The Problem With ISIS And Why We Care

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been front and center in the headlines almost every day for the last couple of weeks. If the news isn’t about a territory they invaded in Iraq, civilians they killed in Syria, beheadings, or their threats to the west, it’s about Obama going back and forth on what to do about them.

And although some of us may read the news every day – yesterday’s big story being about the death of a second American Journalist in the hands of ISIS – saying we know exactly what’s going on is an understatement of the situation’s complexity.

Let’s look at some of the key components of the conflict in order to even begin to attempt to understand the bigger picture.

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Iran Stops Giving America The Silent Treatment After Thirty Years

On Friday, President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke on the phone for 15 minutes, marking the first conversation between heads of state in over thirty years. They might not have solved world hunger or achieved world peace, but the phone call marks an important step in United States-Iran relations. In other words, this is a big deal.

So what did the US do to deserve the 30-year silent treatment?

All right, let’s dive into a quick history lesson.

In 1979, the Iranian people kicked US-backed Shah Pahlevi out of office and forced him into exile. Unfortunately, he was dying of cancer and didn’t have access to a meth lab or a chemistry education, so he settled for treatment in the US. Simultaneously, the Islamic religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini left exile and took over Iran during the Iranian Revolution, establishing the Islamic Republic of Iran. The people of Iran were annoyed with the United States for helping the Shah, so they held over fifty American diplomats hostage at the US embassy in Tehran for 444 days. America wasn’t too happy with Iran – all communication between the two countries’ high-ranking officials ceased and sanctions were imposed. If you are still confused, watch Argo. Read more…

Hey Vlad, Why Are You Putin America On Blast?

In a surprise move yesterday, The New York Times published a fascinating op-ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin that addressed international law, conflict in Syria, and American exceptionalism.

In an unsurprising move, everybody has a lot to say about it. In case you’re not interested in sifting through the hoards of Internet Bullshit on the topic, we’ve sifted through it for you. Here’s everything you need to know about what some are referring to as Putin’s “act of Obama trolling.”

What Was The Article About?

The op-ed entitled, “A Plea For Caution From Russia” is basically an open letter to the American public from Russia’s notorious President — the gist of it being that the US is overstepping it’s legal authority in pursuing an attack against the Syrian government. Read more…

EPA Annouces New Rules For Cleaner Gas, Equivalent To Taking 33 Million Cars Off Roads

Good news for all you who drive—the EPA said today that it will move forward with a rule requiring cleaner gasoline and lower-pollution vehicles nationwide—amounting to one of President Obama’s most significant environmental initiatives of his second term.

The proposed standards seek to reduce the amount of sulfur in gasoline and would add less than a penny a gallon to the cost of gasoline while delivering an environmental benefit similar to taking 33 million cars off the road, according to the EPA. Read more…

The Spotlight Is On President Obama In Key First Trip To Israel

President Obama is heading to Israel next week. While this may not seem like a big deal, believe it or not this marks the first time Obama will visit Israel during his four-and-a-half years as President.

During this time, much has been said about Obama’s varying Middle East and North African policies, from drone usage to intervention in Libya. While some feel that he is the right man for the job, many believe that he does not have an adequate understanding of the Middle East and its politics, particularly when it comes to Israel.

The President has a slippery track record with Israel. In May of 2011, he called for Israel to return to pre-1967 borders. While this has been the subject of many peace negotiations, it seemed to have a different vibe coming from the President of the United States, who usually supports Israel’s positions, and it upset many Israeli supporters. Read more…

Joe Biden’s Tie Collection, And Other Musings From Last Night’s State Of The Union Address

The State of the Union happened last night. And Twitter, once again, almost imploded. President Obama delivered his first back-in-office address to the nation as a second-term President, coming off a rhetorical high from his Inaugural Address just last month. As we mentioned, the President gave his botched-up progress report for America, with words not heard in Washington in the past few offset years: “the state of our Union is strong.”

