Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Jun 3, 2021 in Stuff You Should Know

Turmoil in Samoa

In Samoa, the new prime minister showed up last Monday to her first day in office, only to find herself literally locked out of Parliament. Why? The former leader is refusing to cede power.

At an election held last month, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa was chosen as Samoa’s first female leader, making her one of the first women to be elected to office in the South Pacific. She is a voice for women’s equality, which is unusual in Samoa–a conservative, Christian country–as well as a vocal critic of the previous regime. The election ended in a tie between Fiame’s FAST Party and Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi’s HRP Party. In addition, there was one independent candidate. The independent vote was cast for Fiame. But then the electoral commissioner appointed another HRP candidate. This created another tie vote. The head of state decided to settle things by holding a whole new election. But the Supreme Court ruled that the electoral commissioner’s last-minute decision to appoint a new HRP candidate was unconstitutional. This gave Fiame the lead again.

Tuilaepa, who has been prime minister for the past 22 years, refused to cede the election to Fiame anyway. Tuilaepa insists that he is still the rightful ruler of Samoa. In response, Fiame and her followers set up a tent outside Parliament, where they swore oaths of office and appointed ministers. Tuilaepa called the impromptu tent ceremony treason. Now, the United Nations is getting involved, pledging to lend help if needed.

Dig Deeper The Samoa unrest has implications for China as well. Use Internet resources to find out why, and write a short paragraph about what you learn.

Texas Permitless Carry May Become Law

Every state creates its own laws about who can and can’t carry a firearm, as well as the procedure for obtaining one. Many states say a person can’t carry a weapon without a permit. In Texas, however, that rule may soon change. The Texas Senate has passed its “constitutional carry” bill by a vote of 17-13. It will now go to the governor’s desk to sign. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has already promised that he will sign the bill.

So what exactly does this mean? Once House Bill 1927 becomes a law, it means that Texans will be allowed to carry a handgun without any permit. People who are prohibited by state or federal law from carrying a weapon–such as violent offenders and felons–still will not be allowed to carry.

Those in favor of the new law say that it’s a logical extension of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. They also point out that at least twenty other states already have similar “constitutional carry” provisions on the books. Those who are opposed point to recent mass shootings in Texas and say that the new law will only make things worse. They also worry about the possible threat to the safety of law enforcement officers, who will no longer be able to keep a record of who carries a weapon and who does not. According to a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, the majority of Texas voters think that permits should still be required to carry a firearm.

Dig Deeper  In your state, are gun owners required to obtain a permit? What other requirements are there for gun ownership?

U.S., Palestinian Authority Work on Rebuilding Relations

Last month, btw took a look at eleven days of intense fighting between Israel and Palestine. Since then, the death toll and widespread destruction have continued to grow. According to Palestinian authorities, 1,042 housing and commercial units (including six hospitals) have been destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.  More than 240 Palestinians (including more than 60 children) and 13 Israelis (including two children) have been killed.

The United States and Israel have a long-standing friendship. Under the Trump administration, the Palestinian Authority severed ties with the U.S. after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. . Current Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made a commitment to rebuilding relations with Palestine by reopening the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. Blinken also announced the U.S. will provide aid to help repair the destruction from the recent fighting. Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in late May 2021 to reinforce that the U.S. supports freedom, security, and safety in Palestine as well as in Israel. According to the secretary of State, the U.S. will provide $5.5 million for immediate disaster relief, and another $32 million to help support Palestinian refugees. An additional $75 million will go towards development and economic assistance to Palestine in 2021. However, Blinken also said that none of the money will go toward Hamas, the military group that controls Gaza and which is considered by some countries, including the U.S. and Israel, to be a terrorist organization.

Dig Deeper  What is the purpose of an embassy or a consulate? Why would reopening the consulate be an important aspect of rebuilding relations?