SPOTLIGHT: MIGRANT RISKS

Whether fleeing war or poverty, migrants from Africa and the Middle East continue to risk their lives to reach Europe for what's been advertised as just one dangerous leap away from a much better life. The latest grim report comes this morning from Morocco where one migrant died attempting to reach the Spanish enclave of Melilla through the sewage system. More often, the tragic ending to these stories feature would-be migrants suffocating in the back of a smuggler's truck or drowning in the Mediterranean, where this week we learned more than 10,000 migrants have died since 2014.


In a bid to stem the influx of migrants, the European Commission set out partnership plans with several Middle Eastern and African countries earlier this week. This plan, following the model of a much-criticized deal with Turkey, includes trade and visa deals, as well as the creation of a $70-billion investment fund. While being a boon for the countries on the receiving end, whether such a plan would suffice to stop migrants heading north or west, or indeed whether such a plan can even materialize, are both questionable. Demands from voters at home to reduce the arrival combine with calls from human rights groups to save lives. In the more cloistered confines of diplomatic and economic negotiations, Financial Times reporter Duncan Robinson notes, European governments face a very different kind of risk: European Council President Donald Tusk bluntly called it "blackmail."



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



RAMADAN ENTRY PERMITS SUSPENDED AFTER TEL AVIV SHOOTING

Israel revoked the Ramadan travel permits of 83,000 Palestinians, after two Palestinian gunmen opened fire on civilians at a restaurant in a Tel Aviv shopping mall, The Times of Israel reports. The attack killed four Israelis and injured 16.


DOUBLE-BLAST IN BAGHDAD

The Iraqi capital of Baghdad was hit by two separate car explosions this morning, killing 22 people, including seven troops, and wounding 70, Reuters reports. It's the latest in a wave of major attacks in the city, while Iraqi troops are battling to retake the ISIS-held town of Fallujah, west of the capital.


— ON THIS DAY

Everyone's favorite pirate, chocolate maker, murderous barber, emo gardener, etc., was born 53 years ago today! That, and more, in today's 57-second shot of History.


FIGHTING IN ALEPPO

At least five people were killed and some 50 injured in an attack carried out by jihadist group al-Nusra at a market in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry told Interfax.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Palmyra was still among the most impressive historical sites in the Middle East until ISIS jihadists attacked it in August 2015, sacking the museum and packing explosives into a dozen burial towers. Writing for Le Monde, Florence Evin draws parallels with how reconstruction was handled in other war-torn sites: "In this newly liberated city, should we turn the page as soon as possible to erase the devastation wrought by ISIS? Rebuild no matter the cost, with faux sites snuffing the originals out from memory? Or should we preserve this jewel —a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1980 — exactly as it is, ruins and all? That last option was what was decided in Bamyan, Afghanistan, where all that remains of the giant Buddhas carved into the cliffs are the indentations that once housed them. The Taliban blew these figures up with dynamite in 2001, viewing them as idols from a past they despise, and now, their empty shells are a testament to the brutality of Afghan religious fundamentalists. In the case of Palmyra, on the other hand, political pressure has led some to fear an overly hasty reconstruction."

Read the full article, Palmyra, The Politics And Poetry Of Restoring War Ruins.


AL-SHABAB KILLS ETHIOPIAN TROOPS

Jihadist fighters with al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab claimed they killed 43 Ethiopian troops stationed in Somalia as part of the African Union Mission to Somalia, Al Jazeera reports.


EXTRA!

Battles over food shortages continue in Venezuela. Leading opposition daily El Nacional features clashes in Caracas on the front page.


VERBATIM

"We have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS that opened yesterday in New York. The UN's target for ending the pandemic is 2030.


MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Haute Couture — Pont-L'Abbé, 1982


STUDENT PROTESTS BANNED IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

A court order in Papua New Guinea has banned students from demonstrating after yesterday's incidents with the police in which several were wounded, AP reports.


— MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

THEY'RE BAAAAACK

They came in the night, by the hundreds, and they "took" the Spanish town of Huesca.

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Ideas

How Facebook Knowingly Undermines The World's Largest Democracy

Facebook whistleblower Sophie Zhang says that the tech giant knowingly facilitates undermining democracy in India. Fair voting cannot be guaranteed if real people's voices are drowned out by armies of fake online commentators.

The Tek Fog app is allegedly used by online operatives to hijack social media

Sophie Zhang

-OpEd-

NEW DELHI — Earlier this month, The Wire published an exposé on Tek Fog, an app allegedly used by India's ruling, right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to make social engineering easier. The app is allegedly used by online operatives to hijack social media and amplify right-wing propaganda in the country.

The investigation immediately grabbed the attention of the Indian public. For the first time, everyday Indians were given insight into the inner workings of a major political party's Information Technology Cell (IT cell). Indians were forced to confront the possibility that their everyday reality was shaped not by the Indian public but the whims of shadowy political operatives.

They also discovered that their own ruling party would seek to phish their phones with spyware for the purpose of sending party-line propaganda impersonating them to friends and family. Such serious allegations more closely resemble an authoritarian dictatorship like the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and their hired online commentators, the 50 Cent Army (五毛党), than the world’s largest democracy.

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