11.6.2014

Thousands protest missing Mexico students despite mayor arrest

Mass protests engulfed Mexico City on Wednesday, November 5, railing against the federal government’s weak response to the notorious kidnappings of 43 student protesters in Iguala. Despite the arrest of Iguala’s “Imperial Couple” – the mayor and his wife – in connection with the kidnappings and other cartel-related crimes, the people of Mexico express immense discontent with the way that their authorities handle (or are handled by) the organized crime problem.

After long years of criminal violence and intimidation throughout the nation of Mexico, amounting to 22,000 missing since 2006 alone, will it be possible for a popular movement to peacefully upend the powers that be in favor of a fairer and more secure society?

The Lost Children: France Takes Stock of Growing Jihadist Problem

Since the rise of the Islamic State, a surprising number of European citizens – including many young women and girls – have begun filtering toward Syria and the Middle East to join the jihadist cause there. France has seen the most emigration at over 1,000.

Has our socially atomized yet highly interconnected global society led to such a need for belonging that even children of nonreligious families have begun to seek meaning in violent sectarian extremism? If the disenfranchised citizens of the West so badly need a compelling narrative, then what can our liberal democracies and corporate oligarchies do to compete with the passion, sense of history (false or true), and missionary conviction of sectarian zealots?

China Says It Will Build An Ebola Hospital in Liberia

China’s recent contribution to the struggle against Ebola comes just as Liberia sees a drop in cases. The UN fund remains dangerously underfunded, but this new assistance seems to indicated the Asian superpower’s readiness to pitch in.

Recent decades have seen China extending more commercial influence over the Indian Ocean, to the extent that some African states have a significant and growing Chinese minority. Does this medical mission represent a Chinese incursion into the Atlantic seaboard? Would ensuing Chinese commerce and influence see a more highly developed and versatile West Africa? And by that token, could we see China consolidating an Atlantic foothold in the near future, leveraging its economic and cultural power in this vulnerable region not only to offset its inevitable return to normal domestic growth, but to claim a share in the Atlantic sphere? 

Gaza Flotilla Raid: No Israel charges over Mavi Marmara

Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, has decided not to press charges against Israel for the 2010 raid on Turkish ship Mavi Marmara. The ship, attempting to break an Israeli blockade to get supplies to Gaza, was boarded and suffered nine civilian casualties when Israeli commandos allegedly encountered resistance and opened fire. In her ruling, Bensouda said that “the potential case(s) likely arising from an investigation into this incident would not be of ‘sufficient gravity’ to justify further action by the ICC.”

In the humanitarian puzzle presented by the perennial Israel-Gaza conflict, would it be more ethical to use lethal force to defend a blockade against civilians, or to attempt to break that blockade in order to deliver precious supplies to those in need?

Vladimir Putin ‘mankini’ bonfire effigy angers Russians

Does it still count as a hate crime if the subject of mockery could quite literally nuke you where you stand?

11.6.2014

11.3.2014

Putin’s Friend Profits in Purge of Schoolbooks

Over half of Russia’s textbooks have been barred from its national curricula, citing, among other things, lack of patriotic sentiment or ethno-cultural value. But publisher Enlightenment, a Soviet era former juggernaut now owned by a longtime acquaintance of Vladimir Putin, has gotten away nearly unscathed.

Putin’s governance of post-Soviet Russia seems to clearly reflect his pre-glasnost KGB experience. But as the iconic secular patriarch of “Putin’s Russia,” is he not justified in seeking a more cohesive national narrative in primary schools, and is that cause enough to sanction the apparent favoritism and probable corruption in his methods?

 

Fragmentation Will Hinder Peace Efforts in Libya

“Libya’s militia groups have coalesced into two broad camps — the Dignity and Dawn blocs — but even within these camps, they are far from unified. Towns are competing against other towns, tribes against each other, ideological groupings against everyone — and all vying for influence and access to the state’s oil wealth.”

With a fragmented post-Gaddafi Libya posing an unfortunate – if perhaps less brutal – similarity to the results of global democratic evangelism in Iraq and Afghanistan, what social and political factors have made its current reality so different from those of its North African neighbors?

 

Amid Record Waves of Refugees, Italy Finding Limits to Its Compassion

The history of trans-Mediterranean migrations between the African and European coasts is a long and rich one. The fallout from the Arab Spring has seen a massive egress of refugees to Italy and its outlying islands, exhausting the Italian response. This latest swell of movement has entered a new dramatic phase – one rife with mistrust, tension, and occasional violence between black Africans, ethnic Arabs, and native or naturalized Europeans.

Refugee movements of this magnitude and diversity inevitably bring interlocking ethnic and cultural narratives with them into regions that may be unprepared or unwilling to adjust. Will Italian law enforcement and institutions be enough to contain, support, and condition the peninsula’s disparate press of new people? Or will unrest develop there, too, a plague of ill will spreading despite good intentions on both sides of the sea? 

 

Germany ‘Would Accept UK Exit from EU’

David Cameron’s UK has repeatedly spoken against the influx of EU immigrants, drawing anxious negotiations out of his continental counterparts – but now it seems Angela Merkel is ready to call it quits on the whole conversation.

Is this latest dialogue a step toward a final separation of United Kingdom and European Union? Or is it, like North Korea’s marionette dance between blustery paranoia, heartstring-pulling, and “charm campaigns,” simply a yank on Merkel’s golden chain?

 

Chinese officials arrested for buying corpses to meet government cremation quota

An offbeat point against Chinese communism? Or simply a statement about the absurdity of legal standards applied without review?

11.3.2014