Earthquake. A devastating earthquake ripped through South Asia early Monday, originating in Afghanistan but causing multiple casualties in Pakistan. It was also felt in India. The final casualty count is unknown at present, but it isn’t looking good, and even the Taliban have promised they won’t target aid groups headed into the mountains to search for people.
Don’t ever body-slam a high school student, please. A police officer in a high school took it upon himself to personally tackle and seriously attack a young female student after she reportedly mouthed off to him. Though accounts of the incident differ, the physical footage of the encounter was filmed (and is linked lower down). It is pretty horrifying. That the student was African-American adds an additional layer of “oh no” to this.
Paul Ryan ascends the throne. Conservative (though apparently not-conservative-enough for many rank-and-file Republicans) Paul Ryan will be the next Speaker of the House, in all likelihood. This means no immigration bill, probably.
Pope Francis has signaled the Catholic Church will be working to ease its opposition to divorce, despite some rancor from elements within the Church. This may be easier said than done, however, and the pontiff faces serious backlash.
Canadian elections! A country that doesn’t generate a lot of buzz globally had its elections this week. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives battled the New Democrats and the Liberal party, with Justin Trudeau (described broadly as “not an intellectual heavyweight”) at the helm of the latter. As of Tuesday morning, the Liberals had swept the election, and Trudeau stands set to make good on several campaign promises. Most notably, Canadian airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have ceased.
Bibi has probably never read a history book. Israeli Prime Minister (and overall questionable human) Binyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu made an interesting claim this week that a Palestinian mufti gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust. That is a claim that is 1) not going over well with everyone from Palestinians to Germans to Jewish Israelis, and 2) categorically 110% untrue.
Speaker for the (unmanageable) masses. A seemingly reluctant Paul Ryan has agreed to be Speaker of the House for the American House of Representatives. But, he has conditions. Ryan has conceded bringing comprehensive immigration reform to the House floor, but is also demanding Republicans get in line behind his candidacy. The tumultuous Freedom Caucus has signaled it is willing to get behind Ryan, and Thursday night he formally announced his candidacy.
Dems Debate. Hillary Clinton dominated the debate, which most viewers seemed to agree was much more policy-oriented and engaging than expected. Though leading rival Bernie Sanders got in a few moments, the debate was ultimately Clinton’s to lose, and she didn’t.
Boots on the ground in Cameroon. You probably did not hear about this, but the US casually decided to send 300 troops to Sub-Saharan Africa to fight Boko Haram. American President Obama informed Congress that he is sending them under the War Powers Act. Congress now theoretically has under 90 days to make a decision, but Obama hasn’t really lived by the Act’s rules in the past.
The longest long war. American troops will be in Afghanistan into 2017, despite President Obama’s promise to bring them home before his term ended. The news, while unshocking, indicates the current struggle that has played out across the country, with little to no sign of stopping soon. The war is among the longest the US has been engaged in, beat out only by varying measurements of its involvement in Vietnam.
War crime in Afghanistan. The US military bombed an MSF (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Kunduz, which has recently been overtaken by the Taliban. The hospital was given no warning, as is required by international law. The military has insisted they bombed the hospital due to a request from Afghan forces. MSF has is demanding an inquiry into the bombing, however, and is accusing the US of committing a war crime. President Obama called MSF’s head mid-week to apologize for the incident.
Oregon trauma. Following a shooting in Oregon at a community college last week, America’s gun debate has begun anew. There seems to be little indication that real change will come from the shooting, but politicians on both right and left have exchanged heated remarks. Notable fact: There have been more mass shootings in the US than days in the 2015 calendar year so far.
More Putin more problems. Russia’s sudden involvement in Syria’s war has been unpopular across the board. The country has repeatedly crossed into Turkish airspace, an infringement on NATO’s turf–meaning Russia is to an extent pitting itself against the US. This is mean even more real by Russian strikes targeting US-backed rebel groups in the country. It’s unclear just how the situation will unfold, but scholars across the board argue Vladimir Putin is making, well, a relatively stupid move here. Update: Russian missiles aimed at Syria crashed in Iran on Thursday. Oops.
Numerous nations appear to have reached a breakthrough on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but environmental groups and unions are about to throw a fit over the deal.
The Nobel in medicine has been awarded, as have numerous other Nobel prizes. The winners are a diverse and eclectic group — Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel for literature, the first time in over 50 years that a writer who deals predominately in nonfiction has won the award. Alexievich is a Belarusian writer, and works under a dictatorship.
Putin party. The Russian premier dominated headlines this week, first for his appearance at the UN General Assembly (where he shared uncomfortable moments with American president, Barack Obama), then for Russia’s intelligence-sharing partnership with Syria, Iran, and Iraq, and finally for Russia’s less than subtle bombing of targets within Syria — which the country claims were terrorist strongholds and which the US says were American-backed rebel groups.
Palestine rising. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the UN this week and essentially renounced the Oslo Accords. His speech has been critiqued by all sides as either going too far or not going far enough. Regardless, the Palestinian flag was raised at the UN, an historic moment.
Water on Mars? We’ve actually long known about the latest Martian aquatic information — just not the extent that we do now. NASA researchers excitedly spilled the news that water is indeed in existence on the cold red planet, and a panel addressed questions early in the week. Optimists think this will of course lead to the Earthling occupation of Mars, skeptics think the water is too salty to provide much of anything sustainable for life. Apparently there’s probably already life on Mars, brought by Earth’s space materials, so there’s that to ponder as well.
A massacre at a community college in Oregon yesterday left ten people dead and as many as twenty wounded. Initial reports say the shooter asked students to state their religion, before he began firing indiscriminately. The shooter is now dead, and the US has had more mass shootings in 2015 than it has had days.