Brazil’s President potentially facing impeachment
On April 17, Brazil’s lower Chamber of Deputies passed a notion to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, who was re-elected in 2014. 367 of the 504 house members voted to impeach, well over the two-thirds necessary for the motion to be approved and passed on to Senate. If the majority of the Senate (41 out of 81 senators) approves the impeachment, Rousseff would be asked to temporarily step down for 180 days from her presidency in order to defend her position in an impeachment trial (CNN, “Brazil’s lower house votes for Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment,” 04.18.16). Her position would be taken over by Vice President Michel Temer during her period of suspension.
While the vote was taking place on Sunday, there were massive crowds of protesters and supporters of Rousseff outside of Congress. Rousseff was accused of breaking federal accounting laws by misappropriating public funds in order to gain votes for re-election in 2014 (USA Today, “Lawmakers vote to impeach Brazil’s president,” 04.18.16).
Rousseff has stood her ground following the impeachment approval in the lower house, claiming that the impeachment is an unjust, sexist coup. As the first female president of Brazil, first elected in 2010, Rousseff claims that her actions are being unfairly criticized and that she is being treated differently than her male predecessors. She defended herself saying the budgetary actions she took by borrowing money from state banks has been done by presidents in the past, yet they have not faced the same criticism (CNN, “Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to fight impeachment,” 04.19.16).
After the impeachment trial, which can last up to 180 days, if more than two-thirds of Senate, which is 54 senators, finds her guilty, she will be permanently removed from office. Regarding replacements if she is successfully impeached, next in line to the presidency is Vice President Temer, who is facing impeachment possibilities himself for also manipulating public funds. The next in line would be House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who has been accused of corruption and taking multi-million dollar bribes. The third in line would be Head of Senate Renan Calheros, who is also under investigation for being tied to the corruption scandal related to Petrobras, the national oil company (BBC News, “Could Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff be impeached?” 04.17.19).
All of this is happening amidst the worst recession in Brazil’s history, the Zika virus outbreak and the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics. There are hopes that the Olympic games will help Brazil with the current economic recession–however, being the host of these large-scale events always holds the risk of putting immense financial strain on countries that are poorly structured to properly budget for them.
—Shelia Hu, Guest Reporter
Latest Ohio shootings may be connected to international drug ring
On Friday April 22, eight family members were found dead in Piketon, OH. Seven adults and one teenager were found dead at four different crime scenes by a relative. The sole survivors were a newborn, a six-month old and a three-year old (CNN, “‘Just Heartache’: Ohio community wonders who killed 8 family members,” 04.24.16). The victims were found in separate homes within miles of each other and it is estimated that the killings were carefully planned executions that were carried out at night.
Each of the victims was shot in the head, prompting the mass murder to be labeled as “execution-style killings.” It is currently unknown whether there is one perpetrator or a group and there is no evidence that any of the dead committed suicide, likely ruling out a murder-suicide (CNN, “Ohio Shootings: What we know,” 04.25.16).
Following the discovery of the bodies, authorities found that three of the four residences where the killings occurred contained extensive marijuana-growing operations. Officials claim that the marijuana was likely not grown for personal use as the operations found were quite sophisticated, suggesting the killings may have a more complex backstory.
Back in 2012, State Attorney General Mike DeWine issued a press release on the discovery of marijuana growing operations in Piketon that may be tied to a large Mexican drug cartel. Investigators found over 1,000 marijuana plants in abandoned warehouses they believed belonged to the drug cartel. However, it is not yet known whether the Rhoden family was related to that marijuana operation and if their killings were the doing of an international drug ring (CNN, “Marijuana ‘grow operations’ found at Ohio slaying sites,” 04.25.16).
Gun laws in Ohio are not strict, with no permits necessary to purchase rifles, shotguns and handguns, no registration of firearms necessary, no licensing for owners necessary and citizens are permitted to carry around handguns (NRA-ILA, “Ohio Gun Laws”).
In 2013, the Brady Campaign rated Ohio with a “D” rating, based on state regulations that were considered irresponsible measures that could potentially lead to gun violence and death. Research for the campaign found that the states with the strictest gun regulations also have the lowest gun-death rates in the country; additionally, only six states required background checks of gun buyers before purchase as of 2013 (Brady Campaign, “2013 State Scorecard”).
In 2013 there were a total of 339 recognized mass shootings in the United States, 325 in 2014, 371 in 2015 and 118 so far in 2016 (Mass Shooting Tracker, “US Mass Shootings”). Despite the established correlation between gun laws and gun-death rates, many states claim that gun laws violate the Second Amendment, the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Police have warned the surviving members of the Rhoden family to be cautious of a follow-up attack by the perpetrators.
—Shelia Hu, Guest Reporter
Trump, Clinton pull ahead in Tuesday’s primaries
On Tuesday, April 26, Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary elections in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland. Bernie Sanders triumphed in Rhode Island, the only state of the five where independents can vote in the primaries. Despite his losses, Sanders asserted that he intends to remain in the race. He suggested, however, that his motives might shift away from winning the Democratic nomination and toward other goals, such as shaping the Democratic Party’s platform.
In a campaign rally in Philadelphia on the same day, Clinton expressed her intentions to unify the Democratic Party and to back progressive ideals with real plans (Washington Post, “Clinton decisively wins Democratic primaries in 4 states,” 04.26.2016). She named similar objectives for the Democratic Platform, such as increasing minimum wage and creating a cohesive vision for the future of the Democratic Party and of the United States.
Donald Trump won all five states–Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut–on Tuesday, and he has already turned his attention to the general election, directing a fair amount of verbal attacks not at Cruz or Kasich, but at Clinton, over the past few days (Oregon Live, “Donald Trump sweeps all five states: April 26 primaries live updates, results,” 04.26.2016). Most notably, he declared that Clinton’s success is a direct result of her gender, arguing that if she was a man, she would receive no more than five percent of the vote.
Both of Trump’s Republican opponents, like Sanders, plan to move forward in the election. Trump also encouraged Sanders to run as an independent, should he lose the Democratic nomination to Clinton (CNBC, “Clinton takes four states, limiting chances of Sanders nomination,” 04.26.2016).
The next primary will be on May 3 in Indiana.
—Emma Jones, Senior Editor