Saturday, the 24th of February
DEEP DIVE
In last week's edition of The Weekly Wrap we wrote (in admittedly despairing tones) that nothing would change in the aftermath of America's latest school massacre.

That statement has been challenged, if not disproven by a politically-charged wave of demonstrations. But it's not the Democrats or even the ACLU leading this charge: it's the youth.
Emma Gonzalez is the face of a political wave. PHOTO: Rhona Wise / AFP / Getty
Protests on target
There's something different about these protests. The excuses that blanketed previous shootings aren't being swallowed. Over the course of the week Florida students marched on the state capital of Tallahassee, demanding action from their representatives. A national school walk-out is planned, as is another major demonstration in March. Widespread anger - visceral, raw emotion - has been hewn into a weapon. It's pointed right at the political establishment.

They are determined to be heard and are leveraging mainstream and social media to do so. 16- and 17-year-olds are openly debating National Rifle Association (NRA) and Republican talking heads on television and coming out on top. None have been more compelling than Emma Gonzalez, a survivor from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Her tenacity and bluntness has pushed the gun control debate back towards regulation after years of inaction.

The salient point is this: civilian ownership of assault weapons should be banned in America. There is no qualifier, no courtesy to the Second Amendment and no deference to the NRA's monolithic presence. The calculus is brutally simple; "our right to go to school without being murdered outweighs your right to possess an assault rifle".

Deflections and manoeuvres 
The NRA was radio silent for much of the weekend, only to come out swinging yesterday. NRA chairman-for-life Wayne LaPierre couched the debate in sagging libertarian platitudes. His favoured proxy, motherhood-blogger-turned-gun-acolyte Dana Loesch, used her platform at a conservative conference to equivocate, run interference and blame the FBI. And in reactionary corners of the internet and on the hyper-partisan Fox News network, all kinds of noxious conspiracy theories were floated to discredit student organisers.

The response from the White House has been insipid, although few are surprised; the Trump campaign received an eye-watering $20m from the NRA. A televised listening session was held with survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, although the most outspoken students like Gonzalez weren't invited. The president has floated a ban on bump-stocks (initially promised after the 2017 Las Vegas massacre) and toyed with minor restrictions. Short of the bans that some quarters are rallying for (a near-impossibility given Trump's indebtedness to the NRA), his team has few policy levers to pull.

So they've moved into the realm of barely conceivable policy: the notion of arming teachers to confront school shooters. The response, from teachers, parents, students and law enforcement  alike has been a mix of incredulity and horror. For the NRA and gun-advocates in Washington, sacred cows are being slaughtered. Their catchiest piece of marketing, "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun", has been trashed. An armed, trained sheriff's deputy was on guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High while semi-automatic gunfire felled children. He drew his weapon, assumed a defensive position outside and waited for backup.

Hollow-points and hollowed-out points
As is nearly always the case, the real change hasn't started in Washington. Back down south in Florida, the locals have turned on their elected representatives. Republican Governor Rick Scott - a man who has built his career on NRA money - has been savaged for his anodyne response. A town-hall debate between erstwhile presidential hopeful (and Florida Senator) Marco Rubio and a group of students is better indicator of what happens next than sanitised photo shoots at the White House.

Rubio was humiliated. Here was a man once considered a leading light American conservatives, cowed by his constituents. The auditorium crackled with energy as Rubio answered questions about gun-control. He told the father of a victim that a ban on assault rifles wouldn't have stopped the massacre; likewise to survivors he couldn't promise that he would stop taking money from the NRA. In grave tones, Rubio warned that a ban on AR-15s may lead to a ban on all semi-automatic weapons. It would have been a good line to scare an NRA convention; but Rubio's audience erupted in cheers. It was an arresting view of a politician entirely out of touch with his electorate.

Back in 1999 footage of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold gunning down dozens of classmates and teachers at Columbine High School shook the country. A generation of Americans born since then have watched school shootings become more regular and far deadlier. They were all too young to vote in 2016. Some will be of age for the 2018 mid-terms; millions more for the 2020 presidential election. They are beginning to mobilise. All of a sudden the NRA and its proxies in Congress have a target on their back.
WORLDLYWISE
Up to 22,000 are fleeing conflict zones every week. PHOTO: Al Jazeera
The Democratic Republic of Congo is spiralling into violence once again. In the south eastern province of Tanganyika (named for the lake it lies adjacent to) aid workers are reporting a flood of human rights abuses. In a region home to over three million people, inter-communal fighting between the Twa and Bantu groups has been exacerbated by a government intervention. President Joseph Kabila has deployed the army to put down a string of armed insurrections at time when his rule is increasingly precarious. Those very same government forces are responsible for a great deal of the human rights abuses.

