Saturday, May 26, 2018

Gabbi Gruver- Ireland votes by landslide to legalise abortion

On May 26, 2018, Ireland voted by a landslide to legalize abortion. This vote marked a dramatic defeat for the Catholic church’s domination of the country. Ultimately, 66.4% of people voting yes to legalizing abortion while 33.6% voted no. Votes turned out in mass numbers to abolish the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution. Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, promised to create legal terminations by the end of the year. Voters have given the government “a clear mandate” to legalize abortion up to 12 weeks.  Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, argued that this vote was not urban vs. rural; it was a whole country decision. The overall turnout of the abortion referendum was at 64.51%, larger than the 60.5% that voted in the 2015 marriage vote. The only country in the area that not bans abortions in almost all circumstances remains Northern Ireland.

Gabbi Gruver

North and South Korean leaders hold surprise 2nd summit

In light of President Trump’s roller coaster of cancelling the summit with Supreme Leader Kim Jong-eun, then reopening the U.S. to the possibility less than twenty-four hours later, President Moon Jae-in And Kim Jing-run met for a surprise second summit at the DMZ this Saturday. South Korea has taken an active role as mediator between the two more volatile administrations, and argues talks and summits will be more stable once the nations make official declarations of their intent. Relations between the two Koreas have suffered from uncertainty too, as North Korea cancelled an earlier meeting with Seoul, due in large part to South Korea’s continued military exercises with the United States. However, President Moon Jae-in remains confident that North Korea can be persuaded to fully adandon their pursuit for nuclear power.

By: Lauren Richardson

Thursday, May 24, 2018

North Korean nuclear test tunnels destroyed

This article is about North Korea, and the ongoing discussion about the countries nuclear weapons. This article is specifically about the fact that North Korea appears to have blown up tunnels at its only nuclear test site, in a move to reduce regional tensions. The article states that foreign reporters at the Punggye-ri site in the north-east said they witnessed a huge blast, and Pyongyang later reported that the site has been dismantled. The article discussed that this move by North Korea may have done this for diplomatic purposes, and for the benefit of South Korea and the United States. The United States believes that this site is North Koreas main nuclear testing facticity, but we are unsure the extent to which these blasts made the site unusable. It is reported that this site may have been partially collapsed after the North Koreans last launch test, so the facility may have not been operational before the resent blast. This means that the recent blasts collapsing the site could be entirely for good press and for relations purposes, considering the site could have already been non operational. Independent inspectors were not allowed to witness the process of the dismantling, so some in the international community worry that the blast could be easily reversible. This first move by the North Koreans to denuclearize is seen as a victory for the international community, but there are still many questions about the extent to which this site is non operational and the North Koreans nuclear program as a whole.

-Noah Parrill

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Marc Fleenor- Trump update with North Korea

Marc Fleenor

     Trump has recently said if the meeting with North Korea doesn’t happen then it’s not a very big deal. This makes me think he’s trying to seem uninterested in meeting when he really is. Meanwhile  North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, ensures there is a great chance they do meet. North Korea recently agreed to denuclearize which is somewhat surprising. However, they also released a statement they have no intentions to denuclearize completely or permanently which was very sudden and this could make sense as to why North Korea has reached out and agreed to an armistice for one solid Korea. The dismantling of a single test site in North Korea doesn’t mean much considering they can always start it back up or simply test somewhere else. The upcoming meeting is building anxiety around the world to see if both sides of Korea will stand tall with or against the U.S.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"If War Comes? Stock Up on Tortillas and Wet Wipes, Sweden Suggests" by Kostantina Taseva

On Monday the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency distributed a revised copy of an emergency handbook for war titled  "If Crisis or War Comes”. The last time the Swedish people were given such books was back in 1961. The author points out that while Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries are safer than the rest of the world, their main concerns are caused by their bordering Neighbour- Russia. More specifically, their worries are based on the fact that "the Russians annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine four years ago." (Gladstone). Overall, the handbook aims to prepare the Swedish citizens for all kinds of threads, such as terrorism, war etc. For this reason, it advises them to stack up on food, water, and precooked meals.n addition, it provides guidelines for dealing with internet hackers and how to recognize fake news.

