There’s been a lot of controversy about Rolling Stone’s cover with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger Boston bomber on it. However, I don’t think the article itself has gotten enough attention. I have read a number of articles trying to fathom how a normal seeming teenage boy can end up committing such an act, and this is by far the most insightful and well-written. I also want to point out a couple of things to counter the criticism the cover has received: 1. The article is about Tsarnaev. Therefore it only makes sense to have a photo of him as the cover. 2. Think of the cover picture the way you might think of Time Magazine featuring their Person of the Year on a cover. The Person of the Year selection is not an award given to the person they think has done the most good in the past year. It goes to the person who has made the biggest news. In the same vein, featuring a portrait of Tsarnaev does not necessarily seek to glorify him, but rather is an acknowledgement of the fact that he was, and will continue to be, a major news story as his trial unfolds.
In Iraq, Al Qaeda’s local branch has pulled off a major prison break. 500 inmates escaped from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison and Taji prison, many of which had been convicted of major crimes and sentenced to death. Altogether, some 500 prisoners escaped and 50 people were injured in the operation.
A CIA operative who had been convicted on kidnapping charges in Italy after participating in the extraordinary rendition of a Muslim cleric popped up in Panama. He was arrested there, but was eventually released and has been returned to the U.S. It is unclear how exactly the U.S. government was able to secure his release.
Meanwhile, a sudden decline in the number of refugees crossing from Syria into Jordan has actually led to worries that a refugee crisis is developing within the country. Experts worry that the drop in the number of people entering Jordan just means that fighting closer to the border is preventing civilians from escaping the conflict.
And in the U.S. Congress, the Amash-Conyers Amendment aimed to defund the NSA’s recently revealed metadata collection. The White House fought furiously against passage of the amendment, and it originally was not supposed to have even had a hearing. Although it ultimately failed, it was a much closer call than anyone expected, and activists hope they will continue to build momentum towards eventually ending the program.
Finally, we’ll close with a little good news. A Yemeni journalist who had exposed U.S. drone strikes in his country had been imprisoned for three years on terrorism-related charges, at U.S. urging. He has finally been released. His release is, however, conditional upon his not leaving the capital city of Sana’a for another two years, which will severely hinder his ability to continue reporting on drone strikes, which tend to take place in more remote parts of the country.