Terrorist Attack in Mali
Just days after the mass shootings in Paris, terrorists shot and killed at least 20 people in the Republic of Mali in Africa. The Radisson Blu hotel, located in the capital city of Bamako, is near many foreign embassies. On November 20, at least ten gunmen entered the hotel, shot guards and took 170 hostages, who came from several countries, including the U.S., China, Russia, Turkey, Algeria, and France. A rescue group made up of Malian and French Special Forces and off-duty U.S. servicemen stormed the hotel and helped evacuate guests to a secure location and end the siege.
At least 20 people were killed, including one American international development worker. At least three different extremist Islamic groups have claimed responsibility. The first was Al-Mourabitoun, an organization that was once tied to the Islamic State, but appear to have split. Al-Qaeda, an affiliate of al-Murabitoun, has also come forward to share responsibility. The third—the Macina Liberation Front (MLF)—is a new jihadist group in that area of Africa that has been carrying out attacks since the beginning of the year.
Dig Deeper In response to the series of worldwide attacks, many governments are issuing travel alerts. Find out what warnings the State Department have issued regarding Americans traveling abroad.
FDA Approves GMO Salmon
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a meat or plant product that has had its DNA artificially changed by scientific methods. This can be done by inserting a new gene into the food that will “enhance” its size or accelerate its growth. The practice of genetically engineering food is a relatively new one, dating back to just 1994. However, the Center For Food Safety reports that an estimated 70-75 percent of all products in an average grocery store to day contain at least one GMO.
Twenty-five years ago, a company called AquaBounty Technologies created a genetically-altered salmon. The gene inserted into fertilized salmon eggs rapidly boosted a growth hormone that caused the fish to grow at twice as fast as conventionally-raised salmon. In order to sell its new offering, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had to approve the practice, making it the first genetically-modified animal intended for human consumption. The FDA determined that the data it reviewed did not indicate the salmon unsafe or different from regular salmon.
What Do You Think? Genetic modification is a hotly-debated topic that is not likely to go away any time soon. One of the biggest factors is that of safety. Those who support the use of GMOs say the practice is positive because it is creates a solution for those areas affected by food shortages. The use of GMOs have also created plants that contain extra vitamins and minerals. Those opposed fear that we don’t know enough about the long-term effects of the chemicals used and that their use could increase the risk of cancer and other health issues. Do some research and develop a one-paragraph position on one side or the other.
Can State Governors Say No to Refugees?
An investigation of the recent attack in Paris revealed that one of the terrorists held a Syrian passport that was likely fake. In response, 30 U.S. state governors—all Republican except one—went on the record to say they would refuse entry of Syrian refugees into their states. However, the Constitution gives only the federal government the power to control law regarding who can or can’t enter the United States legally. Once here, people are free to travel from state to state as they please.
Earlier this year, President Obama announced that the U.S. would accept around 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year. To ease fears of opening our country up to unnecessary risks, Attorney General Loretta Lynch told members of the House of Representatives that the vetting process (an investigation into an individual’s past) was rigorous and that those with ties to terrorism would not be allowed in the country. New House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested that, “the responsible thing is to take a pause [in admitting refugees]… in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population.”
LEARN MORE: President Obama has been trying to make very clear the steps that any refugee must undergo before being allowed into the United States. The administration has placed detailed information on the White House Web site and summarized the steps (and every possible rejection point) in a detailed infographic. Check out the links to learn more.
Dig Deeper In response to Indiana governor Mike Pence’s announcement that he would refuse refugees, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against him and the Secretary of Indiana Family and Social Services. Follow reports on the status of this lawsuit.
Protests Over Police Shooting in Minneapolis
Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old, unarmed, African American suspect in a domestic assault, was shot in the head by Minneapolis police on November 15. There are differing accounts of the incident. One side says that Clark interfered with paramedics who administered treatment to the victim, while another side says that he was already in handcuffs when he was shot. His death at the hospital the next day sparked tensions between protesters–who pitched tents outside of a police station with a list of demands–and officers who attempted to remove them from the premises.
One of the demands was the release of the names of the police officers involved—Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg. Neither was wearing a body camera at the time of the arrest, and there is no dashboard video available. Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges issued a statement, asking police to exercise maximum restraint while advising protestors to act peacefully.