Smoke, Slingshots, and Spongebob: the Middle East crisis in photos

Startling shots from Gaza, Israel, and elsewhere depict despair and outrage at a seemingly-intractable crisis.

Death and the Mainframe: How data analysis can help document human rights atrocities

Between 1980 and 2000, a complicated war raged in Peru, pitting the country’s government against at least two political guerilla organizations, and forcing average people to band together into armed self-defense committees. The aftermath was a mess of death and confusion, where nobody knew exactly how many people had been murdered, how many had simply vanished, or who was to blame.

“The numbers had floated around between 20,000 and 30,000 people killed and disappeared,” says Daniel Manrique-Vallier. “But nobody knew what the composition was. Non-governmental organizations were estimating that 90% of the deaths were the responsibility of state agents.”

Manrique-Vallier, a post-doc in the Duke University department of statistical science, was part of a team that researched the deaths for Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Their results were completely different from those early estimates. Published in 2003, the final report presented evidence for nearly 70,000 deaths, 30% of which could be attributed to the Peruvian government.

How do you find 40,000 extra dead bodies? How do you even start to determine which groups killed which people at a time when everybody with a gun seemed to be shooting civilians? The answers lie in statistics, data analysis, and an ongoing effort to use math to cut through the fog of war. Read the rest

Snapshots from Benghazi

Bassam Tariq of 30 Days Ramadan points us to a series of images making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and the like today. The snapshots are ostensibly reactions to the recent violence related to a weird, anti-Islam YouTube trailer for a film produced by a mysterious character with a shady past.

The whole story behind that video and the attacks linked to it is perplexing, and the more that comes to light, the more it feels like a strange disinfo job. But I have no idea by whom, and to what end.

More images here. I don't know who shot them, and am unable to verify that they are what they appear to be as I post.

More: Boing Boing news archive for "Innocence of Muslims." Read the rest

The LA riots, 20 years later, viewed through food

Could anyone other than Pulitzer-winning food critic Jonathan Gold explain the 1992 LA riots through the food culture of a neighborhood where it all went down? Nope. (LAT via @shelbygrad) Read the rest

Bosnian war, 20 years later, marked in Sarajevo with 11,541 red chairs: one for each dead

"A river of blood." 11,541 red chairs are pictured along Titova street in Sarajevo as the city marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war, April 6, 2012. One for each citizen of the city of Sarajevo killed during the war. The anniversary finds the Balkan country still deeply divided, power shared between Serbs, Croats and Muslims in a single state ruled by ethnic quotas and united by the weakest of central governments. More: Reuters.

(Photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic)

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All is not well in Greece

A gasoline bomb explodes at riot police during a huge anti-austerity demonstration in Athens' Syntagma (Constitution) square February 12, 2012. Historic cinemas, cafes and shops went up in flames in central Athens on Sunday as black-masked protesters fought Greek police outside parliament, while inside lawmakers looked set to defy the public rage by endorsing a new EU/IMF austerity deal. Below, a protester hurls rocks at riot police; another flees.

(photos: REUTERS)

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