War crime in Afghanistan. The US military bombed an MSF (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Kunduz, which has recently been overtaken by the Taliban. The hospital was given no warning, as is required by international law. The military has insisted they bombed the hospital due to a request from Afghan forces. MSF has is demanding an inquiry into the bombing, however, and is accusing the US of committing a war crime. President Obama called MSF’s head mid-week to apologize for the incident.
Oregon trauma. Following a shooting in Oregon at a community college last week, America’s gun debate has begun anew. There seems to be little indication that real change will come from the shooting, but politicians on both right and left have exchanged heated remarks. Notable fact: There have been more mass shootings in the US than days in the 2015 calendar year so far.
More Putin more problems. Russia’s sudden involvement in Syria’s war has been unpopular across the board. The country has repeatedly crossed into Turkish airspace, an infringement on NATO’s turf–meaning Russia is to an extent pitting itself against the US. This is mean even more real by Russian strikes targeting US-backed rebel groups in the country. It’s unclear just how the situation will unfold, but scholars across the board argue Vladimir Putin is making, well, a relatively stupid move here. Update: Russian missiles aimed at Syria crashed in Iran on Thursday. Oops.
Numerous nations appear to have reached a breakthrough on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but environmental groups and unions are about to throw a fit over the deal.
The Nobel in medicine has been awarded, as have numerous other Nobel prizes. The winners are a diverse and eclectic group — Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel for literature, the first time in over 50 years that a writer who deals predominately in nonfiction has won the award. Alexievich is a Belarusian writer, and works under a dictatorship.
Putin party. The Russian premier dominated headlines this week, first for his appearance at the UN General Assembly (where he shared uncomfortable moments with American president, Barack Obama), then for Russia’s intelligence-sharing partnership with Syria, Iran, and Iraq, and finally for Russia’s less than subtle bombing of targets within Syria — which the country claims were terrorist strongholds and which the US says were American-backed rebel groups.
Palestine rising. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the UN this week and essentially renounced the Oslo Accords. His speech has been critiqued by all sides as either going too far or not going far enough. Regardless, the Palestinian flag was raised at the UN, an historic moment.
Water on Mars? We’ve actually long known about the latest Martian aquatic information — just not the extent that we do now. NASA researchers excitedly spilled the news that water is indeed in existence on the cold red planet, and a panel addressed questions early in the week. Optimists think this will of course lead to the Earthling occupation of Mars, skeptics think the water is too salty to provide much of anything sustainable for life. Apparently there’s probably already life on Mars, brought by Earth’s space materials, so there’s that to ponder as well.
A massacre at a community college in Oregon yesterday left ten people dead and as many as twenty wounded. Initial reports say the shooter asked students to state their religion, before he began firing indiscriminately. The shooter is now dead, and the US has had more mass shootings in 2015 than it has had days.
Ben Carson doesn’t think a Muslim should lead the US. One of the leading Republican candidates for president has stated that he doesn’t think a Muslim should be the country’s leader. This is problematic on numerous grounds, in addition to the fact that it has questionable legality. There is no religious litmus test to be president, and, moreover, the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and protects against harassment on the basis of religion.
The American military may have been covering up Afghan sex abuse. An NYT report indicates that American military personnel worked overtime to keep their subordinates from blowing the whistle on the abuse of young Afghan boys who service members of the Afghan military. The allegations have sent shockwaves through the military, and appear to be valid.
The Pope comes to Washington. Pope Francis, the “people’s pope,” arrived this week in DC. (For those living here, public transportation was a special joy.) He then went on to New York. The list of people receiving him garnered some uproar from conservatives, and his chief topics of conversation with the president were climate change, immigration, and the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. (He also canonized a colonizer.) The highlight of his DC visit, however, was when a five year old girl broke through barricades to give him a letter asking for protection for her undocumented parents.
EU at any cost. Desperate refugees, the bulk of them from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, have been pouring into Europe for weeks. But countries like Hungary do not want them, and have put in place a number of measures (including razor wire and police squads) to deter them. Of course, there’s no stopping desperate people, so the refugees are merely re-routing themselves through Croatia and even eyeing Schengen member Slovenia as they head to their ultimate destination, generally Germany or Scandinavia.
Worst PR move ever in Egypt. The Egyptian government screwed up epically when it fired on (and killed) numerous Mexican tourists. AND THEN they tried to say it was all the tourists’ fault for being where they weren’t supposed to be without permits. AND THEN information came to light indicating they did have permits, and also had a guide. AND THEN the casualty rate was higher than first reported. Mexican officials and grieving family members have gone to Egypt to sort the mess out.
Republicans debate, all ten thousand of them. The GOP’s potential contenders all warred it out this Wednesday to see who would become the part nominee. Carly Fiorina by all accounts won the night (albeit while delivering some extreme misinformation on Planned Parenthood.) Frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson fared more poorly, while Marco Rubio saw a bit of a rise. The main takeaway? It is very unclear who will be the Republican nominee.
#IStandWithAhmed: A 14 year-old boy was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school in Texas, where it was presumed to be a bomb. As the boy was Muslim, this has raised understandable concerns about Islamophobia.
