This article is part of a series wherein GlobalPost correspondents write the backstory of their own reporting.
JABAL AL-ZAWIYA, Syria — Two shots cut through the forest silence. The gunmen dropped instantly behind their rocky shelters. Six hundred meters away, two regime soldiers were down.
Those precious bullets, a scarce commodity among Syrian rebel fighters, had found their targets. It took a few minutes for the spray of return fire to begin penetrating the trees in a wide radius surrounding the government checkpoint.
We stayed low and quiet, attempting to analyze the gunfire. A frightened stray dog burst through the trees. As it darted back into the forest, a collective chuckle of relief after the unexpected invasion of our hiding place broke the lingering tension.
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Syrian Death Map
Via the Guardian:
The conflict in Syria continues to claim lives, over a year since the war started - especially in west of the country. This map, created for us by the team at CartoDB, uses data from Syrian Shuhada - also used by the UN - and each circle represents the number of people who died each day. The play button starts the calendar of deaths, which can be paused at any point
One of these online activists involved in “the media war” is curating a casualties database based on information from several websites that have already documented killings or casualties from direct sources. The “Syrian Revolution Martyr Database” (www.SyrianShuhada.com) currently collects detailed info and links to 22.601 deaths since March, 2011…
…The Vizzuality team worked on the visualization. The map is powered by CartoDB to manage and serve the timeseries data and uses d3.js for the animated datapoints and graph.
The man behind the Syrian Suhada database —who did not share his personal information— launched the project in early May 2011. He designed the website and back-end database, and populated it initially with the first available data on casualties. Currently a team of 2 curate the data contained on the site
Image: Screenshot, Syria conflict: a year of deaths mapped. Via The Guardian.
Russia and China won’t be among them.
Both countries have shunned the so-called Friends of Syria alliance, where the agenda is set by Western and Arab allies who want President Bashar al-Assad to leave power. Beijing and Moscow baulk at what they claim would be interference with another nation’s sovereignty, especially when talk turns to military intervention.
The absent Friends were in everyone’s mind, nonetheless: addressing today’s meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded that Russia and China “get off the sidelines” and agree to a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Syria’s government.
One unexpected addition to the guest list, however, is Syrian Brigadier General Manaf Tlas: the senior officer and long-time ally (friend?) of Assad reportedly fled Syria last night, and is said to be on his way to France.
Want to know:
George Zimmerman’s defense team is scrambling to raise the thousands of dollars they need to secure his release, after a judge yesterday set his bail at $1 million.
His family doesn’t have “anywhere near” that sum, according to Zimmerman’s lawyer. His legal fund contains $211,000 for his entire defense, and donations to it have been slowing, the attorney said.
The man who shot Trayvon Martin has been in jail since last month, when the same judge revoked his bail after prosecutors said that Zimmerman and his wife lied to the court about their finances.
“By any definition, the defendant has flouted the system,” Judge Kenneth Lester ruled. “But for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people’s money.”
Dull but important:
Libyans vote tomorrow to elect a national assembly, their first free ballot in more than 40 years.
The 200-member congress they elect will appoint an interim goverment and select a committee to write a constitution, which will then be submitted to voters in a referendum.
It’s the first, crucial step toward political stability in Libya – political stability that will, in turn, bring back foreign investment to the country’s most valuable natural resource, its oil. GlobalPost surveysthe prospects for the oil industry in a new Libya.
Two former Argentinian dictators have been sentenced to jail for stealing babies.
Jorge Rafael Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, who presided in turn over Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship, were found guilty of overseeing the systematic theft of children born to political prisoners. At least 400 babies are thought to have been taken from their parents and adopted by members of the regime, in an attempt to stamp out the opposition movement.
Bignone and Videla were sentenced to 15 and 50 years, respectively. The sentence all but guarantees they will die in prison: the two men, both in their 80s, are already serving lengthy jail terms for other crimes committed under their rule.
Strange but true:
Did A Farewell to Arms leave you vaguely unsatisfied? Would you have prefered it if they’d all – spoiler alert – lived happily ever after in their Alpine cabin?
Well, it turns out Ernest Hemingway wasn’t entirely sure about the ending either. So not-entirely-sure, in fact, that he wrote it 47 times. Those 47 “what ifs” will be included in a new edition of the novel, to be published next week.
From what we can tell, they’re all pretty much variations on the “we’re all going to die” theme. But fingers crossed, there might be at least one version in which we do so in a full-scale alien invasion.
In this Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 photo, Syrian residents walk on a street among the debris of buildings shattered by heavy shelling in Tarik Al-Bab neighborhood, southeast of Aleppo City.
(AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).
Video of Syrian Air Force Jet Using Decoy Flares.
Members of the Free Syrian Army pose with their weapons and a snowman at the Jouret al Shayah area in Homs January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Yazan Homsy
PHOTOS: Snowfall in the Middle East
“It was 7am. There was a knock at the door. My youngest daughter went to open it. She thought her friends had come.
“She opened the door and found around 50 soldiers. The army came to my home to fire on the rebels from the veranda. Some of them stayed at the entrance, and the others came into the house - into the bedroom, kitchen and balcony.
“You cannot ask `Why?’. We were not allowed to leave. We had to stay inside. We hid in the bathroom for nine hours. They said it was not safe to leave with the family. The operation was running on two sides. It was very bad. You could hear the gunfire. It was right next to us, right in front of our eyes. We are in the corridor and they are on the balcony shooting.
“I was screaming more than the kids. My oldest daughter had delivered a baby just a week before they came to the house. I told the officer, `My daughter has just given birth. She is not well. She needs a hospital. Soon, it will be 4pm, the roads will close, and we won’t be able to leave.’
“He said, `You cannot leave.’
“Mustafa” who, along with his family, lived in a strategic location - on a hill overlooking a Syrian town where rebels had been increasing in force.
Read the entire report by the United Nations’ news agency, IRIN, at: SYRIA: Mustafa, “The army came to my home to fire on the rebels from the veranda”
|—||JOSHUA LANDIS, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, on a speech in which President Bashar al-Assad of Syria defended a crackdown and sought to rally supporters.|
In this Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 photo, an apartment shattered by tank shelling is viewed at the top level of one house building in Karmal Jabl neighborhood after several days of intense clashes between rebel fighters and the Syrian army in Aleppo City.
(AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
A child’s drawing of the civil war in Syria. Many children who have stayed in the increasingly ravaged country “face bombardment, food shortages and bitter cold without fuel or school.”
Bradley Secker / For The Washington Post