International Headlines: Society and Culture


Charleston, South Carolina Shooting: Thousands Gather on Ravenel Bridge in Solidarity
June 21, 2015 Associated Press
The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston, South Carolina opened its doors again on Sunday June 21st after a young white gunman walked into a Bible study session on June 17 and opened fire, killing nine black church members, including the senior pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator. The tragedy also inspired thousands of people to gather on the Arthur Ravenel Bridge to join in solidarity. The bridge is named after a former congressman and vocal Confederate flag supporter. The slayings have renewed calls for the flag to be removed from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds, in part because of a 2,500-word racist manifesto by the alleged gunman and pictures of him holding Confederate flags. A nearby Confederate monument was also tampered with, with “Black Lives Matter” spray-painted across the statue.

Haitians Go Into Hiding as Dominican Authorities are Free to Deport
June 19, 2015 The Guardian
The third week of June saw the final deadline for the Dominican government’s “regularization plan” for residents of the country without documents - most of whom are Haitian or Dominicans of Haitian descent. Dominican authorities are prepared to deport those who did not register. As a result, many Haitian-Dominicans are too afraid to be seen outside after either being unable to register because of bureaucratic delays, or unwilling to undergo the process. Others are boarding buses heading towards the border to prevent being rounded up and repatriated forcefully by the police and military. For decades, the Dominican Republic recognized the children of Haitian migrants born in the country as Dominican citizens, but a 2013 Dominican constitutional court ruling rendered them stateless. They now risk being deported to a country where they have no citizenship or familial bonds. The UN High Commission for Refugees urged Dominican authorities not to deport the estimated 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent since doing so would be devastating. Interior and police minister Jose Ramon Fadul responded that the Dominican Republic “would not accept interference” on the matter and denied that there were refugees in the country.

South Korea Court Overturns Gay Pride Parade Ban
June 18, 2015
Headlines and Global News
Gay pride organizers in South Korea won a case filed against them on Tuesday by conservative Christians and members of the police force, overturning a ban on a gay pride parade in Seoul. Christian groups believe that the gay pride parade promotes "evil" behavior, while police justified last month’s ban based on public safety concerns and disruption of traffic. However, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of the parade, stating that assemblies can be prohibited only when they directly threaten public order. The court also emphasized that organizers have already prepared months in advance for the yearly parade and that if the event had been canceled, the organizers would have to endure great damage. Organizers of the event announced that more than 20,000 people, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, are expected to participate in the celebration.

Why the Latest Patriot Act Reform Won’t Be Enough to Rein in the NSA
June 7, 2015
Partial expiration of the Patriot Act, a US law passed in the wake of 9/11 that increased security measures and broadened powers of law-enforcement agencies, as well as subsequent passage of surveillance reform legislation by the US government in early June, might seem like a victory against mass surveillance. But the NSA has other spying programs which Obama’s new “Freedom Act” does not combat. Recent debate has focused on the NSA’s bulk collection of American’s telephone records, but according to John Napier Tye, a former State Department official who resigned last year over the US government’s unconstitutional surveillance, most data collection happens under other provisions, neither of which are affected by the new law. One such provision is the FISA Amendments Act, the legal basis for an NSA Program, PRISM, that collects private data from major internet companies like Google and Facebook. The second is Executive Order 12333, which allows the NSA to collect data on people as part of a lawful foreign intelligence investigation. Additionally, since most internet and phone data is stored on servers overseas, it can be collected, since the NSA is allowed to collect communications overseas as long as Americans are not the target of a particular surveillance effort.

In Norway, A Prison Built on Second Chances
May 31, 2015
National Public Radio
In 2010, a prison opened in Norway based on the philosophy that inmates are also human beings that need to be treated with respect. As a teacher at the prison remarks, “Their [inmates’] punishment is being locked up. Their punishment is not to be treated badly while they’re locked up.” Norway spends $90,000 a year to house each of these prisoners (three times the amount in the US). The result is that its recidivism rate is less than 30% (half that of the US). The prison’s 250 inmates are locked in their cells 12 hours a day. These cells have wood furniture, a shower, a fridge, and a flat-screen TV. Instead of razor wires, guard towers, and guns, there are landscaped paths, birch trees, and buildings that make the prison look more like a university. If inmates don’t follow the rules, they are shipped to conventional prisons.