International bomb plotter jailed for 40 years in the US

Abid Naseer, a 29 year old Pakistani man was sentenced to 40 years in prison this week by a federal judge in New York.  Abid Naseer originally moved from his home in Pakistan to pursue an education in the UK.  However, according to FBI assistant director-in-charge Diego Rodriguez, Naseer failed to study and take advantage of the British education visa system while he was in Europe.  Instead, he exploited the program and opportunity “to take away the lives of many others in large numbers.”  Following Naseer’s first arrest in the United Kingdom in 2009, for planning a bomb attack on the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester, he was initially ordered to leave the UK however, a judge allowed him to stay in the country after he ruled that it was likely unsafe for him to return to Pakistan.

Although Abid Naseer declared his innocence to the jury that sat through his trial in New York they didn’t believe it.  Naseer claims that the trial was unfair and he shouldn’t have appeared in front of a jury in a post 9/11 New York instead of the UK.  US prosectors disagree and are delighted with the outcome.  They hope that his sentence will send a strong message to other terrorist that “they will be caught and they will be put behind bars for life.”  I certainly hope that this provides some deterrence for future terrorists.  But how do you deter terrorists who are able and willing to die for their cause?  Is jail really much of a deterrent in these cases?   I also found it interesting that when Naseer appealed to Judge Raymond Dearie that he wasn’t a “career criminal” the judge quickly replied, “I know you’re not.  You’re a terrorist.”  Americans, especially in New York, have a very strong hatred towards terrorists.  And in this instance I think this man’s jail time shows the hatred we have towards terrorists and suspected terrorists.


LGBT Dialogue in China

The spread of LGBT rights has reached China– well at least the discussion has. But even this is a huge step for the Chinese government.

This came about as a twenty year old college student, Chen Qiuyan, campaigned to amend a textbook which taught homosexuality is an affliction. It is not uncommon for homosexuality to be referred to as a disorder in the psychology field, increasing social prejudice against these individuals. While homosexuality is not a crime in China, there are other aspects that Chinese officials persecute the LGBT community for. Mostly it is the discrimination from family that is upsetting in this society. These issues could also stem from lack of sex education and education of gender diversity.

Although these topics are only in the discussion phase right now, at least they have made it this far. Even the recognition of this case is a big step for conservative China.

Sanctions for Some in Burundi

An illegal election over the summer in Burundi has sparked violence and mass protests. Hundreds have been killed in the protests, attacks, and a coup attempt since the president (illegally) was elected for a third term, and the destabilization in the central African nation has raised fears of an all-out civil war. In order to fend off the dangerous implications of this violence, the United States has put sanctions on four men, high government officials, to single out those who are complicit in human rights abuses and threaten peace and security in Burundi.

The actions of the US, following sanctions imposed by the EU and potential measures taken by the UN Security Council, raise the politico-geographical question of sanctions. Used normally to create the effect of economic isolation, the US is handling sanctions in Burundi with a different tactic of imposing sanctions directly on individuals. They hope that rather than harming economic prospects for innocent civilians, by imposing sanctions directly on those who are causing issues they can ameliorate the situation abroad.

Read more here:


Countries Try to Raise Fertility—and Empower Women

This article does an excellent job of talking about how women around the globe are dealing with their roles in a modernizing world while holding on to their desires to become mothers. The article follows 16 different women and their individual stories on how their nations are taking steps to allow their young women to do both. The over all feeling coming from the young women is that education is necessary if they want to move up in life. Balancing that with their more traditional roles can be difficult. Furthermore, continuing to increase the empowerment of women is the only way to truly combat the large deceasing trend in birth rates across the globe. One of the young women contended that in her society this thought process seemed backwards, however it is the only way to make sure the women other home feel valued and safe enough to create healthy and long lasting families. She went on to discuss the fact that a woman must take the time to know herself before she enters into life commitments, such as marriage or child bearing. If she does not she is likely to raise a “weak” family that will do nothing but hurt the nation in the long run.

