Politics: New York Grand Jury Votes to Indict Former President Donald J. Trump
On March 30, former president Donald J. Trump made history by being the first president to face criminal charges. The New York grand jury sided with the prosecution, led by Alvin Bragg, to indict Trump for his involvement in cover-up payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, buying her silence regarding their affair during his 2016 presidential campaign. The exact charges and indictment currently remain under seal and undisclosed to the public, though Trump turned himself in on Tuesday. The former president has maintained his stance that this investigation and case was partisan-motivated. Furthermore, even if he is convicted, the ruling would not legally prevent him from running for president in 2024.
Natural Disasters: Tornadoes Ravage South and Midwest
As of April 2, a powerful storm system that barreled through parts of the South and Midwest on March 31 has caused 26 reported fatalities. McNairy County, Tennessee, reported nine fatalities in wake of the catastrophic damage left in the tornadoes’ path. In Arkansas, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency due to the tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and golf-ball sized hail. Illinois also faced tornadoes and baseball-sized hail, causing one death in Belvidere, three in Crawford County, and another three in Sullivan County. Overall, the severe weather has also caused 559,000 people to lose power across Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The weather service office in Little Rock, Arkansas, has reported the possibility for more extreme weather in the coming days as another strong storm system will approach the area from the west.
World: Russia Regains UN Security Council Presidency Amidst Ukrainian Anger
The UN Security Council operates with each of its 15 members taking up the presidency for one month on a rotating pattern. Amidst much Ukrainian anger, Russia has assumed its role as the head of the security council for this month. Though the position is mostly a procedural one, the Kremlin — the Russian government — and other Russian officials vowed to “exercise all its rights” in its role. Furthermore, the last time Russia held presidency was in February 2022 when its troops invaded Ukraine. Ukrainians were vocal in their dissent, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy calling it an absurd and destructive move and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba calling it “the worst joke ever for April Fool’s Day.” It should also be noted that Russia is currently a permanent member of the Security Council, meaning that it has veto power and cannot be removed from the body.
Politics: Finland Overcomes Last Hurdle for NATO Membership With Sweden Still Waiting
On March 30, the Turkish parliament became the last Western defense alliance NATO member to approve of Finland’s entry into NATO, after Finland agreed to crack down on groups that Turkey considered “terrorists.” With all the ratification steps now completed, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Finland will officially become the 31st member of the world’s largest military alliance on April 4. While Finland has now entered NATO’s protection umbrella, its neighboring country Sweden is still waiting. The two countries had abandoned their traditional military non-alignment policies in favor of joining NATO after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Currently, Sweden’s ratification process is still being held up by Hungary and Turkey, who were also the last two countries to endorse Finland’s entry.
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