Sarah Tewksbury, Editor-in-chief
Republican tax bill passes
The GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax bill was passed into law by Congress on Dec. 20 after hitting the floor in both the Senate and the House. There were no Democrats that backed the bill. A permanent tax reduction rate for the corporate tax rate was a key factor that garnered support among Republican leaders, who argue that this aspect of the bill will make corporations more competitive on a global stage. Opposers to the bill argued that little to no cuts were built into the legislation to aid middle and lower class families.
UN does not support a Jerusalem capital
In late December, the United Nations voted against President Trump’s open recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Making his declaration on Dec. 6 that the U.S. would consider the capital Jerusalem and relocate the U.S. embassy, Trump made an open political statement that the U.S. would no longer wait for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before choosing a position. 128 voting members of the UN cast their vote against Trump’s position, nine members voted against and 35 abstained from the vote.
Wildfires in California
At the close of December, California was plagued with six significant wildfires that swept over the southern half of the state. The intensity of the fires led Governor Jerry Brown and President Trump to declare California to be in a state of emergency. An unusually dry rain season, combined with dry vegetation caused the wildfires to spread rapidly. One civilian death and one firefighter death were reported during the height of California’s 2017 wildfire season.
Kim Jong Un’s Nuclear Threats
Late in the evening on Jan. 2, President Trump tweeted in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s boasts about the country’s nuclear capabilities being at the ready to be fired with a button. Trump responded with a tweet declaring, “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” The impact of the boastful match between the nation’s two leaders caused public outcry.
North Korea to participate in Winter Olympics
North Korea has agreed to send a team of athletes to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea. Hoping to promote peace and inspire more positive relations between the two nations, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un openly urged delegates at negotiation talks in the beginning of January to allow collaboration between the countries, in the spirit of the Olympic games.
Tide pod challenge sweeps across U.S.
A new social media inspired challenge has garnered support among middle school and high school aged students. The fad encourages participants with popping a Tide pod, a water soluble pouch filled with condensed laundry detergent, between their teeth and either spitting out or consuming the contents. Since the challenge became popular, there have been over forty cases reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers where participants were severely or significantly medically impacted by the consumption of the Tide pod.
Thirteen children found captive in their own home
A couple from California was charged with torture and child endangerment after their thirteen children were found emaciated and being held in captivity. Living in inhumane conditions, the children were rescued and removed from their situation after a 17-year old sibling was able to escape and seek help. The children have been taken to Corona Regional Medical Center where they are being treated for malnutrition.
Maine town manager fired for views on white supremacy
In late January, a town manager from Jackman, Maine was fired for openly displaying views about white identity. Former town manager Thomas Kawczynski expressed his views online that “voluntary segregation would improve happiness for all.” Kawczynski’s comments were not limited to the topic of white nationalism. He also included anti-Islamic statements to his rhetoric. To date, Kawczynski has been effectively removed from office and has been paid a $30,000 settlement by the town of Jackman in order to avoid legal action.
Former U.S. Olympic Gymnastics doctor sentenced for sexual abuse
After a seven day hearing that included over 150 speakers, Larry Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting, harassing and abusing women and girls, including members of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. Nassar was the doctor for the gymnastics team and a faculty member at Michigan State University. To date, he has been sentenced for child pornography charges and sexual assault charges. This is reportedly one of the largest sexual abuse cases in athletic history.
Cape Town faces water shutoff
For months, Cape Town, South Africa has been dealing with a decline in water supply. Water restrictions imposed by government officials have scheduled out the shutoff of the water supply. As time passes between now and April 12, the day being called “Day Zero” when the water will be turned off, the government will decrease the allowed liters of water to be used by residents daily until it reaches zero. On Feb. 1, residents will be charged with decreasing water consumption from 87 liters a day to 50 liters a day.
High school shooting leaves two dead
Western Kentucky saw a fatal high school shooting on Jan. 24 where two students were killed and eighteen students and faculty were injured. The fifteen year old shooter whose name has not been released was arrested and will face a grand jury Feb. 13. The male shooter will be charged as an adult.