A Current Events Cheat Sheet So You Don't Sound Stupid At Thanksgiving

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You know it's bound to happen: Sometime this holiday weekend, as you're just trying to enjoy your turkey in peace, somebody's going to bring up current events.

If you haven't been paying attention to the news over the past few days... or weeks... or months, we've got you covered.

This is your cheat sheet for conversations about the news over Thanksgiving.

Paris attacks

What happened: On Friday, November 13, six sites in Paris were attacked. ISIS claimed responsibility; 130 people died in the attacks and over 350 were injured.

A majority of the casualties occurred at the Bataclan concert hall, which was sieged while the US band Eagles of Death Metal were playing, and around the Stade de France by suicide bombers while France played Germany in soccer.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who allegedly organized the attacks, died after a police raid outside of Paris, where an explosion occurred.

None of the attackers have been identified as Syrian nationals; they are and were European citizens.

What people are saying: This attack came as a shock to the idea of Western safety. Many are scared of future attacks, and ISIS has threatened Washington DC and New York City.

There was a ton of discourse about sympathy, as people -- and Facebook -- were chastised for caring more about these attacks than those in Beirut, Nigeria, the Sinai or Garissa.


What happened: In September, the refugee crisis erupted as refugees from places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as some African countries, arrived in Europe.

Most are now taking boats from Turkey to Greek islands (previously, refugees were mostly traveling by boat from northern Africa to Sicily and south Italy). The journey is dangerous and many have died.

Refugees have to register in whichever country they arrive, so many slip into more prosperous and welcoming countries like Germany and Sweden.

The refugees faced a major roadblock in Hungary early this fall, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán refused to let them onto trains.

The European Union is still arguing over how exactly to handle the massive migration.

Meanwhile, arguments emerged in the US after the Paris attacks. The House of Representatives just passed a bill that would limit refugees in the United States. Forty-seven Democrats voted for the bill.

The Senate will attempt to block the bill after Thanksgiving.

France, on the other hand, is accepting more refugees than it originally agreed to.

What people are saying: People are arguing ISIS and other terrorist groups are using the refugee situation to sneak terrorists into countries. The counter-argument is all of the confirmed Paris attackers were European citizens.

In my humble opinion, refusing refugees -- who are trying to escape violence -- because of fear of terrorism, is really f*cking wrong. It also makes the world less safe.

This is a prime space for xenophobia and Islamophobia. It's an argument against immigration at large, and some Republican candidates have suggested only Christian refugees be allowed into the US.

Student protests

What happened: Students at the University of Missouri protested when complaints of a racist campus environment went unhandled by President Tim Wolfe, leading one student to start a hunger strike and the football team to strike.

Wolfe resigned less than 48 hours after the football strike began last month.

The protesters did not want the press present at their gatherings and forced media members out.

Students at other schools, including Yale, Princeton, Smith College, Claremont McKenna College and Ithaca College have since protested against racist atmospheres.

What people are saying: Curiously, this conversation moved from racism on campuses to free speech, which kind of distracts from the whole racism on campuses thing, but whatever, I guess.

Many argue this is just another sign of the coddled American youth demanding free speech -- meaning only speech that agrees with their liberal ideals.

Others argue that maybe you should pay attention when someone suggests a system is set against a group of people.

Students at Princeton are demanding buildings named after racist historic figures be renamed, which has reignited a conversation on “heritage.”

Boko Haram

What happened: The Institute for Economics & Peace released a report last week stating Boko Haram was responsible for more deaths -- 6,644 -- than ISIS -- 6,073 -- in 2014.

Boko Haram is an Islamist group based in Nigeria. The name refers to rejecting Western education. You may recognize the group from when they kidnapped over 200 girls from school last year.

Boko Haram is continuing to commit terror attacks. Most recently, this past weekend, five girls set off suicide bombs in Nigeria and Cameroon, killing at least 12 people.

What people are saying: Many argue worrying about ISIS is silly because you should instead be worrying about Boko Haram.

To be clear, killing slightly fewer people than another group doesn't make one group "better" than another.

It's important to note those numbers are from 2014 and don't show the entire picture of control and influence in different regions.

On the Paris attacks, terror groups and student protests, Ann Friedman and Jamiles Lartey gave good explanations about “tragedy hipsters” and how it's possible to care about more than one thing at the same time.

Overall, it's important to at least be aware of the various terror groups destroying lives across the globe.

Abortion returns to the Supreme Court

Alexandra Svokos

What happened: The Supreme Court picked up a case from Texas that says all abortion clinics must have admitting privileges to hospitals and be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers.

Should the Supreme Court rule this constitutional, all but about 10 clinics will be shut down in Texas.

The case is on the idea of “undue burden” -- does it matter how far a woman has to travel to get an abortion or how many steps she has to take?

What people are saying: Pro-choicers call these laws “TRAP laws,” which are made under the guise of safety but only serve to make running a clinic and/or getting an abortion more costly, and thus less accessible.

Proponents of the law say it's about safety.

Different groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have said these are medically unnecessary precautionary steps for a relatively safe and simple procedure.

Fantasy sports go to court

What happened: DraftKings and FanDuel are daily fantasy sports sites where you can make a fantasy team on a given day and compete.

At the beginning of October, a DraftKings employee won a second place prize of $350,000 at FanDuel. Shortly thereafter, the FBI and Justice Department opened an investigation to decide if these sites constitute gambling, which would be illegal.

Some states have taken action against the sites, with Nevada shutting them down as New York takes them to court.

What people are saying: The central argument here is if daily fantasy sites require skill or are purely based on luck. This is what makes the distinction between gambling -- which would restrict the sites -- or a game.

Fantasy reasonably involves some amount of skill -- or knowledge about the game -- but also a lot of luck, as anyone who's ever blindly filled out a March Madness bracket knows. We'll have to wait and see what the New York court decides.

Presidential race

What happened: Believe it or not, we've still got another year until the presidential election actually happens (cue internal screaming).

There are three Democratic candidates and still-too-many Republican candidates.

The front-runners for the Dems are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Hillary's tough on foreign policy and got past a mindless email controversy. Bernie's a socialist with fairly progressive thoughts on marijuana and an open mind to social justice issues.

The front-runners for the Republicans are Donald Trump and Ben Carson. No, really, they are leading the polls.

Otherwise, you've got Jeb Bush, whose campaign has largely been viewed as tanking, while Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have been building up their campaigns by showing a more sane side of conservatism.

What people are saying: Oh my God do we really still have to deal with a full year of this???