EXCLUSIVE: US Embassy Opens in Jerusalem

By Nick Baum

TUESDAY – 5/15/18

Yesterday, the United States Embassy of Israel had officially moved from Tel Aviv and opened its new location in Jerusalem, with US President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. At the new opening ceremony beside the new location, both top officials from the U.S. and Israel attended, with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump representing the President, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The move had a mass support from Israelis and other citizens, but the move also met fierce opposition as well as protests and riots from Palestinians. 11 were killed in riots against the new embassy move, with the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) saying that one officer had to shoot three protesters who looked like they were about to shoot at him. Another officer also killed a few protesters after he found them rigging a fence with explosives.

Despite the death toll, the majority of opposition made peaceful protests, arguing that Jerusalem belongs to Palestine, some of which even arguing that Tel Aviv, the sight of the originally US embassy, should be moved elsewhere due to Tel Aviv being originally placed on Palestinian land. However, the move was still cheered by many locals, with Israeli parades supporting the move being held, as well as Jerusalem’s most famous soccer team and one of the best teams in the Israeli Premier League, Betar Jerusalem, officially changed its name to Beitar “Trump” Jerusalem, sparking outrage from many on the same team that also didn’t allow Arabs.

Sources: IDF,  Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fox News

Trump Welcomes Released American Detainees

By Nick Baum

THURSDAY – 5/10/18

In the early hours of Thursday, the plane carrying three American detainees in North Korea had touched down at Joint Base Andrews right outside of Washington D.C. Following the survivors’ plane was another plane carrying CIA Director Mike Pompeo, whom travelled to North Korea to discuss a time and location for a later summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

During Pompeo’s visit, he also made a quick appointment to negotiate the release of three American prisoners in North Korea, Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song. Due to continuing peace talks, the country decided to release the three prisoners, and with the US offering plane rides back to their home country.

Despite news of continuing talks regarding the three prisoners, Join Base Andrews was quickly prepared for their arrival, and no family members of the detainees were allowed due to “protocol”. Also, all three of the prisoners were interviewed and met with intelligence officials before returning to the US.

Sources: CNN, The Washington Post

 

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Resigns

By Nick Baum

TUESDAY – 5/8/18

The attorney general for the state of New York Eric Schneiderman has resigned amidst allegations of sexual abuse, including four different women accusing him in the last several hours. As attorney general, Schneiderman was in charge of looking over the operations of every major department in the state, as well as serving as top lawyer for the state itself.

However, he claimed that while “he contests” these allegations, he believes that the controversy surrounding him has made his role ineffective, and resigning late Monday, May 7. Schneiderman had also spoken for the #MeToo movement, and had campaigned for women’s rights before.

The attorney general also tried to sue Harvey Weinstein, as well as applauding women for speaking up about their harassers and encouraged more to do the same. In an interview with the New Yorker, two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, said they had both been in relationships with Schneiderman, complaining that he choked and slapped them around, forcing them to seek medical treatment.

Full statement here: “It’s been my great honor and privilege to serve as Attorney General for the people of the State of New York. In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”

Sources: CNN, The Washington Post, The New Yorker

Mount Kilauea in Hawaii Erupts, Forces Evacuations

By Nick Baum

FRIDAY – 5/4/18

Mount Kilauea, located on the big island of Hawaii, is one of the state’s most famous volcanoes, being active for hundreds of years. However, hours ago the areas surrounding the volcano have been evacuated due to volcanic activity.

In the early hours of May 4th, the volcano finally erupted, with a large string of smoke being visible currently. Lava sank down into residential subdivisions, and over 1,700 residents have been evacuated, and over 700 structures have been abandoned.

So far, no injuries or deaths have been recorded, due to the early warning from experts that it might erupt. So far, there is no telling how far the eruption will travel or how long it will last. So far, both paved streets as well as a set of villages, Lelaini Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, have been evacuated due to the incoming eruption.

Sources: CNN, CBS

EXCLUSIVE: An In-Depth Look at the Egyptian Election

By Alex Baum

TUESDAY – 5/1/18

When comparing the media coverage in an independent, democratic nation such as the United States versus a nation with various undemocratic characteristics, such as Egypt, the vast differences as to how events are portrayed become clear.  This proves to be evident when examining the American and Egyptian media coverage of the recent 2018 Egyptian elections. In the United States, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s almost uncontested victory faced criticism and condemnation. Conversely, Sisi’s silencing of critics in the media created an independent Egyptian media with a limited ability to debate the controversies of the election. Moreover, the state affiliated media outlets downplayed Sisi’s controversies, such as the arrest of opposing candidates, through their use of pro-Sisi propaganda.  As a result of the different ways each nation frames the election, the critical American coverage provides a much more complex understanding of the controversies of the election and its consequences compared to the regulated, biased Egyptian media coverage, whose purpose is to emphasize the beliefs of their leader.

