10 Conflicts to Watch in 2019

In this listicle from Foreign Policy, Robert Malley goes through the 10 major ongoing and developing conflicts around the world. He engages the causes of the conflicts and details some possible coping mechanisms that the international community can use. This article might be a little dense– don’t be afraid to read it in chunks.

Mini-debrief questions for the comment section:

  • What is the value of keeping updated on conflicts that are so far away from one’s location?
  • What conflict is most interesting to you? Why?

Cyntoia Brown is granted clemency after serving 15 years in prison for killing man who bought her for sex

In this article from CNN, Mallory Gafas and Tina Burnside explain the case of Cyntoia Brown, a former child sex slave who was tried as an adult and imprisoned for killing a john at the age of 16. The article delves into her history, the court case, and the movement that contributed to her being released from prison.

Mini-debrief questions for the comment section:

  • How do people determine with whom they extend empathy?
  • What is the relationship between social media and justice?
  • What should be the relationship between social media and justice?

Putin’s Public Enemy

In this Foreign Policy piece, Gregory Birger looks at Russia’s youth rap culture, the government’s feeble attempts to quash it, and how power dynamics between counterculture youth and their government have changed with the advent of the internet.

Mini-debrief questions for the comment section:

  • What role does underground music and counterculture play in a society?
  • How does youth culture impact government and politics?


In this piece by Newsweek, Meghan Bartels explores how and why NASA chose the name “Ultima Thule” as the temporary moniker for Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69. Bartels examines the history of the name, as well as both the historical and contemporary alt-right associations.

Mini-debrief question for the comment section:

  • Does a name carry with it an endorsement of previous associations?
  • Is science apolitical?

Be Outraged by America’s Role in Yemen’s Misery

In this September piece from the New York Times, my personal favorite columnist, Nicholas Kristof, discusses US involvement in the starvation of Yemeni children and killing of Yemeni citizens. Kristof delves into how the US is complicit in the crimes against humanity in Yemen, and at the end crystallizes the indictment by showing that crimes like these are not just perpetrated by the US. The great powers are almost all engaging in them.

Mini-debrief question for the comment section:

  • This is one of Kristof’s least read columns of 2018. The others in that list are similar, with themes of international human rights and justice. Why are people less likely to read about human rights issues?
  • Is there value in staying informed about human rights issues?
  • How can we increase interest in staying informed on human rights issues?

The refugee crisis is your responsibility, too

In this Washington Post opinion piece, President of the International Rescue Committee David Miliband lays out some details about the Global Refugee Compact, corrects some common misunderstandings about the international law governing the refugee and asylum process, criticizes the lack of responsibility countries like the US take for refugee protection, and explains how the private sector and NGOs can step forward to help refugees as governments step back.

Mini-debrief question for the comment section:

  • How can your community help refugees in a sustainable way?

Chinese internment camp factory sends sportswear to US

In this Associated Press deep dive, Dake Kang, Martha Mendoza, and Yanan Wang investigate the Xinjiang concentration camps in which Muslims are held and forced to work. The AP examines the camps’ ties to US collegiate sportswear companies, which were determined by the AP tracking shipments and interviewing key stakeholders in the US. The article also interviews those who have been detained in the past and relatives of current detainees, painting a picture of imprisonment and exploitation of the religious and ethnic minorities (mostly Muslim) in Western China, including those visiting China from Kazakhstan.

Mini-debrief questions for the comment section:

  • How do governments justify imprisonment of minority groups?
  • How can citizens determine whether the government is rightfully detaining someone?