Recent Blog Posts
If protests happen in Turkey and they rarely appear on the US nightly news, did they even happen? Yes, but they will certainly be less noisy on the international stage.
The protests began on May 28th as a demonstration against a proposal to destroy Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul to build a touristy shopping mall. The city's meager 1.5 percent of green space (compare that to New York City's 17 percent) was being threatened and a small group of environmentalists headed the call.
The protests quickly grew throughout the week after police attempted to disband the peaceful protesters with tear gas and water cannons. Soon after, demonstrations popped up in Turkey's largest cities including Ankara, the country's capital. On June 3rd, Turkish unions called for strikes on the 4th and 5th and on June 7th, a coalition of Turkish-Americans took out a full page advertisement in the New York Times supporting the protesters.
Much has been made of the sizzling weather this summer. You've heard about it around the water cooler and in line at Starbucks. This week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that July was the hottest month in United States history. 3,215 daily high temperature records were set or tied in June. More than 63 percent of the country in the lower 48 states is experiencing drought. Whether the high temperatures are caused by a broader climate change trend is unclear, but the heat will inevitably affect short-term crop supply, meat prices, and land arability. Moreover, the heat, if part of a climate change regime, could also affect the frequency, duration, and intensity of armed conflicts.
Saudi Arabian Women Athletes
Saudi Arabia is notorious for its troublesome human rights record and most especially for denying women an assortment of basic liberties. However, in a brief moment of openness, the Saudi government announced it will allow two women athletes to compete in this year’s London Olympics. It will be the first time that women are allowed to compete on behalf of the Islamic monarchy. This represents a dramatic shift in policy given that women are not allowed to participate in physical education classes or attend a gym. Their participation means that all competing countries at the Olympics will have women athletes after Brunei and Qatar relented this year.
The two athletes are named Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani (competing in Judo) and Sarah Attar (competing in the 800-meter race). The women will not be allowed to interact with men, must wear “suitable” clothing, and must be accompanied at all times. While it is an encouraging development, it is unclear whether the announcement will have ripple effects for nearly fifteen million Saudi women.