Month: November 2017

ISIS Defeated in Raqqa: An Uncertain Victory

On Oct. 17, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS) was finally defeated in Raqqa, a stronghold of the group and the largest city under its control. Images of Syrian Democratic Forces replacing ISIS flags with their own spread hope across the world, and the defeat of ISIS appeared imminent. But the reality is not so simple. Although the fall of Raqqa signaled a dramatic and significant victory, celebrations soon gave way to uncertainty. Several pressing questions remain: is ISIS really defeated? Can an ideology be defeated? What will happen now in the formerly ISIS-occupied territory...

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Did legal marijuana lead to a reduction in opioid deaths in Colorado? Evidence is hazy

Opioid overdose deaths have been increasing in Colorado, so why did a recent article in The American Journal of Public Health suggest that legalization of marijuana has slowed the trend? I imagine my Facebook newsfeed looks a lot like yours. Pictures of babies you’ll never meet, event pages for LBJ lunch talks, and the occasional shared article from a questionable website. Sometimes, however, the article seems legitimate enough to warrant a click. Recently, the headline of one such article was “Recreational Marijuana is Reversing the Opioid Crisis in Colorado.” Given that I spent the last two years writing about...

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Recent Quakes in Mexico Echo Similar Nostalgic Political Frustration

Photo of citizen rescuers in 1985 earthquake: United Nations (CC) Recent earthquakes in Mexico City have reinvigorated grassroots organizations’ appeals for municipal transparency and financial accountability. Civilian groups such as Los Topos and Transparencia Mexicana are placing pressure on federal and local officials as affected areas begin rebuilding. Grassroots platforms were similar catalysts for emergency management reform following the historic earthquakes on Sep. 19, 1985 that struck Mexico City, costing over 8.3 billion dollars in losses and resulting in more than 10,000 fatalities. Federal reforms included the creation of the Natural Disaster Fund (FONDEN). Furthermore, the state’s absence in coordinating...

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The Social Media Era of Political Culture: The Case Study of Iceland

Caption: Icelandic Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson baking a cake in an oft-mocked campaign ad. Source: Nútíminn While the United States is still reeling from a 2016 election campaign besmirched by online hatred and international interference, the small island nation of Iceland proves that even countries without raucous political cultures are not immune from the pervasive effects of social media. The polarization and sensationalism that plagues  U.S. politics of late is not a unique product of innate qualities Americans possess or even the behavior of its media. Rather, these trends reflect a global digital culture that is wreaking havoc on...

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