January News Briefs

Seth Plush, Editor

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Government Shutdown Ends With Uncertainty

On January 22, the United States Federal Government came out of a three-day shutdown with a tentative resolution in place between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate.

The shutdown took effect on January 20, after a House-measure spending bill failed to pass through the Senate due to criticisms over the exclusion of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) resolution, which Democrats had demanded for weeks before its introduction. With the Senate deadlocked over whether the decision to rescind DACA should be revised by congress, the shutdown looked to be a long-lasting one. However, on January 22 Democrats in the Senate caved on their demands and agreed to pass the spending bill with the assurance that a resolution for DACA would be reached before February 8.

This caused outcry from progressives within the Democratic party, who criticized the Senate leadership for “backing down” in one of the most important congressional showdowns in the last year. In spite of the backlash, Democratic leadership remains confident that a resolution can be reached before the February 8 deadline.

Turkey Launches New Offensive Against Kurds in Syria

     As of  January 20, the armed forces of Turkey have begun a new offensive into Kurdish-controlled northern Syria in a further escalation of conflict in the region. Beginning with a series of airstrikes, the combined forces of the Turkish Army moved against Kurdish positions in the region of Afrin in northwest Syria.

     The Kurdish resistance, comprised mainly of People’s Protection Unit (YPG) militias and their all-female counterparts Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), has vowed “total resistance” in the face of the aggression and shows no signs of surrender or retreat. The YPG and YPJ, who belong to the United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition are considered terrorist organizations by the Turkish government, who have long accused the groups of links the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), an insurgent group that has waged a 30-year guerrilla war in Turkey. Ankara has largely refrained from full-scale military action against the groups (although multiple YPG/YPJ casualties have been reported to be caused by Turkish planes since 2015) while they battled ISIS in Syria.

However, as the SDF winds down its action against the virtually-destroyed Islamist group, the Turkish government has begun to escalate the violence, with many accusing it of opportunism support for the Kurds begins to diminish in the West. The U.S. and several United Nations spokespeople have urged both groups to “stand down” and move towards peace, but with Turkey fixated on eradicating the YPG and YPJ, and the groups determined to defend themselves, the future of the region remains uncertain at best.

Kentucky High School Shooting Kills 2, Injures 17

     On January 23, an unnamed male student from Marshall County High School walked into the common area of the school armed with a handgun and began shooting indiscriminately. The student, only identified as a 15 year-old male, was apprehended “in a non-violent fashion” by police after the rampage.

     According to early reports, no specific students were targeted and it is believed that the shooter was mentally unstable. One victim, 15 year-old Bailey Holt died at the school, while the other fatality, 15 year-old Preston Cope died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being airlifted to Nashville. All of the victims were students, including four sustaining “non-shooting related injuries.”

     The suspect will most likely be charged as an adult according to the Marshall County District Attorney, who also recommended murder and attempted murder charges.

     In a statement released by Marshall County Schools, Superintendent Trent Lovett urged parents to “Hold your children close tonight as you gather together at vigils, churches, and homes and please bear with us we struggle to return to some sense of normalcy.”

 

  

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