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News Week(s) in Review: September 10-22

News Week(s) in Review: September 10-22
Nik Heimach

In my last Pop-Culture review, I wrote that we live in trying times. Perhaps that was a bit premature, because in the weeks since, the world’s gone a bit crazier than normal.

Mass Protests and Violence in the Middle-East

First, a recap in what many of you have undoubtedly already known: the Arab world has gone haywire over an anti-Islamic film. Called Innocence of Muslims, the film was initially uploaded to YouTube in July, but on September 8,  an Egyptian Islamist television station broadcast an excerpt to their audience. The clip demonstrated how Innocence of Muslims depicted the Prophet Muhammad in an incredibly negative light, and overall bashed the religion of Islam. Thus, the spark had reached the powder-keg. In direct response days later, armed militants in Benghazi, Libya, stormed a U.S. embassy and killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

After the smoke had cleared, the U.S. condemned both the film and the attack, resulting in a muddled and mixed-message to the Muslim countries. A main Twitter page connected to the Muslim brotherhood and the twitter of the US Embassy in Cairo even got into an awkward communicative position. Yes, the US Embassy in Cairo has a twitter account. Check out part of the conversation bellow.

Since then, protests have erupted all over the Middle-East. Thousands of Muslims, from Iraq to Pakistan, flooded the streets, throwing rocks and burning cinemas in vengeful chaos. The Pakistani government tried to curb the growing violence by declaring a “Love for the Prophet Day,” but the attempt at peaceful protest resulted in the deaths of at least 17 people and dozens injured in clouds of tear gas and bullets.

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Yeah, it’s intense. President Obama and Secretary Clinton both aired advertisements on Arabic television stations denouncing the film, but their efforts have been in vain. In Iraq, 3,000 protestors burned the US flag and effigies of Obama, chanting “Death to America.” So far, at least 47 people have died in the past two weeks from the protests.  However, the story doesn’t stop there.

There have also been protests in response to the violence. In an act that restores hope to an almost hopeless situation, hundreds of Muslims have taken to the streets with purpose to let the world know not all Muslims are extremists. In a media landscape that sensationalizes the spectacle of children throwing Molotov-cocktails, these people reminded the world that we cannot judge an entire religion based on the actions of the extreme.


To make their stance known, protesters at ground-zero for the situation, Benghazi, Libya, surrounded Islamist militia occupying the city. They demanded militants leave the bases they overtook, including the U.S. embassy, and let the government and police take control. When the militia tried to disperse the growing masses by firing shots into the sky, protestors stood fast, closing in and eventually forcing the militia out of the city. In a time of great chaos, order was restore by the rational. Hopefully, rationality will spread to other countries in the Middle-East as fast as the initial rage.  Only time will tell.

China vs Japan. Round 1: Fight!

Speaking of embassy hoopla, China saw its largest protests in years outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing. Earlier in the week, the Japanese government purchased a few privately owned islands in the East China Sea; however, China saw this as land they owned, and thousands of citizens took to the streets to demonstrate their outrage. Japanese flags were burned as many called for war against Japan. Toyotas, Nissans and Hondas were even flipped and burned. No, that isn’t a joke.

Currently, China and Japan are, as the Washing Post calls, “shadow boxing,” testing each others resolve in murky political waters. China says it has flooded the island territories with 1,000 fishing vessels. Japan claims there were no more than 11 total ships floating on by. Maybe everyone is just mad about summer finally ending, but if the Middle-East and Asia are anything to go by, it’s safe to say that winter is definitely coming.

The Political Race Heats Up

On the US side of things, the presidential race between Romney and Obama has heated up with the release of a secret video showing Romney at a donor’s house, doing what he must to ensure the other 1% that he’s with them. The video shows Romney talking about 47% of the country believing they are entitled to government help. Take a look and judge the controversy level for yourself, but this week might not have been the best time to release his 2011 tax forms, which showed he spent a significantly low portion of his income on taxes. Somewhere in the Whitehouse, Obama is twiddling his fingers and saying “eeexxcceelleenntt …”

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Social News Et. Al.

Yes, the Sultan of Brunei is hosting a royal wedding for his daughter, costing upwards of $20 million dollars. Yes, Kanye West made a sex-tape that is being shopped around to the highest bidder by an unknown source. Yes, a tiger attacked a man who purposefully jumped into its confinements at a Bronx zoo, and the tiger thankfully wont be euthanized. Also, the man survived. But this isn’t incredibly depressing, so it shouldn’t be news, right?

Wrong. Let’s focus on happy news. How about how a terminally ill Indianapolis Colts fan in a nursing home who was granted his final wish and will be watching this Sunday’s game from VIP supplied club seats with pre-game sideline access? How about a new beer for dogs: How about Germany kicking off Oktoberfest?!

That’s right.  The world’s largest beer festival opened today, Saturday, September 22. The first keg was tapped by Mayor Christian Ude in Munich, and for the next 16 days more than 6 million people from around the world will consume close to 8 million mugs of beer.

If that doesn’t cheer you up, I don’t know what will. Auf Wiedersehen!

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