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Beyond the Bubble: 5 Current Events Collegiettes Should Know-4/21/11

What’s going on outside our beloved WashU bubble?

  1. Nature’s Havoc Across the US

What You Should Know:Tornadoes covered the Southeast region of the United States early this week. Reports say this has been the largest tornado outbreak since 2008, with over 97 tornadoes spanning 12 states. Wildfires spanned the state of Texas, with the Forest Service requested to help battle fires covering around 700,000 acres.

What You Can Do:Be prepared for severe weather! April showers in St. Louis often bring thunderstorms, which often come with tornado watches. Being from Nevada, I’ve never had to deal with tornadoes before, so I had no knowledge of the difference between tornado watches and warnings or what those sirens meant. Tornado watches indicate that the conditions are right for tornadoes to form, whereas tornado warnings mean a tornado has been spotted. Check out
http://www.fema.gov/hazard/tornado/index.shtmfor more information.

 2. Afghanistan and the US

What You Should Know:Remember when pulling out of Afghanistan was a huge deal in the 2008 election? Turns out, it’ll probably still be a big deal in the 2012 election. The United States is currently in talks to establish long-term bases in Afghanistan after 2014. Russia has expressed disapproval of such a possibility, insisting that for the country to develop, it must do so on its own. Another concern involves peace talks with the Taliban. Establishing bases in Afghanistan could seriously complicate, perhaps even jeopardize, reconciliation efforts. A possible benefit of maintaining a base in Afghanistan is its prime watchdog location: between Iran and Pakistan, two countries with the potential for nuclear power. A different issue regarding Afghanistan is its increase in poppy planting and opium production, a major source of funds for the Taliban.

Why It Matters:This is a likely issue of foreign policy to be talked about during elections. There are possible benefits to the US, but they would come with major setbacks.

 3. War in Libya

What You Should Know:Britain has already sent support to the rebel army in Libya; Italy and France stated that they will also send liaison officers. The US approved $25 million for military surplus supplies, but not for weapons or the sending of troops. Analysts say that NATO must present a united effort against Gadhafi to convince the leader that there is no way out. Furthermore, there is no clear decision on when negotiations will take place, if ever.

Why It Matters:With attacks on American photographers, the violence is escalating. Photojournalist and Academy Award nominee Tim Hetherington was killed in an RPG attack on Wednesday.

 4. A Year Later: BP Oil Spill

What You Should Know:Wait, this happened a year ago- shouldn’t it already be fixed? Unfortunately, the effects of such a disaster are long-lasting. Communities are forced to find other means of making a living, since the environment is no longer as suitable for aquatic life (despite the opening of 8,000 square miles for fishing). Furthermore, the BP spill raises concerns about offshore drilling risks.

Why It Matters: Offshore drilling is one of the main ways the US obtains the energy it needs. Recently, a bill was passed in the House Natural Resources Committee that would make obtaining permits for offshore drilling a quicker process. Environmentalists criticize the bill, and many argue that the government should invest in alternative energy. Let your Congressman or Congresswoman know about concerns you have about offshore drilling or alternative energy!

 5. The Federal Debt

What You Should Know:President Obama’s plan for dealing with debt includes ending tax cuts for families making over $250,000 a year, reforming Medicare/Medicaid, and reducing military spending. The Republican plan does not change tax cuts or reduce military spending, but instead cuts government spending on Medicare/Medicaid. Both plans include a $4 trillion deficit reduction over the next decade.

Why It Matters: Whatever the budget decision, the US still owes a lot of money. What do you think the plan should be? Do you agree with spending money on the military instead of Medicare (or vice versa), or do you have a better idea? Tell your Congressman or Congresswoman!

These are just a few of the issues going on outside the Bubble. There are lots more out there that are just as important and interesting. Which issues do you want to be covered? Leave a comment!


Sources
http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/04/18/severe.weather/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/04/18/texas.forest.fires/index.html

http://www.fema.gov/hazard/tornado/index.shtm

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/world/asia/19bases.html?ref=world

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/world/asia/19opium.html?ref=world

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/world/africa/21nato.html?_r=1&hp

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/04/20/libya.journalists/index.html?hpt=T1

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/20/obama-marks-anniversary-of-bp-disaster/?ref=earth

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/bill-to-speed-offshore-drilling-clears-house-panel/

http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/04/19/obama.fiscal.reform/index.html

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