Stories of the Week
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.
- Curing Leukemia?
- Goodbye to cruel “killer” whale theatrics at SeaWorld.
- American Republicans had another debate this week.
- Veterans Day occurred this week in the US, and while statistics on homeless veterans are grim throughout the country, one state, Virginia, has essentially eradicated the problem.
- Also re Veterans Day: Google’s daily doodle really annoyed some people.
- Local and organic don’t equate sustainability.
- The BJP (Narendra Modi’s party) lost in elections in Bihar, India. The elections were in many ways considered a referendum on Modi’s leadership, which began in 2014.
- Air pollution has spiked in Delhi, which celebrated the Hindu festival of Diwali this week.
- The death toll from a factory collapse in Lahore, Pakistan, mounted steadily throughout the week.
- Afghans are protesting the beheadings of several Hazaras by Daesh/ISIS.
- In the bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, the US military relied almost exclusively on intel from Afghan troops.
Southeast & East Asia:
- Burma held historic elections this week. While Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition, is constitutionally barred from assuming the presidency, she has claimed victory regardless.
- Of note: the marginalized Muslim Rohingya minority were barred from voting. Aung San has evaded questions about the Rohingya when asked.
Europe & Eurasia:
- Consensus now holds that a bomb downed a Russian plane in Egypt.
- Top Russian athletes have been accused of state-sponsored doping.
- Britain welcomed Indian leader Narendra Modi this week.
- Spain has a not-insignificant Catalan problem.
- Border checks are being imposed by the Swedish government in order to weed out refugees. Meanwhile, Slovenia has followed in the footsteps of Hungary and Bulgaria in building a border fence.
Middle East & North Africa:
- Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with American President Barack Obama in an effort to soothe tensions earlier this week.
- Israelis and Palestinians are continuing to engage in an escalation of violence.
- The EU is cracking down on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights.
- In a state of crisis after a second cyclone arrived at its shores, Yemen asked both Oman and the UN for assistance at the beginning of the week.
- Tensions between Houthis and Saudi forces in Yemen continue.
- A Jordanian killed two Americans and a South African at a training center.
- An Egyptian journalist was detained by the Sisi regime. He was released later in the week.
- Russia is preparing to propose an 8-point plan for Syrian peace.
- Kurdish fighters launched an intense offensive against Daesh/ISIS fighters in Sinjar.
- Lebanon‘s brutal Thursday bombing may inflame Sunni-Shia tensions.
- Sierra Leone is Ebola-free.
- Chad declared a state of emergency for the area around Lake Chad after a Boko Haram bombing.
- Many African countries are concerned they may be coerced into repatriating refugees who have headed to Europe.
- Burundi is on genocide watch.
- Guantanamo Bay — probably not closing.
- Without corruption, Mexico would likely be an economic superstar.
- More trouble for Venezuela‘s president.
- Black students at the University of Missouri were protesting until the president and chancellor of the school were removed. It didn’t take long; they resigned Monday.
- Australia‘s immigration minister opened the week by arguing that the country could feasibly take in more refugees from Iraq and Syria.
- Unrest exploded on Christmas Island after the death of a Kurdish-Iranian refugee detained there.
- Female MPs were thrown out of New Zealand‘s parliament after disclosing their sexual assaults.