Popping the bubble #4: California wildfires, a win for Syria, and more


How Disneyland looked 13 miles away from one of the wildfires

The news cycle was interesting, to say the least in these past two weeks. A diverse variety of stories have consumed the broadcasts. I suppose that’s a positive; the news only focuses on events when they’re tragic, horrendous stories.

Nonetheless, the news stories of the past two weeks are certainly not joyful. It’s the news, after all. In fact, the first story of this installment of “Popping the Bubble” is yet another devastating, nature-related disaster. Here’s hoping it’ll be the last for a long time.

California wildfires:

There has been a massive outbreak of wildfires in California. One of the main places hit was Anaheim Hills, beginning around the morning of the ninth. By night, 6,000 acres had been burned; 5,000 homes were consequently evacuated. There was also a cluster of fires around the North Bay, specifically Santa Rosa and Napa. Besides those two areas, there have been many other areas targeted across California. Several major wildfires continue to ravage California, burning through 217,000 acres. As of now, 88 people are reported missing, and at least 41 lives have been taken.

KRACK Wifi hack:

This past Monday, a bug in the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) was discovered.

This bug- known as KRACK: Key Reinstallation Attack- basically means that weaknesses were found in WPA2, allowing for these KRACKs to read information that was thought to be encrypted.

For those who don’t know, WPA2 is a security protocol that is meant to protect the information of wireless networks. In short, a vulnerability in WPA2 is a pretty big deal. Any hacker could use KRACK to potentially have access to all traffic between your router and any of your wireless devices.

So how do you protect yourself? Generally, if you are using only “https,” you should be safe. However, if that is not the case, you could be at risk. To minimize that risk, make sure to update any and all wireless devices to the latest software possible, as companies are already trying to push out updates that will protect from KRACK. Routers should also be updated to the latest firmware; if this is not an immediate option and you’re worried about your privacy, an ethernet connection can be used until your router’s company has released a fix. Your information is at risk; make sure you take the necessary measures to protect yourself before it’s too late.

Truck bombs in Somalia:

This past Saturday, two trucks exploded in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. The attackers were aiming to infiltrate the heavily guarded city by first detonating a small bomb to blast through the gates, and then entering with an explosive-filled truck. However, the attacker’s intended target remains unknown as their plan was interrupted when the van containing the smaller bomb was stopped and searched. As police attempted to take care of the situation, this smaller bomb exploded; however, no one was hurt. The larger truck carrying the more dangerous explosives made it through a checkpoint before guards at a second checkpoint ultimately ordered a search. According to reports, before the search could be carried out, the driver panicked and headed for the bustling areas of the city.

And unfortunately, in the middle of a congested intersection, the truck detonated. Many buildings were leveled, and a tanker truck in the vicinity was filled with petroleum and consequently ignited. As a result, many of the deceased victims were burned past the point of identification. Over 300 people were killed, and around 300 were injured.

Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, blames the attack on al-Shabab, a radical-Islamic terrorist group that has in the past targeted Somalia with small-scale bombings. However, they have not yet claimed credit for the attack. Considering the numerous other militia groups in the region, experts say that other groups could be responsible for the attack. Nonetheless, protesters have come streaming out, taking to the streets to march in protest of al-Shabab.

A win for Syria:

The vicious conflict that has loomed over Syria for years now is a well-known yet confusing issue. Most are aware of the staggering death and displacement rates, but few understand the war itself. To put it simply, there are basically four main groups fighting: the Syrian government, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Syrian Democratic forces (SDF), and ISIS.

And for once, there is good news emerging from the woodwork.

The Syrian city Raqqa has been completely liberated from ISIS. Raqqa was one of ISIS’s largest, most significant cities. Thousands fled the city while thousands of others endured harsh Sharia law. ISIS’s dominance over the city served as a constant symbol and reminder of their remorseless supremacy. Until now.

This was certainly a sweet victory for Syria– a hard-sought one at that. The SDF, with the help of U.S. airstrikes and artillery, has worked tirelessly over the past year to take territory from ISIS. Raqqa particularly had to bare months of airstrikes and brutality before the SDF was able to tear through ISIS’s outer defenses. When they were able to achieve that breakthrough, fighting consumed Raqqa as pockets of the region began to be liberated. And at long last, on Tuesday morning, the final two major strongholds were shattered.

While this is refreshingly good news for all things Syria and ISIS related, the win came at a price. Syrian infrastructure saw massive damage. Even worse, the civilian death rate is astounding. Reportedly, for every ISIS member killed, at least one civilian was also killed. Activist groups have emerged, blaming U.S. airstrikes for this, though the U.S. argues that ISIS is notorious for using civilians as human shields.


I really did try to end this installment of “Popping the Bubble” on a positive note, but it seems we cannot escape the constant presence of tragedy. I pray that Raqqa will have a timely recovery and that their city will be returned to- at the very least- normalcy soon. My heart hurts for all those killed, injured, and affected by the cruel violence in Raqqa, and also the California wildfires and Somalian bombings. Hopefully, my next installment of this series won’t be burdened with so much death and tragedy.