Australian politics, society & culture

The Shortlist Daily

The best reads from around the world

24th of November 2015

Brussels paralysed by terror dragnet for third day “On what normally would be a bustling Monday, empty streets and an eerie silence attested to the reality that this capital city, the heart of the European Union, had been paralyzed by a terrorist cell answering to the leaders of the Islamic State. The central square, known as the Grand Place or Grote Markt, was all but deserted, except for a few tourists ambling around a giant Christmas tree. Soldiers patrolled an area normally thronged with shoppers, and armored personnel carriers rolled over cobblestone streets usually choked with cars. The level of anxiety was so high that the authorities felt compelled to remind people that they were free to leave their houses, even in Brussels, although they still were recommending that they ‘avoid unnecessary travel to busy places and comply with any potential security check’.” (Also: Belgians respond to terror raids with cats)

The New York Times

23rd of November 2015

AFP whistleblower’s explosive claims of mass murder, rape and corruption “The source — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — claims to have witnessed atrocities committed against Papua New Guinea nationals while he was deployed in Lae, in the north of PNG, between December 2013 and July 2014. He alleged the Australian government had ignored official AFP member witness reports of PNG government sanctioned ‘ethnic cleansing’, murder, rape and corruption, because of political interests. He said Australian taxpayers’ money had fallen into the wrong hands with the ‘corrupt’ PNG government groups using earth moving equipment funded through Department of Foreign Affairs aid programs to carry out some of its crimes. The source said he saw an entire village flattened by a taskforce using Australia-funded bulldozers in mid-2014; forcibly removing, displacing and killing the villagers who had purchased the land and built homes there some 30 years earlier.” (NB: Graphic images)

20th of November 2015

Why a climate deal is the best hope for peace “The implications of a failure to bring carbon down to safer levels go well beyond amplifying catastrophes like Syria’s historic drought. The last time atmospheric CO2 was this high, global sea levels were at least six metres higher. We find ourselves confronted with ice-sheet disintegration that, in some susceptible areas, already appears unstoppable. In the currently overloaded CO2 climate, it’s just a matter of time until hundreds of millions of people will be displaced from coastal regions, their agricultural lands and groundwater destroyed by saltwater intrusion from sea rise. Among the most vulnerable areas are broad swaths of South and Southeast Asia—which include some of the world’s biggest cities, from Shanghai to Jakarta—along with a number of coastal African and Latin American countries, such as Nigeria, Brazil, and Egypt.”

The New Yorker

19th of November 2015

Paris bombers were lost in secret files “Just hours before a woman blew herself up during a seven-hour standoff with police in Paris early Wednesday, officials at the country’s Muslim organizations were dealing with their new normal: answering calls from anguished or angry French Muslims targeted by cops and confined to home for the next three months. They were among the approximately 104 people placed under house arrest after a raid conducted Sunday and Monday of more than 200 homes in northern and southern France, targeting those suspected of having ties to radical Islamists. An additional 23 people were formally arrested and take into custody. Many didn’t know that they were among the more than 10,000 people on French intelligence’s rarely discussed high-security watch list, called la fiche S (for ‘Sûreté de l’Etat’), or S Files.”

The Daily Beast

18th of November 2015

Blast at market in northeastern Nigeria kills 32 “A blast struck a market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Yola on Tuesday evening, killing 32 people and wounding 80 others, both the Red Cross and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said. The explosion occurred at a fruit and vegetable market beside a main road in the Jimeta area of Adamawa’s state capital around 8pm (1900 GMT). There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the blast bore the hallmarks of militant Islamist group Boko Haram which has killed thousands over the last six years in its bid to create a state adhering to strict Sharia law in the northeast.”


17th of November 2015

Hollande calls for new powers to ‘eradicate’ ISIS after Paris attacks “Three days after the attacks on a soccer stadium, a concert hall and numerous bars and cafes, French and Belgian security services were focused on the radical jihadist they believe was the leader of the plot, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. He is among the most prominent Islamic State fighters to have come out of Belgium. A French official briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss operational details, said Mr. Abaaoud had mentioned plans to attack ‘a concert hall’ to a French citizen who returned from Syria … Mr. Hollande said the attacks had been ‘planned in Syria, organized in Belgium, perpetrated on our soil with French complicity’. The French authorities said on Monday that they had conducted 168 raids across the country in an effort to root out possible terrorist threats.” (Also The Belgian connection and I was held hostage by ISIS and Confessions of an ISIS spy)

The New York Times

16th of November 2015

Manhunt under way as investigation of Paris attacks widens “The Paris terrorist attacks were carried out with the help of three French brothers living in Belgium, the authorities said on Sunday, as they asked for the public’s assistance in finding one of them … The carefully coordinated attacks on Friday night, which killed at least 129 people and are believed to be the work of the Islamic State, increasingly appear to have involved extensive planning by a network of men with sophisticated weapons who plotted the attack from outside the country.” (Also: French warplanes strike IS targets in Syria and IS are much worse than mindless terrorists and What I learned from interviewing IS prisoners)

The New York Times

13th of November 2015

Suicide bombers kill dozens in Beirut “At least 37 people have been killed and 181 wounded in two suicide bomb attacks in a residential area of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, officials say. The bombers blew themselves up in a busy street in the southern suburb of Burj al-Barajneh, a stronghold of the Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement. The Sunni jihadist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, but there has been no independent confirmation. It is the deadliest bombing in Beirut since the civil war ended 25 years ago.”


12th of November 2015

Inside Iceland’s puffin festival “Let’s just get this out of the way: No, it does not taste like chicken. Soaked in salt water, smoked with wood chips and dried sheep dung, then boiled for two hours in a sweet malt beverage before being refrigerated and finally served, bone-in and cold, alongside a packet of butter, smoked puffin tastes briny and a bit fishy and musky-sweet in the manner of mesquite barbecue. In life, an Atlantic Puffin stands just 10 inches tall, its wings stubby and narrow; when its tiny torso is served in a paper tray, it’s difficult even to recognize as having belonged to a bird. It looks vaguely insectoid, its wings all but meatless, thin bones curving out like antennae. The breast meat is a deep mahogany and pulls apart fibrous-but-tender, like the flesh of a medium-ripe peach.”


11th of November 2015

Myanmar vote: Aung San Suu Kyi predicts majority for her party “Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is predicting her opposition party will secure enough votes in Myanmar’s historic national elections to take control of parliament from the country’s military-backed rulers. Only a fraction of the results have been announced in Myanmar’s freest parliamentary elections in a quarter-century, but Suu Kyi told the BBC Tuesday that her National League for Democracy is on a winning track. ‘The results have been coming in steadily, and we probably will get between around 75% in the union legislature,’ she said, referring to the national parliament.” (Also: Will the military let Aung San Suu Kyi govern?)