The News March 27-April 1: Attacks 'Over There'

Stories of the Week

Pakistan's terrible weekend. On Easter Sunday, a popular park in Lahore experienced a devastating terror attack that killed dozens, predominately minority Christians celebrating the holiday. An additional 300 people were also injured, and a Taliban splinter group claimed responsibility by the end of the day. Elsewhere, in Islamabad, supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, recently executed for the murder of Salman Taseer (who had objected to Pakistan's blasphemy laws), stormed parliament. As usual, Western media took a hit for not covering the attack quite the same way it did similar events in Brussels and Paris.

Great news for pro-choice activists in the US. The FDA is changing its guidance labeling for a popular abortion drug, mifepristone. Women are now allowed to take some doses at home, and can also have the drug up to 70 days after conception. This is a huge gain for activists, especially at a time when all GOP presidential nominees are threatening to curtail abortion access, and in the case of frontrunner Donald Trump, punish the women who seek them. 

Nuclear proportions. DC hosted a large-scale nuclear summit this week, with 58 countries attending. There was a considerable amount of drama surrounding the summit. Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif bowed out at the last minute following the Lahore attacks, while Iran threw some shade. The biggest story, though, was Turkey's president, Recep Tayipp Erdogan, who was snubbed by President Barack Obama. and then caused significant drama when his security roughed up journalists

Lahore, near Wagah border. (E.A. Crunden.)

Lahore, near Wagah border. (E.A. Crunden.)


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Regional Updates

South Asia:

  • A polio worker in Pakistan's Khyber district was killed. He worked in a tribal area, where polio vaccine work is heavily stigmatized. 
  • Counter-terrorism operations have raged across Punjab since last Sunday, when more than 70 people were killed in Lahore, the capital of the province.
  • Bangladesh's Supreme Court rejected a petition calling for the removal of Islam as the country's official religion.

Southeast & East Asia:

  • An American museum returned a stolen statue of a Hindu god to Cambodia.
  • An Indonesian ship was hijacked in Philippine waters, with its crew held for ransom.
  • Japan has passed a law allowing its soldiers to fight on foreign soil, marking a dramatic shift for the country, which has been hesitant about warfare since the conclusion of WWII.
  • Burma has sworn in its first elected civilian president in 50 years.

Europe & Eurasia:

Middle East & North Africa:

  • Syrian government forces successfully pushed the Islamic State out of the ancient city of Palmyra.
  • Qatari news giant Al Jazeera is getting set to cut 500 jobs.
  • A man reportedly suffering from mental health woes hijacked an EgyptAir plane and diverted it to Cyprus. Passengers were unharmed.
  • Egypt's leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, fired the country's top corruption official.

Sub-Saharan Africa:



Quote of the Week:

In the media, too, it seems. Two days after Sunday’s attack, Lahore has disappeared from the top headlines. Pakistan’s pain has already been extinguished from the global news cycle, its catastrophe a news item and not — as in Paris or Brussels — a news event. The world has many demands on its meager stores of empathy. The children’s names, their pictures, the terrain of the park where they fell to bits will never be familiar to a mourning world. Efforts to make the dead children of Pakistan real and innocent, worthy of a tear and not just a tweet, start, sputter and fizzle. - The Playgrounds of Pakistan (Rafia Zakaria, New York Times)

Blue Out: Shakespeare's skull. | Palmyra