Why should you be aware? A few reasons:
• In your classes, these topics may be discussed by your professors.
• You will be a better conversationalist in general with this knowledge.
• Internet “news” prioritizes entertainment news over real news, so you may be missing the key stories. For example, you have likely heard of Robin Williams’ and Joan Rivers’ unfortunate circumstances, but what do you know about the Ukraine?
• These stories are big enough that they may become a part of history textbooks soon, so this will help your knowledge and give you context in history and related disciplines in the future.
Here are the big stories that made front pages over the past month or so:
Israel-Palestine Turf Wars
Israel and its Palestine territory have been in the news, in constant turmoil, over the decades, but this has heated up of late as Israel has targeted strikes in the Palestinian Gaza section and seized land in the West Bank. Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, has sent rockets into Israel’s Jewish cities. Three Jewish teens were captured and killed by Hamas in the West Bank. As of press time, about 2000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, three quarters of whom are civilians, and hundreds of thousands displaced. Israel counters that Hamas uses civilians as “human shields,” putting them near military targets. From an American perspective, some feel Israel is being over-aggressive, while others note that Israel is America’s only friend in the Middle East and a bastion for democracy there. The US State Department did decry Israel’s latest seizure of land in the West Bank as unjustified.
Ukraine vs. Russia
The Ukraine became independent, along with Russia, after the USSR dissolved in the 1980s, but a region in Eastern Ukraine, where most of the residents speak Russian, is in turmoil as Russia has been intervening by helping separatist rebels there and building up its military presence on the border. Some say Russian troops are in the country. A Malaysian Airlines jetliner was shot down, potentially by rebels, as it tried to fly over the region. All 298 people on board died. Russian leader Vladimir Putin recently reasserted that his nation is a “nuclear power” and that his country will not kowtow to pressure from the US and Europe to stay clear of the region. Russia had annexed the Crimea portion of Ukraine earlier in the summer.
This Middle Eastern Sunni jihadist militant group got a lot of press this summer for some brutal acts of terrorism, including its beheading of US journalist James Foley. ISIS mostly operates out of war-torn Iraq, but has been gaining traction in the region, while taking on Shiites and Kurds; the latter group the US has helped with aid and some military support. ISIS seems to have a large contingent of European Muslims in its ranks, and the assassin in the Foley video clearly has a British accent. The US is willing to increase air strikes in Iraq, but doesn’t want to return ground troops to the region.
This West African super virus has killed about 1500. It seems that at least half of the people who get this die, though that may be largely due to the poverty and poor conditions in that region. The couple of Americans who have gotten this have been treated here and survived. This disease is not highly communicable, so there are no major worries in the US at this time.
Racial tensions erupted in this city outside St. Louis where the police force is mostly white (and armed to the teeth) and the population is mostly black when a white officer killed an unarmed black male, Michael Brown, 18. The local police force made matters worse by releasing an unrelated video of Brown allegedly stealing cigars from a convenience store. Curfews, violence and looting followed, the National Guard was called in, and the events of the past month showed the world that the US still has a ways to go when it comes to race relations.
Did we miss anything? What are the big September stories that we should summarize in our October issue? Let us know by hitting “reply” or writing firstname.lastname@example.org.