- Kostantina Taseva

"Turkey Hands Life Sentences to 104 People Over Coup Attempt" post by Kostantina Taseva

The Turkish court Yenisakran sentenced 104 individuals with a small chance of parole,  who took part in the military actions on July 15, 2016, who were meant to overturn President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As a result of the attack, 250 people died and numerous conflicts erupted around the country causing chaos and violence. Most of the military personnel involved in this actions were captured and given long sentences. In addition, the author points out that the man believed to be behind this operation is the preacher Fethullah Gulen known for opposing the President's views, who is currently located in The U.S.. The Turkish government has sent several requests for the extradition of Gulen to the United States' government, which we denied due to lack of evidence that he is in fact, behind the military actions. However, since during the recent sentencing new witnesses provided new pieces of evidence that prove his involvement, the Turkish government sent another request that is being processed right now.

- Kostantina Taseva

Syrian army, police celebrate recapturing all of Damascus

The Syrian government officially regained control of Damascus today, Tuesday, 5/22. The city was largely evacuated after the government air strikes there last month, save several factions of the Islamic State who had occupied the southern neighborhoods. The IS followed suit, evacuating the area rather than risking a confrontation with Syria's military and police, who regained the last quarter of Damascus without opposition.

The militants claimed that their next confrontation lies in Daraa, where government forces and the Islamic State continue to struggle for control. In the north, Idlib remains a source of power for rebel forces, but the regime plans to confront this 'at a later stage'. The article does not indicate whether or not these rebels are affiliated with the IS or not. Nonetheless, Bashar Al Assad's regime has regained more territory than it has had since protests began in 2011, and the Islamic State, it would seem, is continuing to lose strength and influence.

By: Lauren Richardson

Monday, May 21, 2018

Trump to boost request for border wall funding by half-billion dollars

The Trump Administration has decided that it will attempt to increase the budget for the border defense wall of the US and Mexico by half a billion dollars. This would make it a total of a $2.2 Billion project, which seems incredibly high. Trump has threatened to shut down the government if he is unable to be granted the funding that he wants. As democrats are opposed to the idea of the wall in the first place, they clearly are not in support of this raising in the price of his wall. What doesn’t help the situation is that Trump took away the DACA program, which helped dreamers to essentially be possibly deported. Until a new deal protecting ‘dreamers’ is come up with by Trump, it doesn’t seem like he’ll get much support for the construction of the wall, or the raise in the budget.

- Elijah Dwyer

US vows 'strongest sanctions in history' on Iran

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo help a press conference stating that US is imposing the "strongest sanctions in history" on Iran. Along with President Trump withdraw from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the secretary of defense said that Iran would be "battling to keep its economy alive" after sanctions took effect and the withdrawing from nuclear deal. He also said in the press conference that "unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime", by saying this, Iran looks like so dependent on US before they withdraw from that deal and put the strongest sanctions. The sanction before it got tighter, it prohibited all the trade with Iran, basically the trade which will benefit Iranian people were strongly prohibited. However the secretary of state did not mention in the press conference how the newer sanction includes. Javad Zarif said on Twitter towards US, that "US is imprisoned by delusions & failed policies" and "Iran, meanwhile, is working with partners for post-US JCPOA solutions". It looks like there is an intense tension between Iran and US as of now concerning the nuclear deal, and the raise of sanctions.

Hollis Esposito “W.H.O. Says New Ebola Outbreak Is Not Yet a Top Health Emergency”

  • The World Health Organization said that on Friday May 18, 2018 a six-week-old outbreak of Ebola virus was in Democratic Republic of Congo. This outbreak was worrisome and must be aggressively controlled; however, it does not warrant a top designation as an international public health emergency. The organization’s emergency committee announced that the health authorities and aid organizations were in strong positions to halt the highly contagious disease even though it has already spread to an urban area. The Ebola virus spread from a rural northwest area of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Mbandaka which is a city of 1.2 million increasing the risk of a larger contagion. This outbreak has not met the conditions of the Public Health Emergency of International Concerns. Even with this outbreak, the emergency committee said there should not be restrictions on travel or trade. Instead they used for stronger surveillance and preparations for dealing with the disease.    


