Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 in Stuff You Should Know

Cholera Outbreak in Yemen

The impoverished country of Yemen is facing a terrifying cholera outbreak. Since late April, at least 269,608 people have become infected with the disease, and at least 1,614 have died of it. In other words, there have been more cholera deaths in Yemen in the past 2 ½ months than there usually are worldwide in an entire year.

Cholera is a bacterial infection spread by water contaminated with feces. Patients experience intense vomiting and diarrhea and usually die of dehydration. In most of the world, the disease isn’t a problem because of modern sanitation. However, Yemen–already the poorest Arab nation to begin with–has been devastated by civil war. So far, the fighting in Yemen has displaced at least three million people and killed more than 8,000. There are no longer sanitation services. Septic backups contaminate wells of drinking water. Sixty-five percent of the country’s medical facilities have been damaged or destroyed in the war. Furthermore, people are undernourished and weak, which makes it harder for their bodies to fight infection. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

The United Nations has asked for $2.1 billion in aid to Yemen, but so far has managed to raise only 29 percent of that amount in donations. Meanwhile, more than 14 million people in Yemen don’t have access to clean water, and 17 million don’t have enough food, which means that the cholera outbreak will only continue to worsen.

Dig Deeper Using Internet resources, briefly research the civil war in Yemen. How did it originate? How long has it been going on? What role has the United States played in the ongoing conflict?

Hobby Lobby Faces Smuggling Charges

Have you ever visited a Hobby Lobby store? If so, you probably know that it is a place to purchase arts and crafts supplies. However, the store recently got in the news for other reasons. The owners of the store find themselves on trial for purchasing stolen ancient artifacts.

Packages arriving at retail Hobby Lobby stores, supposedly from Israel and the United Arab Emirates, were marked as “tile samples.” However, the packages actually contained ancient clay cuneiform tablets, smuggled into the country from Iraq. The slabs were looted from historical sites in Iraq and are thousands of years old. In December 2010, Hobby Lobby bought over 5,500 of these artifacts from an unnamed dealer for $1.6 million.

Representatives for the company say that the owners regret their mistake and that that it happened because they are new to the world of antiques dealing. Nevertheless, Hobby Lobby will be required to return all of the artifacts and to pay the government an additional $3 million penalty.

What Do You Think? What is your opinion about artifacts being removed from their country of origin. Do you think it is required that they be returned? Remember to be respectful when considering your answers.

New Developments in Russia Investigation

Last week, Trump and Putin met at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany--a meeting which Putin told reporters was very successful and would lead to improved relations between the U.S. and Russia in the future. However, just a few days later, new evidence came to light that raised a new set of question about the Trump administration’s potential involvement in the Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election.

This time, the spotlight is focused on President Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr. Here’s what happened: Last June, Trump Jr. received an email from Rob Goldstone, one of President Trump’s former Russian business partners. In the email, Goldstone told Trump Jr. that he had classified and sensitive information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Within hours, Trump Jr. emailed back that he was pleased and interested in this information. A few days later, Trump Jr. met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, at Trump Tower in New York City. Also present at the meeting were Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chairperson, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

This week, Trump Jr. admitted to the meeting but said that it was mostly about adoptions. Whether or not this is true, however, the emails between Trump Jr. and Goldstone clearly indicate that Trump Jr. planned to meet with the Russian lawyers to gain access to classified and sensitive information that could damage the Clinton campaign. As the Justice Department and House and Senate Intelligence Committees continue to examine what President Trump knew about Russian meddling in the election, Trump Jr.’s willingness to conspire with foreigners to help his father’s political campaign could weaken the president’s case.

What Do You Think? Has a friend ever hinted to you that they have gossip or information about an enemy? Did you ask to hear that information? Why or why not? In your opinion, when Goldstone told Trump Jr. that he had information that could help his father’s campaign for president, should Trump Jr. have asked to hear the information? Why or why not?

UN Treaty Bans Nuclear Weapons Worldwide

Seventy-three years after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, ending World War II, the United Nations has negotiated a treaty that would ban all nuclear weapons. The ten-page Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was formally adopted by the UN last Friday. Not only does the treaty ban the use of nuclear weapons, but it also outlaws the threat of using them, as well as the testing, development, production, and possession of such weapons. Furthermore, for countries that already have nuclear weapons, the treaty describes a process for destroying them.

The only problem? The nine nations that already have nuclear weapons have all refused to sign it.

Currently, the United States and Russia hold the biggest stockpiles of nuclear weapons. But Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea all own nuclear bombs as well. The United States, along with Britain and France, has said that they will never sign or abide by the terms of the treaty. These nations believe that it would be dangerous to do so at a time when aggressive countries such as North Korea continue to threaten the world by building up their nuclear arsenals.

So what good is the treaty if the nuclear-armed nations refuse to sign it? Supporters of the treaty hope that its acceptance by the majority of nations will help change public opinion worldwide and provide enough pressure to the holdout countries to persuade them to sign eventually.

What Do You Think? Do you think the United States should sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons? Why or why not? Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper in which you explain your position and try to persuade others in your community to agree with you.