One distinct example of the different ways the American and Egyptian media frame the elections is evident when comparing the coverage of the case of Sami Anan.  Anan, a former General and Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, was arrested just days after announcing his intentions to run for President.  The majority of the American media portrayed this as a move by Sisi to curb his competition, arguing that Sisi is willing to go very far to ensure his victory, even if it means detaining a very renowned and respected senior official. After the arrest, Foreign Policy described the Egyptian political climate as being controlled by Sisi’s “iron fist,” in which “only one candidate is allowed to run.” (Foreign Policy) Overall, they condemn the undemocratic practices of the Egyptian political system, concluding that “if there was any doubt that Egypt’s upcoming presidential election will be neither free nor fair,” the arrest of Anan has made it clear. (Ibid)

The Egyptian articles not only lack criticism, but moreover any personal opinion about the arrest of Sami Anan.  The articles are solely explanatory of the numerous violations that led to Anan’s arrest and don’t contain any political discourse, which is abundant throughout the American articles covering this story.  At times the Egyptian media’s explanation of Anan’s arrest, such as his “foregory” of official documents, seem to aim to justify his arrest. (Egyptian Independent, Sakr) In addition to the political discourse, the American articles also provide crucial details of the arrest which cannot be found in neither independent nor state owned Egyptian media coverage.  For example, the American media mention how Anan was “dragged out of his car by armed men” just days after his announcement to run. (Vice) They also include details about the rest of thirty other members of Anan’s campaign.  Neither the details of Anan’s arrest nor the fact that thrity members of his campaign staff were arrested and being held in an unknown location can be found in most Egyptian media outlets.  Unlike the basic reporting of the violations by Anan that led to his arrest by the Egyptian media, the American media, through interviews and personal opinions, explain how Anan’s arrest was unlawful and reflects Sisi’s authoritarian rule. Additionally, they present details about the arrest which simply can’t be found in the Egyptian media, further providing their readers with a better understanding of the injustices of the election.  With the absence of these crucial details, the arrest of Sami Anan looks routine and plausible to the Egyptian reader, who is thus unaware of the injustices being committed by Sisi.

The difference in the way the American and Egyptian media frame the election is due to the lack of freedom of speech that Sisi’s administration permits, resulting from an ongoing attack on Egyptians’ human rights.   Such attacks on Egyptian citizens’ rights have been condemned by much of the American media, including the Washington Post, who cited Sisi’s extrajudicial killings and the blocking down of “hundreds of websites deemed critical of his regime.”  (Washington Post) The Post, describing his regime as authoritarian, mentioned numerous critical comments of the regime made by some very prominent Egyptians. For instance, one member of the Strong Egypt Party stated how “It is unacceptable for the regime for people to have even a hint of an alternative political force other than them. No one can replace them, and that is their message.” (Ibid) Even a former Presidential candidate, Mohamed Anwar Sadat, spoke out against the undemocratic election, calling it a “controlled democracy.” (Ibid) Although there is no consensus on the critiques of the Egyptian political system among the American media, as some call the regime “authoritarian” while others call it a “controlled democracy,” the criticism that is abundant throughout the American media cannot be found in the Egyptian media.  This lack of criticism in the Egyptian media further reflects the American media’s more thorough understanding of the election controversies.

The acts of the Egyptian state to silence critics and regulate news have given Sisi the ability to downplay the criticisms of the electoral process through the media, which often serve as pro-Sisi propaganda. These news outlets often focus on other subjects to distract attention away from the controversies of the election. For instance, the state owned media heavily focused on the turnout of the election.  Nile International described Sisi’s plea to the Egyptian people to vote, and “make their voices heard.” (Nile International) Even some independent media outlets served as propaganda as well, by refuting claims that the election process was undemocratic. For example, the independent news organization Egyptian Streets uses President Sisi himself to respond to the concerns of Egyptian citizens. One of the major concerns that he responds to is the lack of competition he faced in the election.  Sisi responded to these complaints by saying that he was not at fault for the absence of other candidates, stating that the “country’s political scene” is not ready yet. “I was hoping to have up to 10 candidates in this elections,” he stated in response to his criticism.  (Egyptian Streets) Sisi’s reassurances to his concerned citizens about the lack of competition is ironic, as he has arrested and forced his opposing candidates to resign. Yet, he expresses his “desire” for competition and a better political system. Sisi has in fact crippled Egypt’s democratic system through his attacks on his opposition and control over the media.  