Refugees in need. Running from violence and unthinkable horrors at home, refugees from countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, many of them Syrian and Afghan, have reached Europe and are heading further into the continent. Western nations oceans away, like the US and Australia, have been of little assistance — the US will take 10,000 refugees next year, and Australia will take 12,000. Meanwhile Eastern and Western European countries alike are overwhelmed. A plan has been put forward for Europe to take up to 160,000 refugees, which will hardly solve the problem. Certain countries, like Hungary, have shown extreme hostility to the point of abuse towards the refugees, many of whom have endured horrific events and are only seeking aid. (Reminder that the crisis is everywhere, people only care about Europe now because Western nations are involved.)
Iran deal, done deal? American President Obama reached the needed number of Democratic supporters for the Iran deal to filibuster this week. On Thursday Democrats overturned Republicans in order to pass the deal. Of course, Republicans have threatened to do whatever they can to stop the deal, including sue. As of Friday morning, that remains a possibility. (The NYT also made a point of profiling Jewish lawmakers who voted for and against the deal, which is questionable.)
Everybody is Running for the American Presidency 2k15: Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina are trading barbs over Fiorina’s looks. Meanwhile, Sanders and Clinton are duking it out over Iowa and New Hampshire, two primary states.
Refugees in Europe. With few options available, refugees from the MENA region and South Asia are flooding Europe’s shores and pushing onwards to Western Europe. Countries like Germany have agreed to take in refugees (in the hopes of spurring other EU members to do the same), but the UK has only taken a handful. Meanwhile both Hungary and Bulgaria have erected walls to keep asylum-seekers out, and Hungary in particular has been vicious towards the desperate masses filling its train stations.
Iran deal is a deal. Maryland’s Mikulski became the 34th vote required for President Obama to have a veto-proof majority for the Iran deal. While a filibuster-empowered majority may not be in the cards, Obama now has the full number needed to ensure that the deal passes smoothly.
That one clerk in Kentucky. Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, is refusing to issue marriage licenses in the state of Kentucky despite an American Supreme Court ruling that she is required to. As of Thursday, Davis was arrested and held in contempt of court. This has less to do with Davis’ religious beliefs (which she clams prevent her from issuing marriage licenses) and more to do with the fact that her job requires her to issue the licenses.
China’s economic collapse? China’s stock market has crashed in a big way, and the damage could cause a global recession. That’s the worst case scenario but even the best case doesn’t look very good.
Saudi feminism. In the notorious oil monarchy, women are being allowed to register to vote and run for office in the nation’s December municipal elections. Of course, this might not be the sea change many hope — women in the kingdom face tremendous setbacks in nearly every aspect of life. But still, it’s something!
Live shootings. A reporter and a cameraman were shot and killed on live TV while reporting a story in Roanoke, Virginia. The killer, who had been fired by the channel in 2013, filmed the shooting and uploaded it to social media, sparking outcry from some who felt the footage wasn’t taken down fast enough. Those close to the victims have been calling for gun control regulation.
A 9 year-old girl in Ferguson was tragically killed by a bullet coming through her room while she did homework.
Bombing in Bangkok. The city’s popular Erawan shrine was bombed this week, with around 20 casualties and over a hundred people injured. A second bombing occurred some time later. It’s very unclear who was behind the attacks; tensions between Buddhists and Muslims are always high, but the shrine is Hindu in origin and the government has ruled out Muslim involvement from the Thai Malay minority. Uighurs from China, however, remain a possibility.
Ashley Madison. The website, which offers the tagline “Life is short. Have an affair.” has been hacked. What’s more, the information of its many clients has now been leaked, leading to outcomes ranging from embarrassment to serious danger for those in countries where adultery is legally punishable.
The Donald and birthright. The GOP’s current #1 headache (and leading candidate) has officially unveiled his immigration plan. It calls for the recall of the 14th Amendment (essentially) and suggests birthright citizenship should be overturned. Moreover, it has royally angered both the Mexican government and numerous Latinos who have voting power in the next election. Well.
Ferguson anniversary. A year after Michael Brown was killed, another man was also shot by police. A state of emergency was promptly declared. Violence between protesters and law enforcement has been escalating throughout the week.
Google the Alphabet. The internet giant will now operate its many components under the larger name Alphabet. The search engine will retain its name, however, so we don’t have to alter our grammar to include “I’ll alphabet that.”
Chinese explosions. Mysterious explosions ripped through a Chinese city mid-week and left devastation everywhere. They are believed to be linked to chemicals and industrial work, but not much else is known, and they are quite terrifying. Dozens have been killed and over a hundred people injured.
Everyone is Running for the American Presidency 2k15: Donald Trump is under fire for his incredibly sexist remarks, which hasn’t stopped his polling numbers. Meanwhile, The Other Woman Running For President, Carly Fiorina, is doing surprisingly well for herself.
Sesame Street is going to HBO, meaning it will go behind a pay wall. This is a catastrophe.
The Republicans. Fox News chose a poll-based system to narrow down which Republican candidates would be allowed to debate in their first televised sparring. The losers notably were relegated to a separate debate. There are no real takeaways, except something about Donald Trump.
Hiroshima. Seventy years after the atomic bomb was dropped in Japan by American forces, its ramifications are still being felt. The New Yorker has republished James Hersey’s article on the event in full.
The plane. The Malaysian plane that went missing is back in the headlines, forever. This is mostly because of CNN, but the Blues felt the need to update you regardless. The latest: more debris have washed up on a small French-controlled island off the coast of Madagascar, and they definitely seem to belong to the plane.