Fast Five: May 27, 2013

    Each week, NBN Politics recaps the top five news stories from the past week and brings you a look at the week ahead. Welcome to the Fast Five.

    Boy Scouts to admit gay youth

    The Boy Scouts of America made a landmark decision this week to allow openly gay youth to join the Boy Scouts. The decision will take effect on January 1. Last summer, the BSA reaffirmed its policy banning openly gay individuals from joining, but then promised to revisit the policy after a major backlash. The shift has earned mixed reactions, as some churches have threatened to pull their support of local packs and troops due to the new policy. For many LGBT activists, on the other hand, the new policy fails to go far enough. Openly gay men and women are still prohibited from serving as adult leaders, a policy that critics say is discriminatory and nonsensical.

    CPS closes 49 schools

    Months of arguing and debate came to an end this month, as the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 49 schools in the Chicago public school district. The schools are located primarily on the south and west sides of the city in poor black neighborhoods, leading some critics to charge the Emanuel administration and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett with racism, a charge which will soon be heard in court. Meanwhile, parents of the affected districts are setting about the business of preparing for a new school year, as 27,000 students prepare to switch schools. How the shutdowns will impact the Chicago public school system, the third largest in the nation, remains to be seen.

    British soldier murdered in shocking attack

    A British soldier was killed Wednesday in a shocking and brutal attack in the Woolwich district of London. Following the murder, bystanders filmed one of the two alleged assailants justifying the attack as a response to British military action in Muslim nations, saying “The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day.” Both suspects are now in custody. The attack has inflamed anti-Islamic sentiment in the United Kingdom, leading to a sharp increase in the harassment of Muslim citizens. Britain’s home secretary is considering a ban on groups guilty of “inciting hatred and division”, a qualification that critics say is worryingly vague.

    Sectarian violence worsens in Iraq

    Following reports that April was the most violent month in Iraq since 2006, bombings in the Middle Eastern nation have continued to increase in frequency and intensity. Bombings apparently connected to sectarian conflict killed 266 people in the first three weeks of May, according to a CNN tally. The violence was apparently sparked by Sunni fears of the Shi’ite government, with violent clashes between Sunni protestors and government security forces only inflaming the issue. U.S. officials have been unable to convince Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to address opposition concerns and respond to protests with a lighter hand, leaving many worrying that this conflict could spiral out of control.

    North Korea reaches out to China

    After months of nuclear posturing and diplomatic belligerence, North Korea is making an effort to reconcile with its long-time ally China. In the past few months China has grown tired of the instability North Korea brings to the region, and has responded with sanctions against North Korean business. North Korea seems to be worried about the potential loss of China as an ally, and sent a special envoy with a handwritten note from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Jinping has apparently told North Korea it must return to the table for nuclear talks, though North Korea has yet to officially respond to that advice.

    Entertainment bonus story
    Arrested Development returns from the dead in TV’s greatest magic trick illusion

    In a move that excited dozens of devoted fans, Netflix released Season 4 of the long-dead sitcom Arrested Development today. The TV series ran in three seasons from 2004 to 2006, and despite widespread critical acclaim, its ratings did not warrant additional seasons. After years of rumors and vague hints, Netflix announced last year that it would be releasing Season 4 through its online streaming service. New viewers, beware: Arrested Development is a very self-refential piece of TV, and diving into the new season without knowing the first three would be a huge mistake.

    The weeks ahead: Obama tackles foreign policy

    On Thursday, President Obama outlined a new foreign policy agenda for his administration. Among other things, he reaffirmed his pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facilities, promised to bring additional oversight to drone usage and generally limit the “boundless war on terror”. This week, look out for how Obama follows through (or fails to follow through) on those promises. Though Obama spoke at length about the need to close Guantanamo, critics note that he has yet to take actual steps towards closing the facility. Even if Obama start working to close Guantanamo, the closure will leave numerous questions about how the fate of current detainees and the possible detention of future terror suspects. His pledge to create courts to oversee drone attacks has also attracted criticism. It remains to be seen if the President is willing to take the steps to implement this new counter-terrorism agenda, and if so, whether or not he can succeed.


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