An article by Al Ahram Weekly newspaper similarly minimized the criticisms of the lack of democracy through various articles that include interviews with Egyptian citizens concerning the election.  While Al Ahram Weekly mention several citizens who refuse to vote because the election has a foregone conclusion, they are quick to strike down these concerns. For instance, the government affiliated newspaper cites a citizen who gives a reason for the limited number of candidates, as he states that this is, “due to the massive popularity of Al-Sisi.”  (Ahram, Turnout is key) He further insists that “people knew in advance that they would lose and so opted not to contest the poll.” (Ibid) Not only is the support for Sisi almost universal throughout their coverage of the election, but Al Ahram is striking back against claims that the elections were undemocratic, thus serving as another example of the pro-Sisi propaganda abundant throughout the state sponsored media.

The Egyptian media also heavily focuses on how Sisi’s victory strengthened Egypt’s connections with other countries.  Nile International cited Sisi’s many congratulations by other Arab leaders on his Presidential victory, highlighting how the international community supported Sisi and the “democratic” process he used to win election.  They then argued how the victory reaffirmed their alliances with numerous nations, specifically the United States, stressing how the victory “affirmed the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt.”  (Nile International) While the White House did congratulate Sisi on his victory, it would be incorrect to say that Egypt’s electoral process is entirely endorsed by the United States. Although the State Department also stressed the partnership between the two nations, they also cited the “constraints on freedom” that the election posed, furthermore adding how they will “continue to encourage a broadening of opportunities for political participation for Egyptians, and emphasize the importance of the protection of human rights.” (Nile International) While the Egyptian media portrays their nation’s relations with the United States as being reaffirmed by Sisi’s victory, the American media yet again provides more details that truly explain the relationship between the two states.  They do this by framing the issue as a multifaceted situation, by mentioning both the responses of the White House and the State Department, unlike the Egyptian media who biasedly and solely mentions the positive response they want to hear from the White House.   This more thorough examination of each actor in this complex situation thus serves as an example of how the American media’s critical coverage provides a deeper understanding of the Egyptian elections, and the consequences they have, specifically with their relations with the United States.  

The different coverage of the Egyptian elections by the American and Egyptian media result from the distinct ways each frame the election.  While the American media criticizes and condemns Sisi for his undemocratic victory, the independent Egyptian media is unable to openly debate the election as a result of the Egyptian regulation of the media. Furthermore, the Egyptian media uses propaganda for Sisi to refute the numerous controversies in his electoral victory.  Thus, a more complete and accurate understanding of the election is given by the more critical American media coverage than the pro-Sisi propaganda published by the Egyptian media.

Sources:

Raghavan, Sudarsan. “In Egypt’s Presidential Election, a Strongman’s Only Challenger Is Barely Campaigning.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 11 Mar. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-egypts-presidential-election-a-strongmans-only-challenger-is-barely-campaigning/2018/03/09/df9534d6-1652-11e8-930c-45838ad0d77a_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.329a9bba4e14.

Forgey, Quint, et al. “White House, State Strike Different Tones on Egyptian Election.” POLITICO, 2 Apr. 2018, www.politico.com/story/2018/04/02/trump-egypt-el-sisi-election-495247.

Khorshid, Sara. “Egypt’s Undemocratic Election.” Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy, 24 Jan. 2018, foreignpolicy.com/2018/01/24/egypts-undemocratic-election/.

King, Laura. “Egypt’s Presidential Election Looks Set to Be a One-Man Affair.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 28 Jan. 2018, www.latimes.com/nation/la-fg-egypt-election-background-20180128-story.html.

Walsh, Declan. “Egypt’s Military Detains an Ex-General Seeking to Run for President.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Jan. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/world/middleeast/sami-anan-egypt-military.html?mtrref=www.google.com.

 

CBS/AP. “Ex-General Arrested after Announcing Plan to Run in Egypt Election.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 23 Jan. 2018, www.cbsnews.com/news/egypt-election-sami-annan-ex-general-arrested-after-announcing-plan-to-run-presidency/.

 

Sirgany, Sarah El. “Egypt’s Sisi Set to Win Second Term with 90% of Vote, State Media Says.” CNN, Cable News Network, 29 Mar. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/03/29/africa/sisi-wins-egyptian-elections-intl/index.html.

 

Walsh, Declan. “Egypt’s Election Should Be a Lock. So Why Is President Sisi Worried?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Mar. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/world/middleeast/egypt-election-sisi.html.

 

“Egypt’s Sisi Sweeps Vote with 97 Percent, Turnout Down.” Yahoo! News, Yahoo!, 2 Apr. 2018, http://www.yahoo.com/news/egypts-sisi-sweeps-vote-97-percent-turnout-down-152327341.html.

 

“Egypt’s Choice: President Sisi, or a Man Who Adores Him.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 22 Mar. 2018, www.economist.com/news/leaders/21739155-after-his-inevitable-re-election-abdel-fattah-al-sisi-should-least-respect.

 

“We Asked Egypt’s Exiled Jon Stewart for His Take on the Country’s Elections.” VICE News, news.vice.com/en_us/article/evqqmk/egypts-jon-stewart-watched-the-egyptian-elections-from-la.

