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Current Events: Afghanistan, SotU, India, Dinosaurs

Anna Kaganova, Staff Writer

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Massoud Hossaini
A wounded man is assisted at the site of a deadly suicide attack in the center of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. Afghan Public Health Ministry says 40 killed and about 140 wounded in suicide car bomb attack in capital Kabul. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

In Afghanistan

Last Monday, suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a military academy in Kabul and killed at least 11 soldiers. Taliban claimed responsibility.

And last week, an attacker driving an ambulance packed with explosives detonated them in the Afghan capital of Kabul, leaving 95 people dead and 191 others injured. That came a week after gunmen attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, killing at least 22 people during a 12-hour standoff with Afghan security forces.

This exemplifies worrisome trend in the Middle East – one that’s been going on for years now, but one that hasn’t been getting much attention from the Western media.

The Taliban is a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan currently waging war within that country. FYI, ISIS doesn’t like the Taliban.

Hundreds of  US troops are currently en route to Afghanistan to begin training Afghan troops outside the wire (in unsafe locations).

 

Invitations to President Trump’s first State of the Union address contained a rather unfortunate typo.

State of the Uniom

Last Tuesday, President Trump gave his State of the Union speech, the third longest in US history.

Wait, what is that?  The State of the Union Address is an annual message that the President of the United States reads to a joint session of the United States Congress, except in the first year of a new president’s term. It includes a budget message and an economic report of the nation, and allows the President to outline their legislative agenda (for which the cooperation of Congress is needed) and national priorities.

So what did he talk about? 

  • IMMIGRATION   The President asked Congress to support his immigration policies that put the needs of American citizens above those of immigrants. The new policy offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million U.S. immigrants who arrived illegally as children if they qualify. It would replace President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The plan also budgets $25 billion for a wall along the border with Mexico. It limits green cards to spouses and children. The plan would end the diversity visa lottery. Trump promised to add more ICE officers to crack down on gang members.
  • ECONOMICS  Trump talked about the recent tax cut plan and record-setting stock market success. Trump reiterated his America First trade policies, which include NAFTA renegotiation. And he promised to cut prescription drug prices.
  • INFRASTRUCTURE   Trump also asked Congress to approve a $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild America’s roads and bridges. Overall, Trump didn’t provide detailed program descriptions or promise funding for any of these programs.
  • FOREIGN RELATIONS  Trump promised to impose sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela. And he wants Congress to review the Iran nuclear agreement. He also said that the US will rely more heavily on the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and to keep it open.  Also, on Sunday, North Korea again got into a fight with Trump because of his remarks on NK’s human rights abuses, saying its nuclear capabilities would “deter Trump and his lackeys from showing off on the Korean peninsula.” Oh boy.

Trump also called for bipartisanship, so that’s that.

 

Patients waiting to register at a government hospital in Bhopal, India, on Thursday.  Credit Sanjeev Gupta/European Pressphoto Agency

Holy cow

India released a budget proposal that involves funding healthcare costs for hundreds of millions of poor families. The program is expected to account for 40% of India’s population, making it “the world’s largest government-funded health program”, in the words of an Indian official. If the proposal goes through, Indian families will receive nearly $8,000 a year to cover medical costs. In 2015, India’s public spending has accounted for only 1.13% of its GDP – far below the global average. As the result, many families struggled to pay for good healthcare, and sometimes even had to sell personal belongings to pay for hospital services. Another healthcare program introduced in 2016, though, was never actually funded. So…

 

This is a life reconstruction of the new titanosaurian dinosaur Mansourasaurus shahinae on a coastline in what is now the Western Desert of Egypt (credit: Newsweek)

Holy dinosaur

Archaeologists found a school bus-sized fossil in a Sahara Desert oasis in Egypt. Whoo. It’s typically very hard to find fossils in Africa because of its difficult terrain. Especially so well-preserved (these were the most complete fossils found of any mainland African vertebrae). The 15-million-year old fossil will allow scientists to discover more about Africa millions of years ago. Put that on your Biology timeline.

 

 

 

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Current Events: Afghanistan, SotU, India, Dinosaurs