Monday Briefing | February 12

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The anti-racist protest in Macerata followed a far-right demonstration on Thursday | Photo courtesy REUTERS

Stories to Follow

2018 Winter Olympics:  Friday marked the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics which are being held in Pyeonchang, South Korea. In a historic and unprecedented opening, South Korean President Moon Jae-in received and shared a handshake with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong. In a handwritten letter delivered by Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un invited President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang in what would be the first summit between the states in more than a decade.

Government Shutdown: In an ordeal that lasted five hours, the Senate missed a voting deadline and caused the second government shutdown of the year. The 650-page budget bill in question proposed an increase in spending and defense services by about $300 billion in the next two years. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) vehemently opposed the bill and accused Republicans of a lack of fiscal restraint while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pushed back against the bill which did not address immigration reform. Eventually the House approved the bill 240 to 186, with 167 Republicans and 73 Democrats voting to reopen the government at about 5:30 am. President Trump signed the budget deal early Friday morning.

Macerata Protests: Thousands in Italy gathered to protest in the city of Macerata one week after a man opened fire on African migrants leaving six people wounded. The February 3rd shooting happened days after a Nigerian migrant was arrested in connection with the death of 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro whose body was found dismembered in Macerata. The shooter, 28-year-old Luca Traini, told police he was avenging the woman. Officials in Macerata had originally banned the protest due to fears of violence involving extreme right-groups, only authorizing it on Friday. On Thursday evening, there were clashes when the far-right group Forza Nuova demonstrated against immigration and confronted police with fascist salutes. With Italy’s March 4 parliamentary elections coming up, the shootings have dominated Italian media and immigration continues to be a divisive point for the nation.

Israel Warns Iran:  Israel said it struck 12 targets in Syria, including four belonging to Iran, in a “large-scale attack” after it intercepted an Iranian drone crossing the Israel-Syria border. An F-16 jet was lost during the offensive, its first lost in combat since 2006. The two pilots were able to parachute down to safety and land in Harduf. Iran denies these allegations and Syria’s state media say air defences opened fire in response to an Israeli attack on a military base. This event marks an escalation in tensions and risks direct confrontation between Israel and Iran.

Happening This Week

Labor of Love: A Conversation with Tomie Arai, May Ying Chen, and Bhairavi Desai | Feb 13, 4:30 – 6:30 PM, The Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, Room 10-03
This roundtable will bring Asian/American female activists and organizers together to approach labor studies in multidisciplinary ways. Tomie Arai (public artist and member, Chinatown Art Brigade), May Ying Chen (professor and former manager, Local 23-25), and Bhairavi Desai (founding member, New York City Taxi Workers Alliance) will share their experiences as labor organizers dedicated to establishing a just, equitable city for workers, immigrants, women, and people of color.

Evidence For Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century | Feb 14, 6:15 – 8:00 PM, 19 University Place, The Great Room
Professor Kathryn Sikkink addresses the current climate of pessimism and draws on decades of research and fieldwork to show that change has come slowly and as a result of struggle, but human rights movements have been vastly effective in improving human well-being.

Race, Religion and Presidents | Feb 15, 12:30 PM, 1 Washington Place, Room 801
The relationship between Trump and the religious right was never more polarizing than after the protests and murder in Virginia in August 2017. Professor Kimberly Blockett examines the trans-historical intersections of race, religion, and politics, highlighting how Christian revivalism fundamentally changed American culture.

In Your Free Time

Get yourself and your significant other ready for Black Panther’s release this Friday by catching BAM’s amazing Fight the Power: Black Superheroes on Film series. The series, which includes The Harder They Come, Queen of the Damned, and The Brother From Another Planet, spotlights a cinematic history of black screen heroes and anti-establishment defiance.

This Monday Briefing is brought to you by Rana Alotaibi.

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