This week’s news has been dominated by the search for the missing Air Asia flight QZ8501, which disappeared in waters off Indonesia last Saturday. Sadly for the relatives, parts of the plane have been found, and divers are now searching for wreckage. However, this week has also seen strange events in other parts of the world. From Syria to the Mediterranean to New York City, here are three events that stood out this week.
An Islamic State ‘reporter’
Today Islamic State released a video showing journalist John Cantlie doing very different reporting than he must have ever expected. Titled “Inside Mosul”, the video shows him roaming around IS’s biggest Iraqi city, showing the world its strength and resistance under IS rule. While Cantlie moves around the city seemingly freely, we can assume he is being heavily coerced.
This isn’t the first time Cantlie’s been in trouble. Kidnapped by Islamist militants while working as a freelancer in Syria in 2012, he was wounded while trying to escape, and had to be rescued by other rebels. Against all advice, he returned to Syria a year later, only to be kidnapped by Islamic State. This is the 8th video he’s appeared in as a potent propaganda tool. Facing a very uncertain future, John Cantlie is a reminder of the risks journalists in the region face, as well as the powerful draw that war can have for some reporters.
Million dollar ghost ships
Yesterday a second ‘ghost ship‘ was stopped from crashing into the Italian coast by the coast guard. The ship was packed with 359 Syrian refugees. It had been set on autopilot by people smugglers, who then abandoned ship, leaving the refugees to their fate. This was the second time this has happened this week, with a similar ship carrying 800 refugees rescued on Thursday.
The two incidents show just how badly Europe is handling its refugee crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people have made the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean in 2014, some fleeing poverty, some the horror of war in Syria and Libya. To cope with the influx, the EU is failing to take action. Instead of continuing a large scale rescue effort started by Italy, the EU is carrying out much smaller patrols, meaning the chances of rescuing migrants in distress shrink. As the risks to migrants and profit to smugglers grow, the EU is looking increasingly lost at sea.
The NYPD and the Mayor
Today the funeral was held for the second of two police officers shot in their car in New York City two weeks ago. For the second time, hundreds of the officers attending turned their back as the mayor of the city spoke. Many members of the New York police believe Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t on their side in the high tensions between African-Americans and the police, following numerous shootings of unarmed black men in the US. The mayor seemed to sympathise with the protesters and supported police reform.
The NYPD sees this as the mayor leaving them to face anger from the public on their own. Some have even said that de Blasio has blood on his hands. They have also responded by cutting the number of arrests they made in the last week of 2014 by 66%, with tickets for traffic violations dropping by 94%. Their actions are unlikely to close the rupture between the public and the police though. Trust is low, with many African Americans seeing the police as institutionally racist, and the police seeing the public as ungrateful. Healing this division will be a very long term process.