It's believed that as many as 1.7m Congolese were displaced in fighting last year and that looks set to continue, if not accelerate. From the capital in Kinshasa, Kabila can exert a diminishing amount of power across the DRC. The country's problems do not end there: a surge in demand for rare-earth minerals (for smart-phones, or electric cars) seen a sharp uptick in illegal mines; and the fight to control them. The United Nations holds grave fears for the fate of millions of Congolese caught between ethnic violence and a violent, repressive government.
The enduring legacy of Auschwitz-Birkenau. PHOTO: Reuters
Turning back the clock - A bitter argument has erupted over a newly-minted Polish law that absolves the country of any blame for the Holocaust. Jarosław Kaczyński's ruling PiS (Law and Justice) party has now criminalised any mention of Poland's involvement in the deaths of millions of Jewish people on its soil. Huge Nazi extermination camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka were the key locations of the genocide. However, the well-documented (and German-inspired) pogroms perpetrated by Poles have been swept under the rug by increasingly belligerent Polish governments. 

Anti-semitism is again on the rise in Poland. Thousands rallied in front of the President's office in downtown Warsaw urging him to sign the bill and "not give in to the Jews". There is a sense of grievance that Holocaust survivors have continued to allot some responsibility to Poland. That Israel, the European Union and America have rounded on the decision has only intensified a sense of 'us vs them' nationalism. It's just the latest example of Kaczyński's wildly popular party stoking nationalism through conflict. In recent months there have been regular clashes with the European Union over logging, air pollution, abortion laws and immigration.
WHAT ELSE HAPPENED
Another tragedy on Peruvian roads. PHOTO: AFP / Getty
  1. For the second time this year a bus-laden with passengers crashed through a railing in Peru; on this occasion at least 44 people died when their vehicle fell into a ravine in Arequipa
  2. The Islamist militant group Boko Haram attacked a girls school in Nigeria and abducted as many as 100 students
  3. Partisan bureaucrats in the Maldives traded insults this week as the political crisis worsened; Beijing sent warships into the Indian Ocean as a provocation
  4. Former revolutionary Khadga Prasad Sharm Oli formed government in Nepal after uniting the country's powerful Communist and Maoist parties
  5. An Iranian civilian airline crashed into the Zagros mountains earlier in the week claiming the lives of all 65 onboard
  6. A meeting between US VP Mike Pence and North Korea's Kim Yo Jong was called off at the last minute after both sides traded media blows over sanctions
  7. A ground-breaking study has found that, despite the persistent doubts, anti-depressants do actually work in treating anxiety
  8. After the plume from last weeks eruption cleared, photos revealed that Mt Sinabung had torn an enormous section of its peak off
  9. Ex-workers from the infamous Russian troll-factories corroborated the evidence base of the charges laid against 13 individuals by the Mueller investigation
  10. Transparency International released its annual report into global corruption; the results aren't pretty for the majority of countries on earth
THE BEST OF TIMES...
A photo from Wu Di's climate-focused exhibition. PHOTO: Wu Di
Blue-sky thinking - With all the obvious flaws and and risks of centralised Communist rule, you've got to admit that it is the most efficient method of dealing with climate change. Winter in Beijing has been almost unbearably smoggy in recent years. This year, it is positively blue. A sweeping and aggressive crackdown on heavy emitters (whether they be vehicle, factory or utility) is already turning up clear results. Pollution in the capital has fallen some 40% from its worst year in 2013, however there is still a long way to go.

Mapping Tzintzuntzan - The remnants of an enormous city have been discovered in the jungle of Western Mexico just a short drive from Morelia. Using lidar technology on planes, arcaheologists have uncovered the ancient capital of the Purepecha. What's extraordinary is that the researchers have counted 40,000 building foundations - the same amount as are on the island of Manhattan. A contemporaneous and rival civilisation to the Aztecs, the Purepecha built a large empire from 900CE through to the cataclysmic arrival of the conquistadors in the 16th century. 
THE WORST OF TIMES...
When the smoke and dust clears, carnage. PHOTO: Reuters
The end of Eastern Ghouta - Bashar al-Assad's regime has spent months tightening the noose around the population of Eastern Ghouta. Now we are witnessing the complete devastation of the rebel-held enclave, just minutes from the centre of Damascus. The airstrikes and rocket fire increased in tempo this week, so to did the casualties: at least 400 civilians were killed by Russian and Syrian bombs this week (another 1500 were wounded). By the time you read this the toll will be much higher. Some residents have told reporters that they are waiting for their turn to die.

It's as predictable as it is horrific. As in Aleppo, when the international community proclaimed "never again", the regime indiscriminately dropped a breathtaking amount of munitions on the city. From the air Syrian helicopters have followed makeshift ambulances from previous blast sites back to field hospitals so they too can be targeted. The cruel logic follows that if there are no more doctors and nurses left alive in Eastern Ghouta the rebel defence will collapse even quicker. As a UN communique from Syria said, there are "no words" left to describe what is happening in Eastern Ghouta.

Once upon a time technologists spoke in gushing tones about how the spread of the internet and smartphones would help curb human rights abuses around the world. Now it's clear that our unparalleled visibility of the war in Syria is a potent reminder of the international community's failure. The liberal post-Cold War international consensus is broken and all we can do is watch.
P.S.
Your weekend long read... After a week as violent as this the inkl team has opted to give you a rest from the complex conflicts of the world. We'll leave you with a little levity. Over the course of his career Daniel Day-Lewis has been nothing short of spell-binding. From the Financial Times comes this excellent (and hilarious) interview with Paul Thomas Anderson, the direcetor who made, and ended, Day-Lewis's career.