First order of business: Today (tonight/Erev) is Yom Ha’atzmaut! This blog has no official stance on Israel v. Palestine apart from a desire for peaceful resolution and some calm on both sides, but a happy independence day to all who celebrate, and empathy to those in opposition. All sides would benefit from education and increased understanding. (Haaretz has some background.)
Second order of business: Today is Cinco de Mayo! I always grew up thinking of it as a giant staple in my life (I hail from Texas) but this NPR article argues it’s more of a Mexican-American tradition than a Mexican extravaganza. While there will likely be rampant cultural appropriation and problematic happenings occurring all day in the U.S., here’s a good run-down of the holiday and its origins (it was popularized due to its symbolism as an anti-European/colonial event). If you’re celebrating, 1. Be respectful, and 2. Enjoy!
Third order of business: Everyone take this quiz on how well you know the news right now.
- Goodbye, religious liberty and separation of church and state. Speaking of the SCOTUS, as nearly everyone and their mother has heard by now, Justice Scalia apparently screwed up really, really badly.
- Today in racism: FOX News may have used individuals from another Asian country when attempting to cover the South Korean ferry tragedy and the reactions of South Koreans. If you are not horrified…idk, you should be horrified.
- The alcohol industry is booming.
- As 2014’s election cycle approaches, the Hillary difference may come into play for Democrats hoping to woo voters.
- An actress wants to grow a Latina/o political movement aimed at progressive politics and inclusion.
- WonkBlog: Which groups do criminals target? Answer: Probably not who you’re thinking.
- We desperately need more inclusive children’s books. For those in the District, I recommend Busboys & Poets, which offers a broad selection of reading material for raising children of color, queer & questioning children, children from various religious backgrounds, and just bringing up well-informed humans in general. Related: White male students are favored by their professors across the board.
- A pretty damning commentary on race and getting your MFA, from (the amazing) Junot Diaz. Related: Where are all the black ballerinas?
- In news that is upsetting for those of us personally hoping to travel to Pakistan in the near future, the WHO has recommended travel restrictions on the country due to polio.
- Stealing energy in Pakistan is a huge problem.
- The IHC (Islamabad High Court) has dismissed an order to register a case against the Jang & Geo group.
- Gunmen in northern Pakistan attacked NATO trucks caring supplies, killing two people. Elsewhere a pro-government tribal elder was shot and killed in Waziristan.
- Pakistan’s only legal and legendary brewery.
- Opinion: Moving beyond the transition decade in Afghanistan.
- Despite laws put in place to counter honor killings, all signs indicate that they are continuing with a vengeance.
- A search for survivors of the Afghan landslide has been called off, as hopes wane and chances for survival dwindle. Nearly 4,000 people have been displaced by the disaster and the town itself is set to be declared a mass grave.
- A Nepalese politician has been arrested regarding alleged involvement in a bombing that killed four people.
- Three Kashmiri students were reportedly beaten for refusing to shout anti-Pakistan slogans in India.
- Escalating violence between Bodos and Muslims in the state of Assam escalated Thursday and Friday, with nearly 30 Muslims being killed.
- Nevermind, no judge for Snoopgate.
Southeast & East Asia:
- Malaysia, Australia, and China are all set to meet to discuss the missing plane and its likely flight path.
- China’s token ‘Western’ actor?
- Major deals signed between China and Ethiopia.
- Everyone can rest easy — a sex extortion ring has been dismantled in the Philippines.
Eurasia & Europe:
- The Ukraine and Russia are duking it out over the latter’s gas grip. The Ukraine has also sent troops to quell the escalation of violence in Odessa.
- Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has been released from police custody despite new evidence linking the Northern Irish leader to a decades-old murder carried out by the IRA.
Middle East & North Africa:
- Libya has a prime minister.
- Infighting between various Syrian rebel groups has caused thousands more Syrians to flee. A Syrian rebel commander may also have been kidnapped by Al Qaeda.
- An offensive in the south of weary and battered Yemen has killed 37 Al Qaeda militants.
- Hamas and Fatah are meeting in Doha to hold talks, in the first display of unity since the Palestinian groups agreed to open up dialogue.
- Inside the failure of the talks: American-Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and their breakdown.
- UN nuclear inspectors are arriving in Iran.
- Human rights in Bahrain, never very good, are articulated to an extent here with a conversation on internet access in the small Middle Eastern country. For reference: Any views counter to those of the ruling family are concealed.
- 25 new cases of MERS have been reported in Saudi Arabia.
Eastern, Central, & Western Africa:
- In a new video reportedly obtained by French authorities, Boko Haram takes responsibility for the kidnapping of over 230 young girls in Nigeria and selling them as brides in Chad and Cameroon. Meanwhile Nigeria’s first lady is accused of having protesters (who want their relatives returned and are angered at the government for their lack of action) arrested and abused.
- As fighting continues to escalate in South Sudan, the US is desperately attempting to prompt peace talks.
- FP thinks Ghana‘s democratic institutions can save it from the oil curse.
- Deadly blasts in Nairobi and Mombasa have Kenyans shaken and afraid.
Sub-Saharan & Southern Africa:
- US Sec of State John Kerry has pledged $30 million in aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for elections.
- A DRC court has cleared nearly all of a group of soldiers on trial for the mass-rape of 130 women. AJ wants to know: Is justice being done when it comes to war rape?
- Striking South African miners have rejected a wage deal. Meanwhile the ruling ANC party, headed by Jacob Zuma, the current president, may be headed for trouble — though that hardly stopped them from a large and boisterous campaign rally finale.
- WaPo: Fixing the malaise in Chile‘s model.
- Juan Carlos Varela has officially won the presidency of Panama.
- Abused wives are fighting back against their husbands in Brazil. Dona Carmen is legendary in one slum for her ability to impose “the discipline” in a move that has drawn many women to seek her help.
- Cuba is displeased with its northern neighbors accusations of aiding and abetting terrorism, and it is making that very, very clear.
- US President Obama has a renewed focus on climate change, as he makes his way through his second term in office.
- Asian-American students do better than European-American students academically. The rationale may be hard work, according to WaPo, although the study also argues they may sacrifice some happiness as compensation.
- A new lawsuit alleges VA discrimination against military survivors of sexual assault.
- A lawsuit challenging Nebraska’s ban on same-sex foster parents has been given the go-ahead.
- The might-be senator from Oklahoma will have an interesting quandary over racial ties to deal with — including Native American sovereignty and the fact that he would be the state’s first black senator.