What you missed in politics this week: Sep. 28, 2015
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    If you're too busy with Russian Lit reading or problem sets to actually read the news every day, never fear. Each week, NBN will bring you a roundup of what you missed in the world of politics, with a bit of a Northwestern twist.


    What's the news?

    President Obama announced this week that the United States will increase the amount of Syrian refugees accepted to 10,000 by 2017 as a reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis. 

    Refugee crisis?

    The refugee crisis, as a result of the ongoing Civil War, has resulted in millions of displaced people, who are now migrating to Europe. However, the European nations are struggling to integrate those people into their nations, and NU professor and forced migration studies expert Galya Ruffer believes it is the job of the U.S. to alleviate Europe of that pressure. 

    But the U.S. gets involved in everything, right?

    “We didn’t do anything to stop the war, we’ve been funding the opposition, so we’re in a way fueling the war," Ruffer said. "People are moving and we have a responsibility."

    Cool, so what’s the plan?

    “We are earmarking the total we are giving to relief to $4.5 billion,” Ruffer said. “That sounds like kind of a nice thing, but that doesn’t ultimately help the host countries that need to integrate those people.”


    What's the news?

    Over the past week conservatives in Congress have twice renewed their efforts on abortion. On Sept. 22, a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy failed in the Senate, but Congressional Republicans are also adding a provision to the new federal budget that defunds the organization Planned Parenthood. If Congress fails to pass a new budget the federal government will shutdown on Oct. 1.

    Why the sudden abortion craze now? 

    In July, the Center for Medical Progress, a group that heavily opposes abortion, released a series of controversial videos. The videos imply that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue from abortions for profit, according to Mollie Cahillane, the director of SHAPE at Northwestern. “That is not actually happening; Planned Parenthood has not actually profited from that at all,” Cahillane said. Profit is illegal, but receiving compensation to cover costs is okay, which is what Cahillane says is happening. “The fact is that Planned Parenthood is being misconstrued,” she said.

    This can’t be a coincidence, though.

    Abortion has always been a hot-button topic, and members of groups such as the evangelical right have always actively opposed it, but the timing does matter. “[It] serves really well around election time because it allows candidates to have really strong opinions,” Cahillane said. “So with the 2016 election coming up that’s given candidates on the right reason to launch these battles.”

    Will anything actually end up happening?

    Almost no chance. President Obama has vowed to veto anything that comes across his desk, and Republicans will have a tough road ahead if they force another government shutdown over this single issue – they probably won’t follow through.


    The news

    Russia deployed dozens of fighter planes, advanced battle tanks, warships, and combat troops in support of President Bashar Al Assad’s forces in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. 

    Assad? War?

    Assad has bombed and used chemical weapons against thousands of civilians since he violently crushed a popular democratic protest in 2011, helping start a civil war that has killed 200,000 people and displaced more than 7.5 million. Western leaders have repeatedly called for Assad to step down, but Russia has supported them through arms and oil. Troops and warplanes on this scale are relatively new. 

    But Russia, why?

    Russia’s stated goal is to fight the terrorist group ISIS, which took over large swaths of Syrian territory during the war. But Northwestern professor of political science Will Reno explained Russia has ulterior motives. Under Obama, the US has withdrawn military presence from the Middle East. So Russia, long allied with Syria, is now trying to project power by filling the void and secure a military outpost in the volatile region. 

    So the US is going to oppose this?

    Not quite. The Pentagon’s top priority is also defeating ISIS and securing stability so they’re in talks with Russia to coordinate. However, the ultimate fate of Assad could doom any negotiations.  


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