The News March 13-18: Garlands of Moderation

Stories of the Week

Russia leaves Syria? In a surprise move, the Russian government announced that it had succeeded in its bombing of Syria (intended to help Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad) and that its troops would be withdrawing. Iran, another Assad ally, has indicated the move could be positive news for Assad, but most spectators are nonetheless surprised at the recent development. The US government seems to think this is meant to encourage the Assad regime to step down, and that Russia won't actually leave Syria for some time.

Tragedy in Ankara. Around 40 people were killed in a deadly bomb blast in Ankara early in the week, the latest in a string of violent events in Turkey, which has seen a resurgence in Kurdish opposition, as well as inroads by the Islamic State. The government responded by attacking the PKK, a Kurdish group previously linked to violent incidents in the country. The Kurdish Freedom Falcons (TAK) later claimed responsibility. 

SCOTUS & the POTUS. Barack Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to the US Supreme Court. A moderate and a white man (albeit an observant Jew), Garland is about as boring and status quo a choice as Obama could have made. Is he a sacrificial lamb? We don't know, but we do know the GOP-controlled congress has zero interest in complying with Obama's (very legal) right to name a justice to the Court now that Antonin Scalia has died. While liberals aren't thrilled with Garland, conservatives are thoroughly opposed to him -- basically just because Obama named him.

And....11th hour news: Kurdistan?

Sao Paulo, Brazil - Wesley Fryer (Flickr)

Sao Paulo, Brazil - Wesley Fryer (Flickr)


Blues Buzz


Regional Updates

South Asia:

  • The chief of police in Ghazni, Afghanistan, fears a Taliban takeover.
  • A JNU student accused of sedition in India may be expelled.
  • Pakistan will recognize the holidays of Diwali, Holi, and Easter, in a huge win for religious minorities in Pakistan, where non-Sunni citizens suffer oppression from the government in numerous ways.
  • A bombing in the Pakistani city of Peshawar killed 15 people and injured more than 50 others.
  • Kashmiri students were beaten in the Indian state of Rajasthan amidst rumors that they had eaten beef. Tensions between Hindus and religious minorities have run high throughout the country since the election of Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP party.

Southeast & East Asia:

Europe & Eurasia:

Middle East & North Africa:

  • Syrian peace talks resumed in Geneva, with optimism surging and stalling yet again.
  • A Palestinian teacher received the Global Teacher Prize and its USD$1 million prize.
  • Libya's reconciliation government is reportedly ready to assume power.
  • A bombing in a Yemeni marketplace killed dozens of people. Saudi Arabia has said it is looking into the incident; the two countries agreed to a ceasefire some time ago.

Sub-Saharan Africa:


  • Brazilians have taken to the street to demand that Dilma Rousseff, the country's president, resign. Meanwhile, Rousseff appointed former President "Lula" Da Silva to her cabinet in an effort to shield him from prosecutors. 
  • A victory for environmentalists on American off-shore drilling.
  • American election updates: after victory in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois,  Florida, and North Carolina, Hillary Clinton has all but locked up the Democratic nomination over rival Bernie Sanders. On the Republican side, Marco Rubio has dropped out and John Kasich scored a win in his home state of Ohio. This leaves the Republican race a three-man war between Kasich, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz, all three of whom are in a tug of war with Trump emerging the likely victor.
  • More lead in the water.


  • Australia deported a Hazara man back to Afghanistan after his asylum pleas were rejected. He is the fifth Hazara man to be sent back to the country since late 2014.
  • Two Australian journalists were detained in Malaysia, in all likelihood because they criticized the latter's prime minister.

Quote of the Week:

Realistically, if a woman is going to be beaten, raped, or murdered, it’s probably not going to be a strange man in Istanbul who does it. It will be someone she knows. More likely it will be her husband or boyfriend. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, a third of American women will be the victim of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Approximately 25% will suffer serious physical violence at the hand of an intimate partner. At the same time, women of color are at a higher risk of going missing, to say nothing of domestic abuse. And yet the women who are made a fuss over in the media are almost exclusively white women. Tellingly, when the story is about a woman missing or dead overseas, the stories always seem to be bigger when the location is inhabited by people of color: the islands, Southeast Asia, Turkey. - Trying to scare women away from traveling won't keep them safe (Jessa Crispin, Quartz)

Blue Out: India, Pakistan, solidarity, and cricket.