I thought this article was particularly interesting by looking at it from the frame work of our current conversation around paternity leave here in the United States. Some people have posited that  the reason the birthrate is falling is because women are entering the work force, and in order to remedy this we should implement better options for working mothers. Bernie Sanders in particular has been a large advocate for increasing paternity leave, focused on both mothers and fathers. Others believe this policy might decrease family values. I would be interested to know what our generation thinks about this balancing act of women in the work place and falling birth rates, or if they are even correlated.

The Rise of the Mercenaries?

Just recently the United Arab Emirates sent 450 contracted Colombian soldiers to fight in Yemen, the first time these soldiers will see combat in a foreign war zone. They will be fighting in a bloody civil war between Sunni and Shiite Muslim groups that has been going on for a while now. Sunni nations, like UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, are backing Yemeni government with Iran and other Shiite groups backing Houthi rebels.

This wave of Latin American soldiers represents a growing trend since the United States occupied Iraq. When that occupation was happening the United States government relied heavily on contractors, like Blackwater USA, to fight many battles and protect important assets. The use of contractors have now become a global market where governments will use them instead of their own militaries, especially when their citizens are unwilling to join their military in large numbers. This is where the Colombian soldiers come in.

A program started in 2010 the Colombia allowed the contracting of their soldiers to countries like United Arab Emirates. The program offered great incentives for Colombian soldiers who would normally only get $400 a month at home but now receive $2-3000 a month and insurance, and a $1000 bonus for fighting in Yemen for the wealthy Arab state. This has caused not only Colombians but other Latin American countries to contract their soldiers out as well. The Saudis also have contracted soldiers of their own from places like Sudan and Eritrea.

This further legitimizes a global industry of private soldiers, or mercenaries. A wealthy country contracts, the soldier gets trained, housed, money, insurance, and a fight. I think it is ingenious. It is an industry that holds promise for those countries who feel their citizens don’t want to fight. For the soldiers who do want to fight it offers hope for a decent living, especially if they come from developing countries like Colombia. What do you guys think? Is it a good idea? Will it be beneficial over time?

Click here for article




Long-Time Democracy Advocate Corrupted by Rise to Power

Aung San Suu Kyi was the peaceful symbol of democracy in Myanmar for decades. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) won the majority of votes in the 1990 elections, but she was placed under house arrest by the Military Regime, which refused to relinquish power. Kyi became one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

Today, Kyi’s NLD has finally reached a place of power. However, Leading her party to a landslide victory in the most recent elections, Kyi declared, “I will be above the president.” This bold statement has sent shocks through the political world and given rise to concerns that Myanmar’s democratic victory may be short-lived. Kyi is a beloved politician who has come into power at great personal sacrifice, but the Burmese may not be willing to let her act as a supreme leader indefinitely.

U.S. Issues Travel Warning for Americans

In light of recent events, the U.S has issued an official travel alert for Americans. It will be interesting to see how this affects income levels that other countries typically gain from American tourist activity. Americans account for a large portion of the world’s tourist population, so this may have a drastic affect on countries that typically benefit greatly from incoming U.S. tourism.

It will also be interesting to see how long this travel alert will be in effect. The determining factor I think will be getting ISIS under control.

The article goes on to say that “The [U.S.] department said that terrorist attacks remain likely as ISIS members return from Iraq and Syria.”

On another note, many times terrorist attacks aren’t known about in advance. Afterwards, many people say “If we would have known, we could have done this or this to prevent it.” It is interesting to note that in the case of ISIS, the U.S. (and entire world) knows about these preemptive attack-attempts beforehand.

This forces us to wonder if there is anything specific that can be done to completely prevent these attacks from being carried out? If there is, what specifically is the U.S. currently doing about it? And are we doing enough?

Recent Terrorism in Africa:  Blown Under Proportion?

Tunisia is under a 30-day state of emergency after a terrorist attack killed 12 members of the presidential guard.  Tunisia has been a focal point of terrorism over the last few months.  The aftermath of the recent attacks has been decimating to tourism in the country probably especially because some of them involved tourist deaths.  The nation has definitely had its fair share of disaster.

Some of the reasons why Tunisia has gotten less press coverage than the Paris attacks make sense.  To begin with, it was far less of a surprise.  Tunisia is less developed than France with presumably less advanced intelligence and security services.  It is also much closer to the Middle East, making it easier for terrorists to get in and out.  Many terrorists are Tunisian, allowing them to blend in far easier than they might in a Western country.