Sunday, May 20, 2018

EU-US tension escalates over the Iran policies

EU announced this Friday that it will protect EU-Iran trade, as a part of the salvation of 2015 deal to exchange economic benefits to Iran and its limit on nuclear program. This move is opposing the U.S. sanction on Iran and end of international agreement on nuclear affair. In other words, there is a escalating tension between U.S. and EU over how to deal with Iran. Those corporations are now driven to choose whether to continue economic tie with Iran and face harsh U.S. sanction, or to stop business with Iran and comply to US law. One explanation to European move is the fact that EU combined exports to Iran100 times larger in value than U.S. does. However, some are skeptical about the impact of this "blocking statute" announced by EU because there are already a number of large companies facing difficulty proceeding the business with Iran due to the effects of U.S. sanctions. In addition, the penalties to EU companies for not continuing their tie with Iran do not seem to be enforced well because of stakes, and while it promises the damage recover from U.S. sanction, it is difficult to anticipate U.S. will receive the loss from U.S.

by Reiji Hirose

Money Talks

"Trump Grappling With Risks of Proceeding With North Korea Meeting" By Andrew Honig

The article I read for today continues the talk about President Trump's meeting with Kim that is taking place in the near future. Trump is extremely skeptical about this meeting and it becoming very anxious. Trump believes that Kim is slowly going back on his word and Trump is becoming impatient. In the wake of the meeting that South Korea's president had with Kim, president Trump called president Moon a few days ago before there meeting that is suppose to occur on Tuesday. He is growing impatient and this is exemplified by the phone call he made to Moon. President Trump's decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran deal just puts more pressure on himself with North Korea. Trump's new national security advisor Bolton is in daily contact with Moon trying to devise up a strategy to help the impending situation. Bolton is clear on the proposal that Trump should use the Singapore meeting to make North Korea give up their nuclear weapons. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo also acknowledges that they are keeping a close eye on the situation.

By: Andrew Honig

I study biracial identity in America. Here’s why Meghan Markle is a big deal.

This article discusses the implications of the first biracial princess to marry into the royal family. Over the weekend, Meghan Markle married into the royal family and it was not without skepticism. For as long as the country has existed, the royal family has consisted of white members. Now that a biracial bride exists, the implications on the country's social structure and its leadership. Queen Elizabeth has long been criticized for being very close-minded, but having a biracial member of the family perhaps means change. It will be very interesting to see how the country of England morphs and changes over the years to come.

By: Josh Simmons

Nicolás Maduro reelected as Venezuelan president

By Raymond Dragunaitis

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro was elected for a second term with a claimed 67.7% of the vote, though the allegations of voter fraud run rampant. Venezuela's mainstream opposition boycotted the election, and the voter turnout was only 46.1% compared to 80% registered during the last presidential election in 2013. Maduro's main opponent, Henri Falcón, refused to recognize the election as legitimate due to widespread allegations of vote buying and electoral fraud, and demanded new elections. The United States' mission to the United Nations tweeted that the "so-called election" was "an insult to democracy" and called for Maduro to leave office, while Chilean president Sebastián Piñera also said his country refuses to recognize the vote.

Island or Rock? Taiwan Defends Its Claim in South China Sea

Kevin Druger
                This article discusses a small island in the South China Sea called Itu Aba. Currently Taiwan is claiming the territory as its own and is stating that they are using it as a type of base used for maritime aid. However, as we have discussed in class, the South China Sea is an area of dispute. China has also stated that the island, this one actually being a natural island unlike the islands it has been manufacturing/building in the area, is rightfully theirs. Another twist in the situation is that in an international arbitration panel two years ago, the Philippines, trying to prevent China from claiming the land, argued that it is not technically an island and is instead just a rock. This view was affirmed by the panel, which means that Taiwan can no longer claim exclusive economic control over the waters that surround the land. The article goes on to express just how, frankly, backwards the whole situation is. As the article states, this “rock” is more of an island than any of the man-made ones that China is claiming. This land mass actually has vegetation such as banana and coconut trees, which makes it more habitable than the Chinese islands. What makes the situation even more compelling is that the same panel that stated this island was a rock and no nation could claim the area around it is pretty much being ignored by both Taiwan and China. It will be interesting to see how the whole situation, not just this island or “rock”, in the South China Sea plays out as it seems that China the largest player in the area really just seems to be doing whatever it wants.

