Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Stuff You Should Know

Mugabe Resigns

New developments have occurred in Zimbabwe’s military coup since btw brought you the story last week of longtime president Robert Mugabe’s arrest. Last Tuesday, after his party introduced a motion of impeachment against him, Mr. Mugabe finally resigned.

Mugabe has served as president of Zimbabwe since the country achieved independence in 1980. That makes him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. At 93 years old, he is also the world’s oldest head of state.

Zimbabwe’s Parliament has never brought an impeachment motion before anyone before. The charges against Mr. Mugabe included: violating the constitution; allowing his wife to usurp power illegally, and being too old to do his job. If Mugabe had not resigned, the impeachment process would likely have been a lengthy one.

In Zimbabwe, citizens and lawmakers alike responded to the announcement of Mugabe’s resignation with cheers and relief. A new leader could be sworn in as early as this week. It is assumed that the person to take Mugabe’s place will be Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former vice president. Mugabe fired Mnangagwa on November 6 and attempted to instill his own wife as vice president instead. That move was largely what set off the military coup in the first place. So far, it’s unclear whether or not Mr. Mugabe and his family will be allowed to keep living in Zimbabwe, keep their fortune, or be provided immunity in return for his resignation.

Dig Deeper To help you keep track of the rapidly changing political landscape in Zimbabwe, use this article and other internet resources to create a timeline of recent events, beginning with Mnangagwa’s firing on November 6 and leading up to Mugabe’s resignation last week.

Trump Defends Roy Moore

Last week, btw brought to you the story of the rapidly-mounting sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore, who is running for the Senate in an Alabama special election on December 12. Moore has been accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward teenage girls when he was in his thirties. In the latest twist in this ongoing story, President Trump has now spoken out about the case–in defense of Roy Moore.

Just before leaving for his Thanksgiving holiday, Trump spoke to reporters to criticize Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones. Trump claimed that Jones’s record has been “terrible” on issues of crime, the military, and border protection. He then went on to defend Moore, saying that Moore denies the allegations and that they happened forty years ago. He also emphasized his desire to keep any Democrat out of the Alabama Senate seat.

Many Americans, especially Democrats, have bristled at the president’s remarks. Jones is viewed by many as a hero: he is a former United States Attorney who is best known for prosecuting the KKK members who set the 1963 Birmingham church fire that killed four young black girls.

Moore’s campaign continues to deny the allegations of sexual assault that have been brought against him, though Moore himself has often given conflicting answers when questioned about what happened. President Trump has said that he will announce this week whether or not he will begin campaigning on Moore’s behalf.

What Do You Think? Imagine that you are a member of Doug Jones’s campaign team, and that it’s your job to create an ad convincing people to vote for Jones. Which do you think would be the better approach: emphasizing Jones’s successes as a former U.S. Attorney, or reminding the public about the charges being brought against Moore? Why do you think this technique would be more successful?

Merkel Faces Challenges at Home

Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, has always been a popular leader in Europe for her ability to forge compromises between rival political parties, for bringing countries together, and for her willingness to stand up to both President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Reichstag, Berlin with German and European flags

Reichstag, Berlin with German and European flags. Credit: A. Astes/Alamy Stock Photo

But now, Merkel’s political power has been seriously compromised. Here’s what happened: two weeks ago, Merkel attempted to bring together and unify four different political parties to form what’s called “coalition government.” But that action failed when one of the parties walked out of negotiations. Now, Merkel’s party (the Christian Democrats) no longer has enough votes for a majority. In other words, in order to pass any legislation at all, she will have to form alliances with another party.

This is especially a problem now, when Europe is in a state of turmoil: the looming departure of Great Britain from the European Union (“Brexit”), and a lack of consensus over issues such as migration, border defense, and refugees. Merkel’s inability to form a coalition government in Germany means two things: first, it damages her international credibility; and second, it means she will be too tied up in trying to pass legislation at home to be much of a strong international presence. This will ultimately weaken her ability to help guide Europe through this challenging time, when Europe needs strong leadership more than ever. And important decisions about the future of Europe are likely to be delayed as a result.

What Do You Think? Based on what you’ve read here and seen in the news, do you think the lack of a coalition government in Germany will have an effect on the United States? Why or why not?

Uber Oops

Have you ever used the ride-sharing service, Uber? If you have, it’s possible that your personal information has been compromised. Last year, hackers broke into Uber’s data system and stole the personal information of 57 million riders and drivers–and even worse, the company paid to cover up the hack, and kept the whole incident secret for more than a year.

In 2016, hackers stole the following information from Uber: the names, email addresses, and cell phone numbers of 57 million customers; and the driver’s licenses of 600,000 Uber drivers. Luckily, the hackers did not manage to obtain any credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, birthdates, or trip destinations.

Rather than report the theft, Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the stolen information and pretend like the whole breach never happened.

Now that the story has broken anyway, despite Uber’s best efforts, the company is responding by contacting all of the drivers whose identity was compromised and providing them with free credit monitoring services and identity theft protection. Uber also claims that they are taking measures to ensure that an incident like this one never happens again.

What Do You Think? Does the 2016 data hack–and the fact that the company covered it up for more than a year after it happened–affect your willingness to use Uber in the future? Why or why not?