9 things you missed while the U.S media slept-Mar 30, 2014

From mysterious planes disappearing off into a new Bermuda Triangle (or the bottom of the Indian Ocean) to naked tourists at Macchu Picchu, CNN and other such U.S-based news sites have been doing an outstanding job of keeping Americans abreast of news that really matter. That being said, I think there have been some noticeable oversights regarding some pretty weighty international matters that haven’t been getting their fair share of airtime.

(DISCLAIMER: That’s not to say that these news items haven’t been covered at all in the U.S media–far from it. However, are they front and center like Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which has been literally been covered to the depths of the ocean? No, and that’s why they’re being featured here).

1. Venezuela went up in flames and entered its sixth week of anti-government protests 

A national guard holds a bottle of molotov cocktail at Altamira square in Caracas

A national guard holds a bottle of molotov cocktail at Altamira square in Caracas March 17, 2014.
PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS/CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS

Venezuela unrest toll rises as soldier is shot in head

2. A civil war rages on in Syria after three years

March 15 marked three years since start of the civil war in Syria in 2011. When President Obama’s short-lived plan to intervene in Syria after President Bashir al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people fell through, Syria largely dropped off the public’s radar. Again. As of now, almost half of Syria’s chemical weapons have been removed and the Syrian army seized control of the historic Crusader Castle (a UNESCO World Heritage site) in a symbolically potent victory over the divided rebels. As always, the number of refugees and dead continues to grow by the day.

 

The Syrian government's army seized control of Crusader castle from the divided rebel factions. PHOTO CREDIT: Al Jazeera

The Syrian government’s army seized control of Crusader castle from the divided rebel factions. PHOTO CREDIT: Al Jazeera

 

3. France intervened in the Central African Republic to stop a civil war in 2013, and troops remain to this day. Mali suffered from internal terrorist threats, and France has lent its support there as well .

The U.S isn’t doing much on the humanitarian intervention front, but that’s okay, because France is doing enough to compensate for pretty much every single Western power. The former colonial power decided last year to intervene in the Central African Republic with the intent of stopping a brutal civil war between Muslims and Christians, deploying troops in December 2013. French president François Hollande plans to send an additional 2,000 troops shortly. However, the French may have overestimated their ability to patch things up quickly in the war-ravaged country.

France risks long stay after misjudging Central African Republic

French troops deployed in the Central African Republic to quell fighting in June of last year. PHOTO CREDIT: Emmanuel Braun, Reuters

French troops deployed in the Central African Republic to quell fighting in June of last year. PHOTO CREDIT: Emmanuel Braun, Reuters

At the behest of Mali, France also sent 5,000 troops to the West African nation a little over a year ago to counter Al-Qaeda-linked rebels and quell terrorist threats, an effort that has been widely hailed as a success. It’s looking to settle down though as a force of 12,000 UN peacekeepers readies to deploy to Mali.

 Mali, one year later: France’s mission accomplished–but much left to do

4. Darfur. It’s still an issue.

Remember how the U.S used the word ‘genocide’ for the first time with regard to a bloody conflict and mass killing in sub-Saharan Africa after a government-backed Arab militia began plundering and raping villages in Darfur and southern Sudan? And then the U.S still did nothing to quell the ethnic unrest or intervene on humanitarian grounds? Well, 10 years down the line, even after South Sudan seceded and formed its own independent nation in 2011, things aren’t exactly sunny in Darfur (which is still part of northern Sudan, or Sudan proper).

Civilians rest at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur. There are an estimated 2 million IDPs in Sudan. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP

Civilians rest at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur. There are an estimated 2 million IDPs in Sudan.
PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP

Darfur conflict: civilians deliberately targeted as tribal violence escalates

5. 20 years later: Rwanda

Nearly 20 years after a genocide which brutally massacred 75% of Rwanda’s Tutsi population and devastated the nation, Rwanda is doing quite well for itself (well, relatively speaking). The country under the rule of President Paul Kagame now prides itself on the safety of women, and you can frequently find ladies walking the streets of Kigalia at nighttime with little worry. It’s also reputed to be one of the less corrupt states in the region. Victims of the genocide live side-by-side with their perpetrators and individuals are still being brought to bear before war crimes tribunals,  so obviously the wounds are still fresh and suspicions linger. But it’s a start.

