Behind the Times: What You Need to Know … From Last Week

By Emily Conley

Hey, I get it. You work all day, you scroll through Instagram on your lunch break, you go home and crash on the couch to watch The Bachelor or The People Vs OJ Simpson. But then you go out for happy hour with your work friends, and suddenly you realize that you have nothing to talk about. You are behind the times, and catching up is hard.

Here’s to making it a little easier, four topics to bring up in casual conversation and sound smart (and one of them affects your Instagram scrolling habit):

1. Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton’s Open Letter to Trump

It’s a must-read, if you haven’t already, considering it has been shared over a million times. Brandon Stanton started the hugely popular blog documenting the stories of the people he encountered on the streets of New York in 2010, but in 2015 he traveled to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Jordan to document the stories of refugees. Brandon says that he tries his hardest not to be political, but felt that at last, it was his moral responsibility to speak out. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, Brandon’s response is thought-provoking and well worth a read.

2. John Kerry and Genocide Announcement

Speaking of the refugee crisis — John Kerry called the atrocities and persecution ISIS and other extremists have targeted Christians and other religious minorities the “G” word finally — genocide. He’s a little behind the times; the European Parliament, European Union, Council of Europe have all already done so some time ago. What’s in a word? Calling something “genocide” ups the ante to get involved, which the US government has been notably hesitant to do. But the House passed a unanimous resolution to label the atrocities genocide, so the pressure is on.

Stories like Father Douglas Yousif Al-Bazi’s, a priest with the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq, abound. He was taken hostage by Islamic groups in 2006 and lives in Erbil, Iraq today, and said “…in one single day, 125,000 people were displaced; four dioceses disappeared over night. They lost everything in one day. My people are dying. How much longer does the international community want to wait to recognize what happens as genocide? We are not looking for land; we are looking for a future.”

3. Obama Sends His Nomination to Congress

Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court. You can watch his speech here. Garland is widely considered a “centrist,” and Senators on both sides of the aisle have spoken highly of him in the past. However, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, made it clear shortly afterward that nothing’s changed — #NoHearingsNoVotes.

4. Instagram Algorithm Change

And since you made through the heavy stuff and are still reading, here’s one that had ‘gramers everywhere Insta-outraged: Instagram announced that they will be adding an algorithm to show you what they think you’re interested in, similar to what Facebook did in 2009. The consensus: No one likes Facebook, insert all the angry emojis here.

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