Vote wisely, Iowa. The world is watching

GlobalPost
Supporters photograph US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (not shown) as he speaks at a campaign event in Marshalltown, Iowa, Jan. 31, 2016.
Mark Kauzlarich

Editor's note: This is Chatter, our morning rundown of what you need and want to know around the world. Fortunately for us all, you can have Chatter emailed to you every day. Just sign up here!

NEED TO KNOW:

More than 35,000 bombs and missiles have been fired on Iraq and Syria during the almost year and a half that the US and its partners have waged war on the Islamic State. According to the coalition, those weapons killed a total of 16 civilians. 

Something about the numbers doesn’t add up. 

Those who’ve been tracking reports of civilian casualties say that Operation Inherent Resolve has likely taken far more innocent lives. Far, far more. One independent monitoring group put the figure anywhere between 862 and 1,116 dead civilians.

That means there could be more than a thousand stories like the one GlobalPost heard from a Syrian villager named Abdul-Aziz al Hassan, who told us that his neighbors saw his father, Ismail, killed by an American bomb outside his own home. Or the one we got from another Syrian too afraid to give his real name, who said he pulled a woman and her child from the rubble of a house destroyed by airstrikes only to see them hit by machine-gun fire as American helicopters circled back around. The woman and her son died, he said, along with several other people. 

Why haven't more people heard accounts like these? It has a lot to do with the way the coalition investigates reports of civilian deaths, which is not necessarily thoroughly. After hearing what we heard, the coalition has promised to review some cases. 

Because the numbers matter. Not just to the Syrians and Iraqis who survive, and who remember the names and faces that those numbers represent. It should matter to civilians in the US and in every country in the coalition, who currently are led to believe that the air campaign in Syria and Iraq can be waged costing very few innocent lives. From what we found, it can’t.

WANT TO KNOW:

Myanmar’s parliament has changed color. For decades, the country’s most important decisions have been made almost exclusively by men wearing light green — the military uniforms of the junta that took power more than 50 years ago. As of this morning it’s a woman in pink silk, with flowers in her hair, who calls the shots. 

That woman is Aung San Suu Kyi, the face of Myanmar’s democracy movement and the head of its National League for Democracy party. Today she led a couple hundred NLD members into the lower house for their official swearing-in. Thanks to a general election in November — the country’s freest vote in a generation or more — the party now holds around 80 percent of all seats. 

All electable seats, that is. A quarter of the total are reserved for the military’s appointees and were never up for grabs. Today’s inauguration may have seen a wave of NLD’s red, pink and orange shirts sweep parliament, but it wasn’t a wipeout. 

That’ll make for an awkward cohabitation, to say the least. Though not quite as awkward as the one in the hostel where many of Myanmar’s MPs share dorms when parliament is in session. GlobalPost visited there just as the previous occupants were preparing to pack up and head out. Things must look a little different by now.

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

Say, isn’t something happening in Iowa today? The forecast says it might snow. The Hawkeyes are celebrating a win. What else? Oh yeah. That.

Just hours remain before voting opens in the Iowa caucuses, the first time that Americans will give their democratic verdict on any of the candidates hoping to become POTUS.

What could be stranger than a bunch of candidates trying to persuade a sparse swathe of the Midwest to back their nomination? Perhaps the fact that one of them is the next president of the United States.

Vote wisely, Iowa. The world is watching