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Zachary Antoyan is a political science senior and Mustang News liberal columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Hopefully, your summer went well.
That amazing abroad trip to Thailand was life-changing, that internship showed you exactly why you want to change your major and that summer economics class you took credit/no credit was intellectually stimulating. Meanwhile, the world also abounded with activity in the social, political and economic spheres. So please allow me to update you on world, country and state events. Here are some subtle or not-so-subtle events you might have missed between getting your boss coffee while interning and that seventh season of Trailer Park Boys.
In true “helicopter parent” fashion, the Soviet Bear is arming, funding and providing manpower to separatists in Ukraine, further stoking the flames of civil conflict in that region. The Russian equivalent of the Capitol Building and the Pentagon combined, the Kremlin is famous for its honesty and claims that it has no idea where those weapons came from. Additionally, all those fully equipped Russian soldiers were vacationing and enjoying the scenery in a war-stricken region, because there’s just something about desolation and destruction that really revitalizes the spirit. As a response, the United States and other member countries of the NATO coalition enacted strict economic sanctions. These sanctions are being heralded as successful, considering that a popular sushi chain in Russia has been forced to shut down. Go team.
2. Israel and Palestine
The two nations saw a surge in violence, as the former arbitrarily decided it was fed up with the latter, while both decided to slingshot rockets at each other. This was followed by a ground invasion by Israeli forces. But then a truce was brokered, and now we’re exactly where we were before! Except for, you know, lots of dead civilians, destroyed infrastructure, squalor and strife.
3. Syria and Iraq
As you read, Syria and Iraq being shelled by a coalition force of western countries who are attempting to halt the advance of a new radical terrorist group calling themselves the Islamic State (IS). No, wait — Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). No, that’s wrong too; maybe it’s Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)? So ISISILISIS decided to provoke this international attack effort by beheading hostages who hailed from the United States and Britain. The reaction by these countries was a resounding, “Can we bomb them? Yes, we can.” So now that’s exactly what they’re doing.
In case you were planning a trip to Sierra Leone or other neighboring countries, you might want to place those plans on hold. Ebola, an extremely deadly disease, has decided to rear its head again. While many countries in positions to assist in eradicating this epidemic are busy bombing another part of the planet, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention believes that the total number of Ebola cases could reach 1.4 million in four months. But don’t worry, it’s not like this sort of thing could ever reach your doorstep. You are safe. Right?
If you’re looking to get extra hipster on the news and talk about what no one else is talking about-including most major news outlets-then let’s take a look at Yemen. This small country has some pretty close ties to the United States in its never-ending effort to end terrorism. However, it has recently faced some civil unrest of its own. Nothing minor — just a simple case of the capital city, most of its major infrastructure and many government buildings being overtaken by rebels. But it’ll be fine, nothing to see here!
6. Domestic news
On our home turf, Americans have been dealing with some serious civil rights issues, some environmental problems and questions of the fate of the internet. In case you hadn’t noticed, California still has a major drought issue, no doubt made worse by the popular internet fad, the “ALS ice-bucket challenges.” Or was that long showers? Or maybe terrible water rights laws? But at least California doesn’t have to worry about breaking up into six totally equal states, because that would definitely solve all the issues. The measure proposing said breakup did not meet the signature count to be placed on a ballot. That is the real success.
7. Net Neutrality
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was accepting public comments regarding the fate of net neutrality, or the guarantee that all websites pay the same for the same Internet speeds, mandating that Internet providers cannot dictate the prices themselves. The idea of net neutrality is built on the concept of a free and open Internet, with equal access to all who wish to use it. The FCC is thinking of changing this so that Internet providers can control the flow. The open comment section of this article is now closed, but it yielded some interesting statements from citizens.
To wrap things up, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, erupted when an unarmed African-American teenager was shot and killed by police, prompting mass protests and increased scrutiny on the militarization of local police forces. In the aftermath, it was brought to light that a government program sold military equipment to local police, including but not limited to bayonets, assault rifles and — my personal favorite — the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Even the San Diego Unified School District had one of these MRAPs in its possession, ready for…whatever reason, safety or something. Public outcry and pressure eventually caused them to give it up. Sorry kids, no more mine protection for you.
Finally, the burn of the summer goes to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who asked this question at a public hearing about the same government program that gave weapons to local police: “What purpose are bayonets being given out for?” The spokesperson for the Pentagon replied: “Bayonets are available under the program. I can’t answer what a local police force would need a bayonet for.” To this, Paul responded: “I can give you an answer: none.”