Global Scan

Are alleged ISIS passports a hoax?

ISIS alleged passports.jpg

This photo has been widely tweeted, including by some experts on the Iraq situation, as showing passports issued by ISIS for their new Islamic caliphate.


Ghaffar Hussain/Twitter

For the last month, photos like this have been circulating on social networks. They purport to show passports issued by ISIS militants for their new Islamic Caliphate — as a sign of their hubris and move to establish their own state.

Even experts on the Iraq situation have tweeted the photos with comments like, "ISIS now issuing passports, I'm sure they won't create panic and alarm at airport check in desks." But the photos are likely fake.

Both Britain's The Independent and France 24 have posted accounts citing reasons why they are likely fakes. For example, the photos appeared on the web months before ISIS declared its Caliphate. One seems clearly Photoshop'ed and the other has English on it — probably not the language of choice for the militants. 

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South Africa is planning a heavy humanitarian airlift — of rhinos

South Africa is home to more than 80 percent of Africa's surviving rhino population, and poachers are getting increasingly bold. Poachers killed just 13 rhinos in 2007, but more than 1,000 rhinos in 2013. So the country is considering extreme measures to protect the endangered animals. 

South Africa's Kruger National Park plans to load 500 rhinos — which can weigh more than a ton each — onto helicopters to transport them to special "rhino strongholds" or private parks, or even other countries, to get them out of harm's way. The BBC reports that the increase in rhino poaching comes because of a boom in trade in rhino horn, especially in Asia, which has been illegal since 1977.

Here's how US immigration courts have become overwhelmed and unfair

The US immigration court system has become swamped in the last few years as Central American migrants flee violence in their home countries and seek asylum in the US. Migrants now have to wait years for their day in court, and statistics show they receive unequal justice once there, including mass hearings and sentencing.

PRI's Global Nation desk produced a video documenting the rising backlog and showing that migrants have widely different success in gaining asylum, depending on where they are from, whether they have lawyers and which judges hear their cases. 

Oops ... a US military plane on a mission in Afghanistan gets tracked by a public website

Media reports of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 and the disappearance of flight 370 have cited information from websites that track commercial airline flights in real time. So many people now know about sites like FlightAware and Flightradar24. But, recently, Flightradar24 recorded a flight that probably wasn't supposed to be there.

According to a report from The Aviationist, Flightradar24 recorded the flight path of a US Air Force jet for more than nine hours recently, during which it was very likely coordinating a deadly US airstrike on Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. It's not uncommon for military planes to use the same technology that these flight tracking sites rely on, but it is usually turned off over war zones. In this case, it looks like someone messed up.

Species around the globe are becoming extinct at an incredible clip

Some 250 million years ago, the majority of life on Earth came to an end. Scientists say that in just 60,000 years, the planet very nearly reached the point where it could no longer support multi-cellular life. They believe the cause was a massive volcanic explosion that led to high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Sound familiar?

The Earth now seems headed into another major extinction event — at an even faster pace. PRI's Living on Earth talked to New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert, whose new book looks at extinctions throughout Earth's history and how species are dying off today. And the culprit seems to be the climate change that humans are creating.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Earlier this year, meteorologists and climatologists predicted an intense El Niño — perhaps to rival the most intense one ever that occurred in the mid-1990s. But that El Niño hasn't developed, leaving the experts puzzling over how their forecasts went wrong. Vox looks at what changed the forecast and what the lack of an El Niño might mean to various parts of the world.

This post is a regular feature of It's a daily brief and email newsletter of stories, events and graphics that are catching the attention of our news staff. The World's Leo Hornak kicks it off from London and various folks on our editorial team around the globe contribute from there, like Cartoon Editor Carol Hills in Boston. Don't expect anything near the standard wrap of major news stories. This blog post and its email companion will be as idiosyncratic as our staff... and we'll want you to tell us what you like and don't like. Sign up for a account and subscribe to our newsletter to get it delivered to your inbox. The newsletter arrives during the US morning hours.