ISIS VIDEO SHOWS CHILD KILLING TEEN
A video posted online by ISIS shows a young boy fatally shooting 19-year-old Muhammad Musallam, an Israeli Arab whom the terrorist group accused of being a spy for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence services, Reuters
- Wearing an orange jumpsuit, Musallam is seen saying he had been recruited and trained by Mossad after his father and brother encouraged him.
- He is then escorted to a field with the young boy and an older, French-speaking man who, according to France 24, may the half-brother of Mohamed Merah, who carried out the Toulouse and Montauban shootings in 2012.
- Musallam’s father denied his son was a spy, saying last month he had gone missing while on a tourist trip in Turkey.
- An Israeli security official said he had left for Syria to fight with ISIS.
IRAQI FORCES ENTER TIKRIT
The Iraqi military, in alliance with private Shia militias, have entered parts of Tikrit, a city northwest of Baghdad that has been under ISIS control since June 2014. This is part of a major offensive against the Sunni jihadist group.
- The Iraqi forces had already surrounded Tikrit on Tuesday along the Tigris River, Al Jazeera reports.
- Government troops and Shia fighters are now allegedly stationed in the main streets, as they are expected to retake the entire city in the coming days.
- Meanwhile, key ISIS communication and supply lines between Syria and Iraq were allegedly destroyed by the U.S-led coalition against the terrorist group Tuesday, Al Arabiya reports.
- Reuters also reported Wednesday that hundreds of ISIS fighters had launched an attack on Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria, triggering fierce fighting that has killed dozens on both sides.
Photo above: David Fisher/Rex Features/ZUMA
American actors Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson reprised their roles as models from Zoolander Tuesday at the Valentino show during Paris Fashion Week. Their humorous appearance was part of an announcement that a sequel to the 2001 movie is in the works.
NEMTSOV MURDER SUSPECT’S CONFESSION “FORCED”
Zaur Dadayev, one of two suspects charged with the murder of the Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, told Andrei Babushkin, a member of Russia's Human Rights Council he confessed under duress. After visiting Dadayev in a Moscow prison Tuesday, Babushkin said “numerous wounds” on his body suggested he had been tortured, the BBC reports. The suspect, who was allegedly tied up for two days with a bag over his head, said he only confessed so a friend with him would be freed. According to the Human Rights Watch representative, Dadayev intended to say this in a court hearing Sunday but was never given a chance to speak.
“Russia is still in eastern Ukraine,” said NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a news conference Wednesday in Mons, Belgium, Le Figaro reports. “"We still see Russian presence and strong support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine. We see the delivery of equipment, forces, training ... Therefore we call on Russia to withdraw all its forces from eastern Ukraine and to respect the Minsk agreement."
Likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is fighting back the latest controversy over her use of a private email account while serving as U.S. Secretary of State. Her press conference to (sort of) defend herself and (sort of) apologize was splashed across American front pages. Here’s how it looked on The Wall Street Journal.
Around 15 armed robbers attacked two armored vans as they stopped at a highway turnpike on Wednesday night in France, in what seemed like a well-prepared raid. They left with 9 million euros worth of cash and jewelry, France Info reports.
ON THIS DAY
We mark the 1931 birth of this mogul, who says he’s not “bad-tempered at all.” Plus dark days in Spain and Japan on your 57-second shot of history.
Christophe Boltanski of French weekly L’Obs (Le Nouvel Observateur) tells the story of three young Syrians who, despite death threats, are fighting the jihadists terrorizing their country with the only weapon they have: pure mockery: “They create their videos with bits and pieces. A camera, a bright green curtain, a computer. Not forgetting the panoply of the perfect terrorist: a plastic Kalashnikov, fake knives, beards, and dynamite sticks. Jihad, in its prank version.
Since January, they have posted a new sketch every Friday. A dark background, macabre titles, Hollywood-like music, their opening credits spoofing the propaganda films of the Al-Hayat Media Center, the communications department of ISIS. Their logo shows a blindfolded hostage.
Read the full article, Making Fun Of ISIS, Syrian Activists Strike Back With Humor.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
THIS BEAUTIFUL TIME-LAPSE TOOK TWO YEARS TO MAKE
The Austrian photographers Thomas Pöcksteiner and Peter Jablonowski made an astonishing timelapse of their country that took two years, 600 sequences and 5 terabytes of photos to shoot.
Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.
SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.
The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.
It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.
Seoul housing prices top London and New York
In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.
According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.
Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.
One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.
According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.
Playing the stock market
At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.
A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."
In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.
42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s
Game of survival
In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.
But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.
This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.
- Death & Debt: More French Heirs Renounce Succession Of ... ›
- The Ancient Art Of Debt Relief, A Brief History - Worldcrunch ›
- South Korea Owes Iran Billions But Won't Cough Up The Cash ... ›