Just a day before the country’s presidential elections, the Nigerian military has announced that it has retaken the town of Gwoza, Boko Haram’s self-declared capital of its Islamic caliphate. The Nigerian Defense Headquarters tweeted: "FLASH: Troops this morning captured Gwoza destroying the Headquarters of the Terrorists self-styled Caliphate." Along with the militants who captured or killed in the operation, the military said it is now working to find escaping Boko Haram fighters and rescue hostages.
According to a BBC report though, the battle was also tragic. A local told their reporter that the militants gathered all of the areas elderly people and said that “as they were unable to defend themselves from a military attack, they would be helped on their way to paradise,” before slaughtering them. The country’s military has teamed with forces from several nations in their fight against the radical Islamic group, known for their campaigns of terrorism, mass abductions, village raids and murder. The military claims it now as recaptured all of the area once claimed by Boko Haram ... Discuss
Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin has reportedly unveiled new plans to build a road that would connect New York and London, via a 12,910-mile superhighway. As this image from Fox News shows, much of the highway would follow the Trans-Siberian Railway and connect North America to Russia in some sort of bridge (or maybe a tunnel) over the Bering Strait that would end up in a remote Alaskan town. Though the road could cost trillions of dollars, Yakunin argues that potential economic benefits would eventually make the “inter-state, inter-civilization, project" worth the investment. Who wants to go on a road trip? ... Discuss
Investigators are baffled by new evidence that suggests that one of the pilots of Germanwings Flight 9525 became locked out of the plane’s cabin before it crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 on board. According to a report in The New York Times, audio from a cockpit voice recorder revealed a strange turn of events involving the aircraft’s two pilots.
After a series of normal conversation between the two pilots, one left the cockpit for reasons that are not clear. Moments later, he is heard knocking on the door—eventually attempting to break it down—while the plane rapidly descended and eventually crashed. From the NYT report: “A senior French official involved in the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the lack of communication from the pilots during the plane’s descent was disturbing, and that the possibility that their silence was deliberate could not be ruled out."
A shocking new report from the Associated Press has found that some of the seafood sold in American stores like Kroger, Safeway, Wal-Mart and Albertsons may have been caught by workers enslaved by boat captains. For a year, AP reporters spoke to dozens of slave laborers in an Indonesian village, many of whom were trafficked from the impoverished country of Myanmar. Once in the possession of seafood suppliers, the conditions are truly horrific:
They said the captains on their fishing boats forced them to drink unclean water and work 20- to 22-hour shifts with no days off. Almost all said they were kicked, whipped with toxic stingray tails or otherwise beaten if they complained or tried to rest.
Reporters talked to several men who complained about the conditions, and are now confined “in a space barely big enough to lie down, stuck until the next trawler forces them back to sea.” Because of the complexity of supply chains, the fish is often hard to track, and is mixed in with other seafood at processing plants. The AP says that they contacted many major chains for comment, and all of them “strongly condemned labor abuses,” and said they were working to take measures to prevent buying from suppliers who use slave labor. The report is horrifying to read, and some of the quotes from the workers are devastating: “If Americans and Europeans are eating this fish, they should remember us. There must be a mountain of bones under the sea." The piece also outlines some of the steps being taken to prevent slave labor, and why ending the practice in the seafood industry is so difficult ... Discuss
According to several reports, Boko Haram militants recently kidnapped up to 500 children from the Nigerian town of Damasak. The reports come after regional forces recaptured the town from the radical Islamic group, who controlled the area for months. A trader told Reuters, “They took 506 young women and children (in Damasak). They killed about 50 of them before leaving." The man’s own wife and daughters were among those kidnapped. Details of the abductions are still not clear. According to witness reports to the BBC, “about 500 children aged 11 and under are missing,” though Reuters says the number is “more than 400 women and children.” Mass abductions have become a hallmark of the radical Islamic militant group which recently pledged allegiance to ISIS. Last spring, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 school-girls, many of whom were forced to convert to Islam and sold as sex slaves or made to marry Boko Haram fighters. There is also evidence that they may have used kidnapped children as suicide bombers ... Discuss
The New York Times is reporting a disturbing story in which ISIS militants stoned two twentysomethings in the streets of Mosul after they were accused of committing adultery. The story says that the woman may have been married, but it is unclear if any sort of private trial took place. A dozen ISIS militants reportedly gathered a crowd of hundreds to witness the stoning. In recent months there has been several public executions of residents for committing acts that are seen as socially unacceptable by the radical Islamic militants. Earlier in the day, three other twentysomethings were reportedly beheaded after ISIS members heard rumors that one of their relatives had met with a Kurdish leader. A witness to the stoning crime told the Times:
I was moved by the crying of this woman, who started bleeding and then died from the stoning. I was standing there helpless. The government have left us as captives in the hands of ISIS, who make all kinds of crimes in the city. The more I see their crimes, the more I hate them and realize they have come to carry out a paid agenda to destroy the city and its history and civilization and to defame the image of Islam.