Monday, April 20, 2015

What’s Going On Around The World Today?


As many as 700 migrants may have drowned after a Mediterranean shipwreck yesterday. The boat capsized, with many trapped behind locked doors, just off the Libyan coast in what could be the Mediterranean’s worst migrant disaster ever, according to The Guardian. Many of the passengers were refugees seeking to reach Europe to flee ongoing or worsening wars in their home countries. If confirmed, Sunday’s accident means at least 1,500 migrants have died so far in 2015 while en route to Europe, a figure much higher than that of the same period last year, which was also a record year. Sunday’s accident follows a similar accident last week in which 400 others drowned.

Migrants board a ship as they leave the island of Lampedusa, Southern Italy, to be transferred in Porto Empedocle, Sicily, on Friday.

Francesco Malavolta / AP

And a little extra. “A big reason the journey is becoming deadlier is that no one has stepped in to properly replace Mare Nostrum, an Italian coast guard operation for migrants that ended last year,” BuzzFeed News’ Shyamantha Asokan writes. A smaller European-led operation called Triton has replaced it, but doesn’t have the same capacity. Some European countries fear that setting up a big rescue operation would encourage migrants to take on a risky journey, and hence they were reluctant to help Italy with Mare Nostrum or set up a full replacement, Human Rights Watch’s Judith Sunderland tells BuzzFeed News.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for a meeting of European Union leaders this week. “This is a European tragedy,” Renzi told reporters Sunday. If you want more, we recommend this comprehensive briefing from The Guardian, which outlines the key issues of Europe’s worsening migrant crisis.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gives a press conference focused on the shipwreck of migrants last night off the Libyan coast, on Sunday in Rome.

Tiziana Fabi / AFP / Getty Images


More than 300 people were arrested in South Africa in connection to the wave of violence targeting immigrants from other parts of the African content — evoking the violence that erupted in the country’s apartheid history, BBC News reports. The Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, also issued a warning to those involved in the violence, which has killed at least six people in the past two weeks, and promised legal retaliation. On Sunday, South African President Jacob Zuma canceled a state visit to Indonesia to focus on alleviating the tensions in the county. Zuma has indicated that he will work to allow immigrants to stay in the country peacefully.

What’s next? The xenophobic violence in South Africa has caused backlash from neighboring countries. Nigerian officials are pressuring South African companies to stop operations in Nigeria, while protests are being held at South African embassies across the continent. In response to the backlash, the South African government hastily called a meeting with ambassadors from other African countries to assure them that their concerns about the security of their people were taken seriously. Many from outside South Africa remain skeptical, given the country’s history with apartheid, according to The Guardian.

A man holds up a sign as South African President Jacob Zuma addresses a temporary refugee camp in Chatsworth on Saturday during a visit marked by hostile reaction of foreign nationals chanting 'Go home, go home' and 'too late, too late'.

Rajesh Jantilal / AFP / Getty Images

ISIS may have carried out its first major attack in Afghanistan. On Saturday, a suicide bomber killed 33 people and injured more than 100 others in Jalalabad, a city in eastern Afghanistan. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said ISIS claimed responsibility. If that’s verified, it would mark the militant group’s first “significant step in its expansions into South Asia,”according to Reuters. The Taliban has also strongly denounced the attack, BuzzFeed News’ Felipe Araujo writes.

What’s next? The Taliban may be an important element in ISIS’ attempts to become a prominent force in Afghanistan. ISIS could benefit from Taliban in-fighting, according to Borhan Osman, an analyst who studies the country. “[ISIS] has not built a solid, actual political presence in Afghanistan so far,” Osman told The Guardian, “but if the Taliban quasi-monopoly is broken, that will help [ISIS] to build networks and their brand.”


Today is the Boston Marathon and about one million fans are expected to be cheering on the sidelines. About 30,000 people will run the 26.2-mile course, making this year’s marathon the third-largest in the event’s history, according to CBS Boston. Jurors in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial were told not to attend the marathon ahead of the sentencing phase, which will kick off tomorrow, to avoid anything that could influence their emotions on the case, according to CNN.

Nearly every examiner in the FBI’s forensic unit gave exaggerated testimonies during trials conducted before 2000, the FBI and the Justice Department have formally acknowledged. The admissions come as the government conducts an on-going review of wrongful conviction cases — 32 of which involve defendants sentenced to death. It highlights the decades of failure by American courts to prevent false scientific information from influencing jurors, according to the Washington Post.

Meet Hoda: a 20-year-old woman from Alabama who ran away to Syria and joined ISIS. BuzzFeed News’ Ellie Hall was able to track her down on the internet and interviewed her over Kik, the messaging app, to find out why an American college student would become an ISIS member, bride, and now, a widow. “Life has much more meaning when u know why ur here,” Hoda told Hall.

Via Twitter: @yallahAlJannahh

A huge company in the lucrative but little-known privatized foster care industry has closed its Illinois operations after a scathing government investigation found a “culture of incompetency” at the firm. The investigators found that the company, National Mentor Holdings, did not care for its children adequately and recommended the state stop dealings with the company. A company spokesperson has denied these claims, and insisted the company’s closure in Illinois had nothing to do with the investigation.

The Federal Trade Commission wants to hear what the public has to say about the so-called “sharing economy.” Through a workshop to be held in June, the agency will gather information and solicit public opinions about the business models of companies like Airbnb and Uber, which it will use to inform future regulations and reports on the industry. It’s the latest sign that the regulators are taking on-demand tech companies more seriously as part of the economy — and as a potential threat to consumer and labor rights.

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty Images

There’s an app that lets doctors share and discuss graphic photos of their patients — and allows the public to gawk at them. Many experts say that the app, called Figure 1, raises substantial legal and ethical risks, particularly since a tenth of its users are non-healthcare professionals, BuzzFeed News’ Virginia Hughes writes. But Figure 1’s founders maintain that the app is a strong educational tool for the medical community. (Be warned: the post contains graphic images.)

Quick things to know:

  • Afghan courts are failing women who are victims of domestic violence, a U.N. report finds (BuzzFeed News)

  • Oklahoma says it will now use nitrogen gas as a backup method of execution (BuzzFeed News)

  • Researchers can now identify online trolls from normal internet users based on just five posts (Quartz)

  • Norway will be the first country to turn off FM radio in 2017 to complete its transition to digital radio (Gizmodo)

  • Photos show Kim Jong Un after climbing North Korea’s highest peak but the authenticity of the claim is doubtful (And a BuzzFeed News bonus: Make your own Kim Jong Un caption!)


It’s been a tough start to the week, but here’s something to keep your chin up: An 8-year-old boy in Durham, North Carolina, got a big surprise last week when his father, Corporal James Bass, returned from a year-long deployment in Kuwait and photobombed his school picture. The boy, Joshua, didn’t quite understand what was going on at first — until he was given a tip to turn around. *wipes tear off cheek* Wonderful.


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