What We’re Reading

24warraich-blog427

This week, The Atlantic featured a stunning video of a group of friends who made a proportional model of the solar system with complete planetary orbits. Usually, depictions of the solar system are incorrect and display the planets too closely together. In order to amend this error, the team took over a dry lake in Nevada and constructed a model by drawing huge circles scattered across the desert. Even for those of us not studying STEM or are not interested in space (despite the buzz around the new Star Wars trailer), this video is an absolute treat.

On Friday, America witnessed another tragic mass shooting. In Colorado Springs, an armed man killed three people and wounded nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Vox  explains why certain pro-choice groups are petitioning President Obama to call these acts against abortion providers domestic terrorism. “The technical term really reflects the use of violence against limited targets to scare a lot of people into doing their bidding,” explained Sasha Bruce, a leading strategist for a large pro-life lobbying group. “These actions are intended to scare women away from seeking an abortion. It fit the bill even before the awful, awful incident Friday in Colorado.”

Continue Reading


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). 

Continue Reading