 

“Egypt’s Race for President Kicks off with Arrest of Top Challenger.” VICE News, news.vice.com/en_us/article/d34qxq/egypts-race-for-president-kicks-off-with-arrest-of-top-challenger.

 

Habiba. “Analysis: How Sisi Has Been Sidelining His Opponents.” Mada Masr, www.madamasr.com/en/2018/02/10/feature/politics/analysis-how-sisi-has-been-sidelining-his-opponents/.

 

www.egyptindependent.com/reuters-withdraws-article-on-reported-violations-in-egypts-election/+http://www.egyptindependent.com/cairo-based-foreign-reporters-writing-unprofessional-election-coverage-will-be-summoned-sis/+.

 

Al-Youm, Al-Masry. “Election Turnout at 40%, Sisi Holds 92 Percent of Votes: Indicators.” Egypt Independent, 29 Mar. 2018, www.egyptindependent.com/election-turnout-at-40-sisi-holds-92-percent-of-votes-indicators/.

 

El-Behary, Hend. “Why Is There Low Youth Turnout in the 2018 Presidential Elections?” Egypt Independent, 28 Mar. 2018, www.egyptindependent.com/low-youth-turnout-2018-presidential-elections/.

 

Al-Youm, Al-Masry. “103-Year-Old Minya Citizen Votes for Sisi.” Egypt Independent, 27 Mar. 2018, www.egyptindependent.com/103-year-old-minya-citizen-votes-sisi/.

 

Al-Youm, Al-Masry. “Nazaha Coalition Monitors pro-Sisi Propaganda Campaign Violations.” Egypt Independent, 27 Mar. 2018, www.egyptindependent.com/nazaha-coalition-monitors-pro-sisi-propaganda-campaign-violations/.

 

Sakr, Taha. “Breaking: Presidential Hopeful Sami Anan Arrested, Says Campaign Coordinator.” Egypt Independent, 23 Jan. 2018, www.egyptindependent.com/breaking-presidential-hopeful-sami-anan-arrested-says-campaign-coordinator/.

 

“President El-Sisi Calls on Egyptians to ‘Make Their Voices Heard’ in Upcoming Presidential Elections.” Nile International, 19 Mar. 2018, www.nileinternational.net/en/?p=93289.

 

english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/1187/292837/Egypt/-Presidential-Elections–/Egypt-presidential-elections–Turnout-is-key.aspx.

 

“Thoughts on the Election.” Al Ahram Weekly, weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/23878.aspx.

 

Egyptian Streets. “Al-Sisi Listens to Egyptians’ Opinions, Concerns After Four Years in Presidency.” Egyptian Streets, 21 Mar. 2018, egyptianstreets.com/2018/03/21/al-sisi-listens-to-egyptians-opinions-concerns-after-four-years-in-presidency/.

 

Egyptian Streets. “Initial Predictions Have Sisi Winning Election with 90% of Votes.” Egyptian Streets, 29 Mar. 2018, egyptianstreets.com/2018/03/29/initial-predictions-have-sisi-winning-election-with-90-of-votes/.

Migrant Caravan Stops at U.S. – Mexico Border

By Nick Baum

MONDAY – 4/30/18

The annual migrant caravan, starting in Central America and ending at the American border, has finally reached its last point. After a month of driving, more than 200 migrants from various parts of Central America have gathered in Tijuana, Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.

So far, the caravan is currently waiting at the border, waiting for approval by U.S. Border Patrol Officers so that they can seek asylum. Earlier, a group broke off from the rest of the caravan and tried scaling a tall fence in an effort to cross the border illegally.

However, they were detained and arrested. The rest of the migrants are spending their days and nights waiting in shelters across the city, as many city residents prepared for the crowded caravan.

Sources: CNN, The Wall Street Journal

EXCLUSIVE: Teachers’ Protests Across the Nation

By Nick Baum

Edited by Alex Baum

THURSDAY – 4/12/18

Oklahoma, New Jersey, Kentucky, West Virginia, Arizona are just a few of  the states whose public school teachers are rallying for higher education, as well as better funding for public schools in terms of materials, supplies, and anything that can help a teacher in the classroom.

   For example, in Oklahoma, there have been  ongoing protests by teachers for a week. Still, there has been no new legislation to satisfy the protestors. Instead, earlier in the week, the Oklahoma state legislature passed a new funding bill, taking money away from coal miners and oil companies and into education.

   However, this still wasn’t enough with many teachers, as protests continued in the capital of Oklahoma City. A march comprised of teachers walked from Tulsa to the state capital, which spanned almost the entire protest itself. The future of these protests is unclear, but the action continues to pop up in other states.

Sources: CNN, The Wall Street Journal, CBS News