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Current Events in World News

Israel-Palestine

What Happened:

The prisoner swap between two sparring countries, Israel and Palestine, has created more of a stir than expected.

The reason? Israel received one soldier, Gilad Shalit, in return for around 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Israel has, in the past, made deals similar to this. In 1985, Israel released 1,150 prisoners in return for three Israeli soldiers. This is due to the dedication of the country to their army—each Israeli is required to serve in the army—as well as a strong value of life.

Shalit has been captive for just over five years now; in that time, Israel has launched an invasion into the Gaza strip that was the first since their withdrawal a year earlier. In these five years, Israel and Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, have negotiated through Egypt to bring about a deal that would ensure Shalit’s safety and in turn return hundreds of Palestinian soldiers. Both countries have rejoiced in the return of prisoners, but some such as Israeli Ron Kehrmann worry that the deal has set a “base price”—the price of one Palestinian life for one Israeli life—for the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.

Why You Should Care:

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has gone on now for decades. America’s involvement in the Middle East has been closely tied to the relationship between these countries in both financial support and military involvement. While the swap indicates that there is some level of cooperation going on between these two countries, analysts at BBC News predict that there won’t be any breakthroughs due to the swap.

Disagreements between Palestine and Israel will continue to be a force within American politics and international diplomacy. This specific instance between the two countries is telling of the stalemate that continues to exist. Teens will undoubtedly have to deal with the tensions that lie between Palestine and Israel in the future, in fields from business to politics, from education to religion.

GOP Debates

What Happened:

As the Republican Primaries draw near, the Grand Old Party has struggled to find a candidate that holds a strong base of supporters. As of now, it seems that Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Texas governor Rick Perry and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza Herman Cain are the frontrunners for the nomination, on which Republicans will vote on Jan. 3.

Although Romney currently holds the lead in Gallup polls with a 20 percent backing from Republicans, each candidate has had their moment in the lead. This has led to competition from candidates, creating tension within debates. On Oct. 17, the debates in Washington, D.C. turned nasty as Perry accused Romney of lying about hiring illegal immigrants. Likewise, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum accused all three frontrunners of supporting bank bailouts.

Heated debates such as these have given a “claw-your-way-to-the-top” mentality to the issue of the Republican presidential nomination. With time running out, the Republican Party has yet to band behind a contender who will most likely face President Obama in the 2012 election.

Why You Should Care:

Being politically aware isn’t just for those seniors who can vote in the 2012 election. The Republican primaries will determine who runs against Obama— therefore having a significant impact on the likelihood of Obama serving a second term. Likewise, watching these debates can show who can think on their feet as well as providing an opportunity to get a sense for where candidates stand on issues ranging from energy concerns to taxes to education. For students, simply becoming acquainted with these issues can build a basic understanding of politics.

The heated nature of these debates also show the lack of unity currently seen in the Republican Party and the rifts between viewpoints in American politics. It is increasingly important for students to be aware of all viewpoints in an increasingly polarized nation.

Muammar Gaddafi

What Happened:

After 42 years of rule over Libya, Muammar Gaddafi is dead. On Oct. 20, Libyan rebel forces captured and killed him in his hometown of Sirte, where he had been hiding since the fall of his government caused by the same rebel group who caught and killed him. Out of the recent speculation on Gaddafi’s death, a young rebel Senad el Sadok el Ureybi came forth on Oct. 24 as the murderer, confessing to the two gunshots found in Gaddafi’s head and chest.

Over four decades before the rebellions started in earnest, Gaddafi took power in a military coup. He had since ruled as a dictator, using oil as a key resource and lashing out at the uprisings in 2011. As Gaddafi’s forces retaliated, American and European forces began a series of bombings on Libya in March that fed into the violence and destruction of the country.

Because of the brutality and lack of generosity that Gaddafi demonstrated during his time in office, his death has been widely celebrated throughout Libya and the world. However, this has caused a rise, according to the New York Times, in “death porn,” or graphic photos and videos of Gaddafi’s body. This has also brought up concerns over the prosecution of such rebels—although the country is rid of a dictator, the rebels may need to be brought to court. Libyans plan to have elections in the spring, but may have trouble uniting their fractured country.

Why You Should Care:

Gaddafi’s death is yet another example of the “Arab Spring,” or the series of rebellions in the Middle East that have been taking place in the past year such as the revolution in Egypt. The photos of his death also call for a discussion of what is “right” to put out as public information, just as it was with the death of Al Qaeda’s Osama Bin Laden.

And for those of you who pay for your own gas, prices may go down as one factor of the oil industry is simplified—Gaddafi, who caused unrest in and manipulated the oil industry, is now out of the picture.

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Toni Aguiar

Toni Aguiar is a senior and is the Co-Editor in Chief of the print Harbinger. Toni enjoys wasting her spare time on the inter-webs, especially on Reddit. Read Full »

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