Messages written on streamers by visitors. Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Rwanda. PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Scourfield

Messages written on streamers by visitors. Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Rwanda. PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Scourfield

A story, old and new, of Rwanda

6. Continued slaughter of the Rohingya Muslim people in Myanmar

Myanmar may be the darling of the media, having rapidly opened up to trade liberalization and to the West in the past two years, but wait just a minute before you slap a gold medal on its chest: It is allowing the mass slaughter of its minority Rohingya Muslim population by the Buddhist majority in the state of Rakhine, and the world (and sadly, longtime human rights activist and Burmese political leader Aung San Suu Kyi) is standing by idly while it happens. As a result, several thousand Muslims have attempted  to flee Myanmar into Thailand, a journey which often costs them their lives.

The graves of Rohingya Muslim men, found dead of sepsis in a smuggler's camp. They were abandoned because they could not afford to pay for the final stretch of the trip to Malaysia. Credit: Adam Dean, New York Times

The graves of Rohingya Muslim men, found dead of sepsis in a smuggler’s camp. They were abandoned because they could not afford to pay for the final stretch of the trip to Malaysia.
PHOTO CREDIT: Adam Dean, New York Times

For Myanmar Muslim Minority, No Escape from Brutality

7. Greece. Oh Greece.

After suffering a somewhat humiliating default  (then again, it was pretty darn embarrassing for the U.S too, given that we caused the worldwide financial crisis in the first place), Greece is back in the news! This time, for…well, pretty much the exact same reasons they were the stars of every T.V screen in ’08. Financial woes, oh my. The Mediterranean nation agreed to its toughest round of negotiations yet with the hope of repaying 10 billion euros worth of bonds in May.

A Greek and an EU flag float in the breeze next to the temple of the Parthenon, during the takeover ceremony of the six-month rotation of Greece's EU Presidency. PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

A Greek and an EU flag float in the breeze next to the temple of the Parthenon, during the takeover ceremony of the six-month rotation of Greece’s EU Presidency. PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

Greece, lenders clinch deal on new aid after toughest review

8. The brutal slaying of Pakistani grandmother Mamana Bibi. Cause of death: drone strike.

Somewhat old news, but it still bears repeating: Much ado was said and done when the brilliantly courageous and inspirational Malala Yousafzai came to the U.S, wowing John Stewart and the American with her conviction and poise as she spoke about girls’ right to education and terrorism. But how about a much less well-known Pakistani girl who was received by almost dead silence in the media upon arrival to Washington last November? Her grandmother, Mamana Bibi, was horrifically killed by an accidental U.S drone strike while was plucking vegetables from her garden in Pakistan.

A photograph of Mamana Bibi, a Pakistani grandmother slain by an accidental  U.S drone strike while standing outside her home last year.

A photograph of Mamana Bibi, a Pakistani grandmother slain by an accidental U.S drone strike while standing outside her home last year. PHOTO CREDIT: Naming the Dead project

Naming the Dead: A project tracking drone deaths in Pakistan-Bibi Mamana

9. To end on a lighter (yet still kinda depressing) note:

Climate change–that’s still a thing?

Apparently, increased carbon dioxide from climate change may be linked to larger poison ivy leaves. Uh oh! Better break out that anti-rash ointment if you plan to take a stroll in the woods anytime within the next 50 years.

Apparently, increased carbon dioxide from climate change may be linked to larger poison ivy leaves. Uh oh! Better break out that anti-rash ointment if you plan to take a stroll in the woods anytime within the next 50 years. PHOTO CREDIT:  Flickr (tvnewsbadge)

According to the U.S Congress, apparently not.

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