The Good: Record Turn Out For Midterm Elections
While several states continue to count votes and a automatic recount for Florida’s governorship has been trigged, the majority of votes have been counted and the results have set a new record in American history as the country moves through one of the most socially divided times in recent decades.
Setting new standards for congressional election turnouts, a total of 113 million voters casted their ballots exceeding the previous record by 13 million set 50 years ago. Political analysts link the current temperament of the American populace and our disapproval of the presidential administration in someway or another, (even historically Republican states voted in Democrats) to the large turn out. In addition to setting new turnout records, a record number of women were voted into office. According to the Congressional Research Service, the highest number of women serving in the House has been 85. Although there are still votes being counted, (including Arizona’s race who will elect their first women to Senate regardless of which party wins,) at least 102 women will be serving in the House next year.
So far Democrats have taken control the House of Representatives gaining 30 more seats with 10 still undecided for a current total of 225 seats, while Republicans lost ground, they still hold 200 seats. While Republicans still manage to control a majority of governorships, Democrats have elected 7 more Governor’s giving the party a total of 23 offices, while Republicans control 26.
While 2 seats are still undecided, Republicans have control of the Senate with 51 seats, while Democrats have 46.
Democrats taking control of the House will likely halt the current administrations ability to continue the onslaught of the Obama era legislation like the Health Care Act, Immigration policies, and other social projects. In the same way Republicans denied Obama many opportunities to change laws by taking control of the house and voting down new proposals, Democrats will likely aim to gridlock Trump in the same way.
The Bad: Military Action Against Asylum Seekers
As asylum seekers draw closer to the U.S. border, Trump seems to edge closer to taking the Constitution into his own hands.
Almost in tandem with announcing that he will be reversing an age old law allowing children born on U.S. soil to be automatically considered citizens via the Constitution’s 14th amendment and the INS’ (Immigration Naturalization Act) legislation in 1965; Trump has also ordered for 15,000 troops to be sent to the US-Mexican border to combat 5,000 + asylum seekers (many of whom are unaccompanied minors) from entering the United States from South American countries such as Honduras and El Salvador seeking a safe haven in the U.S.
Most recently, Trump’s administration issued inflammatory statements describing the “dangers” of letting in illegal immigrants via Trump’s twitter page which has sparked a wealth of controversy and questions surrounding legal and illegal immigration in the US.
The growing and most prominent concern is that asylum seekers will be met with U.S. military forces who are able and often willing to send individual’s back home based on frivolous, and/or petty reasons as well as the potential for violence.
Although the Trump administration claims the military force (which is comparable to the U.S.’s military’s presence in Iraq) will not be patrolling the border, but instead creating tent cities for immigrants, critics of the bold order question why so many armed troops are being deployed and wonder if the tactic is a stunt to deter immigration and sway the American public days before the election.
The Good: Ireland Abolishes Blasphemy Law
This week Ireland’s progressive citizens celebrate the medieval crime of blasphemy being removed from it’s constitution. With 65% percent of the electorate casting their decision for the law’s removal, 35% voted for keeping it. The combination of the recent reversal of the blamesphy law in addition to legalizing Gay marriage and abortion, indicate that Ireland’s laws are being released from the grip of the Catholic Church which has had a major impact on Irish legislation since it’s history.
Although no one has been officially prosecuted for blasphemy in over a century, the issue of the law’s existence was met with scorn and scrutiny after broadcaster, actor and comedian Stephen Fry was officially investigated for comments he made during an interview with Irish media program RTÉ in 2015. Fry was asked what he would say to god if there were an afterlife. Fry flippantly replied: “Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded stupid god who creates a world so full of injustice and pain? The god that created this universe, if it was created by a god, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac, totally selfish.” The investigation was eventually dropped in 2017 after prosecutors were unable to find a substantial amount of outrage, however the idea that a media personality was investigated for expressing his opinion caused citizens and lawmakers to consider modernizing its constitution.
Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanaghan issued a statement concerning the vote on blasphemy, hoping to not only unite Ireland, but to become an example of freedom for all nations around the world who continue to persecute it’s citizens over religious beliefs.
“Regrettably, there are some countries in the world where blasphemy is an offense, the punishment of which is being put to death. In these countries, such laws are not an anachronism but a very real threat to the lives of those who do not share the views of those enforcing the laws. Such situations are abhorrent to our beliefs and values. By removing this provision from our Constitution, we can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values and that we do not believe such laws should exist.”
The Bad: Protests Begin Despite Fair Death Penalty Ruling
Despite a fair and just ruling, proponents of strict Muslim law have blocked highways, and roadways within Pakistan in protest of the their Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a death penalty case involving a Christian women and a frivolous blasphemy charge.
Allegedly, Asia Bibi a Christian and mother of 5, made “blasphemous” comments about the prophet Mohammed at work in front of male colleagues who refused to drink from the same bucket she drank from. Bibi was arrested for the alleged remarks in 2010 and was held until her death penalty case was reversed this week. Despite death threats, protests and pressure from religious extremists to uphold the original ruling and hang Bibi, the prosecution’s contradictory evidence was among the reasons for the Court’s decision.
“Even if there was some grain of truth in the allegations leveled in this case against the appellant still the glaring contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution highlighted above clearly show that the truth in this case had been mixed with a lot which was untrue,” the ruling said.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a statement damning the protests saying: “You are not aiding Islam by talking about killing judges and by killing our generals who have sacrificed so much for our country,” Khan said in defense of the verdicts. “I am appealing to our people: Do not get caught up by the worlds of these people who only want to increase their vote bank.”
The Good: Technology Changes Chemistry of CO2 Emissions
As the environment around us continues to suffer, mostly at the hands of humans, innovative and concerned individuals and entities have made progress in combating the problem of harmful CO2 emissions.
While CO2 continues to fill our atmosphere with previously unusable gases, scientists have become proficient in managing small amounts of CO2 by turning the chemical compassion into usable resources.
“There are many ways to use CO,” said Eli Stavitski, a scientist at Brookhaven and an author on the paper. “You can react it with water to produce energy-rich hydrogen gas, or with hydrogen to produce useful chemicals, such as hydrocarbons or alcohols. If there were a sustainable, cost-efficient route to transform CO2 to CO, it would benefit society greatly.”
Scientist’s are excited to uncover the secret to changing harmful emissions to carbon monoxide, which can be unsafe for humans upon direct contact, however when used safely and properly can widely be used an alternative energy source.
The Bad: NASA Retires Kepler Satellite
After spending nearly 10 years discovering new planets, stars and supernovas through-out the galaxy, NASA has announced that the Kepler satellite has run out of fuel and will eventually become part of the suns’s orbit.
Kepler has been traveling the darkest parts of our previously unknown universe for 9.5 years amazingly running on just over 3 gallons of fuel. As if Kepler was a child being let go to explore a new world, scientists have been awaiting Kepler’s eventual retirement and see losing the information hub as not a loss, but a passing of an universal torch which contains information on our galaxy that will eventually be clues for the next generation of scientific explorers.
Before Kepler went dark, it found 2,600 planets outside our solar system, observed 530,506 Stars, and found 62 supernovas documenting every detail and sending it back to earth providing insight on habitable planets and their contents.