For ISIS Women, Fraught Choices

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VOL. CLXV . . . No. 57,058
© 2015 The New York Times
$6 beyond the greater New York metropolitan area.
Rejecting Test,
Shifts Its Model
About-Face by Leader
of Education Reform
Siege Targeted a Fragile
Nation’s Lifeline to
the World
BOSTON — It has been one of
the most stubborn problems in
education: With 50 states, 50
standards and 50 tests, how could
anyone really know what American students were learning, or
how well?
At a dinner with colleagues in
2009, Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts’s commissioner of education, hatched what seemed like
an obvious answer — a national
test based on the Common Core
standards that almost every state
had recently adopted.
Now Dr. Chester finds himself
in the awkward position of walking away from the very test he
helped create.
On his recommendation, the
State Board of Education decided
last week that Massachusetts
would go it alone and abandon
the multistate test in favor of one
to be developed for just this state.
The move will cost an extra year
and unknown millions of dollars.
Across the country, what was
around national standards has
collapsed into acrimony about
the Common Core, with states
dropping out of the two national
tests tied to it that had been the
centerpiece of the Obama administration’s education strategy.
But no about-face has resonated more than the one in Massachusetts, for years a leader in
education reform. This state embraced uniform standards and
tests with consequences more
than two decades before the
Common Core, and by 2005, its
children led all states in the National Assessment of Educational
Progress, often called the nation’s report card, and rose above
all other countries, save Singapore, in science.
The state’s participation was
seen as validation of the Common
Core and the multistate test; Dr.
Chester became the chairman of
Continued on Page 23
This article is by Dionne Searcey, Adam Nossiter, Carlotta
Gall and Somini Sengupta.
Aws, 25, was a member of the Islamic State’s morality police in Raqqa, Syria. She and two other women fled to Turkey this year.
For ISIS Women, Fraught Choices
Risky Path to Enforcing Morality Laws in Syria Ends in Exile
had only been working for two
months with the Khansaa Brigade, the all-female morality police of the Islamic State, when her
friends were brought to the station to be whipped.
The police had hauled in two
women she had known since
childhood, a mother and her teenage daughter, both distraught.
Their abayas, flowing black
robes, had been deemed too
When the mother saw Dua, she
rushed over and begged her to intercede. The room felt stuffy as
Dua weighed what to do.
“Their abayas really were very
The All-Female Force
tight. I told her it was their own
fault; they had come out wearing
the wrong thing,” she said. “They
were unhappy with that.”
Dua sat back down and
watched as the other officers
took the women into a back room
to be whipped. When they removed their face-concealing
niqabs, her friends were also
found to be wearing makeup. It
was 20 lashes for the abaya offense, five for the makeup, and
another five for not being meek
enough when detained.
Turn Off Phones? Not Onstage, as Plays Adapt
Here’s a recipe for a terrible
play: Characters are rarely in the
same room as one another; conversations are typed rather than
spoken; one side of a dispute
can’t be heard by the audience.
Not great drama but, in 2015
America, the stuff of real life,
where the rapid spread of mobile
technology has redefined the way
people talk, the way they shop,
the way they walk down the
As a result, it is redefining how
they interact onstage and, in the
process, challenging playwrights,
directors and set designers who
are trying to figure out matters
as technical as how to let theater
audiences know what is being
said on screens they cannot see,
and as cosmic as what technological change means for human
“My most important and consequential arguments and fights
and interactions happen on my
phone every day,” said the playwright Kevin Armento, whose recent Off Broadway work, “Please
Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally,” told
Their cries began ringing out,
and Dua stared hard at the ceiling, a lump building in her throat.
In the short time since she had
joined the Khansaa Brigade in
her hometown, Raqqa, in northern Syria, the morality force had
grown more harsh. Mandatory
abayas and niqabs were still new
for many women in the weeks after the jihadists of the Islamic
State had purged the city of competing militants and taken over.
At first, the brigade was told to
give the community a chance to
adapt, and clothing offenses
brought small fines.
After too many young women
became repeat offenders, however, paying the fines without
changing their behavior, the soft
approach was out. Now it was
whipping — and now it was her
friends being punished.
The mother and daughter
came to Dua’s parents’ house afterward, furious with her and
venting their anger at the Islamic
“They said they hated it and
wished it had never come to Raqqa,” Dua said. She pleaded with
them, explaining that as a young
and new member of the Khansaa
Brigade, there was nothing she
could have done.
Continued on Page 20
Inquiry Grows
Into Intelligence
On ISIS Surge
This article is by Matt Apuzzo,
Mark Mazzetti and Michael S.
WASHINGTON — When Islamic State fighters overran a
string of Iraqi cities last year, analysts at United States Central
Command wrote classified assessments for military intelligence officials and policy makers
that documented the humiliating
retreat of the Iraqi Army. But before the assessments were final,
former intelligence officials said,
the analysts’ superiors made significant changes.