New NRA president blames school shootings on Ritalin, violent movies

The inbound NRA president states that the recent surge of school shootings on the idea that the younger generations are more steeped in a violent culture. Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North says that authorities and the media are trying harder to "treat the symptoms" than to fix the problem, the problem of which Lt. Col. North states is that youngsters growing up in a culture where violence is commonplace.  He says the disease isn’t the Second Amendment and trying to take away law-abiding citizens of their constitutional right to have a firearm.


US and China halt imposing import tariffs by Jesus Ponce

China and the US say they will halt imposing punitive import tariffs, putting a possible trade war "on hold". The deal was reached after talks in the US aimed at persuading China to buy $200 billion of US goods.

Both sides agreed that not imposing tariffs is a "win-win choice".  The US has an annual $335 billion annual trade deficit with Beijing. Before elected, Trump had said that China was "raping" the US, and promised to label it a currency manipulator on his first day in office.

That did not happen, but the future is still unknown. For right now, we're in the safe zone. I'm glad someone realized that a trade war is the worst thing that could happen between these two large economies. They would literally fall to shreds without trading. Prices would sky rocket and US consumers would not be happy. Don't forget about the multiple businesses that would crumble.

This "America First" policy would only cause an economic catastrophe. If this deal holds I believe the US economy will hold. China buying more goods means that our deficit will shrink.

"I'm proud to be a woman and a feminist": The politics of Meghan Markle - Alexis Reese

This article discusses the way in which Meghan Markle, the new Dutchess of Sussex, has a proud history of being a feminists and believing in equality. Many people are in an uproar over the fact that Prince Harry has married a multiracial woman, who is older, and has been divorced. Meghan has broken a barrier into a life that has been portrayed as unreachable by so many due to circumstances, but Meghan has given them hope. Meghan, being the great, great, great grandchild of a former slave has sparked conversation about the history of Great Britain and slavery, and how this union between a royal and the relative of a former slave is a symbolic union of Great Britain. The union between the couple has received tremendous support and also backlash, but I believe that it is important to see how far a country has come from its past, and yet how far it still needs to go.

"I'm proud to be a woman and a feminist": Politics of Meghan Markle

US and China Put Trade War on Hold

Kyle Bujak,-China-putting-trade-war-on-hold-after-progress-in-talks

The United States and China have been on the brink of a trade war for awhile now with US President Trump saying that the United States has been getting the short end of the stick in its trade deals with China and wants to significantly decrease the United States's trade deficit with China. It seems that President Trump will get his wish as Washington and Beijing released a statement saying that the deficit will be reduced but did not give a specific number. This is very important to other foreign policy because China seems to be the best bet for the United States to try and achieve denuclearization with North Korea in the summit next month.

FYI: English isn't the official language of the United States

Aaron Schlossberg, a lawyer in New York, was the subject of a viral video last week after he was caught on camera berating staff members of a restaurant for speaking Spanish with customers. However it might be news to him that nothing in the Constitution or any federal law supports his comment that "they should be speaking English because "this is America". In the fact, US has no official language. Dr. Wayne Wright, a professor of language and literacy at Purdue University said that " Due to the evident in the case of the New York lawyer who threatened to call US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the restaurant workers, he equated speaking Spanish with illegal immigration".

"Royal family website notes Meghan's 'proud feminist' credentials"

Timea Mozsi

The article I read for this week was about the royal wedding that occurred yesterday. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, married American actress and humanitarian, Meghan Markle. I chose this article for several reasons, one being that it was personally brought to my attention, how big of a deal this engagement was. My fiancé and I were in London in November for less than 12 hours in which time a taxi driver told us how major the news was and how quickly it was spreading in the country. They said that this was a big step that was more than mention-worthy mainly because it deviated from being customary.
It was described in the article that the wedding had the modern twist that was much needed in the royal family. It seems as though many feel it was time to freshen up the customary norms and the couple managed to do so while keeping everything very elegant and tasteful. I love this idea, because I too feel that tradition is important. But welcoming positivity and all-inclusiveness and accepting modern perspectives shows that the world is still developing, as should all its people be. I always like the United Kingdom for their elegance and poised nature. But now I can say that I support them and respect them for welcoming a strong multi-racial American feminist into the royal family.

