Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Five Hundred Years Since Martin Luther's 95 Theses

Tuesday marks the 500th year anniversary of Martin Luther writing his Ninety Five Theses, which often cited as the starting point for the Protestant Reformation. Luther is believed to have posted his piece to the door of the All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany, where public displays were usually posted.

Copy of Luther's original 95 Theses
The Protestant Reformation threw the Western Christian world into tumult for centuries afterwards, as the Roman Catholic Church worked to respond to the movement and rise of new denominations, and the Protestant churches found both opposition and support among various monarchs in Europe (one of the most notable cases, King Henry VIII of England transitioned from Catholicism to Anglicanism after the pope would not approve a divorce from his first wife).

Terrorist Attack Kills at Least 8 in New York City

Likely terrorist attack in New York City
leaves at least 8 dead, 11 more injured
Credit: NYPD
An attack Tuesday in New York City has left at least eight dead after a man used a rented Home Deport truck to run into cyclists. The man suspect ran from the scene and was eventually apprehended after being shot by police.

Another 11 people have been injured.

According to several witnesses, the suspect shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, and social media accounts supporting the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group have praised the attack.
The attack likely marks the latest in a string of global attacks by IS since 2015, following large scale attacks in Paris and Brussels and similar truck attacks in London, Berlin, and Nice.

Separatist Movements Face Defeats in Spain, Iraq

Separatist movements in Spain and Iraq begun actions over the past two months in attempts to achieve independence from their countries, though both are strongly opposed by the countries, leading to confrontation.

In Spain, Catalonian separatists pushed for a referendum asking whether the region, the wealthiest in Spain, should secede and become independent. The referendum as condemned as illegal by the Spanish government and boycotted by most pro-union people in the region. Because of this, the independence option was supported by just over 92% of the vote, but with only just over turnout. In addition, there were outbreaks of violence between Spanish police forces and pro-independence supporters during the vote.

Ignoring Spanish condemnations and threats to directly rule the region, Catalan leadership, led by pro-independence parties, recognized the results and declared independence on October 27, only to be taken over by the Spanish government shortly after with little resistance. Carles Puigdemont has left Spain for Belgium (though he claims he is not seeking asylum) and has called on Catalonians to accept the result of snap elections to replace the ousted Catalonian parliament on December 21.

In Iraq, the Kurdish referendum passed with nearly 93% of the vote, with nearly 73% turning out to vote. The result led to Iraq’s military pushing into Kurdish held land, taking back territory held since Kurdish forces took the land from the Islamic State. Iraqi forces have taken over border crossings between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey and Syria, and have taken back the city of Kirkuk.

Former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort Indicted

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort turned himself in on Monday to the FBI after the probe by former FBI Director Robert Mueller pushed for charges related to Manafort’s lobbying work in Ukraine. The probe, which was directed to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, led to a raid on Manafort’s home in July and charges this week related to alleged money laundering. Manafort’s longtime associate Rick Gates was also charged.

Both have pled not guilty.

Mueller has also announced that Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos lied to the FBI about Russian attempts to contact the Trump campaign in 2016.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

HHS Secretary Tom Price Resigns

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price resigned Friday, following reporting that revealed his travel expenses had added to over $1 million, often using private jets when cheaper modes of transportation likely would have sufficed. Price, who had the shortest tenure of any HHS secretary, adds to the list of Trump officials who have left the administration amid controversy, such as National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey, to whom Trump issued an abrupt dismissal. Price, an ardent opponent of Obamacare, was selected in part to begin dismantling the program amid GOP repeal efforts.