
Politico has learned that President Obama plans to issue an executive order to develop privacy guidelines for commercial drones operating in U.S. airspace.
If you already have a drone, check this map before you fly it. The interactive map, hosted by Wired and developed by Mapbox, shows where it is legal to fly a drone.
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