Something important was different about this shooting

In the beginning of the article it talks about another tragic school shooting in 2018, where the number of school shootings have nearly doubled in the causalities of service members. Then it talks about how this school shooting in Santa Fe does not fit the typical model that has been seen with previous school shootings. The first part that was different was the killer in this shooting did not appear to have a criminal record and he used two weapons of a shotgun and a .38 revolver. Then what was most shocking to hear was this school had two armed police officers who were extensively trained in active shooter protocols. Later on in the article it says that Pagourtzis got the guns from his father who so far as we know owned them legally. When it part came up the article brought up the point that there needs to be more advocating for promoting ownership safety standards and liability for the parents. They give the example that if an adult lets underage kids drink at their house they are held accountable for negligence and liability, so the same should be applied with gun control. Following, the article gives details that Pagourtzis was captured and not on a suicide mission and he also put explosives around the outside of the school. Since Pagourtzis had more intention of just being a school shooter they mention that the tactic of explosive devices are typically seen with terrorist groups like al Qaeda.

Kaleigh Walsh

Young People Keep Marching After Parkland, This Time to Register to Vote

Ten lives were lost after yet another mass shooting in a Texas High School on Friday. Tragedies like this one have become all too familiar lately. Does America have a mental health problem, a gun problem, or both? While it may be a combination of the two, its evident that this needs to stop.

When I heard the news Friday, I knew I wanted to address it for my weekly blog post. Instead of debating the two sides and injecting my own views on the gun control debate, I wanted to take an optimistic viewpoint, inspired by the NY Times article I found. Titled "Young People Keep Marching After Parkland, This Time to Register to Vote" by Michael Tackett and Rachel Shorey, this article highlights promising statistics regarding America's youth fighting for change. Regardless of political affiliation, more and more younger people are registering to vote following the mass shootings. Typically younger voters are rare because they don't believe their one vote will make a difference. Hopefully these new registrants actually show up to the polls to vote and make their voices heard.

It's always encouraging to see high schoolers fighting for change following these tragedies. Showing up on election day to vote is the most crucial step if these activists want to create change in America. Hopefully someday soon the violence in schools will come to an end.


By: Michael Dieckman

Gun Control from an International Relations Theory Perspective - Ryan Lorig

Pepitone presents a fascinating argument in her article titled “Using International Relations Theory to Understand Gun Violence.” The two main arguments for the reasons behind gun violence have been mental illness and most obviously, the guns themselves. “If psychological imbalances motivate mass shooters, then why does mental illness rarely lead to mass shootings? If guns themselves are the issue, why did the 1994 federal assault rifle ban produce no evidence of reducing gun violence?” Pepitone really captures key problems with both sides of the gun control argument with this quote, using previous examples of the very things Americans are arguing about today. Albeit, her examples are relatively dated and vague, but the sentiment of the argument remains; both sides of the argument have key flaws. Pepitone offers an alternative explanation through what she describes as the three main schools of international relations theory; realism, liberalism, and constructivism. Pepitone explains that a realism perspective argues gun regulation is insufficient as “people kill people.” While a liberal would argue for reforming gun control legislation based on the precedent Australia set in 1996 that has resulted in no mass shootings in the country since. Pepitone explains that both accounts assume an objective version of reality and fall short in providing compelling solutions to gun violence. Pepitone then argues a constructivist would argue that this nation needs to actively uncouple the “toxic masculinity from a patriotic gun fanaticism.” This really hits home and drives home a powerful point, as many Americans see owning gun as their “God given right,” or even as something that makes them feel powerful. This, Pepitone argues, is the driving force behind gun violence. I agree that this is a powerful point and likely the root of many causes of gun violence in the United States, but dismantling this gun fanaticism is a difficult task with no clear path to success. Unfortunately, the current path we are on (responding to mass shootings) seems to be an effective path to the “de-masculization” of guns. Seeing families torn apart and using an “egos” approach to force current and potential gun owners to sympathize with these families through mass media is, in my opinion, decreasing this “patriotic gun fanaticism” Pepitone talks about. Unfortunately, people should not have to be dying for guns to lose their lust, but the course seems like there must be a breaking point eventually. And for all of us, eventually cannot come soon enough.