Venezuela Rejects Foreign Aid, Shuts Down Borders

By Nick Baum

WEDNESDAY – 2/20/19

Venezuela’s government opted to close down maritime borders on the ocean as well as ground most nearby flights in response to the opposition party’s efforts to import foreign aid. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that Venezuela “Doesn’t need it” and that it’s an attempt to embarrass the country by the US.

There have been recent shortages of both food and medicine. In fact, over 3 million people fled since Hugo Chavez, Socialist predecessor to Nicolas Maduro, rose to power in 1999. Venezuela has also blocked foreign aid within its borders by blocking off highways and roads by barricading them.

In the past month, the United States along with a dozen more Central and South American countries have recognized the head of the opposition party, Juan Guaido, as interim President of Venezuela based on claims that the election was rigged, as only Maduro was allowed to campaign and advertise.

Sources and Pictures: Flickr, The Daily Mail, Wikipedia, CNN, Google

Bernie Sanders Announces 2020 Presidential Campaign

By Nick Baum

TUESDAY – 2/19/18

Senator and former 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders announced his campaign for the Presidency in 2020, joining more than a dozen other Democrats in the race for nomination. Sanders, who identifies as an independent due to his more left-wing beliefs, will still run in the Democratic caucus.

This will be Sanders’s second consecutive presidential campaign, as he was a runner up to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections. However, Hillary Clinton hasn’t announced her bid for the presidency, and some measurements are unsure whether she will run or not. However, Sanders is seen as a Democratic front runner who has been gaining momentum.

Sanders has joined a growing list of Democratic hopefuls, including Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and many more. Needless to say, the Democratic race in 2020 will be a lot more competitive than the Republican one, and panelists and statisticians are saying that can be both good and bad.

Sources and Pictures: Flickr, CNN, Chicago Tribune, CNN Politics, CBS News

Mexican Drug Lord El Chapo Found Guilty

By Nick Baum

WEDNESDAY – 2/13/19

Joaquin Guzmán, more known by his nickname “El Chapo”, has been found guilty on all ten counts and will be sentenced to spending the rest of his life in prison. Guzmán, who was the head of the Sinaloa cartel, the largest drug cartel in the world spanning continents and killing hundreds in the process, will be sentenced on June 25.

Meanwhile, his drug cartel operations will be unaffected, as the days leading up to his arrest saw him minimally involved in the matters. The trials, which have taken place for almost three months, saw many witnesses, both enemies and allies of Guzmán, recount his stories and crimes of drugs, weapons, and corruption in the Mexican government.

Defense Attorney Eduardo Balarezo said that he was “disappointed” at the decision of the judge, but he respected it. Another lawyer of Guzmán said that he was in a good mood after the trial. Multiple witnesses said that Guzmán smiled when walking past his wife, putting his hand on her heart. The same lawyer overheard Guzmán that he was “hopeful” about his sentencing later this year.

Sources and Pictures: CNN, Wikipedia, FiveThirtyEight

Navy Challenges Disputed Islands in the South China Sea

By Nick Baum

MONDAY – 2/11/19

Two United States Navy warships, the USS Spruance and the USS Preble, sailed close to a disputed artificial island created by China. The decision to sail within 12 nautical miles of the island was part of an ongoing initiative by the Navy called “the freedom of navigation.” Later, a spokesperson for the same fleet of ships said the US Navy is trying “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.”

The island in particular is part of a larger set of artificial islands called the Spratly Islands. Most of them were created in 2014, and are slowly expanding today.  The controversy surrounding them though is the placement of them, as all of them are either in international waters or within the Philippines coast, both of which are illegal. Furthermore, the islands were placed in the middle of major shipping and export lanes across the sea, almost a third of the world’s trade takes place in that area, making navigation a lot more difficult in the region.

Sources and Pictures: CNN, Google, Wikipedia, Flickr


Body of Missing Soccer Player Emiliano Sala is Found

By Nick Baum

FRIDAY – 2/8/19

After nearly two weeks of investigation, the body of 28-year-old professional soccer player Emiliano Sala along with the body of the pilot in their private plane was found on the bank of the English Channel. Sala was flying to Cardiff, England from Nantes, France, as he was being traded from Nantes FC to Cardiff City FC for $15 million.

Text messages revealed that Sala reluctantly got on the plane. WalesOnline uncovered text messages between Sala and a close friend before and during the flight. Sala said that he preferred to travel the next day in a commercial plane, but his father, who was organizing the trip, insisted that Sala travel Monday night on the private plan rather than the next commercial flight Tuesday morning, as his first training session with the team was Tuesday afternoon.

More text messages revealed that Sala was worried about the plane mid-flight, and that it was “falling apart”. An investigation after the crash found that there was an ice build up on the wings, and that the crash was unavoidable. Cardiff City FC, the team he was supposed to be playing for, canceled team training sessions in memory of Sala, but their next game is still on against Southampton tomorrow.

Sources and Pictures: BBC, WalesOnline, Twitter, Wikimedia Commons

EXCLUSIVE: The State of the Union in Review

By Nick Baum

WEDNESDAY – 2/6/19

President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union speech in front of both the House of Representatives and the Senate proved to be a talking point for both political parties. The majority of viewers of the speech were Republicans and Trump supporters, as almost 60% of the viewers of the speech agreed with Trump’s stances.

A post-speech poll conducted by CBS News found that 92% of self-identified Republicans agreed with the speech, 80% of self-identified independents agreed with the speech, and 30% of self-identified Democrats agreed with the State of the Union address. Multiple news outlets have reported that the State of the Union recorded a sharp, partisan division between Republicans and Democrats.

After the speech, former Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams, delivered the post-speech response to it. In the speech, she criticized Trump’s inability to address gun safety and education, but in the end she recognized that both sides shouldn’t be rooting for Trump to fail, and to instead cooperate with one another.

Sources and Pictures: Flickr, CNN, Rasmussen Polls, FiveThirtyEight, CBS News

Trump to Give State of the Union Address Today

By Nick Baum

TUESDAY – 2/5/19

President Donald Trump is set to give his State of the Union address to Congress today. The address, which was postponed due to the shutdown, was later rescheduled to today when Trump and Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed to a three-week deal to temporarily reopen the government.

The speech was scheduled originally scheduled during the shutdown, and Pelosi requested that Trump give his address from the Oval Office, citing security concerns. In response, Trump canceled Pelosi’s trip to visit troops in Afghanistan due to the shutdown, citing the same concerns.

However, just weeks later Trump agreed to the Congressional Democrats’ requests and reopen the government as well as give extra pay to government workers that were furloughed or weren’t paid. As of now, both sides have called for unity amongst the two parties during the ceremony, and no representative or Senator has boycotted it yet.

Sources and Pictures: Flickr, CNN, Google