Mali targeted. Once one of West Africa’s most secure democracies, Mali has experienced instability every since its democratically-elected government was overthrown in a coup. Ever since, terrorism has plagued the country, and in a spurt of violence militants took over a hotel late last week. An Al Qaeda affiliate is believed to be responsible. Dozens of people were killed, and the attack came at a dark time. The world is on high alert following attacks across the Middle East and Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa’s inclusion indicates the end of 2015 will be a bloody one.
Brussels shutdown. With much of Europe and the Middle East on high alert, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Belgium city of Brussels, where a great deal of terror activity appears to be sourced, has been under scrutiny. Last weekend, however, it was on complete lockdown. Its residents took to Twitter with cat memes, which should please all who find the government’s antics a bit over-the-top.
Worldwide travel alert…for Americans. As a response to numerous threats the world over, the State Department cautioned all Americans regarding any travel this week. That didn’t stop your blogger, but it might well have encouraged others to reign in their potential forays into the outside world.
Black lives still matter. A horrific video detailing the execution of a black teenager by a white cop has been released by the Chicago police department. The shooting occurred over a year ago but the video was never released until a journalist pushed for it following a tip from a whistleblower. The officer responsible is being charged with murder, but that hasn’t stopped mass protests from erupting. The incident coincided with the shooting of several #BlackLivesMatter activists, who were targeted by (presumably) white supremacists.
Tragedy across the globe. Last week ended on a horrifying note, after bombs hit a Shia-dominated neighborhood in Beirut. A day later, a series of deadly attacks killed over 120 people in Paris, less than a year after the Charlie Hebdo killings. A bombing also struck Baghdad, while Japan was hit with an earthquake. As numerous people have noted, mourning over the incident in Paris seemed to take over social media, leaving many wondering why terrible attacks so often go ignored in non-Western nations.
Spotlight on Paris. In Lebanon, authorities have been seeking the culprits behind the Beirut bombings, with some success. Most eyes have been focused on France, however, where media covered the week-long hunt for the perpetrators of the attacks in Paris. In the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, which was one of the areas hit late last Friday night, a series of raids unfolded on Wednesday, as police hunted various suspects (as of the publication of this round-up, the leader of the attacks is presumed dead, after DNA testing indicated he had been killed.) A state of emergency has been declared in France; the debate now is how long it will extend for — the country’s president is pushing for three more months. (Of note: in France, states of emergency target public gatherings and the media. This rightfully has many members of the press concerned.)
Boko Haram strikes again. Lest we forget, the world’s deadliest terror group is actually based in Nigeria, and carrying out attacks in Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. Mid-week they struck again, carrying out numerous suicide bombings that killed dozens of people and injured over 100. Another bombing the day after also caused multiple casualties.
Mizzou, Yale, and the year it boiled over. If this has been the year we ‘obsessed over identity’ (per a recent article), it has also been the year race issues, and, more specifically, race issues in academia, finally exploded. At the University of Missouri, one student’s hunger strike was soon echoed by the school’s football team, a move that led to an immediate series of high-profile resignations. Students are now mounting similar protests around the country. At Yale University, which has a minuscule percentage of black students, a debate over tone policing and cultural sensitivity has exploded, with the university now the center of a debate on whether students are asking to be ‘coddled’ or merely demanding a measure of respect in an environment that at times threatens them in numerous ways. (A notable example: one of Yale’s residential houses is Calhoun, named for notorious racist John C. Calhoun. This means that more than a few black Yalies live in a location named for a man who supported the enslavement of their ancestors.)
Still worried about that plane. Despite nothing officially conclusive, most governments analyzing the case of a Russian plane’s crash in Egypt’s Sinai desert say the plane was downed by terrorism. An airport insider is suspected, and as Daesh/ISIS has claimed responsibility, the group could well be the mastermind. Russia has canceled its flights to Egypt, and Britain is also taking action. For the precarious Sisi regime, this could be a severe blow; Egypt depends on tourism, and the country is in the throes of a deep recession.
Burundi spirals. Burundi hasn’t been in good shape for awhile now, ever since its president announced he would be running for a third term (which isn’t legal.) Tensions between the president, Pierre Nkurunziza, and the opposition have spiraled to such an extent that crisis groups are comparing the potential outcome to the Rwandan genocide. That’s really, really not good.
Lebanon bombings. Yesterday the Beirut area was knocked by the worst bombings Lebanon has seen in 25 years. Dozens of people have been killed (last count was near 50) with more than 200 people wounded. Daesh/ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred in a Hezbollah stronghold. Hezbollah is a Shia organization, and many fear the attack will inflame Sunni-Shia tensions.
Plane down. A Russian plane crashed in Egypt’s Sinai desert at the beginning of the week, killing all 224 people (the vast majority of whom were Russian) on board. What caused the crash, however, remains a mystery. The Islamic State (also known as Daesh/ISIS) has an affiliate in the region who has claimed responsibility. The Russian and Egyptian governments both dispute this claim, but the US has noted that terrorism cannot be ruled out. In the meantime, many airlines are re-routing their flight paths to avoid the area.
Conservative revolt. In the US a series of ballot measures and elections yielded the same results: a sweep for conservatives. An LGBTQ rights bill failed in Houston, Texas, while Kentucky ushered in a Tea Party Republican. The main takeaway: pollsters got this round very, very wrong, and many are concerned their models are off.