As a full-time college student, it is difficult to stay up-to-date on the always-changing waves of world politics. As more students become eligible to vote, it is vital to understand the nuances of current events and be engaged in the goings on of one’s own world. The constant headlines can be overwhelming and difficult to penetrate. The Catalyst researched and broke down three recent political events that have had a severe impact on world leaders.
Zelinksy on Ukraine
On Sept. 19, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelinsky spoke to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in a warning to countries of the dangerous effects of remaining neutral toward world aggressors. “While nukes remain in place, the mass destruction is gaining momentum. The aggressor is weaponizing many other things and those things are used not only against our country but against all of yours as well,” Zelensky stated at the beginning of his speech on how the world is silently allowing Russia to continue building its nuclear arsenal. Zelensky said that the UN is not doing enough in stopping Russia and that nuclear warfare is not the only vehicle driving Russian destruction on Ukraine.
The UN is made up of six which, three of which can sanction Russia: the General Assembly, which is the platform where states debate and construct policies; the Security Council, which maintains peace and responds to threats; and the International Court of Justice, which holds states accountable for disruptions of said peace. Member of the Security Council are considered the “great powers,” including Russia, the United States (US), China, France and the United Kingdom (UK). However, the power of the Security Council has been subject to debate as it can conflict with the power of the General Assembly, and Russia being on the Security Council further muddies the water by being able to sanction its own country. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the United States and the European Union (EU) have taken on a leading role of imposing sanctions because the Security Council is bound by conflicts of interests. The current sanctions againts Russia are: bans on Russian diamonds in the UK, US and EU, freezing Russian assets in international banks and cutting Russian income from oil and gas.
Zelensky stated that Russia is “weaponizing food” by Russia blocking Ukrainian ports and creating a food shortage that will impact areas from Southeast Asia to the Atlantic coast of Africa. He thanked countries who have supported Ukraine’s Black Sea Grain Initiative: a deal between Russia and Ukraine that allows 2.9 million metric tonnes of food to be exported from Ukraine without Russian interference.
“It is alarming to see how some [countries] in Europe play out solidarity in a political theatre – making thriller from the grain. They may seem to play their own role but in fact, they are helping set the stage to a Moscow actor.” he said.
Furthermore, Zelesky explained how Russia has weaponized energy, through using the oil and gas of other countries against Ukraine, and children, through mass kidnappings for terrorist groups and deportation . “The global security architecture offers no response or protection against such a treacherous radiation threat… And there is no accountability for radiation blackmailers so far.”
Zelensky ended his speech urging world powers to unite against Russia and end a country’s ability to get away with aggression and unveiled power. “Weaponization must be restrained. War crimes must be punished. Deported people must come back home. And the occupier must return to their own land. We must be united to make it.”
In the US, former President Donald Trump has currently been indicted on four federal and state charges in New York, Florida, Washington and Georgia. Trump has been indicted for the following: criminal enterprise to reverse Georgia’s 2022 election results, 41 criminal counts of mishandling classified documents, falsifying records of hush-money to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who went public on Trump’s sexual misconduct and staggering fraud for overvaluing assets.
In the Georgia case, Trump was charged along with 18 of his lawyers, and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and former White House Chief of Staff under Trump, Mark Meadows. The term “criminal enterprising,” as per the GA ST § 16-14-4 (2015) , means that it is unlawful for a person to gain any money or interest through involvement of the enterprise and for that said person to engage with the enterprise for their own personal gain. In this case, Trump is being charged under the racketeering statute, which is designed to dismantle an organized criminal group, in this case being his lawyers and other supporters in his attempt to overturn votes.
In Trump’s civil case in New York (NY), State Attorney General Letitia James is seeking to bar the Trumps from owning any business in the state because he allegedly overvalued his personal assets. Trumps lawyers lost a motion to dismiss against James and a trial is scheduled for this October. Back, In April 2023, Trump was questioned under oath by James in a private deposition. Trump’s lawyer publicly stated: “President Trump is not only willing but also eager to testify before the attorney general today,” adding that, “He remains resolute in his stance that he has nothing to conceal, and he looks forward to educating the attorney general about the immense success of his multibillion dollar company.”
As of Sept. 26, NY Justice Arthur F. Engoron of the Supreme Court 1st Judicial District in New found Trump liable for inflating his assets, which provided a major victory for James in seeking a verdict against the former president. In Justice Engoron’s order relating to Trump’s value estimation, he wrote that “rent-regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air.” Engoron also imposed sanctions of $75,000 on Trump’s lawyers for continuing to use rejected arguments that he deemed frivolous.
Since his sweeping election win last fall, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been under close scrutiny following his current corruption trials. In State of Israel vs. Benjamin Netanyahu, he faces charges of breach of trust, fraud and bribery. With Netanyahu once again in power, the waters are muddied regarding his authority in his own felony case, especially with his recent law that will decrease judicial power. Netanyahu’s party, Likud, has stripped power from the Attorney General, who has been quite vocal regarding Netanyahu’s corruption charges. The outraged Israeli population took to the streets to protest the increasing powerful regime. However, the party claims that the Attorney General is supposed to provide the Prime Minister legal advice, and therefore has a conflict of interest if his job is also to oversee politicians in government positions.
If the Likud party continues to decrease the influence of the Attorney General’s power and eventually replaces them, the Israeli people fear that someone will be appointed by Netanyahu who could withdraw the corruption case entirely and simply be a puppet. A New York Times article on the trial states that “critics fear that the government could eventually fire Mr. Eisman and install a more pliant replacement, particularly after Parliament passed the law this week that limits the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn the dismissal and appointment of senior officials.” Netanyahu would have total control to do whatever he wants when it comes to ensuring that elections pan out in his favor. Some Israeli lawmakers have considered splitting up the role of the Attorney General in order to avoid any conflict of interest.
Now more than ever it is vital for young people to use their natural born right to vote. The link to register is here. Voting ensures that one’s voice is not drowned out by people in power with malicious intentions and keeps the government in the hands of the people. Each individual vote matters.