With Tuesday's seizure of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria notched a major victory in its campaign to create a new country containing parts of what had part of both Syria and Iraq. On Wednesday, the insurgents continued their march south, taking control of Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein.
The story of ISIS's spread -- and its influence -- is one that begins in Syria, where the group has been waging a brutal insurgency against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and, increasingly, other more moderate and secular rebel groups. The map above depicts the areas of Syria under its control. The group's influence is bounded by the Free Syrian Army in the west, the Kurds in the north, and pockets of government influence. Who is the ISIS/ISIL?
"A radical fringe Islamic group names ISIS is fighting to establish a extremist Islamic state in Iraq and Syria...and beyond. They control eastern Syria, western Iraq, just took control of Iraq's 2nd largest city of Mosul and are advancing on the capital Baghdad. In this podcast, the professor John Boyer outlines just a few of the contributing factors to why this significant event is taking place, the geographic/historic background of the state, and the consequences for the future of the region."
"Over the course of human history, thousands of languages have developed from what was once a much smaller number. How did we end up with so many? And how do we keep track of them all? Alex Gendler explains how linguists group languages into language families, demonstrating how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past."
Every year, millions of people leave their birth countries to try their fortunes in foreign lands. Where are the most popular destinations for these people? What countries are sending out streams of residents who may never come back?
"[In the early 20th century] To protect themselves from unwanted advances, city women protected themselves with some sharp accessories. For the first time, women who fought back against harassers were regarded as heroes rather than comic characters, as subjects rather than objects. Society was transitioning, slowly but surely, from expecting and advocating female dependence on men to recognizing their desire and ability to defend themselves."
"More than a billion people around the world subsist on a dollar a day, or less. The reasons differ but the day-to-day hardship of their lives are very similar. A book by Thomas A Nazario, founder of the International Organisation, documents the circumstances of those living in extreme poverty across the globe, accompanied by photographs from Pulitzer prizewinner Renée C Byer. Living On A Dollar a Day is published by Quantuck Lane."
Portolan charts, it was always assumed, were compiled by medieval European mapmakers from contemporary sources. A Dutch doctoral dissertation now disproves this: these nautical charts are impossibly accurate, not just for medieval Europe, also for other likely sources, the Byzantines and the Arabs. So who made them – and when?
According to the always entertaining Vsauce, this is the volume that the entire human population would take if you put everyone on a pile in the Grand Canyon. We are just a bunch of ants, yet we have managed to transform the entire landscape of Earth.*
Last month, I wrote about the fun and the pitfalls of viral maps, a feature that included 88 super-simple maps of my own creation. As a follow-up, I’ve written up a bunch of short items on some of those maps, walking through how I created them and how they succumb...
"A Facebook page called Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women has garnered more than 200,000 likes since its creation at the beginning of this month. The idea behind it is simple: an anonymous platform for Iranian women to post photos of themselves without their head scarves.
As Mid East Faces reports, Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, who moved to London in 2009, decided to create the page after receiving countless complaints from her female friends back home. They were jealous of her Facebook photos of "her hair blowing in the wind," Mid East Faces writes.
Alinejad told the Guardian that she doesn't judge when it comes to whether or not a woman in Iran wants to wear a hijab."
"The light that a city emits is like its glowing fingerprint. From the orderly grid of Manhattan, to the sprawling, snaking streets of Milan, to the bright contrast of Kuwait’s ring-roads, each city leaves its own pattern of tiny glowing dots. See if you can ID these cities based on the way they shine."