Global Scan

Scandinavians, for the first time, are joining the jihad


Residents receive food aid at the besieged al-Yarmouk camp,south of Damascus, April 24 2014.



The Syrian civil war has attracted Islamist jihadi fighters from the across the world, many from the usual places: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya. Now, some fighters are coming from normally peaceful Scandinavia. 

Lars Akerhaug investigated Nordic jihadists for and found almost 250 people have left Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark to fight in Syria. That compares to an estimated 200 Brits fighting in Syria's civil war. But the UK has 60 million people, while the four Nordic countries combined have just 25 million. Akerhaug's research found that most recruitment is happening through social networks. The finding is helpful to intelligence services who want to track the recruiting efforts — but means it may be challenging to stop.

Ukrainian separatists have control of eastern Europe's largest arms cache

When pro-Russian separatists seized government buildings around eastern Ukraine, they collected caches of weapons that could help in their efforts to gain independence from Ukraine. Their biggest accomplishment to date, though, may have been gaining control over access to the Volodarsky salt mine.

The mine lies just 25 miles from Slavyansk, in the heart of the uprising in eastern Ukraine. The mine holds more than a million — perhaps as many as 3.5 million — firearms, ranging from World War I-era heavy machine guns to Soviet-era Kalashnikovs, according to The Guardian. Apparently, no one has taken anything from the mine yet, which is protected by a small group of guards. But local protesters have set up checkpoints around it and say they're preventing the weapons from being used by Ukraine's government against civilians.

A white comedian and his black puppet take on race in South Africa

South Africa's history with race is well known and difficult. It's hard to imagine, then, that a white comedian would be moving the conversation on race forward using a black puppet.

PRI's The World introduces us to Conrad Koch — and his puppet Chester Missing. The puppet is a regular on a South African TV comedy show and many didn't know he was actually controlled by a white man. At a recent stand-up performance in Cape Town, Koch stood on stage with his puppet, answering questions that had been tweeted by the audience. “As a puppet of color, why do you have a white ventriloquist?” Koch asked the puppet, while reading from his cell phone.“Exactly!” the puppet answered. “He’s using me!” The act is controversial, but many say the puppet can talk about race in ways that people can't.

In 18th Century London, you really could be anyone you wanted

The Atlantic reveals the forgotten tale of George Psalmanazar, a man who claimed to be from the island known then as Formosa, known now as Taiwan. Despite the fact he had light skin, blond hair and blue eyes, he was able to convince all ranges of people that he was, in fact, from Formosa, and brought to Europe by kidnapping.

London was fascinated. He was interviewed, exhibited — the toast of the town. What little evidence remains suggests Psalmanazar was actually from France — but few in the 1700s doubted his very elaborate, very tall tale.

The unintended consequences of a hashtag

Right about now, the New York Police are probably regretting their campaign to generate goodwill. They asked people to tweet pictures of themselves with NYPD officers and use the #myNYPD hashtag.

What they got was a steady stream of people tweeting examples of police brutality. And it didn't stop in New York. PRI's The World has examples of tweets from all over the world, inspired by the protests in New York City. 

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Les Suêtes are strong winds that buffet Nova Scotia. And they were exceptionally strong on Thursday, reaching 91 miles per hour. According to Canada's CTV, Les Suêtes are generated when a strong storm sits off the coast of Nova Scotia and drives winds out of the southeast. A strong category one hurricane has winds up to 95 mph.