Putin orders most Russian troops out of Syria, citing “overall completion” of military goals

Vladimir Putin says Russian troops will begin withdrawing from Syria starting Tuesday, the day which marks 5 years since the start of Syria's bloody civil war. Putin's pledge is a move to help advance U.N.-brokered peace talks that resumed today.

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Syrian refugees placed in hotel hosting a furry convention

Syrian refugees who found their way to Canada have been placed in a hotel hosting a furry convention. Wonderfully surreal scenes of displaced kids dancing with fursuiters were captured on video and posted to YouTube. The New York Daily News described an "aww-inspiring" encounter. Read the rest

Drone video of Homs, Syria shows a city destroyed by war

Making the rounds online this week: this footage shot by a camera-equipped drone of the Syrian city of Homs. After 5 years of civil war, the city is largely reduced to abandoned rubble.

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EU plans to class volunteers who rescue drowning Syrian refugees as "traffickers"

An exceptionally broad proposal before the Council of the EU lumps the traffickers who cram refugees into unsafe boats with the volunteers and NGOs who rescue drowning refugees when those boats sink. Read the rest

Banksy in the Calais "jungle" reminds us that Steve Jobs was the "son of a Syrian migrant"

A new stencil/pasteup in the notorious "Jungle" refugee camp in Calais, France depicts Steve Jobs with a satchel and a classic Macintosh. Read the rest

Leaked recording: pollution lobbyists discuss exploiting Syrian refugee crisis

A leaked recording made of a conference call hosted by the Edison Electric Institute, which lobbies for the power industry, reveals lobbyists for high pollution companies talking about how they can exploit the Syrian refugee crisis to get a rider inserted into a pending bill that would kill the EPA's Waters of the United States rule, which protects America's waterways from pollution. Read the rest

Syria secretly sentenced free software developer Bassel Khartabil to death

Khartabil has been imprisoned in a Syria's Adra Prison since 2012, though as of October, he has been transferred to an undisclosed location. The free software/open culture activist was the lead for Creative Commons Syria and has contributed to Wikipedia, Firefox and many other projects. Read the rest

US governors vow to protect citizens from mass-shooters if they are Syrian

Pete Reynolds in McSweeney's, proving that humor is a better source of news than the news is: "I refuse to support special interest groups whose sole mission is to profit from putting weapons into the hands of people, if those people are Syrians." Read the rest

The US government turned down Anne Frank's visa application

Otto Frank sought help from his college friend Nathan Strauss Jr, the son of the owner of Macy's, to get a US visa, but the US State Department turned him and his family down. Read the rest

Refugee family lives in airport

Hassan Abdo Ahmed Mohammed, his wife, and four children escaped the Syrian civil war to settle in Russia. The Kurdish family landed in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport but the Russian government says the family's visas are fake. If they return to Syria, they may be killed. So they have been living in the airport for 50 days while lawyers try to sort out their status. UNICEF brings them food and, a week ago, the United Nations and an NGO convinced Russian authorities to permit them to spend their nights in a terminal hotel room. From CNN:

Mohammed thinks Russia's close ties with the embattled Syrian government are interfering with his plans to enter Russia.

"Russia has a very strong relation with the Syrian regime, and they don't want to encourage Syrians to leave the country," he said.

Mohammed's lawyer said the Syrian government checked out their passports and said they were authentic. Russian authorities are now investigating the the passports, the lawyer said, and should come to a decision soon.

"Kurdish family fleeing Syria stuck in Moscow airport for over 50 days" Read the rest

Icelanders school their PM on solidarity with Syrian refugees

The Prime Minister of Iceland offered to take in 50 Syrian refugees; 10,000 of his countrymen responded to this announcement by offering their homes to house Syrians fleeing horrific violence and danger. Read the rest

John Oliver on racism and the Syrian refugee crisis

This is Oliver at his best, using weaponized bathos that ricochets between rage-making clips of racist political figures trying to terrorize Syrians into staying away with sweet clips of the refugees themselves and an over-the-top, stone-brilliant, pop-culture-infused, heart-rending, laughter-convulsing finale. Read the rest

Dismaland will be dismantled, used for refugee shelters in Calais

Banksy's brilliant piss-take on theme-parks has run its course and will now be dismantled, shipped to Calais and turned into temporary shelters for the refugees massed there. Read the rest

Molly Crabapple's illustrations from Syria

The illustrator collaborated with Syrian writer Marwan Hisham (a pseudonym), who sent her mobile-phone photos from Syria that she used as the basis for a striking and moving series of illustrations for a Vanity Fair feature. Read the rest

Scientists remove first seeds from ‘doomsday’ Arctic seed vault. Why? War in Syria.

The ongoing war in Syria has led researchers to make the first withdrawal of seeds from a "doomsday" vault in an Arctic mountainside, to protect global food supplies. Read the rest

We are all refugees: A Serbian on Syria

Once I was a refugee, too. During the fall of former Yugoslavia, I visited many refugees camps all over the war-torn region. I edited a book of refugee stories. Read the rest

Inside Islamic State's spookocracy

The leaked secret strategic plans of Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi -- who served in the Iraqi army under Saddam and later masterminded the Islamic State -- reveal the surveillance at the heart of Islamic State's military success. Read the rest

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