Monday Briefing | February 27

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Caricature of Sean Spicer, Donald Trump’s first Press Secretary | Picture courtesy DonkeyHotey, CC.

Stories to follow

Last Friday, the Malaysian police verified that Kim Jong-nam, the estranged older brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, was assassinated with VX nerve agent by two women at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. A week prior, North Korea “successfully” tested a ballistic missile that landed in the Sea of Japan. While the U.S. Department of State removed North Korea from the terrorist watch list in 2008 after striking a fragile nuclear deal, the country is openly defying UN conventions that label VX nerve gas as a weapon of mass destruction, demonstrating its capacity for both nuclear and chemical warfare.

In the flurry of anti-media statements made by the Trump Administration, the White House put up yet another blockade against the press last Friday, excluding the news outlets CNN, the New York Times, Politico and the Los Angeles Times from attending an off-camera press briefing held by spokesman Sean Spicer. And while we’re on the topic, when was the last time you read an article that didn’t mention the 45th president? After a week-long stunt avoiding Trump news, technology journalist Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times said it was almost impossible for him to find Trump-free zones in the press—the president’s ubiquity may in fact transcend that of earlier presidents and other famous figures alike.  

After last year, when not one actor of color was nominated for an Academy Award for the second year in a row, #OscarsSoWhite flooded social media feeds. This year, Moonlight won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture (after some confusion). Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis also took home awards for Best Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively. But even if there is more diversity this time around, other problems persist. Blocked by the Department of Homeland Security given the 90-day travel ban on the citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, Syrian cinematographer Khaled Khateeb couldn’t attend the ceremony. His film about the Syrian civil war,  “The White Helmets,” received an Oscar for Best Documentary Short.

Happening at JPI

This week, Michael Melli assesses Robert Bork’s legacy in light of Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court.

Happening this week

Middle East Hands Reunion with the Overseas Press Club of America
Wednesday, March 1 at 6:30PM | International House, 500 Riverside Drive
The OPC and International House are hosting a discussion with five foreign correspondents with experience in the Middle East to speak on the state of media coverage and the future of the region. Panelists include Farnaz Fassihi, senior writer at the Wall Street Journal, Lara Setrakian, the Co-Founder and CEO of News Deeply, Ben Taub, a contributor to the New Yorker, and NYU’s own Professor of Journalism, Mohammad Bazzi. RSVP required.

Film Screening: On the Bride’s Side
Wednesday, March 1 at 7:00PM | 19 Washington Square North (NYU Abu Dhabi on the Square)
Join the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, the Wagner School for Public Service and NYU Abu Dhabi for a screening of On the Bride’s Side. Directed by Antonio Augugliaro, Gabriele Del Grande and Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry, the film tells the story of five Palestinian and Syrian war refugees who escape to Sweden by staging a wedding.

Russia and Cyber – The Way Forward at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University
Thursday, March 2nd at 5:00PM | Teatro, Italian Academy (1161 Amsterdam Avenue)
Still reeling from the Trump dossier and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation? Register for a discussion about cybersecurity and U.S.-Russian relations with Toomas Ilves, the former President of Estonia, Timothy Frye of Columbia University,  Kimberly Marten of Barnard College and Jason Healey of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. Registration required.

In your free time

Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change
Check out this exhibit at the International Center for Photography on display until May that explores how digital media platforms produce social change. Topics include #BlackLivesMatter, gender fluidity, climate change, terrorist propaganda, the right-wing fringe and the 2016 election and the refugee crisis.

This week’s Monday Briefing is brought to you by Natasha Bluth.

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