Here and There: The World Right Now

CULTURE: The Met Gala

The Met Gala, officially known as the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit, held the opening part of its first-ever two-part exhibition on September 13, with the theme of American fashion. The event is normally held on the first Monday of May, but was postponed due to Covid-19 and split into two parts, the latter of which is scheduled for May 2022. The night centered around the topic of American independence to celebrate the Costume Institute’s new exhibit, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” Guests were asked to dress according to the theme, and stars such as Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman, and Naomi Osaka donned stylish outfits to fit the occasion. This year’s Gala managed to raise a record-breaking $16.75 million for the Costume Institute through proceeds from ticket sales and donations, fulfilling its purpose as a fundraiser for the museum.


HEALTH: The Vaccine Crisis in Africa

Many African countries are struggling due to the dire lack of Covid-19 vaccines, with just 3.6 percent of its population being fully vaccinated compared to almost 55 percent in the United States. Determined to be the “worst yet,” a third wave of infections have impacted Africa, pushing the limits of health systems that were already grappling with the virus. However, due to vaccine shortages across the globe, export restrictions, and a number of wealthy countries seeking booster shots, its supplies are running low. Organizations such as Covax are working to ensure fairer distribution of vaccines on an international scale, but pledges made by high-income governments to deliver more than one billion doses are far from coming true. Meanwhile, there are various reports of millions of excess doses going to waste in high-income countries, which further emphasizes vaccine inequity as the pandemic stretches on.


WAR/CONFLICT: Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

Earlier this year, the Biden administration decided to follow through with former President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by August 31. When people expressed concern about the Taliban’s potential to take over the country once again, the President defended his decision by saying he “trusted the capacity of the Afghan military.” However, Afghanistan fell under Taliban forces in less than a week as the U.S. withdrawal neared its end, capturing the capital city of Kabul on August 15 and quickly seizing control over the region. While Taliban leaders have stated that they will form an “inclusive government” and aimed to present a changed front, many Afghanistan citizens are in fear that they will return to the violence of their previous rule. This has led to thousands racing to the airport in an attempt to flee the country, including the president, Ashraf Ghani. Many are worried that terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda will find a safe place in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, and women are skeptical about their rights, which they were deprived of during the Taliban’s last rule.


U.S. POLITICS: California Recall Election

On September 14, California held a recall election for eligible voters to vote on whether or not Governor Gavin Newsom should stay in office. The effort to remove him from his position began last year by Republicans in the state who were critical of Newsom’s policies, mainly his response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This specific recall effort was organized by Orrin Heatlie, who led the California Patriot Coalition and gathered nearly two million signatures for a petition for the recall. 46 people challenged Newsom as replacement candidates, including Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego, and Larry Elder, a conservative radio talk show host. The ballot asked two questions: Should Gov. Newsom be recalled? If Newsom is recalled, who should replace him? More than 10 million votes were cast, and 63.5 percent of voters voted against the recall, effectively nulling the recall effort. Newsom has since promised to continue his work in areas such as immigrant rights and climate change.


WORLD POLITICS: United Nations General Assembly

On September 14, the 76th session of the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly, also known as UNGA 76, opened. Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives was sworn in as the General Assembly President and opened the session, which was the first in-person meeting of the assembly since the Covid-19 pandemic began. World leaders representing 132 countries convened at the U.N. Secretariat Building on September 21 for the beginning of the high-level General Debate, which will last until September 27. Some issues that are expected to be at the forefront of the discussions include the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. In addition to these topics, this gathering takes place in the midst of tensions between the U.S. and France over a nuclear-submarine agreement. Moreover, China and Russia are not expected to attend, and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro announced that he will attend unvaccinated, bringing the assembly’s Covid-19 guidelines into question.


76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 76)