Last Week In Review
Tragedy in Connecticut
Days after three people were shot in a mall in Oregon, the nation suffered a visceral tragedy on Friday as 20 children and six adults were suddenly and brutally slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. Rumors swirled around the Twitter-verse for most of the day, but what we know for certain is 20-year-old Adam Lanza walked into the elementary school, dressed in black fatigues and armed to the teeth, and began firing upon students and staff before ending the massacre by taking his own life. President Barack Obama held a press conference at 12:15 E.T. the same day. He spoke not only as the nation’s leader, but also as a father as he fought back tears. There is a time to mourn for those slain so suddenly and brutally in Newton, Connecticut, and that time is now. But the time must finally come when we don't squabble over the politics and focus on the ultimate goal, creating a safer America for our children.
Another Step Closer to the Edge
Tis’ the season of giving…except for those partaking in the fiscal standoff in the nation’s capital. The tragedy in Connecticut will be the lead story in the coming week, but the threat of going over the “fiscal cliff” still looms over the nation. Counteroffers were exchanged between the White House and House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday, but if a compromise isn’t found within the next two weeks automatic tax hikes and spending cuts will be engaged, a grave concern of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who announced Monday the Reserve will continue its contentious stimulus program in order to keep long-term interest rates at all-time lows. The nation can only hope the tragic events in Newton, Conneticut can help forge a compromise between the Left and the Right on this issue.
The Fall of an American Hero
America lost a least-known hero this week, as the Defense Department reported Tuesday that 28-year-old Petty Officer Nicolas Checque, one of the members of the SEAL team that killed Osama Bin Laden last May, was killed in a raid which successfully freed a doctor held hostage in Afghanistan. Checque joined the Navy directly after graduating from Norwin High School in Pennsylvania in 2002 and entered the SEAL program in 2003. In his 10 years as a SEAL, Checque received a Bronze Star and several other commendations. On behalf of a grateful nation, Empirical magazine would like to thank Nicolas Checque and all our military men and women for their service and sacrifice.
Johnny Be Good
Although Johnny Manziel won his Heisman last Saturday, this southern man has been the belle of the ball at various sports and late night talk shows this week. What’s all the buzz about this quarterback you may ask? Johnny Manziel, a.k.a ”Johnny Football,” became the first freshman to win the most prestigious award in all of collegiate athletics, out-edging linebacker Manti Te’o of Note Dame and quarterback Colin Kline of Kansas State. Heisman voters were not only swayed by his numbers (3,419 passing yards, 1,181 rushing yards and 43 total touchdowns, better numbers than Cam Newton and Tim Tebow when they won their Heismans), but his breathtaking performance in Tuscaloosa, upending the number one ranked and reigning champion Alabama. No matter what happens when Manziel and Texas A&M face off against their former Big-12 foes Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl January 4th, analysts and fans across the nation will ponder if Manziel will claim a second Heisman within the next two years. A feat which has been accomplished only once, and hasn’t happened in college football in nearly four decades.
Baseball’s new $25 Million Man
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim decided to join their southern California counterparts in spending boatloads of cash as the ball-club acquired one of the more feared bats in baseball. Rangers general Manager Jon Daniels confirmed Thursday that outfielder Josh Hamilton agreed to a five-year, $125 million dollar contract with the Angels. The deal means the Rangers have to face their former slugger 20 times a year, and the Angles gain a much desired bat in the middle of a prolific lineup. With Albert Pujos, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, and pitchers Jarred Weaver and Dan Harren, it will be hard for many analysts not to pick the Angels to win the A.L. West. But the greatest concern for the Angels may not be Hamilton’s play, but his history of drug abuse. The all-star relapsed from his drug addiction last season, and will need to build a strong support system to avoid any temptation in the city of angels.
On December 11th, the world lost one of its musical phenoms as Ravi Shankar passed away at the age of 92. Shankar, who grew up on the banks of the Ganges River in India, will be remembered for introducing Eastern music to Western gods like the Beatles and The Doors. Although he was a student of many forms of music, Shankar will be remembered for his haunting, yet captivating play on the sitar. In a report by Susan Stamberg of NPR, Shankar “once said he felt ecstasy when he made music - the world was erased, and he experienced great peace." Shankar is survived by his wife, his daughters, and countless fans around the world.
Egypt: A New Uprising
It’s been over a year since the revolution, but Egyptians are once again filling the streets in protest of a controversial referendum many see as a power grab by President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, and a step toward a less-secular Egypt. The BBC reported that nearly 250,000 security personal were called upon to maintain the peace as Egyptians voted on the referendum on Saturday, which was extended by four hours due to the enormous voter turnout. The strife reveals how divided the most populous country in the Arab world remains despite coming under one banner to oust former president Hosni Mubarak in the wave of last year’s Arab Spring. There have been some reports of violence breaking out in some of its provinces, but voting for the most part has been going smoothly. The referendum must be settled either way to finalize a constitution, which must be passed before elections can be held early next year.
The Powder Keg Grows
US and NATO officials have reported that Syrian President Basar Assad and his forces have prepared a number of explosives with lethal chemical agents, prompting both NATO and the US to deploy troops and defense missiles to the Turkey/Syrian border. The armament of these weapons may be a sign of desperation from Assad, as Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov stated earlier in the week. Rebel fighters are gaining significant advantage in a nearly two-year civil war which has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of refugees. The world can only hope this move by Assad is a final bluff to initiate a cease-fire on his terms, for a chemical attack would escalate this quagmire to global proportions and eliminate any chance of ending the bloodshed through diplomatic means.