March 28, 2016

March 28, 2016

WANT TO KNOW

Does Brussels smell different?

Almost a week after the terror attack, a local resident of the Belgian capital noted how everything felt different in the city — even its smell.

Fear, I guess, has a smell after all.

In terror reporting — unfortunately a developing branch of journalism — a pattern is emerging: First the straight news story with the basic details, then the moving portraits of the victims, the chilling survivors' accounts, reaction from locals, statements from police, and world leaders condemning the attacks.

In most cases, there are stories on the attack's impact on tourism and local business. There might be some on security lapses and new moves to trample civil liberties. Usually, there is one on the 'march against terrorism.'  

In Europe, there is the 'backlash against the local Muslim community' story. If the attack is on Christians in a Muslim country — as was the case in Pakistan Sunday — there might be coverage on the situation of minorities there. And sometimes, there will be a piece on why the world seems to care less about attacks in Beirut or Pakistan than ones in Paris and Brussels.

We know the pattern now. We know the stories. But what was starkly different about Brussels' coverage was the 'fear and retreat' development.

After most terror attacks, locals come out. They wave the flag and do other patriotic things with their leaders leading the way. There is mourning. There is shared commiseration. Usually there is kindness because everyone feels a little raw, a little sad, a little vulnerable. And there is always anger and defiance, a vow to not allow terrorism to change things.

But in Brussels, officials cancelled a 'March Against Fear' Sunday — out of fear.

Stretched thin, the police – whose credibility is under question because of serious mistakes — worried over new attacks. So no march. Instead, right-wing thugs stormed the square. “Je Suis Coward” made the rounds on social media. And I wondered, what is wrong here.

Here's the problem: Belgian officials are not listening to their public. If they had, they would have heard what we heard in dozens of interviews — the worry over what Brussels is becoming: A city of fear.

“We are afraid to go into the metro, on the trains — we are afraid now to live our lives normally,” said Meriem Sayah, 24, who was upset the march was cancelled and came anyway to honor the victims. “But we need to speak out (against fear), we need to shout – because we must be heard.”

But is anyone listening?

WANT TO KNOW

Pakistan: Devastation and Division

A suicide bomber killed more than 70 people picnicking in a Lahore park to mark Easter Sunday, as militants vowed to continue to target civilians.

A splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack, which a spokesman said deliberately targeted Christians in Lahore’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park. He told the Washington Post that “we will carry out such attacks again until sharia [Islamic law] is imposed in the country.”

Pakistani security officials made numerous arrests Monday in connection with the attack.

Pakistan has suffered for years from sectarian violence and extremism. Christians, who make up 1 percent of the country's 190 million people, often complain the government doesn't do enough to protect their community.

Palmyra – A Liberation?

Syrian forces, with the help of Russian air support, drove Islamic State out of the historic city of Palmyra Sunday. The militant group had held the ancient town for around 10 months, blowing up some of its treasures that dated back to the first century AD.

Palmyra, which the United Nations has designated a World Heritage Site, was bustling trading post on the Silk Road and a midpoint between east and west. Artifacts destroyed by Islamic fighters include the statue of the Lion of Al-Lat, pertaining to a pre-Islamic goddess, the Mesopotamian Temple of Baal and the Roman Arch of Triumph.

The question now is what is left.

Still, Syrian generals promised that the city would now be used as a point to stage further attacks against the Islamic State.

Stay tuned: more destruction to come.

China's New Manhunt

A Chinese news outlet's publication of a mysterious letter calling for President Xi Jinping’s resignation has unleashed a nationwide manhunt for the writers just as China increasingly worries over dissent at home – also with its Communist party.

Since the letter appeared in early March on Wujie Media's news portal — just before the start of the legislative session, four employees of the outlet and another 10 from an affiliated company have disappeared. Other dissidents and writers based overseas have been threatened and harassed.

Analysts told the Wall Street Journal the incident highlights the party’s concerns a broader pushback against Mr. Xi’s “domineering” style of leadership over the party since taking office three years ago, moving away from the consensus-style leadership that has been the norm for decades.

“It shows a real brittleness of power and of high levels of nervousness,” Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese studies at King’s College London told the paper. “If this sort of complaint spreads, then there could be real problems.”

Mexico To Trump: The feeling is mutual

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has made his thoughts on Mexicans clear. And on Easter Sunday, the population south of the border let everyone know that the feeling is mutual.

Across the country, Mexicans burned the brash New Yorker and reality show celebrity in effigy as part of their Holy Week celebration.

Originally, the tradition calls for the burning of an effigy of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and then hung himself. But over the years, Mexicans have substituted unpopular political figures.

Trump earned the ire of Mexicans after he called for a wall to be built between the two countries to keep out illegal immigrants — and announced that Mexico would pay for it.

Former Mexican president Vicente Fox was so offended by the campaign promise that he was motivated to curse not once, but twice on separate television talk shows, saying the country would not pay for the “f–king wall.”

DISCOVERIES

Shakespeare’s Missing Head

Where is Shakespeare’s head? That's what a group of British researchers want to find out.

Missing from his grave for more than a century, researchers now believe that the Bard's missing bones and skull were taken from his tomb at Holy Trinity Church by grave-robbers around 1879. But dueling theories abound.

A clergy member at St. Leonard’s Church, where many actors of Shakespeare’s time worshiped, believed a wayward skull in one of the burial vaults belonged to the playwright. Colls' investigation concluded however it was the head of a woman in her 70s.

Other researchers believe that the head was taken by a family member, who may have wanted the bones mingled in another family member’s grave as was the tradition of the time. Now that it is clear is that Shakespeare’s head is missing, the next step is finding out where it went. 

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— Compiled and written by Jabeen Bhatti

jbhatti
Mon, 03/28/2016 – 06:16