Friday Headlines

Al-Shabab Is Regaining Its Strength
Somalian terrorist group al-Shabab is on the upswing amid clan rivalries, poor governance, and stalled counterterrorism efforts, explains Vanda Felbab-Brown of the Brookings Institution.

“Despite internal and external threats to its effective functioning, al-Shabab is on the upswing again. It has carried out dozens of terrorist attacks within Somalia, including against hotels used by government officials as workspaces and housing, and on beaches and in markets throughout the country. It has raised fear among the population and hampers the basic government functionality and civil society mobilization,” she writes.

The United Nations says an increase in violence in the country has driven 138,000 people from their homes since mid-January. The 13-year conflict between Sudanese government forces and rebel groups has displaced more than 2.7 million people so far.

A Cashless Society Breeds Bigger Government
Sarah Jeong of The Atlantic examines how a cashless society might actually give government more power because financial transactions have become another form of information and, she says, “wherever information gathers and flows, two predators follow closely behind it: censorship and surveillance.”

She argues that in a cashless society “money becomes a series of signals, it can be censored; where money becomes information, it will inform on you.”

That impacts the poor as well because everything they purchase is via a government-issued “electronic benefits transaction,” or an EBT.

“A cashless society promises a world of limitation, control, and surveillance—all of which the poorest Americans already have in abundance, of course. For the most vulnerable, the cashless society offers nothing substantively new, it only extends the reach of the existing paternal bureaucratic state,” she notes.

When A Freedom Fighter Becomes A Terrorist
It is often said that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. But, in the case of Egyptian Ahmad Darrawi, he is both. In a fascinating article, Robert Worth, a former New York Times foreign bureau chief, details, Darrawi became over the course of three years a leader of the democracy protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to a member of the Islamic State who would meet his end battling in Iraq.

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