And In Other News…

by Mariah Castillo

Stay informed Barnard.

As of the time I am writing this article, I’ve been at Barnard for one year, six months, and sixteen days including NSOP, and while I can say it’s been an overall wonderful experience, my biggest gripe with my time here is that MoHi is basically a sanitized bubble, blissfully away from what’s happening in the world. Add to that the busy schedules of students, the spotty internet connection, and the fact that you have to pay for cable in your room, we might see students who don’t even have a clue of what’s going on outside our little zip codes of 10025 and 10027. While yes, news about things going on around campus is important, why should we limit ourselves to that? In this day and age, it’s pretty easy to find out what’s going on via our Facebook feeds and the blogosphere, so there’s practically no excuse to not have even a little inkling of the world beyond Barnard. With that being said, here are several events that have happened in the past two weeks. If you want to skip straight to the more lighthearted news, go right ahead.

Ukraine
You have to be cut off from the world in practically every way to not even know that something is going down. Here’s a little background to the crisis: In November 2013, the cabinet of President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned an agreement with the European Union that would have strengthened trade ties between Ukraine and the EU. A little before this suspension, Ukraine’s Parliament rejected a bill that would have allowed opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to leave the country for medical treatment, one of the stipulations of the EU-Ukraine trade agreement. Instead of signing this agreement with the EU, Ukraine strengthened its ties to Russia, and protests started. Later that month, protests started to grow, and on November 24, an estimated 100,000 people gathered in Kiev, the biggest since the Orange Revolution almost ten years prior (Fun Fact: the Orange Revolution came about when reports of the 2004 presidential election being rigged surfaced; the winner of said election was Yanukovych!).

In December, protesters occupied City Hall and Independence Square in Kiev, with its largest crowd of 800,000 people. On December 17, Vladimir Putin agreed to buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian debt as well as decrease the price of Russian gas supplies by about a third. In January, anti-protest laws were passed in Parliament but were later removed.

There was a brief truce in February, but that broke down, with 88 people killed in 48 hours. February 20 marked the bloodiest day in 77 years in Ukraine. A few days later, Yanukovych left the country, and Olexander Turchynov was named the interim president.

From late February onwards, the focus has shifted to Crimea, a region in southern Ukraine with a majority population of native Russian speakers. Pro-Russian gunmen seized key buildings in the region, and Putin was green-lit by the Russian Parliament to send troops to Crimea. The US and EU countries condemned this move, threatening Putin to stop. However, the Crimean Parliament formally asked to join Russia March 6, and there will be a referendum on March 16, so keep an eye out for that.

Malaysia
Early Saturday morning (or last Friday afternoon EST), the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, lost all communication with authorities and the company. It was flying relatively low (its signal was lost within a few hours of its take-off), so such sudden loss of contact is rare. Searches started that day in the Gulf of Thailand and have spread to the Andaman Sea, hoping to find any traces of the aircraft. Two oil slicks that were found in the sea, but neither of them was confirmed to be from the plane. There is speculation that this was a terrorist attack, but so far no organization has claimed responsibility. Hopefully everyone gets their answers soon.

Frozen
The Disney movie Frozen recently hit the $1billion mark in the worldwide box office, marking the first time a film directed by a woman reached this milestone. It is the second animated movie, after Pixar’s Toy’s Story 3, and the first non-sequel animated film to do so. While my colleague on the blog has some choice words about the film[read them here and here] (and I personally can’t comment since I haven’t seen it myself), I still think it’s a nice way to start off Women’s History Month. It goes to show that women-led and women-directed films can be blockbusters. Now let me get my Wonder Woman movie.

Mariah Castillo is a sophomore at Barnard and the Food and New York Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of NorthJersey.com.

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