By: Sean Newhouse – Staff Writer
The past few weeks, the 24 hour news cycle has been inundated with near constant breaking news alerts. This article aims to provide a comprehensive description of three recent and important news stories that, due to the fast pace nature of news recently, may have been overlooked.
On March 21, the U.S. announced that it was putting new travel restrictions on flights coming from 10 North African and Middle Eastern airports. It affects eight countries in the region. The new regulation bans any electronic device larger than a smartphone (laptop, tablet etc.) from being carried onto a plane’s cabin. Instead, they must be stored in checked baggage.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that the restriction were put in place after intelligence reports confirmed that terrorist organizations from the region had plans to use the now restricted devices as weapons, such as by “smuggling explosive devices….”
The United Kingdom has announced a similar security measure.
This all comes in conjunction with President Trump’s latest executive order which, “(imposes) a temporary pause on the entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.” However, this order was halted on March 15 by Hawaii federal judge Derrick Watson, hours before the executive order was to take effect. In his court order, Watson wrote of the executive order, “The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable.”
London Terrorist Attack
On March 22, Khalid Masood, identified as the assailant by the police, attacked pedestrians on Westminster Bridge using an SUV before stabbing and killing a police officer outside of Parliament and near landmarks such as Big Ben and the London Eye. Masood was native-born to England. He was killed at the scene.
The New York Times reported that five people had died from the attack and about forty were injured. The victims are diverse coming from countries such as South Korea, Romania, Greece and a man from Utah.
Masood had a criminal record but no previous connections to terrorism. London police reported that, “Masood was not the subject of any current investigations, and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack.” However, British Prime Minister Theresa May stated that MI5 investigated Masood “in relation to concerns about violent extremism.”
As part of a counterterrorism operation, eight people across six properties were arrested in connection to the attack. The Islamic State claimed that they were responsible for the attack, but the British government has not verified that claim.
The United Kingdom also made headlines recently with the enactment of Article 50, which officially begins the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (“Brexit”). Prime Minister Theresa May considered the event “…an historic moment from which there can be no turning back.”
The UK and the EU now have two years to formalize a new trade deal. The BBC reported that some officials on both sides have concerns that if a new trade relationship isn’t established in two years, there will be a weakening of European security cooperation.
Trump and Russia
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have been investigating whether or not there were any scandalous or improper relations between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Testimonies have come from people as important as the FBI and NSA directors.
On March 22, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes (R-Ca), informed reporters that he had “…read (what) seems to me to be some level of surveillance activity (of people associated with Trump).” The media almost immediately associated this statement with Trump’s twitter accusation that Obama “wiretapped” him.
Following this announcement, Nunes briefed the White House on his findings, bypassing his fellow committee members. This, paired with the fact that he has yet to reveal where he received this information, led The Washington Post to consider this a major breach of protocol and possibly “engineered to help the White House.”
The following Monday, top Democrats including Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-Ny) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca) (the ranking Democratic member on the House Intelligence Committee) announced that they wanted Nunes to step down because of his actions.
There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. Nevertheless, countless individuals have shown that they can rise above present-day fears and conflicts. Muslim women exemplified this four days after the London terrorist attack by standing not only in solidarity with the victims of the attack, but also as a symbol of peace and unity.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.