In the revised documents, the
Iraqi Army had not retreated at
all. The soldiers had simply “redeployed.”
Such changes are at the heart
of an expanding internal Pentagon investigation of Centcom, as
Central Command is known,
where analysts say that supervisors revised conclusions to mask
some of the American military’s
failures in training Iraqi troops
and beating back the Islamic
State. The analysts say supervisors were particularly eager to
paint a more optimistic picture of
America’s role in the conflict than
Continued on Page 14
BAMAKO, Mali — The terrorists chose carefully: There are
nearly always French, Russian
and even a few American visitors
to be found in the hotel restaurant, around the pool, in the
health club or on the thin blackleather sofas of the glass-fronted
lobby, now shattered by gunfire.
With its marble floors, open
atrium and lipstick-red lounge,
the Radisson Blu Hotel served as
a lifeline to the world, a gathering
place where diplomats, contractors and others doing business in
Mali, one of the poorest countries
on earth, could all be found.
Now, bullet holes pockmark
the walls and blood is pooled on
stairs. The hotel, once a symbol
of the international presence in a
country trying to emerge from
years of upheaval, is the site of a
massacre in which terrorists
killed 19 people, storming in at
breakfast on Friday as terrified
diners sprinted into an elevator
whose doors did not close in time
to save them.
“For those people who did this,
they have no sense of the value of
life,” President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta said at the foot of the
ransacked hotel on Saturday afternoon.
The brutal attacks in Paris this
month were a strike against
France’s joie de vivre. The siege
of Kenya’s gleaming Westgate
mall two years ago was an assault on that country’s rising
prosperity, modernity and stability. The terrifying attack on the
Radisson Blu here in Mali’s capital was a strike on this nation’s
fragile efforts to restore peace afContinued on Page 10
Soldiers stood guard outside
the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, on Saturday.
Clinton Battles Image of Being Soft on Wall St.
Jerry Dixon, left, and Malcolm Gets in “Steve” in New York.
the story of a sexual relationship
between a high school math
teacher and her student entirely
from the point of view of the
boy’s smartphone.
“How would you even tell this
story if it weren’t through their
text messages?” Mr. Armento
asked. “It wouldn’t be believable
in 2015.”
Even as some playwrights embrace the integration of digital
communication into stage scenes
Continued on Page 4
China’s Atomic Energy Vision
Finding Hope in Paris
China wants to build dozens of atomic
reactors, but residents in villages near
the sites worry about the risks. PAGE 6
Times video journalists used virtual reality to cover vigils in the Paris neighborhoods that were attacked. The film
can be viewed with our new NYT VR
app. Home delivery subscribers received a Google Cardboard
viewer earlier
this month.
Democrat Wins in Louisiana
A previously little-known Democrat,
State Representative John Bel Edwards,
above, defeated United States Senator
David Vitter in a runoff to become the
next governor of Louisiana.
Divide Over Conserving Water
While Californians in Apple Valley have
been fined for water use even after cutting back, some heavy consumers in
wealthier areas go unpunished. PAGE 22
John Wittneben simmered as
he listened to Hillary Rodham
Clinton defend her ties to Wall
Street during last weekend’s
Democratic debate. He lost 40
percent of his savings in individual retirement accounts during
the Great Recession, while Mrs.
Clinton has received millions of
dollars from the kinds of executives he believes should be in jail.
“People knew what they were
doing back then, because of
The Women of Hollywood
Women are ready to run studios and direct hits. What will it take to dismantle
the sexism that holds them back?
Straining to Be Heard
In their efforts to communicate with
players in noisy environments, coaches
are increasingly shouting, which can
leave lasting damage.
Using the Power of Celebrity
Michael Skolnik, political director for
the media mogul Russell Simmons, is
waging a new civil rights fight with the
help of stellar iPhone contacts. PAGE 1
The Fall of an Investor Darling
LivingSocial was once valued at $4.5 billion. Its collapse offers a cautionary tale
for a booming crop of start-ups. PAGE 1
Roger Cohen
greed, and it caused me harm,”
said Mr. Wittneben, the Democratic chairman in Emmet County, Iowa. “We were raised a certain way here. Fairness is a big
The next day he endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in the presidential race.
Mrs. Clinton’s windfalls from
Wall Street banks and other financial services firms — $3 million in paid speeches and $17 million in campaign contributions
over the years — have become a
major vulnerability in states with
early nomination contests. Some
party officials who remain undecided in the 2016 presidential race
see her as overly cozy with big
banks and other special interests.
At a time when liberals are ascendant in the party, many Democrats believe her merely having
“represented Wall Street as a
senator from New York,” as Mrs.
Clinton reminded viewers in an
October debate, is bad enough.
It is an image problem that she
cannot seem to shake.
Though she criticizes the
Continued on Page 26