Hebdo Cartoonist Leaves, Putin The Liar, Eurovision Run-Up

Hebdo Cartoonist Leaves, Putin The Liar, Eurovision Run-Up


At least 25,000 people have fled Ramadi, Iraq, after ISIS fighters captured it from government forces after fierce clashes Sunday that killed at least 500 people, the UN reports.

  • The BBC reports that ISIS jihadists were “going door-to-door looking for government sympathizers and throwing bodies in the nearby Euphrates river.”
  • Reports say thousands of Iran and government-backed Shia militiamen are massing outside Ramadi, preparing to retake the city.
  • ISIS fighters are said to be spreading out in the city in anticipation of clashes, according to Al Jazeera.
  • U.S. officials warn that the 3,000 Shia militia fighters who are on “standby” to fight ISIS could worsen the sectarian violence. One official told Reuters “there’s the potential it can go very, very badly,” and that the use of militias had to be dealt with “very delicately.”
  • France 24 quoted a militia group leader as saying that he had “units ready to join the Ramadi front from three directions.”
  • White House spokesman Eric Schultz said U.S. aircrafts were searching for ISIS targets around Ramadi. The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in the region has reportedly led 19 airstrikes against the terrorist group near Ramadi.
  • The capture of Ramadi is seen as the biggest ISIS victory since the group captured Mosul last year, and a huge blow to the opposition coalition.


“I won’t be Charlie Hebdo anymore, but I will still be Charlie,” the cover headline in today’s Libération reads, quoting Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz, who has decided to leave the staff. Libération has hosted Charlie Hebdo since the January terror attacks that targeted the weekly, killing 12 of its employees. In an exclusive interview, Luz tells the newspaper that the pressure of his work, being a hero for the country and the constant media exposure are all “too much to bear.” Read more in our Extra! feature.


The Philippines has become the first southeast Asian country to agree to take in thousands of migrants stranded on boats in the Andaman Sea, after neighbors Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia turned them away despite UN warnings of “floating coffins,” The Guardian reports. Unfortunately, the boats may be too far away, making the difficult, especially given that they are low on food and fuel. Many of the “boat people” are from the Rohingya minority, which is heavily persecuted in Burma, the country they fled.


The first two Apple stores opened their doors 14 years ago today in Tysons Corner, Va., and Glendale, Calif. More about this day in history.


Only a quarter of the world’s workers have secure jobs with permanent contracts, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reports in its World Employment and Social Outlook 2015, published today. The remaining 75% of global workers have temporary or short-term contracts, work in informal, unpaid family jobs, are self-employment or labor without any contract at all. According to the report, 201 million people across the globe were unemployed last year, 30 million more than before the 2008 financial crisis.


A landslide killed at least 50 people yesterday in northwest of Colombia, El Espectador reports. The village of Santa Margarita, near the provincial capital of Medellin, was mostly swept away in the disaster. The landslide was triggered when the Liboriana river burst its banks after heavy rains. After visiting the scene, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said local authorities did not yet know the total number of victims. He also declared a state of emergency and promised to rebuild.


An Afghanistan court sentenced 11 police officers to a year in prison today for failing to protect a woman killed by a mob lynching in Kabul in March, the BBC reports. Earlier this month, four men were hanged to death and eight others jailed for the killing. In March, 28-year-old Farkhunda was violently beaten to death by a mob in the capital after she was accused of burning a copy of the Koran. An official investigation said there was no evidence that she had burned the Muslim holy book.


The U.S. State Department will not release portions of 55,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before January 2016, according to a federal court document filed yesterday. The comes after Vice News launched a freedom of information lawsuit in January related to Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct government business while the now-presidential candidate was Secretary of State. In the 13-page court document, the State Department official John Hacket said reviewing the emails would be “intensive” and “time-consuming.” Hillary Clinton said in March that she wanted the emails to be publicly released as soon as possible.


Evidence is so overwhelming that even Russians can no longer deny the truth that their country is fighting in Ukraine, especially since the posthumous release of a report compiled by a slain political activist. But as Die Welt’s Jacques Schuster writes, Putin offers something better than the truth. “Last August alone, 150 Russian soldiers were killed,” he writes. “So now, those in Russia who would like to know the truth can hear it from their very own (politically opposed) fellow countryman. It appears that President Vladimir Putin lies just as well as he rides and shoots. But the West can scarcely get its hopes up now, even if this is a saddening prospect. The fact of the matter is that, politically speaking, the voice of the political opposition is being heard about as attentively as the orchestrated cultural tripe of the Don Cossack Choir at the Bolshoi Theatre.”

Read the full article, Putin The Liar, And The Russians Who Love Him.


Photo: Ricky Fitchett/ZUMA

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced new restrictions on the militarization of the country’s local police departments, NBC News reports. The federal government will no longer provide heavy military equipment such as tanks, tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, grenade launchers, bayonets, firearms and ammunitions measuring .50-caliber and larger. “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling like there's an occupying force, as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them,” President Obama said in a speech yesterday in Camden, N.J., once one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. “It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.”


Russia is planning to free itself from iOS and Android by building its own operating system, The Next Web reports. It will reportedly be based on “Sailfish,” an open-source system modeled on Linux and Mer.



The “big” Eurovision Song Contest is just a few days away. We’re still previewing — sometimes painfully — the remaining contestants. Here we feature the pop-music-challenged Slovenia.

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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