Fleeing Islamic State
Islamic State fighters may have captured up to 3,000 fleeing Iraqi villagers on Thursday and subsequently executed 12 of them, the UN refugee agency said in a daily report on Iraq. The report followed a statement from the Iraqi Observatory for Human rights, which said about 1,900 civilians had been captured by an estimated 100-120 Islamic State fighters, who were using people as shields against attacks by Iraqi Security Forces. Dozens of civilians had been executed, and six burnt.
"We have received reports that IS captured on August 4th up to 3,000 internally displaced people from villages, trying to flee to Kirkuk city. Reportedly, 12 of the IDPs have been killed in captivity," the UN report said. Islamic State's grip on some towns has been broken, but it still controls its de facto capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.
Last month the UN appealed for £200 million to prepare aid for an assault on Mosul, as well as up to £1.5 billion to deal with the aftermath. It has so far received nothing in response, according to the UN Financial Tracking Service.
Tens of thousands who fled from the city of Falluja have still not returned since its recapture from Islamic State in June. "Although local authorities have suggested that returns to Falluja could begin in September, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement has stated that it may take another three months before conditions are conducive for large scale returns," the report said.
The Fallout in Germany
Popular support for Chancellor Angela Merkel has plunged according to a poll conducted after attacks in Germany, with almost two-thirds of Germans unhappy with her refugee policy. The survey for public broadcaster ARD showed support for Merkel down 12% from her July rating to 47%. This marked her second-lowest score since she was re-elected in 2013.
Merkel's open-door refugee policy has come under attack from critics after five attacks in Germany in the last two weeks have left 15 people dead, including four assailants, and dozens injured. Support for one of Merkel's fiercest critics, Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer, who has called for restrictions on immigration to increase security, jumped 11% to 44%.
Over a million migrants have entered Germany in the past year, many fleeing war in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Merkel repeated her claim that Germany could manage to successfully integrate the influx of refugees last week and vowed not to change her refugee policy.
A separate poll this week showed that most Germans do not blame the government's liberal refugee policy for the two Islamist attacks last month.
South African Democracy
On the surface, white South African ex-farmer Athol Trollip seems an unlikely candidate for mayor of a metropolitan district named after the ANC's great liberation hero, Nelson Mandela. Yet local elections this week have shown a shift in South African society and politics, which have been dominated by race since Mandela rose to power in 1994.
The results may even mark the start of a new era, distinct from the 'post-apartheid' period that immediately followed the end of white-minority rule, as the African National Congress wakes up to the changed reality that it can no longer rely on the unquestioning support of poor black voters.
Angry about corruption, unemployment and shoddy basic services, many ANC supporters have turned to the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) - making a switch that was unthinkable only a few years ago when the party was still seen as the political home of wealthy whites.
DA candidate Trollip, a fluent speaker of the local Xhosa language, is likely to become mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality after his party won 47% of the vote against the ANC's 41%, down from 52% five years ago. The DA is now expected to form a coalition with smaller opposition parties to run a region that has been an ANC stronghold for more than two decades.
The ANC has also lost its majorities in Johannesburg and the municipality that is home to the capital Pretoria, in its biggest ever election losses, which have dealt a significant blow to President Jacob Zuma.
The centuries-old home of Britain's newspaper industry, London's Fleet Street bade farewell on Friday to its last two journalists. Once known as the "Street of Shame", Fleet Street once housed thousands of reporters, editors and printers working for the country's biggest national papers as well as international and provincial publications.
While the British press is still collectively known as "Fleet Street", from Friday there will no longer be any working journalists there after the Scottish-based Sunday Post newspaper closed its London operation.
"It's a far sadder day for journalism than it is for me personally," said Darryl Smith, 43, one of the street's last two "hacks". "Journalism is no more in Fleet Street."
Nowadays the street that once echoed to the sounds of clattering typewriters is the haunt of bankers and accountants; the Art Deco building that once housed the Daily Express is now home to Goldman Sachs. "It's mainly bankers now," Smith said. "I'm not even sure that people here now know the history." He began working on Fleet Street at 18, lured by its famous past, and once berated a tour guide on a sightseeing bus who had informed passengers it was no longer the home of British journalism. "I leaned out the window and shouted 'we are still here'," he said.
His fellow departing Sunday Post colleague Gavin Sherriff, began working at the paper in Fleet Street 32 years ago when it was still in its heyday, rising from editorial assistant to become London chief reporter.
Black Lives Matter
Ten people were arrested on Friday after protesters from the British arm of the "Black Lives Matter" movement blocked the main road to London's Heathrow Airport. Four people were in custody while the other six were being disentangled having locked themselves together across the five-lane slip road leading to the airport, causing traffic congestion at the Europe's busiest hub.
One lane of the road, a spur off a motorway which connects London to western England, remained closed at midday on Friday. Black Lives Matter started in the United States as a reaction to fatal shootings of black people by white US police officers. The British arm is protesting against what it says is a disproportionate number of black people among those who die in police custody in Britain.
Other demonstrations were being held in Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham on Friday to mark the anniversary of the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting by police five years ago helped spark several days of rioting in Britain.
The long known truth has been that Islamic State uses child soldiers, which is as harrowing a headline as any is to read. In spite of this, the stories of former captives of IS are rare, and can only make that headline even harder to swallow. Der Speigel has produced a couple of fantastic interviews, with children who escaped the clutches of IS.