What we’re reading: The Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad attacks in a global context

We at Blog would like to extend our condolences to those who have been affected by recent and on-going attacks in Paris, Beirut, and elsewhere in the world. Thankfully, all 18 Brown students studying abroad in Paris were safe throughout the attacks. In light of recent events, this week’s “What we’re reading” will focus on the attacks in Paris, their international implications, and the international response by the media and society at large. At 5 p.m. today, Wednesday, November 18th, the Chaplains will host a “candlelight vigil to express our prayers, concern, and commitment to our global neighbors.” There will be a reception to follow in JWW 411.

On the night of Friday, November 13th, eight individuals killed at least 129 people and wounded over 350 others throughout Paris in an attack that has been linked to the Islamic State (ISIS). The eight attackers–seven of whom are dead–worked in three teams to carry out the attack that spanned the city, targeting several restaurants, the soccer stadium, and the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 victims were killed. The New York Times breaks down the timeline of events and the reaction of the French government.

French authorities have identified Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian man, as being responsible for orchestrating the attack, the New York Times reports. Authorities are also searching for Abdeslam Salam, 26, who is one of two French brothers living in Belgium who helped carry out the attack and is the only one of the eight attackers still at large.

The Saalam brothers lived in Molenbeek, a Belgian neighborhood that is largely populated by immigrants from the Arab world and has been linked to other attempted and successful attacks in Europe. Slate explores how Belgium became a hotbed for extremist activity. Politico reports that Jan Jambon, Belgium’s interior minister, is vowing to “clean up Molenbeek.” The implications of the connection of Belgians to the attacks are unclear as of yet. Jambon has not specified how he intends to “clean up” the area of concern. 

French President François Hollande declared that “France is at war” and enacted a state of emergency that he now proposes should be extended to three months, the Wall Street Journal reported. Under a state of emergency, the government can conduct raids without a proper search warrant. French officials conducted 168 raids early Monday morning throughout 19 departments, including Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. They arrested 23 people and put an additional 104 people under house arrest.

Looking Ahead (and Behind): ISIS, Immigration, and Islamophobia

France has expanded its aerial bombing of ISIS targets in Syria in response to the attack. They have dropped at least 20 bombs on Raqqa, Syria in the past couple days. Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, more than 200,000 Syrians have been killed and the country has been destabilized by various factions battling for control, including ISIS. The Atlantic outlines France’s role in fighting ISIS in Iraq since September of 2014. Olivier Roy, a professor at the European University Institute in Florence, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times outlining the geopolitical challenges to confronting ISIS and the likely course of action for France.

The conflict has displaced over  11 million Syrians, many of whom have migrated to Europe to escape the violence. For a more in-depth look at refugee resettlement, CNN has a report from September that looks at migrant flows. 

The attack in Paris raised concerns over accepting Syrian refugees into European countries after a Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the suicide bombers. The Guardian cautions against jumping to conclusions about the discovered Syrian passport. Because of the attack, several governments whose nations have been opening their doors to these refugees are receiving intensified backlash from various citizens. In Germany, a country considered friendly to migrants, debate has been especially pointed and a tense climate has emerged (discussed here in Time). 

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What we’re reading

President Obama sat down with Bill Keller, Editor in Chief of the Marshall Project, to discuss the death penalty in America. The Marshall Project is a nonprofit news organization that seeks to inform the public about the injustices of the criminal justice system and incite reform through its work.

The Atlantic‘s “The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy” delves into the history of the Peanuts franchise, its author’s indignant nature, and the upcoming 3D animated movie. When the author Charles Schulz passed away in 2000, many thought the comic was done for, seeing as Schulz vowed that no new Peanuts strips would be produced. Fifteen years later, a feature-length movie is set to be released  on November 6th. Follow the evolution of the beloved characters throughout the decades in the piece.

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Life lessons from Dr. Jane Goodall: An overview and interview

On Monday, October 19, the Brown Lecture Board hosted Dr. Jane Goodall, the world-renowned primatologist and activist. Goodall, who began her work in Gombe Valley in Tanzania 50 years ago, has contributed immensely to the study of chimpanzees and the scientific understanding of animal behavior. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977 with the aim of inciting individual action to create global change.

Goodall imparted her wisdom and stories to a packed Salomon auditorium; we also had the opportunity to interview her, which appears below.

Goodall began the lecture by walking on stage with two companions—a stuffed cow and gorilla—and greeted the crowd in a language foreign to most: chimpanzee speak. After uttering her guttural sounds, she translated it for the audience: “This is me. This is Jane.”

