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Your News, Today: April 16, 2018

by Apr 17

SENATE INTRODUCES CHANGES TO WAR POWERS RESOLUTION Following a coalition strike on Syria that the U.S. participated in, the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal and replace the 2001 and 2002 authorizations of force. The original legislation allowed the president to conduct the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without a formal declaration of war. The new bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tennessee, pictured above left) and Tim Kaine (D-Virginia. pictured above right) allows the president to pursue military action against "specific non-state actors." It would allow military actions against groups such as ISIS, but it does not seem it would justify another military strike against a government such as Syria without additional congressional authorization. Congress has been split in its support or condemnation of the President's strike on Syria. Several congressional leaders have supported the attack as drawing a line in the sand on chemical weapons, while both Republicans and Democrats have said that the President should have gotten Congressional support before the attack. For further reading: https://www.apnews.com/e51cd993941e4240b9b7999647647fa8/Senators-introduce-new-war-powers-resolution

COLORADO TEACHERS MARCH ON THE STATE CAPITOL Following weeks of protests among teachers in other states, Colorado teachers marched on the state capitol in response to proposed changes to their pension. Colorado ranks 46th out of the 50 states + the District of Columbia for teacher pay, despite having a very strong state economy (Colorado ranks lower with states like West Virginia, which has one of the worst economies in the country). Colorado is unique compared to the other states that have seen protests in that it is a far more liberal state with a Democrat governor. However, spending is strictly controlled by the state constitution, which may explain the difficulties in raising funds for the state. Colorado lawmakers noted that before the protests began they were considering a new spending bill that would dramatically increase funds for schools; it is unclear how whether this increase will be enough to satisfy the teachers. There are also already school funding cuts from prior legislation that will take effect in 2019 that are not at the moment being addressed. For further reading: https://www.apnews.com/ad5be37f3db3411ab18ad20d8c78a237/Colorado-teachers-rally-at-Capitol-for-school-funding

WORST PRISON RIOT IN 25 YEARS In South Carolina at the Lee Correctional Institute, a seven hour prison riot left seven dead and many more injured before the corrections officers could regain control. Prisoners apparently had access to cell phones (one inmate was actually able to speak to AP about the riot via cell phone even though they're not allowed), which they used to coordinate riots in several blocks at once. The prisoner reported that security was lax, locks had been left broken, and inmates were able to effectively roam free. Many inmates were clubbed and beaten, several were cut and stabbed from homemade weapons. All of the deceased died from knife wounds. There are 1,500 inmates in the facility and 44 guards were on duty. The riots were apparently to take control of money and territory. For further reading: https://www.apnews.com/c3db6362f47242a8a35e42f52a0422c9/7-inmates-killed-as-prisoners-fight-over-money,-territory http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43786325

INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATORS DENIED ACCESS TO SITE OF CHEMICAL ATTACK Citing "security concerns," Russian and Syrian officials have denied access to the site of the chemical attack from last week. After several attempts to pick an independent investigative group at the U.N., where several resolutions were proposed and vetoed by both the U.S. and Russia, Russia and Syria chose to unilaterally allow the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate the area. However, the team has not been allowed access to the area. Because there is no U.N. resolution and Russia/Syria operated unilaterally, they are free to control the investigators' access to the area. The only investigation they have been allowed to make was to interview 22 witnesses selected by the Syria government. The U.S. and France have said they have evidence that the Syrian government was behind the attack but have not made it public. U.S. sources have said they tested blood and urine of victims which tested positive for chlorine and a nerve agent (BBC). Syria denies an attack took place. Russia has declared it was a false-flag operation by the U.K. Those interviewed by various media sources seem to make clear there certainly was an attack, likely chlorine, but it is less definitive from those reports alone who committed the attack. With the area now out of the hands of the rebels who occupied the area before the attack and in the hands of Syria and Russia, there are concerns that the longer it takes to get independent observers in, the more likely it is the scene will be tampered with. Russia denies tampering with the area. For further reading: https://www.apnews.com/5ef71f938d1f457f8a7768b7b6eddfb5/Chemical-weapons-team-in-Syria-kept-from-alleged-attack-site http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43783427 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/world/middleeast/syria-douma-chemical-attack.html As always, thanks for reading.

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