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Cramm for 5/24/21
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THE HIGHLIGHTS

The world isn’t too happy with Belarus. 

 

THE BACKGROUND. 

Since 1994, the European country of Belarus has been ruled by the same guy: Alexander Lukashenko. He’s known for running the country in a way that’s drawn comparisons to when it was under Soviet command. Aka authoritarian. Last summer, he tried for a sixth term as prez - and won in an election that’s been decried by pretty much everyone as rigged. Cue protests...and a gov crackdown on dissidents. 

 

THE HAPPENINGS. 

Yesterday, a Ryanair flight heading to Vilinus, Lithuania reportedly received a “security alert” that forced it to change course and go to Minsk, the capital of Belarus. As soon as the plane landed, authorities arrested Raman Pratasevich, a 26 year old Belarus opposition activist-slash-journalist on board the flight. Yes, really. 

 

THE REACTION. 

Widespread condemnation. Theories that Belarusian authorities completely made up that “security alert” in an attempt to get ahold of Pratasevich. Accusations of state-sponsored plane hijacking. Calls for consequences, like sanctions. Now, all eyes are on Pratasevich, who was charged with “organizing mass riots and group actions that grossly violate public order” last year. He’s currently on a gov wanted list for terrorism. And he could reportedly face the death penalty in Belarus. 

 

THE TAKE. 

This comes as Belarus is stepping up its attempts to eradicate the opposition. TBD. 


THE ACTION

CORONAVIRUS: India just became the third country (after the US and Brazil) to surpass 300,000 coronavirus deaths. In some good news: cases in Mumbai and Delhi, where some of the worst outbreaks have taken place, are starting to go down. Over in the US, cases are at their lowest levels since last summer. This comes as nearly half of the total US population has gotten at least one vaccine shot. Speaking of which, Japan’s ramping up vaccinations in Tokyo and Osaka as cases surge. And meanwhile, a previously undisclosed US intel report is furthering debate over the origins of the pandemic. See: researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with covid-like symptoms about a month before the first reported cases. 

 

PEOPLE: Lately, anti-semitic hate crimes have been on the rise throughout the US. Case in point: over the weekend, there were two hate-related incidents in Brooklyn targeting Jews. And last week, a man allegedly tried to set fire to a synagogue and Jewish school in Brooklyn - while another man was arrested in Los Angeles for assault with a deadly weapon after yelling slurs at Jewish people in a restaurant. Meanwhile, recently, at least 21 people were killed after extreme weather hit an ultramarathon trail in China. Think: a sudden drop in temps, hail, and gale-force winds. And in other news, Italian authorities are investigating the cause of a cable car crash near Lake Maggiore in northern Italy that killed 14 people. Stay tuned. 

 

POLITICS: Last month, Samoa elected its first female prime minister: Fiame Naomi Mata’afa. Problem, since the previous leader has maintained he’s still in charge - and locked Fiame out of Parliament earlier today. She was forced to have her swearing-in ceremony in a tent outside of the building. Tensions, high. In other news, the Biden team just cut the price tag of that $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill to $1.7 trillion in an effort to appeal to Republican lawmakers. Unclear if the lower cost will get the bill bipartisan support. Meanwhile, ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi just appeared in court in person for the first time since Myanmar’s military jailed her and took control of the country in a coup. This comes just after the new gov declared it would dissolve Suu Kyi’s political party. 


WHAT TO KNOW

Simone Biles:” who became the first woman to land a Yurchenko double pike in competition. Three cheers. 


SAY WHAT?

“Billions of cicadas are finally emerging in the eastern US” - an actual headline. Finally?

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