She took the audience through her life, one story at a time. Throughout the talk, Goodall radiated with the same exuberance and fascination with the world that she described in many of her childhood stories. From hiding in a hen coup for four hours to find out where hen eggs came from, to leaving her family, friends, and country at the age of 23 to venture to a distant, then-less-known land, Goodall always followed her curiosity. She stressed the importance of her mother in her life, who always supported her endeavors and even traveled with Goodall to Tanzania so that she could pursue her dream.

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What to do this week: October 19 – 25


Monday, October 19

Event: Vitor Izecksohn–War and Slavery in the Rio de La Plata Basin: The Triple Alliance against Paraguay (1864-1870)
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute

Izecksohn will discuss the emancipation of slaves to fight as soldiers in the Triple Alliance War of South America.

Event: Brown Lecture Board Presents: Jane Goodall
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Salomon

Goodall is a world-famous primatologist and expert on chimpanzee behavior.

Tuesday, October 20

Event: Marriage Rights≠Queer Strife: An MPC Workshop on Heterosexism
Time: 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Location: Petteruti Lounge

A workshop aiming to dismantle the idea of marriage as the central LGBTQ issue of today.

Event: Ecological Debt
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: Salomon 203

The Brown Political Forum is hosting a discussion on ecological debt. Topics covered include the debt of colonial powers to developing countries, the role of the United States and its ecological debt, among others. There’ll be free pizza.

Wednesday, October 21

Event: SUPER Heavy Petting!
Time: 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
Location: Wriston Quad

The 2018 Class Board invites you to cuddle little animals and relieve stress.

Thursday, October 22

Event: Storytelling for the Next Generation: Harnessing the Power of Video Games to Share and Celebrate Cultures
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

Learn how a tribal nonprofit organization from Alaska created a new genre of video games and set a new standard for indigenous story telling.

Event: 95.5 WBRU Birthday Bash fea. Cold War Kids at Lupo’s!
Time: 6:30 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
Location: Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel

Special guests include BØRNS, Coleman Hell, and Public Alley Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Get tickets here.

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Students call for renaming of Fall Weekend to Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Today at noon, over 200 demonstrators gathered on the Main Green to stand in solidarity with indigenous people and urge the administration to officially change the name of Fall Weekend to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Native American students, faculty, and community members wore their people’s traditional regalia and others attending in solidarity wore red and black to commemorate the day. 

The event began with members of Native Americans at Brown (NAB) introducing themselves, speaking in their respective indigenous languages and English, and welcoming the protestors. The organizers of the demonstration, Sierra Edd ’18, Kara Roanhorse ’18 and Phoebe Young ’17, spoke about the purpose of the event and of NAB. Young said Native Americans at Brown exists “first and foremost to provide support for Native students on campus.” The demonstration also included calls to sign a petition asking the administration to rename Fall Weekend to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

Over the course of two hours, demonstrators gave speeches celebrating the resistance and resilience of indigenous people in America and discussing their hopes for the future. The leaders of the demonstration performed the Pequot Flag Song and led the crowd in a round dance before marching and chanting through campus to President Christina Paxson P’19’s house.


While the relevance and significance of this demonstration was felt strongly on campus due to the events of last week, the movement for Indigenous Peoples’ Day is occurring nationwide. Edd stated that Native Americans at Brown have been planning this event long before last week, and that she felt the need for more awareness and support from Brown as early as the first day of school. Their intention is that the university will dedicate space and institutional support to native and indigenous people at Brown. In Floripa Olguin ’16‘s words, this in part means “institutionalized recruitment,” particularly of the Wompanoag and Naragansett tribes, as Brown’s campus itself exists within their tribal lines.

NAB’s hope is that the Brown community can use this demonstration as an opportunity for change and historical accountability. Olguin encourages us, as academics, to take on the “learning that is needed for growth, even if it is very different than folks are used to.”

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What we’re reading


A 2015 Pew Research Center study reports that 89 percent of American cell phone owners have used their phones during their last social gathering. Of American adults, 82 percent believe their cell phone use in social settings has negative effects on the conversation. Sherry Turkle, professor in the Science, Technology, and Society program at M.I.T., explores the detrimental effects of cell phone use in her New York Times piece. Our increased dependence has led to a decrease in the ability of some to engage in “empathetic conversations” and read others for emotions, among other effects.

Hipster alert! “The Mason Jar, Reborn traces the history of the trusted beverage container you see many of our classmates walking around campus with. The piece traces the transition of the mason jar from being used as a convenient method for preserving food to a symbol of “thrift, preservation, and personal labor” that has become ubiquitous in the capitalist system. Continue Reading