National and International headlines


Mason Liagre, News Editor

U.S. government shutdown ends, state of Trump’s wall in question

The longest U.S. government shutdown in history ended January 25, for a duration of 35 days. Shutdowns like these occur when the government fails to pass legislation approving a budget for the next fiscal year.

Disagreement over President Trump’s idea for a border wall between the United States and Mexico was the primary cause of this government shutdown. In late 2018 the Democrats gained a majority in the House of Representatives. With the Senate and executive branch under Republican control, an impasse was likely.

A temporary spending measure was signed by President Trump on the 25th. None of his requisitioned money, about $5 billion, was included in the bill. However, using a small amount that was already allocated, construction is beginning in Texas.

The worksite is located on the National Butterfly Center, a nonprofit nature center spanning 100 acres. According to the Center’s website, the wall will “eradicate an enormous amount of native habitat, including host plants for butterflies, breeding and feeding areas for wildlife, and lands set aside for conservation of endangered and threatened species.”

This was the second shutdown to occur during President Donald Trump’s term, and was two weeks longer than the previous record, which occurred in the mid-90s under Bill Clinton. Following that in terms of length was the government shutdown in 2013 over the Affordable Care Act, lasting 16 days. These three are significant due to their large duration compared to other U.S. government shutdowns, the next longest lasting five days.

Theresa May makes speech vowing not to isolate from Northern Ireland

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May addressed questions on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in a speech on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

“I’m here today to affirm my commitment and that of the United Kingdom government to all of the people of Northern Ireland, of every background and tradition.”

Referring to talks between Great Britain and Ireland establishing Northern Irish government institutions and ensuring cooperation between the two countries, She continued, “To affirm my commitment to the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, to its successors the St Andrews Agreement and the Stormont House Agreement, and to the principles they enshrine, which is absolute.”
The announcement denied the post-Brexit possibility of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Troops deployed to Mexican border

On Sunday, Feb. 4 the Department of Defense announced that over 5,000 troops would be deployed to the U.S.-Mexican border “to aid the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to harden the southern border.”

The endeavor has the name Operation Faithful Patriot.

Thousands of troops are already stationed at the southern border, along with thousands more National Guardsmen. The new influx of soldiers appears to be a part of Donald Trump’s plan to “build a Human Wall” following his failure to secure funding during the government shutdown.

The current state of ISIS

Iraq and U.S. President Donald Trump have both declared victory over the terrorist group ISIS, also known as ISIL or Daesh. However, it has not been completely wiped out. Having once controlled large parts of Iraq and Syria, they have withdrawn from any urban areas and still enact small attacks in more withdrawn areas. According to Jennifer Cafarella, Director of Intelligence Planning at the Insititute for the Study of War, the group is merely withdrawing in preparation for a renewal of their fight. In an interview with NPR, she said, “The early signs of resurgence that we’re seeing in Iraq and the continued presence we’re seeing in Syria is, in some ways, a sign of what’s to come. It’s an indication that ISIS is not only committed to continuing to fight but has prepared to do so and has actually launched the next phase.”

Rapper 21 Savage detained by ICE

American rapper 21 Savage, real name Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is currently in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was arrested in Atlanta on the 3rd of February. According to ICE, the rapper is a citizen of the United Kingdom and has been living in the U.S. illegally since his visa expired.

On January 28, 21 Savage appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and performed a unique version of his song “A Lot.” He briefly criticized ICE in the song, imagining the plight of an immigrant seeking asylum with their children. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a history of separating children from their families and was photographed using tear gas on children and families as well.

Racist comments from Liam Neeson

In a recent interview, Liam Neeson made remarks that have been met by the public with anger. His story begins with a freind of the 66-year-old actor telling him that she was sexually assaulted. Since her attacker was a black man, Neeson admitted he wandered the streets after the revelation holding a concealed weapon and waiting for an opportunity to fatally harm another African-American.

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could, kill him.”

Neeson has since asserted that he is “not racist.”

Ongoing US-China trade conflict

The United States and China are currently engaged in what’s known as a trade war. America alleges that China is guilty of intellectual property theft in the form of stealing trade secrets. New repercussions of intellectual property theft were put into place by the Chinese government in December of last year. The latest development in the trade war is America’s threat to increase tariffs on imported Chinese goods if a trade deal is not reached by March 1. This would disincentivize buyers from purchasing goods imported from China, thereby hurting the Chinese economy. The tax is set to be increased to 25 percent.

Hawaii considers cigarette legislature

Hawaii’s state House of Representatives introduced a bill effectively banning the sale of cigarettes in the state. HB1509 begins, “The legislature finds that the cigarette is considered the deadliest artifact in human history. The cigarette is an unreasonably dangerous and defective product, killing half of its long-term users. Further, although the cigarette is addictive by design due to the presence of nicotine, the tobacco industry has further manipulated the design of cigarettes in order to increase cigarette addiction and habituation.”

The literal text of the bill incrementally raises the required age to purchase cigarettes, starting at 40 years in 2021 and reaching 100 years in 2024. Possession of them will remain legal for individuals over 21 years of age even if the bill passes.