Copenhagen Shootings, Brian Williams, Argentina, Ashton Carter, and the NFL in :60


Shooter Kills Two in Copenhagen

On Saturday, shootings in Copenhagen, Denmark left two civilians dead and five police officers injured. The gunman first opened fire on a cafe where a debate on Islam and free speech was being held. The French Ambassador to Denmark was attending the debate along with Lars Vilks, a Swedish artist who received death threats due to his controversial depiction of the prophet Muhammad.

The second shooting occurred ten hours later near a synagogue. A Jewish man was shot and killed, and three police officers were wounded. The suspected gunman was then shot and killed. Police say that he had a criminal record and was involved with gangs in the past.

Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt described the shootings as “a cynical act of terror against Denmark” and remarked that there are “forces that want to hurt Denmark” and to “rebuke our freedom of speech.” The Prime Minister later visited the synagogue near the shooting and said that Denmark would do everything it could do to protect its Jewish community.


NBC Suspends Brian Williams

On Tuesday, NBC suspended Nightly News anchor and NBC managing editor Brian Williams for six months without pay. Because of his strongwork for the network and his immense public popularity, he was not fired. The suspension extends William’s self-imposed temporary leave of absence from the program.

This decision comes in the aftermath of a network-authorized internal investigation surrounding a 2003 report on Iraq in which Williams had falsely claimed that a helicopter he boarded came under enemy fire.

The scandal emerged after Williams recounted the story during a public tribute to a retired soldier at a New York Rangers game. Upon hearing the story, crew members of the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook, the helicopter that was actually hit during the attack, told Stars and Stripes that Williams’ aircraft was not in the formation that took fire and instead had arrived an hour later.

Williams’ scandal has drawn comparisons to Hillary Clinton’s story of coming under fire at a Bosnian airfield in 1996, which she bungled during her 2008 presidential campaign. Both stories are contributing to a public conversation about the reliability of memory, especially recollection of highly emotional events.


Argentina President Suspected of Involvement in Cover-up

The president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández, could face criminal charges related to the January 18 murder of prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Nisman’s death came four days after he released a 289-page criminal complaint against the president accusing her of conspiring with Iran to cover up a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires. He was scheduled to present his findings to Congress the day after he died. The report claims that the president had secret communication with Iranian officials to cover up Iran’s involvement in exchange for lower oil prices.

On Friday, prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita announced he would continue to pursue to allegations. Pollicita inherited the case from Nisman after he was found with a bullet in his head in his apartment. Both the Argentinian and Iranian governments have strongly denied all allegations.  

Nisman’s document is based primarily off of phone taps on Fernandez’s allies, which reportedly show them discussing trade negotiations with Iranian Mohsen Rabbani. Rabbani is suspected to be behind the attack. Pollicita will present a condensed 60-page report to a judge in the coming weeks, who will decide whether to dismiss it or sent it on to trial.

The accusations come in the midst of a period of economic crisis and constant corruptions in Argentina. Fernandez is ineligible to run again in the next presidential election on October 25 and will lose immunity when she steps down from office.


Ashton Carter Confirmed; Other Votes Stalled

Last Thursday the Senate voted 93-5 in favor of confirming Ashton Carter as the next U.S. defense secretary. Carter is the former deputy defense secretary and will replace Chuck Hagel in President Obama’s cabinet after Hagel announced his resignation in November.

Carter’s confirmation process went smoothly in the new Republican-controlled Senate. He was approved unanimously by the Senate Armed Services Committee and is expected to capably cope with budget cuts at the Pentagon. Carter, a physicist, began his career at the Defense Department during the Clinton Administration and most recently oversaw the purchase of weapons systems in the Defense Department.

The confirmation of Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s choice to replace Eric Holder as U.S. attorney general, has been more contested. The most recent delay by Republicans on the Judiciary Committee means that the committee will not vote on her until February 26. This would mean that Lynch, the current U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, would not go before the full Senate until some time in March. At 96 days, her confirmation process has already taken longer “than any U.S. attorney in modern history,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

In other Senate confirmation news, Maria Echaveste has withdrawn her nomination for the position of American ambassador to Mexico. Echaveste based her decision on “the prolonged confirmation process and her family’s best interests.” Mexico is just one of many countries that still lacks an ambassador. In fact, over one quarter of the countries with American embassies have no ambassador. Many appointees have been waiting for months for their hearings to be scheduled. Others have waited over a year.


NFL Concussion Case Comes to an End

In response to the countless cases of suicide, premature death, and head trauma faced by retired players of the National Football League (NFL), former players have filed over 4500 lawsuits against the league. Their principal grievance is that they believe that the NFL failed to protect players from long-term injury. A settlement between the NFL and the families of retired players is imminent: United States District Court Judge Anita Brody is deciding whether to give her final approval for this deal. The settlement will take action over the next 65 years and is worth approximately 1 billion dollars. It will cover all former NFL players who retired prior to July 7, 2014.

Christopher Seeger, one of the leading attorneys for the retired players, stated that there has been “over 99 percent participation from the retired player community. The deal would offer compensation to players and the players’ families for a wide range of neurological issues, from dementia and depression to Alzheimer’s disease and death. Despite these steps, there are a few concerns regarding missing pieces to the settlement. Most notably, as attorney Thomas Demetrio pointed out, no proposed system exists for future payouts for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a very serious injury that affects the mind and mood.

In addition to the expected settlement, the NFL is showing other signs of good faith and concern for player safety. For the first time in the league’s history, the NFL appointed a chief health and medical advisor, Dr. Betsy Nabel.


In other news…

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg admitted to not being “100% sober” at the State of the Union this year after being caught sleeping during the speech.

Rand Paul repeatedly claimed that he has a biology degree, but fact-checkers declared this “Three Pinocchios.” Paul attended Baylor University but was accepted to Duke University School of Medicine without having received an undergraduate degree.

The long-awaited 50 Shades of Grey movie premiered this weekend, grossing over $81.7 million dollars over a three-day period.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B. Comey gave a speech Thursday about the tumultuous relationship between the bureau and African-Americans over the years.

Duke Political Review’s Editor-in-Chief Ray Li was accepted to Stanford Law School on Friday!

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