Newscoop Footnotes: January 8, 2019

Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes — 

the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about.


Hi, I’m Zoe Licata.

More this week on the chaotic foreign policy of the current U.S. administration. It’s being felt around the world.

  • With all the chaos on the U.S./Mexico border, there’s been attention recently to the deportation of many who had sought asylum in the U.S. Some of those sent back to El Salvador were murdered there, just as they told U.S. immigration authorities they feared.

    El Salvador has become close to lawless, with as many as half a million involved with gangs. The notorious MS-13 gang operates there, having been born in American prisons and deported back to El Salvador along with new members.

  • Next, we look at Donald Trump’s announcement that he’s pulling American troops out of Syria. That decision caused shock on both sides of the American political aisle, and it prompted the resignation of the much-admired Secretary of Defense James Mattis. It also sent a shudder through the Syrian Kurdish forces that have led the fight against ISIS in Syria.

    The concern by all was that the vacuum left by a U.S. withdrawal would allow Syria’s President Assad, supported by Russia and Iran, to retake Kurdish territory on Syria’s border with Turkey. It would put the Kurds at risk of being slaughtered by Turkish forces, as Turkey has been promising. And it would likely give ISIS an opportunity to reorganize and re-energize its forces in the area. A Yazidi rights organization expressed concern that a U.S. withdrawal would also create an existential threat for Syrian minorities.

    There is a complex balance of power and competing interests in Syria, involving Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and more. The U.S. administration’s clumsy handling of the complexities has not helped. And this week, in an effort to obfuscate their own clumsiness, it did what it so often does:  blame everything on Iran.

  • And China has just passed a bill that seeks to direct the practice of Islam over the next 5 years to make it “compatible with socialism.” Western media and human rights activists have decried China’s detention of more than a million Muslim Uighurs, with the practice of Islam forbidden in parts of the country. China’s main English newspaper, the Global Times, responded to the outcry, saying: “…Before they comment on China, we suggest these people pay attention to their own countries’ social instability and terrorist attacks caused by religious extremists.”
  • And finally, new research published this week shows that the earth’s seas have absorbed more than 90% of the heat resulting from greenhouse gas emissions. This is driving the rise in sea levels, and the increased intensity in hurricanes and typhoons. Incredibly, the rate of that warming over the past 150 years has been likened to one atomic bomb explosion each second.


This has been the latest edition of Newscoop’s Footnotes – important events getting too little attention.


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