News Rewind 06


Sept 12 | by Furqan Mohammed

a bite-sized, fortnightly round-up of current affairs on this little planet of ours

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What Jeffery Epstein's Death Means for Survivors

Jeffrey Epstein, a sex offender who was awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking, reportedly hanged himself in his jail cell earlier this month. Giving into internet-bred conspiracy theories might be a more interesting topic, but it is more helpful to focus on what's very tangible and real — the lives of the women who have come forward to accuse Mr. Epstein and members of his inner circle. His death legally means that this case is over. No defendant means no proceeding. While Epstein's death signifies an end of sorts, it also purports a beginning for justice in other forms. Due to the social status of the men implicated in the abuse of young girls, we may see them answer for their alleged behaviour in the political and social spheres. With that said, a civil case can be brought against Epstein's estate, meaning his victims can receive financial compensation from the wealth he left behind. 

Mass Melting is Proof of Our Climate Emergency 

The world has received another reminder of what climate change is capable of and what that means for humanity: the highest point of ice sheets in Greenland since the first time in July 2012 and in the third time in the last 700 years. 12.5 billion tons of ice was lost in a day, which is roughly enough to cover Germany with 7 cm of water. This particular ice sheet is about the same size of Alaska, and its melting was not anticipated for another several decades. 

The (Other) Greenland Fiasco

President Donald Trump has expressed the desire to purchase the country of Greenland. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump told his advisors last spring that he heard the country was having “financial issues” because of its fiscal relationship with the Kingdom. The Prime Minister of Denmark has replied several times using many words with: Denmark is not for sale. Greenland is an autonomous territory of The Kingdom Denmark, with a population of just under 60,000 people. The buying of land with no regard of its citizenry is not necessarily a new concept for American traditions, but many argue that the nation’s treatment of  the island of Puerto Rico serves as evidence that the United States is in no position to have colonial relationships right now.

Boris Johnson's Biggest Brexit Obstacle Might Just Be Ireland 

If you haven't heard of the "Brexit Backstop" by now, consider yourself lucky. If you're Irish (or a student of history), this is probably on your mind. Boris Johnson recently became the leader of the Conservative Party of his country, effectively making him prime minister of the UK following Theresa May. Being British prime minister means inheriting the Brexit deal, a task opposers argue that Johnson does not quite fully understand. A huge part of the Brexit negotiations is the border that separates Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Historically, this border is one of great political and social strife. For this reason, the European Union and the UK have come to the agreement that regardless of the Brexit outcome, there will be no new infrastructure that would impede movement between the borders. The deadline for the Brexit deal is Oct. 31, so we will see in the coming weeks whether or not the current British government will handle the Ireland issue with the nuance it deserves. 

What’s Going on in Kashmir

On Aug. 4, Indian troops put the Indian-controlled sector of Kashmir under a tight security lockdown. Kashmiri people were barred from gathering together, communications mostly cut off (no phone or internet connections), and barricades and razor wire were set up to impede travel between neighbourhoods. By Aug. 19, the Indian government eased these restrictions. The fate of Kashmir is not in the hands of its people, but depends on the whims of India and its neighbour, Pakistan, as has been the case for years. Tensions have risen since India has deployed additional troops in an already heavily militarized region in that part of the world. There has yet to be an adequate response from the international community condemning the Modi government’s actions, and political analysts suggest that Kashmir may face a similar fate to Palestine in regards to a prolonged global response.

Meet Canada's Andrew Scheer

Andrew Scheer is Canada's leader of the Conservative Party and leader of the Official Opposition since 2017. This makes him one of two other men running to replace Trudeau and his parliamentary majority this coming October. Scheer has recently come into the news because of the resurfacing of his 2005 comments on same-sex marriage. His speech was tweeted by members of the Liberal Party (Trudeau's party) which means that the Canadian masses will be critical of their motives as well, and whether or not they have the best interests of LGBTQ+ Canadians in mind. It is important to note, however, that Scheer is a Social Conservative. He's publicly against abortion, the rights of gay and transgender people, and assisted suicide. Scheer is a fan of guns (shocking for a Canadian politician, I know) and wants to gut funding for social issues for everything from the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) to First Nations communities. This video resurfacing is a reminder to Canadians of who he is. Something else concerning voters is that even members of Scheer's caucus that have a history of supporting of the LGBTQ+ community are reportedly prepared to defend their leader, because defeating Justin Trudeau is their priority. With federal elections around the corner, it’s expected that more of Scheer’s past will become part of the public discourse. 

The Bolsonaro Problem

Jair Bolsonaro is the president of Brazil and officially the current biggest enemy of environmental activists. He has not only made his disregard for the environment clear with his neglect of the fires destroying the Amazon, but along with his alliances with interest groups. He (and others who share his politics) believe that the Amazon rainforest should not be conserved, but instead colonized. Bolsonaro has been openly racist against Afro-Brazilians as well as made a number of misogynistic and homophobic comments, leaving many unsurprised by the climate change denial and pro-industrialism ideals the leader maintains.With the Amazon burning, it’s important that we pay more and more attention to Brazil. Over the course of the past few days, you might have heard the forest being referred to as the “World’s Lungs,” but we shouldn’t be quick to globalize this issue. Activists around the world are advocating for solidarity with the Indigenous peoples who are the immediate victims of this tragedy. 

ICE's Arrest of Activists Should Alarm Us All

So far, at least 20 undocumented activists have been arrested under the Trump Administration, and many in their community fear that number will only rise given the president’s rhetoric surronding black and brown immigrants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a history of keeping tabs on organizers. The most striking example of this is Maru Mora-Villalpando. She is the co-founder of the immigrant rights group Mijente, and was served a notice to appear in court in December 2017. The ICE field office in her hometown of Seattle explained that she came to their attention after proof of her “extensive involvement in anti-ICE protests and Latino advocacy programs” were found online. This sort of surveillance of activists is being considered a  red flag for many organizers and is being brought to question in regards to possible violation of the constitutional rights of these people. 

Justin Trudeau's Ethics Violations Explained 

The Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau was found to have violated sections of the Conflict of Interest Act due to his interference with the case against SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec engineering giant. Ethics commissioner Mario Dion recently released his report, finding that the prime minister pressured the now-former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to essentially give special treatment to SNC-Lavalin in a prosecution agreement. This helped the company avoid criminal charges on fraud and bribery. Specifically, Mario Dion found Trudeau in violation of Section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act, which bars public officeholders from “using their position to seek to influence a decision to improperly further the private interests of a third party, either by acting outside the scope of their legislative authority, or contrary to a rule, a convention or an established process.” The prime minister and his office have said that he accepts the findings of the commissioner’s report, but disagrees with some of its conclusions. 

In the Run-up to the 2020 Election, Trump Deploys Antisemitic Trope (Again)

When speaking to a press pool in the Oval last week, President Trump accused Democrats of not supporting the state of Israel enough, and that he doesn’t quite understand why Jewish-Americans would vote for Democrats on account of that. “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” This reply came after questions surfaced regarding what he thought of Israel’s current government barring two American congresswomen (after a favor that President Trump called in),  Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, from entry because of their anti-occupation rhetoric. Several Jewish activists have taken to oppose the president, expressing that the trope of Jewish people and where their “loyalties” lie is one as old as time. Many — particularly those on the right — have repeatedly attacked Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for being “disloyal” to America.