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NEED TO KNOW:
The whole world knows the name Boko Haram. That's the terrorist group that kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls. Despite the hashtag — #BringBackOurGirls — Boko Haram militants never brought back anyone's girls. Instead the group continued its vicious, violent march from town to town, killing indiscriminately and leaving a wake of total annihilation. It's hard to exaggerate the damage Boko Haram has done.
But it wasn't always this way. The group had humble beginnings, first rooted in the fight against British colonialism, then against the corruption of a neglectful government. GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Erin Conway-Smith traveled to Nigeria to investigate what gave rise to the group, what fueled it, the devastating repercussions of it all, and what can be done to stop them. It's a long-read worth reading.
Conway-Smith says Boko Haram counts about 15,000 fighters in its ranks. They are recruited from ethnic Kanuri areas in the northeast, as well as forced conscripts. Many are motivated by a deep unhappiness with the Nigerian government, led since 2010 by President Goodluck Jonathan, who is from Nigeria’s Christian-dominated, oil-rich southern delta. Jonathan was voted out in March 2015 elections, and is due to step down in late May.
“Nigeria is an important oil producer, but much of that income is siphoned off by a greedy elite instead of being invested in the country,” Conway-Smith writes. “By almost any development metric — infrastructure, literacy, health care, employment, income — the mainly Muslim north is lagging far behind. It is this dichotomy that Boko Haram has exploited since its inception, drawing support from the young and alienated.”
The result has been merciless. And these are the stories, as told by those who have lived through them.
WANT TO KNOW:
In an era of terrorist atrocities and faceless cyber crime, there’s something exciting about a good old-fashioned diamond heist. It's been a week since thieves made off with almost $300 million in jewels from London's diamond district. And a fumbling police investigation is no closer to solving the crime.
It has all the trappings of a Hollywood drama, writes GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Corinne Purtill. The thieves drilled through a concrete floor with industrial equipment before carting their loot away, unnoticed, in wheeled trash cans. The newspapers are full of stories featuring ex-cops and ex-cons turned consultants, offering their insights. There are rumors that powerful crime families are among the victims. There are questions about suspicious fires and unanswered alarms. No one in the diamond district is talking.
And now we have the characters. The UK tabloid the Mirror was the first to find CCTV images of the thieves in action, dubbing the six visible perpetrators with noir-ish, headline-ready nicknames based on their distinguishing characteristics: Mr. Ginger. Mr. Strong. Mr. Montana. The Tall Man. The Old Man. The Gent. (The last one was wearing nice shoes.)
With little evidence to go on, the entirety of London seems to have joined the investigation. An army of private investigators has risen. And the city is consumed.
STRANGE BUT TRUE:
In Russia, Hillary Clinton's video announcing her candidacy for president is considered adult content. At least one of the television networks that aired the video slapped it with an 18+ rating. But while Clinton is not counted among Russian President Vladimir Putin's favorite world leaders, she wasn't the problem.
The problem was that the video featured a scene where two gay men talk about getting married. Putin's government signed a law in 2013 banning “homosexual propaganda,” writes GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Dan Peleschuk. So to protect itself from fines or worse, the television station gave the video an adult rating.
It's the second time in a week that the 18+ rating has been publicly discussed. Last Thursday, the Russian lawmaker who originally sponsored the anti-gay bill proposed slapping Apple's new operating system with the rating because it apparently includes a set of “gay emoticons.” The lawmaker said the new iOS should be marketed as 18+ and “sold only in specialized stores together with whips and gags.”
It's so absurd it would be funny if all the rhetoric wasn't creating a dangerous environment for gay people in Russia. Anti-gay sentiment has risen dramatically. More than 60 percent of Russians now say homosexuality should not be accepted in society. Videos of gay-bashing have gone viral online, a trend human rights groups say is “deliberately ignored” by authorities. It's a scary time to be openly gay in Russia.