FSRN Weekly Edition – February 19, 2016
- UN gains access to besieged Syrian towns to distribute aid, ceasefire talks postponed
- Multiple hospitals attacked in northern Syria, UN envoy arrives unannounced
- Student protests in India gain momentum following student arrests on sedition charges
- Pope Francis visits Mexico, strikes a humanistic pose while remaining diplomatic
- GOP vows to stall confirmation after death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
- California African-American Museum celebrates Black History Month with educational crafts workshop
The United Nations World Food Program is ramping up distribution of humanitarian aid in Syria as part of a tentative deal to gain access to at least 18 besieged towns. FSRN’s Shannon Young has more.
Cessation of hostilities was a top goal of a meeting of international stakeholders last week in Munich. But much of the optimism that came out of those meetings was shattered on Monday, when missiles hit four hospitals and two schools in the Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The attacks, blamed on Russian forces, killed an estimated 50 people, including medical personnel and children.
The largest of the destroyed facilities was an OBGYN/Neonatal hospital in the besieged city of Azaz along the Turkish border. Another hospital was supported by Doctors Without Borders; the other two were operated by the Syrian American Medical Society, or SAMS. Just hours after the attacks on Monday, FSRN’s Shannon Young spoke with SAMS senior adviser, Syrian-American physician Dr. Zaher Sahloul.
Protests are spreading in India after police arrested a doctoral student at a prestigious university on charges of sedition. The PhD candidate is accused of chanting anti-India slogans at an event marking the execution of a Kashmiri Muslim for his alleged role in the 2001 terrorist attack on Indian Parliament. As Bismillah Geelani reports, many view the arrest as part of a wider crackdown on students by the right-wing BJP government in an attempt to curb freedom of speech on college campuses.
Pope Francis wrapped up a five-day trip to Mexico with a prison visit and a public mass in Ciudad Juarez. During his tour as the first Latin American pope, he delivered mass in the southern and northern tips of the country before indigenous people, victims of violence, migrants and tens of thousands of ordinary citizens. His visit comes as Mexico is years-deep into militarized drug war violence that has killed an estimated 100,000 people and left the whereabouts of at least 20,000 others unknown. Andalusia Knoll has more from Mexico City.
The U.S. Senate returns from a holiday recess Monday with an empty seat on the Supreme Court bench looming over the chambers. Justice Antonin Scalia, the longest-sitting member of the U.S. Supreme Court died in his sleep last Saturday while on a hunting trip at a luxury ranch in Texas. His death, and the resulting vacancy on the bench, changes the outcome for some of the cases pending at the court, and shifts the odds considerably for others on the docket. Some GOP leaders have vowed to stall the confirmation of a replacement until a new president takes office next year. FSRN’s Nell Abram has more.
This February marks the 40th anniversary of Black History Month–although the observation started 90 years ago as Negro History Week. But many people, both black and white, are increasingly asking if the month is still relevant — or if it’s a relic. FSRN’s Lena Nozizwe reports from Los Angeles where visitors to the California African-American Museum say that we are not there yet.