4 – 10 May 2015
The Week in Review is a weekly column that highlights some interesting, outraging, and heartwarming events and stories of the past week. Its ambition is not to be exhaustive or to recap major political events; it’s more of a personal take on news or stories that made the author react strongly.
Picture of the Week
Baltimore is finally at peace after Maryland State Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement that the six police officers who arrested Freddie Gray would be charged.
On April 12, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American man was arrested for possession of what the police claimed was an illegal switchblade. While in the police van, he fell into a coma; he died seven days later, due to what was presented as a spinal cord injury.
It was later found that Gray had sustained the ultimately deadly injury while in the van, and that once in the van he had not been secured, contrary to policy. The medical examiner’s report declared that Freddie Gray’s death had been a homicide, and the six officers involved in his arrest were charged. Additionally, the prosecutor found that the knife Gray carried was a spring-assisted pocket knife that is legal in Maryland.
Marilyn Mosby stated that the police had acted illegally and that Freddie Gray had committed no crime; further, she said that Gray’s injury was caused by his being handcuffed, shackled, and unrestrained inside the van.
Three of the six officers have been charged with manslaughter and one has been charged with second degree depraved-heart murder.
Gray’s death had triggered a series of violent protests in Baltimore, and a state of emergency had been declared by the State Governor and the National Guard deployed.
Heartwarming news of the week
As of 9 May 2015, the Ebola outbreak in Liberia is officially over, according to a statement released by the World Health Organization. The last known victim of the virus was buried over 40 days ago, which is twice the incubation period. Liberia was the hardest-hit country in last year’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak which made over 10,000 victims.
The WHO called the end of the outbreak a “monumental achievement” and praised the Liberian government’s choice to rely on local communities in stopping the spread. Ebola claimed 4,700 lives in Liberia. At the height of the epidemic, the country saw 400 new cases weekly.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf criticized the West’s slow response to the outbreak, stating that “This Ebola outbreak is a scar on the conscience of the world”.
Ebola is still present in Sierra Leone and Guinea, two countries which share a border with Liberia.
Read the full story on Slate.
Long read of the week
The recommended read of the week is brought to us by ESPN’s Kate Fagan: “Split Image” recounts the life and death of Madison Holleran, a 19 year-old star athlete and student at the University of Pennsylvania who jumped off the ninth floor of a parking garage in January 2014, after a long, hidden battle with depression.
The article criticizes a culture in which young people are made to present a perfect, happy life on social media (in Madison’s case, Instagram), disconnected from their internal doubts, fears and preoccupations. Curating a gallery of inspirational images and presenting an image of perfect bliss have become requisites for Gen Y-ers. It is no secret that there is an intense pressure on younger generations to be happy and, accordingly, show the world just how happy they are on Facebook, Instagram, and the like.
Additionally, there is a stigma on people who appear to have it all (like Madison, a star runner, beautiful young woman, and Ivy League student with a loving family), yet struggle with depression, as if depression might only be justified by harrowing life events. But depression is also largely a product of brain chemistry and strikes indiscriminately. For this reason, depressive individuals are often made to feel shame over their ailment and sometimes choose to hide their distress from even their closest friends and family.
Fagan shows the way in which Madison’s suicide came as a surprise to many of her friends. Her father, though, knew that Madison had been struggling after she began attending UPenn. A star track runner, she turned away from her passion and from the hobbies she used to love. When her father asked her to see a therapist, Madison said she would, but never did. The article portrays the tragic story of a lovable young person whose fear of failure and of disappointing others caused her to become unable to seek help and ultimately caused her demise. In so doing, it warns us to the dangers of social media and the psychological and social pressure it puts on the youngest among us.
Exciting news of the week
Regardless of what one may think of the outcome of this week’s elections in the UK, something pretty cool has just happened: the UK has elected its youngest Member of Parliament since the 17th century.
Mhairi Black is a 20 year-old university student. As a Scottish National Party candidate, she defeated Douglas Alexander, a major Labor leader, by over 23,000 votes. Alexander, a shadow foreign secretary and coordinator of the Labor’s UK campaign was no easy opponent. But before she can fully devote herself to her new role, Black will have to finish her dissertation by the end of next month, after which she will receive her degree in political science.
Black is the youngest MP since Christopher Monck was granted a seat in Charles II’s Parliament in 1667. He was 13 years old.
More details on Mhairi Black’s victory here.