Category Archives: News

Australia Fires

By: Sahil Bashir

This newspaper has covered global warming in the past. In the previous issue, we discussed the Paris agreement, Trump’s decision, and what those mean for the rest of the U.S. citizens. In this issue, we will continue the discussion of global warming, but we’re going to look at a more severe, impactful problem occurring right now in Australia. This is, of course, the bushfires. 

The Bushfires, starting in September 2019, are currently ravaging Australian forests and towns. Fueled by the drought Australia faces and sparked by both human and natural causes, lightning has been observed as the main cause. Dry lightning was particularly responsible for fires in the Victories East Gippsland region in late December. That fire then went on to travel 12.4 miles in just 5 hours. There have been incidents where many humans had attempted to start fire. It was speculated that 75% of the fires were caused by arsonists, according to Heather Wheeler, a foreign office minister, but this was quickly corrected by Kerry McCarthy, a Labour MP. She stated that the true figure of arson was less than 1%. Most of these cases were unintentional, such as children “playing” with fire or people who don’t take proper precautions. However there are cases where those who intentionally start fires. These cases usually see arsonists with psychotic tendencies, and the situation allows them to be able to act upon them. Dr. Paul Read, co-director of Australia’s National Centre for Research in Bushfire and Arson, explained that “The general mayhem of fighting bushfires, the evacuation of people, enables them to be furtive [attempt to avoid detection]. They know they’re not likely to be identified. It’s like planting a tree in a forest.” CNN states that at least 24 people have been charged by the New South Wales police for intentionally starting bushfires, and an additional 183 people are being taken to court for fire-related offences since November.  

The fires have claimed at least 28 lives, 300 homes, and 10.4 million hectares of land, according to Global News. The sheer size and damage of the bushfires makes it six times more deadly than the 2018 California bushfires and almost twice the damage of the Amazon fires. New South Wales has been the most affected Australian city, and it’s most populated. Almost every state has been affected, including Sydney and Melbourne.  

People are not the only casualties of the fires. Around half a billion animals have been affected with millions dead. Ecologists claim the total amount of affected animals could be over a billion. These include birds, reptiles, mammals (excluding bats). Almost a third of koalas have been killed, and they lost around a third of their habitats. Certain animals, such as the koalas, are not at too much risk from becoming extinct due to widespread bushfires, but other animals in more niche environments, such as frogs or birds, are at a higher risk, according to BBC. 

The fires have also brought other hazards to Australia. Canberra, the capital, has been hit with hail storms that have damaged buildings, businesses, and homes, as well as flash floods. In the western region, covering Broken Hill, Dubbo, and Nyngan, is a 186 mile wide red dust cloud carried by 66 miles-per-hour winds. Flash floods rained down on Brisbane and Queensland state, though these rains have not put out the fires. Below is a picture of the dust storm.

So what is being done to stop the fires? According to the BBC, around 3700 firefighters, including volunteers, are deployed around these areas, as well as another 3700 army reserves, 440 emergency personnel, and 240+ firefighters from the US, Canada, and New Zealand. The NSW Rural Fire Service has around 100 aircrafts in the air when fires are bad, and the Victoria Country Fire Authority has 60. 

As for what you can do at home, there are many websites that take donations such as UNICEF, WWF, or people can donate directly to the fire stations in Victoria and New South Wales. These donations help the firefighters by purchasing equipment, medical kits, and gear. Simply talking about the issue is a great way to help. By spreading word of the issue and raising awareness, you’re bringing the issues to light and making more people aware of what is going on. This has many benefits. People who are aware of the issues in Australia would be more careful and take more precaution while people around the world will take action, through donations and even through volunteering.

Impeachment

By Lauren Cohn

By now, I’m sure everyone has heard of President Donald Trump’s recent impeachment, at least to a degree. Whether you have just heard the word tossed around or have been scouring the news for updates, it is clear that this announcement has left its mark, but what exactly does it all mean? What is impeachment and what are the next steps? 

For starters, an important distinction must be made between impeachment and removal from office, as they are often confused for one another despite their differences. When a president commits a high crime like treason or behaves in unconstitutional ways, the House of Representatives can begin the process of removing him from office through impeachment. Essentially, impeachment acts as a final check on the president’s power, but does not necessarily imply that he will be removed from office as it is only the first step of the process. Donald Trump is the third president in United States history to get impeached, which only goes to show how momentous these past few months have been

Reaching impeachment can take a long time, as evidence needs to be collected to prove the wrongdoings of the president and representatives must be meticulous and careful when going about the process. Before a president can officially become impeached, the House of Representatives must draft the articles of impeachment, describing what the president has done that warrants this action. In President Trump’s case, the House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, moved to impeach him on two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of congress. The House accused Mr. Trump of blackmailing Ukraine by withholding aid and preventing Congress from investigating, but those who support the Republican party and Mr. Trump have denounced the accusations, calling the process a “hoax”.

All of these time consuming steps culminated in the House with a vote, one that was greatly divided primarily along party lines. However, because of the Democratic majority, the articles were approved. President Trump was officially impeached.

At this point, the articles have been sent to the Senate, where there will be a trial and another vote to determine whether or not President Trump will truly be removed from office. So, while the president has been impeached by the House, there is no guarantee that the Senate will agree and actually remove him. The Republican party rules the Senate, so chances of removal are extremely low given party loyalty; yet, this event still marks an important milestone in American history, representing a call to action by those who disapprove of the current administration and the further polarity of political parties as the process continues to divide the nation.

UPDATED February 5, 2020: The senate has voted on whether to remove President Trump and the result is exactly as expected. Members of the Senate voted along party lines, with the exception of one Republican, Mitt Romney, who voted for removal. So, the president will not be removed from office and has been acquitted on both articles of impeachment, marking the end of this historic trial.

Paris Peace Accord

Writer: Sahil Bashir Editor: Lauren Cohn

President Trump has surely had his moments. From declaring to build the wall along Mexico to the Russian investigation, Trump’s presidency is a spectacle to behold. However, his latest plan as president is quite a shock to environmentalists everywhere.

Trump has decided to remove the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. Signed by President Obama in April 2016, the Paris Agreement is a plan to deal with climate change through the decrease of carbon emissions and heat-trapping gasses.The goal is to keep the average world temperature from increasing more than two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Corbin gasses can come from a variety of sources such as vehicles, factories, power plants, etc. Every country has signed the agreement, even isolated countries such as North Korea and Syria. Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State, attempted to justify the action, explaining that this the Paris Agreement is an “unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses and taxpayers.”

There is still one complication that Trump must face. Due to the fact that it will take 12 months for the United States to officially leave the treaty, and Trump’s term ends in less time than that, he must be re-elected as president before he can officially carry through. Because of this, if another candidate is elected, they can easily rejoin the agreement.

Former Vice President Al Gore, now a global warming activist, has made comments on the event, as well as how the US has been keeping up with their half of the agreement. According to Gore, “… the US will not only meet but exceed the commitments it made under the Paris agreement.” He also praised the agreement, stating that “The Paris Agreement was a fantastic and historic breakthrough-every nation in the world committed to go to net zero global warming pollution by mid-century.”

So, what does this all mean for the United States and its people? On the one hand, the Paris Agreement is an amazing call to action against climate change. On the other hand, as long as the US continues to uphold their own against the issue, there should not be any problems. It seems that the future of America’s involvement in this global initiation is, at the moment, unknown.