News briefs

Leo Brian Schafer

Catholic Values Columnist


US News:


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87

Liberal hero and feminist icon Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in her home in Washington D.C. on the evening of Sep. 18. She was 87. Only the second woman to serve on the U.S.’s highest court, she served 27 years as a staunch defender of liberalism and suffered from various forms of cancer five times before she succumbed to metastatic pancreatic cancer. Her stature ascended to pop-culture icon when she was nicknamed “the notorious RBG.” President Donald Trump has committed to nominating and confirming a replacement before the November election. He has repeatedly stated that his nominee will be a woman. It is widely speculated that Amy Coney Barrett, judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, will be Trump’s choice. During her 2017 confirmation hearings, Barrett, who describes herself as an “Orthodox Catholic,” was questioned whether her faith disqualified her for judicial service, prompting Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein of California to say “The Dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern.” Trump has said that his nomination to fill the vacancy will come in the upcoming week.


US set to ban Chinese apps

U.S. President Donald Trump is set to ban software applications tied to large Chinese companies, most notably video sharing platform TikTok, on Sept. 20. The ban comes after months of speculation surrounding the data mining practices of certain companies. Under China’s “State Capitalism” system, any company over a certain employment threshold must relinquish control of the company to the Chinese Government. The U.S. sees this as a threat to national security, as the Chinese Government has access to user data. ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, claims that user data is stored in Singapore, and that the Chinese Government does not have access to it, a claim widely questioned by security experts. In a series of 11th Hour moves, a judge blocked the ban of WeChat, a messaging app, over concerns about freedom of speech, and ByteDance reportedly reached a deal with U.S. tech firm Oracle and retail behemoth Walmart to take control of U.S. operations of the app’s over 700 million registered users.


Family of Breonna Taylor settles for $12 Million

The family of Breonna Taylor has settled with the city of Louisville for $12 million. Taylor, who was killed in a police drug raid gone wrong, was an emergency medical technician in the city. She was sleeping in her home on the night of Mar. 13 when Louisville SWAT teams executed a no-knock warrant on the wrong house, and opened fire on the bedroom. Her boyfriend, a licensed gun owner, fired a warning shot, believing the raid to be a home invasion. Taylor was shot five times and died soon after. The events of that night spurred large riots across the country and a nationwide movement to ban no-knock warrants. Also involved in the settlement is a series of police reforms, such as a reform of the way that warrants are approved, and housing credits to officers who move into low-income neighborhoods.


International News:


Singapore debuts COVID-19 tracing tokens

In an attempt to combat COVID-19, Singapore has distributed GPS tokens that transmit locational data to a central server. If the owner of a token tests positive for COVID-19, every person who has been within a certain distance for a certain amount of time will receive a notification and order to self-quarantine. This bolsters the efforts of the Singapore government, who also released an app several months ago for the same purpose, to combat the virus, that up to this point has infected nearly 60,000 people in the small island city state. These efforts are not without controversy, however. There are privacy concerns over where and how the data will be stored, as well as questions about who exactly can access private information.


Inspiration for ‘Hotel Rwanda’ charged with terrorism

Paul Rusesabagina, inspiration for the 2004 drama “Hotel Rwanda,” has been arrested by Rwandan authorities over suspicion of terrorist activity. Rusesabagina is the leader of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change, a group in opposition to the current government that is believed to have an armed wing that is recognized as a terror group. Rusesabagina has been in exile since an attempt on his life in 1996. Since then, he has been living in the United States. In 2010, he returned to international prominence when he feuded with Rwandan President Paul Kigame over the latter’s accusations that Rusesabagina was involved with terror groups. Rusesabagina is known for his actions during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, in which he hid thousands of the persecuted Tutsi minority at the hotel he was managing in the capital, Kigali.


UN charges Venezuela with crimes against humanity

The UN Human Rights Council has accused the current Venezuelan government of “egregious violations amounting to crimes against humanity.” The Socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, which has been in power since 1999, has been implicated in dozens of cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances for the duration of their control of the South American country. The presidency has been in dispute since the contested 2018 elections, in which electoral irregularities caused Juan Guaido, then president of the National Assembly, to declare the results illegitimate and claim the office by right of constitutional succession. Venezuela has been in a state of economic collapse and hyperinflation since June 2010, when then-president Chavez declared a state of emergency over increasing shortages. The 2018 election only added to the crisis, with much of the western world acknowledging Guaido as the legitimate leader. Nightly protests and riots became commonplace, as was violent police intervention.