End of decade brings social, political, environmental change

Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier news editor

Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier deputy news editor

Winter break, for many students, was filled with family, friends, and enjoying the time off. In the midst of the merriment, the news continued to flow, filling feeds with multiple stories. Our news editor and deputy news editor teamed up together to break down some of the the biggest headlines from the last two months. These stories include the impeachment trial, U.S.-Iranian tensions, Meghan Markle’s Royal exit and the Australian wildfires.

Winter Break Wrap-up

Read our Winter Break News Wrap up and catch up on the major events that happened while students were away.


The royal family made headlines on Jan. 8 when Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle decided to step down from their roles as senior members of the royal family. USA Today explained that Markle is behind the couple’s decision to split their time between Canada and the UK.

The announcement stated the couple would become more “financially independent” by earning a professional income.

Their press release included other reasons, like wanting to control their own press and media. Prince Harry ended the announcement with an explanation for the drastic steps.

“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person,” he said. “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

“Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,” a statement released by the royal family said. “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”

The statment made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex surprised the royal family, the New York Times noted. Their two line statement, as the New York Times suggested, “blindsided” the royal family, leaving them to figure out a plan to move forward with.

While shocking, the royal family continues, even while British citizens are upset. Taking to Twitter and other social media platforms, #Megexit has been trending. In a poll done by YouGov, it found that 50 percent of Americans support the royals of Sussex’s decision to leave, while only 45 percent of Brits supported them. Only seven percent of Americans and two percent of Brits opposed.

Despite the situation, both Prince Harry and Markle are continuing service to varying communities. On Jan. 10, their press team posted on Instagram a photo of Markle visiting women of the Hubb Community Kitchen.

U.S.-Iranian Tensions

The beginning of the decade brought with it a new stage of the ongoing conflict between the United States and Iran. On Jan. 2, Qassim Suleimani, a major general in the Iranian military, was killed outside of the Baghdad International Airport. That day, President Donald Trump authorized a fleet of drones to follow Suleimani on his flight from Beirut, Lebanon, and assassinate him after his arrival in Iraq.

Suleimani was the commander of the Revolutionary Guard Quds Force, a facet of the Iranian military tasked with maintaining national security from foreign threats. As the New York Times described in his obituary, Suleimani has been responsible for several attacks against Americans and was designated a terrorist by the United States in 2011. Many Iranians, however, saw him as a hero who protected Iran from the creeping influence of the West.

According to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense on the day of Suleimani’s death, the strike was ordered by President Trump in order to prevent imminent attacks on American operations in the region. Specifically, Trump saw this as necessary following the Dec. 27 attack which killed an American contractor working at an Iraqi base. Tehran disagreed with the justification of the attack and pledged revenge, with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promising massive retaliation to the Iranian people on Jan. 3.

The expected retaliation came five days later when, on Jan. 8., more than a dozen Iranian missiles bombed an American military housing facility in Iraq. While no one was killed in the bombing, the same day a civilian Ukraine International Airlines flight crashed after leaving Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard. Days after the flight, various Iranian officials provided vague explanations admitting an accidental guilt for the crash, yet the cause of the tragedy is still unknown. Since then, there have been no reported instances of conflict, yet tensions between the United States and Iran remain high.

Impeachment Trial

Over break, Donald Trump became the third U.S. President to be impeached. The Senatorial proceedings regarding his removal from office began this Tuesday, as Senators voted on a resolution regarding procedural aspects of the case. It will continue for the next several weeks, until the Senate conducts a final vote determining Trump’s future as U.S. President.

The process was set into motion by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in September, when she announced the launching of an impeachment inquiry. During this inquiry, the House Intelligence Committee was authorized to investigate Trump’s dealings in Ukraine.

After they concluded their investigation, the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment to be voted on by the entire House. Article I discusses abuse of power in Trump’s involvement in Ukraine, while Article II involves obstruction of Congress during the investigation. On Dec. 18, the House voted to pass both articles, impeaching Trump.

Now, the case will move to the Senate, where senators will decide whether or not Trump will remain in office. The trial will be presided over by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts, and the senators will act as a jury.

After representatives from the House and the presidential legal team present the different sides of the argument, the Senate will vote. If 67 senators vote to convict Trump of either article of impeachment, he will be removed from office and current Vice President Mike Pence will serve in his place until the inauguration of the next president in January of 2021.

Wildfires in Australia

After experiencing one of the driest and hottest spring seasons on record, Australia entered summer months with wildfires burning all over the country. The fires made headlines in November when they had spread to almost every Australian state, according to CNN news. Since then they have destroyed massive areas of Australia and have destroyed 10 million hectares of land.

The most destructive fires have been in New South Wales, Victoria and Kangaroo Island. The BBC reports that on Dec. 31, there were over 30,000 different fires burning across Australia. Along with the fires, air quality in southern Australia and New Zealand has declined as the fires are adding harmful black carbon into the air.

The fires are also affecting animal populations in Australia. Ecologists at the University of Sydney have estimated that about a half a billion animals have been affected.

Authorities believe the fires could have started either from human errors, natural causes or climate change. Temperatures in Australia have continued to reach record-breaking levels with long periods of no precipitation.

Both the regions of Victoria and New South Wales have declared a state of disaster and are receiving aid from Australian resources and other countries. The United States, Canada and New Zealand have sent firefighters to help battle the constant threat.

Celebrities and social media influencers took to the internet, spreading news about fires and how people could get involved in trying to help battle the disaster.

Organizations like the Australian Red Cross and Salvation Army Australia are raising money to help the affected areas and animals.

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