Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Nov 20, 2017 in Stuff You Should Know

Zimbabwe Faces Military Coup

It may seem like the United States has had more than its share of political upheaval these days. However, this is nothing compared with Zimbabwe, which has recently experienced a military coup that has placed its long-term president, Robert Mugabe, on house arrest.

Mugabe, who is 93 years old, has ruled the country for nearly four decades, since 1979. In 1965, Zimbabwe was called Southern Rhodesia and was a British colony. After a guerrilla uprising, the new nation of Zimbabwe achieved independence in 1980, under a black-majority rule. Mugabe was installed as the leader of the new nation and has held the position ever since.

Until last week. Mugabe’s rule was largely one of fear; in the 1980s, he maintained power by ordering the massacre of thousands of civilians. He has also increasingly isolated Zimbabwe from the West by ordering the invasion of white-owned farms. Even so, up until now, any potential political rivals have chosen to wait until Mugabe’s death to try and seek power. What seems to have ultimately been the final straw leading to the coup was when Mugabe ousted his vice president (and probable successor), Emmerson Mnangagwa, last week in an effort to install his wife, Grace Mugabe, as his successor instead.

Mugabe was taken into military custody unharmed, and is currently under house arrest while the country rushes to assemble a new temporary government. It is likely that Emmerson Mnangwa, Mugabe’s former vice president, will become the interim leader.

Dig Deeper: Based on what you’ve read in this article and seen on the news, do you think that a military coup will help or hurt the people of Zimbabwe? Explain.

Painting Sets Records at Auction

How much do you think the most valuable piece of art in the world is worth? $100 million? More? Last week, one of the last surviving works of Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci sold at auction at a price that shattered all records: $450.3 million dollars.

The painting, called Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World), is a portrait of Christ. It is 26 inches tall and portrays Christ in Renaissance clothing. He looks directly at the viewer, his right hand raised and holding a small crystal ball in his left. At the auction at Christie’s in New York, bidding opened at $45 million and lasted for nineteen minutes, as bids climbed by ten million dollars at a time.

Leonardo da Vinci, italian painter, sculptor, architect and

Leonardo da Vinci; Credit: Pixtal/age Fotostock

The portrait has a long and interesting history. It first belonged to King Charles of England in 1649, and was eventually auctioned to the Duke of Buckingham in 1763. Then it disappeared for over a hundred years. It was assumed to have been lost or destroyed, but it eventually resurfaced in 1900. When the painting was found, it was badly damaged by attempts to restore it, and experts thought it was just a knock-off. So in 1958, it sold at auction for just 45 pounds (the equivalent of $158 1958 U.S. dollars). Fast forward to 2011: after extensive conservation work was done on the painting, it was found to be a true da Vinci after all. Most recently, it belonged to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who bought it in 2013 for $127.5 million.

The name of the buyer who purchased the painting last week has not been released.

What Do You Think? Why do you think people are willing to pay such high prices for certain works of art? What do you think makes them so valuable?

Five Killed in Another California Shooting

In a situation that is becoming all too commonplace, another shooting incident occurred last week, this time in Northern California.

The lone gunman, Kevin Janson Neal, 44, killed five people and injured ten throughout the community of Rancho Tehama Reserve before he was shot and killed by police. His first victim was his wife: investigators believe that Neal hid her body beneath the floorboards of his home on Monday night. The following day, he went on a shooting rampage, firing at neighbors and random motorists before entering a local elementary school, which quickly went on lockdown. Authorities say that Rancho Tehama Elementary School’s decision to go on lockdown probably saved countless lives.

The entire episode lasted roughly 45 minutes. When police pursued Neal in his vehicle, he returned gunfire. Eventually, police ran Neal’s vehicle off of the road, and in the exchange of shots that followed, Neal was killed.

Neal had a history of mental illness. In January, he was arrested for stabbing a neighbor but later released on bail. Due to a previous restraining order, he was not supposed to own a weapon. Nevertheless, neighbors complained about Neal firing weapons at odd hours. Though he was under surveillance by the police, they never saw him fire anything. At this time, his motive for last week’s rampage is unknown.

What Do You Think? Are you familiar with your school’s lockdown policy? Does your school participate in lockdown drills? If a real-life active shooter situation occurred inside your school, do you think that these drills would be helpful in saving lives? Why or why not?

Cordray Leaves Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Another key figure is leaving his post in the Trump administration. This time, it’s Democrat Richard Cordray, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who announced last week that he will depart his post by the end of the month.

What’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? It protects consumers from unlawful or unethical practices by banks and other large financial institutions. Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general and state treasurer, was appointed to lead the Bureau in 2013 by President Barack Obama, and since then has fought fiercely to defend consumers. For example, when it was discovered that Wells Fargo employees were opening phony accounts without their customers’ permission, the Bureau ordered the company to pay back $185 million in fines and penalties. Another new CFPB law requires payday and auto title lenders to make sure that a potential borrower will actually be able to pay back the loan he or she asks for, which helps keep borrowers out of a damaging cycle of debt. In response, many Republican lawmakers have called for the CFPB to be dissolved and for Cordray to be fired.

But that’s not what’s happening here. In fact, with this year’s November elections barely behind us, Ohio voters are already looking ahead to next year’s race for governor. A number of Democratic candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for the May primary, and though he hasn’t announced anything yet, it’s widely assumed among Ohio Democrats that Richard Cordray will be among them.
What Do You Think? Why are agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau important? Or do you think that the CFPB is unnecessary and should be dissolved? Explain.