For fodder, Mr. Obama began his speech with a statistical gold mine of indicators that we’re almost/sorta/definitely getting better. This was peppered with educational initiatives to fend off student loans, scientific calls for a research overload into the super-modern age and a declaration that everything abroad is absolutely fine (no mention of North Korea here).

After a recent steadfast shellacking at the polls last November, there was a noticeable difference in the Republican boo-ing to the President’s policy proposals – a partisan sentiment that has dominated the President’s Capitol monologues since 2009. To end it, Mr. Obama finished in a particularly strong direction with the emotional subject of gun control, revisiting Newtown as a call to legislative action to an audience that consisted of members from the tragedy-stricken community.

Marco Rubio also took a really long water break in the Republican’s response. So, naturally, #StayThirsty started trending like hot cakes. But a few other things we’re said last night. Here at NYU Local, we took a shot at remembering them:

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Would You Let Your Son Play Football? Obama, Goodell & NYU Community Weigh In

Remember that big football game from this past weekend? You know, the thing that bookended the Beyonce concert? It was pretty great. After all, there is nothing more American than eating terrible food and drinking while watching large men run into each other.

All is not that well in the sport though, as more and more attention is being paid to the safety of players; the league has finally acknowledged repeated hits to the head are dangerous. Quite simply, the NFL has a concussion problem. Additionally, the macho culture of football encourages a dangerous perseverance; the desire to play through an injury is the worst possible course of action in response to head trauma.

Recently, big names like President Obama and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have voiced their opinions on the matter. And, here at NYU, we have a few of our own, too. Would you let your son play football? Let’s find out.

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A Breakdown Of The Obama Cabinet’s New Big Three

Of all the Cabinet level positions, there are really only a couple anyone remembers or cares about. The Big Three being: Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of the Treasury. That’s more of less who you blame for our foreign policy, our long, strung-out wars, and our crappy economy, respectively. Now that threats of secession after Obama’s re-election have died down, his new Cabinet picks are the trendiest way to hate/love the president.

Although early criticisms of Obama’s nominees were largely concerned with the fact that his selections were all white and all men, the Big Three all have long and formidable records behind them and none are conventional politicians. One was a long-haired hippie doubling as a decorated war veteran, another shat all over NYU grad student’s unions and, the last, a Republican capable of voting against his party.

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Obama Faces The Music In His First Post-Election Press Conference

On Wednesday, Obama held his first press conference in eight months — and his first public appearance since the president’s re-election last Tuesday. With the stench of 2012’s campaign still lingering, the vigorous event was a breath of fresh air. Behind his podium in the East Room of the White House, Obama looked as if he was still feeling the glow of last week’s sweep. Facing him was a room of reporters finally free to ask tough questions without fear of helping Romney slide into the Oval Office on a blunder from Obama.

In case tuning in to C-SPAN2 isn’t your cup of tea on a Wednesday afternoon, here’s what you missed:


The press loves a sex scandal — and boy, is this a sex scandal. The still-breaking and increasingly bizarre ballad has already cost General David Petraeus his seat as Director of the CIA, and appears to involve a second general as well as shirtless FBI agent. The story has dominated the news cycle since Election Day, and a question on the scandal kicked off the president’s presser. Read more…

The American Psychological War On Iran Is A Failure

Last week, we endured the latest installment of the Iran diplomacy debacle. The presidential candidates battled over semantics; the New York Times and the rest of us became confused about the actual conversation between the two countries; and meanwhile, private businesses and Iranian citizens still feel the crush of the economic strain.

Last Saturday, The New York Times published a confusing report that vaguely stated the United States and Iran have agreed upon one-on-one nuclear talks following the presidential election. The administration official remained an anonymous tipper, while White House spokesman Tommy Vietor denied that any such concrete agreement had been made.

The following day, the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied the report as well. The promise of nuclear talks had been used as a ploy by Iranian officials over the past several years to delay aggressive action against Iran, so naturally any such promises being made now are subject to a heightened level of scrutiny. Read more…