However, my question is:  Why aren’t we showing the same compassion and concern for the people of Tunisia that we are for the French?  Haven’t their citizens suffered just as much, if not more, than France has?  I’m glad that the United States is supporting France through this difficult period.  It just seems to me that the same courtesy should be extended to other countries that suffer from terrorist attacks.  Maybe there is a limit to how much we can help them militarily, but I think that supporting them ideologically would do wonders, especially to when it comes to healing the rift that has been developing between the West and Muslims as a whole.  If non-radical Muslims come to feel that there are living, breathing people in the West who care about them and their plight, they will be far less likely to fall in with ISIS and make a already difficult problem much worse.

Exodus from Afghanistan

Afghan Leaders Try to Halt Exodus, but Pleas Ring Hollow


Leaders are desperately trying to convince the younger generation of Afghans to stay home in Afghanistan for the betterment of the country. As President Ghani put it, ” “Our dignity, our respect is in Afghanistan.” The call however fell on deaf ears, as thousands traverse the barren landscape and over the seas towards Europe in hopes of escaping ever war torn Afghanistan, stricken for centuries with bloodshed and economic incompetence. The stream of steady immigrants from Afghans find their way to Europe, mostly to Germany in hopes that they will be able to start anew. Anything would be better than $3 a day, as one Afghan reported to make while home.

The Afghan leadership is trying very hard to keep their potential and talent at home in Afghanistan to help rebuild the country while at the same time hold off as long as possible from accepting fully back into society those being deported from Europe. It is difficult for this rising generation to heed the words of their leaders when the rich and powerful are all “international” themselves. As the author of this article put it, the addresses, countries of education, and other residences of many government officials read like an atlas. This frustrates many Afghans who cannot find any reason to continue living in dire circumstances. If the rich can leave and find opportunity, why not them?


This is an unfortunate and very telling experience for the Afghan people, where even at their best so far, they would rather live anywhere else in the world than to stay at home. The sentiments are more than likely felt by others fleeing circumstances almost uncontrollable. This definitely tells the government that we are not happy, and if Tiebout had his way, there would be immediate change in the way things are being run. Providing for the people is government 101, and when a government cannot do that, why the it is imperative that people choose for themselves. At times it is almost as if to say that Afghanistan is destined to fail. Should we help it or let it take its inevitable road? Should other nations look to incoming immigrants as potential capital for the forging of new ideas and greater a greater workforce? Germany would like to look on the bright side by accepting many into the country but are constrained at times to send many home who are caught illegally. Their outlook however seems to be generally positive towards these immigrants who may pose a threat, but at the same time, offer more than what they have in their destitute nap sacks.

What does Islamic State Propaganda Look Like?

When Schmitt, a senior writer of the New York Times, came to address us I was interested in these homegrown attacks he talked about.  Part of it was fear, I felt like it didn’t seem possible to thwart these “lone wolfs” he discussed that would get involved with the Islamic State Terrorists through chatrooms or getting pulled in by propaganda. There was an article featured in the New York Times that talks in more detail about what the propaganda is like, and why it is successful in recruiting various people to attack.

We tend to view think that the propaganda is all violent when less than 5% is according to this article.  If we think about it, it wouldn’t be nearly as successful if the images were frightening, and featuring the terroristic attacks. These jihadi magazines are currently thriving at being spread across the world, including several targeted at women.  They are published as a PDF, so it is easy to share, and there is no target for who first distributed it.

The images show the group “administering its civilian population, cleaning the streets, fitting electricity pylons, fixing sewage systems, purifying water, collecting blood donations, providing health care and education”. The messages within are to make the people think that ISIS will be loyal to you, and care for you.

Over here in the West, our media depicts the aspect of the jihadi that tortures, harms and kills. We view them as inhumane monsters. So many people are sucked into this, because there are images of hope being portrayed in these images. The terrorism is only part of the movement in communication.


This is the image shared in the article to imply that in ISIS they can find brotherhood and support. So it makes me wonder what we’ll have to do to keep people from turning here for support.


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