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Ferguson As 'America's Spring'

Ferguson As 'America's Spring'

The death of teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., has been getting plenty of attention beyond U.S. borders, and Arabic-language media is no exception. It has made Ferguson front-page news, while Twitter users have transliterated "Ferguson" into an Arabic hashtag.

A recent Al Jazeera article, filed under its website's "human rights" section, focused principally on comments from top UN human rights official Navi Pillay about the events in Ferguson. Originally from South Africa, Pillay said in an interview earlier this week that "there are many parts of the United States where apartheid is flourishing."

Commenters on the Al Jazeera article variously offered legal suggestions and lamented the failure of what one described as "civilized America … number one in freedoms and human rights." One reader insisted that the only solution in the Ferguson case was to pursue the death penalty for the officer involved. Others elaborated on what they viewed as further manifestations of America's racism.

One commenter linked America's support for Israel to the "racism that underlies each country." Another described America's treatment of Native American Indians as "one of the great curiosities of our age," saying they are forced "to live on reserves like wild animals."

An Algerian commenter argued that the source of American racism lay in the original of Americans. "American people came from Europe, fleeing from hunger, poverty and misery. ... We all know when the poor man becomes rich what he will do to those who were like him."

Twitter users have been equally vocal about Ferguson, retweeting photos and links to videos of the shooting aftermath and of protests. Some Arabic-language users echoed refrains from the Arab Spring, such as this young man: “#Ferguson: Down, down with military rule!”

#�يرجسون يسقط يسقط حكم العسكر �

— Ù�ارس الÙ�ارس (@Lettermore_) August 22, 2014

Others went so far as to directly link events in struggling Egypt to what's happening in Ferguson. This photoshopped image of protesters from Ferguson shows one young woman holding a sign with a mantra of Arab Spring activists, "Dear Obama … the revolution is not finished."

One young Egyptian woman put it plainly:

Time for a revolution in the USA let it be the #americanspring #Ù�يرجسون #Ferguson #FergusonShooting #Ferguson livestream

— nouran diaa elsayed (@nourandiaa63) August 17, 2014

In line with intense international concern over the destruction of churches in Egypt and the violent persecutions of Christians in Iraq, other Twitter users retweeted an image of Ferguson's Greater Saint Mark's Church. "American police raid a church in #Ferguson under the pretext that the protesters were sleeping there, despite the fact that pastors confirmed that the site was a field hospital," the Twitter account of a Kuwaiti news site explained.

الشرطة الامريكية تداهم كنيسة �ي #�يرجسون بحجة ان المتظاهرين ينامون بها مع ان القساوسة أكدوا انه مستش�ى ميداني . pic.twitter.com/8FkiJgwySn

— جهينة الإلكترونية (@johenaq8) August 21, 2014

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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