Saturday an Egyptian court banned the use of YouTube in the country for one month citing that the site hosted an American made anti-Islam video and failed to remove it. This video is the same that sparked violent protests throughout the Middle East, criticizing the prophet Mohammed. The judge who presided over the case said that the ban may apply to other social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. It was not clear when the ban would come into effect and the court’s decision also can be appealed.
The Keystone Pipeline was one of the main items on the agenda while new Secretary of State John Kerry hosted his Canadian equivalent in Washington. Although Kerry did not discuss the merits of the project, he said that the state department would have its review of the project completed in the “near term.” This review would include an environmental evaluation of the plan that would send oil from the Canadian tar sands from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of the U.S.
The Curiosity rover, a recent and incredibly successful rover that has landed on Mars, has accomplished an impressive milestone as the first Mars rover to drill into the terrain and obtain a sample – one of the first steps for scientists in analyzing the building blocks of life. This powdery substance will be transferred to the onboard laboratory for research to determine its chemical makeup. Curiosity will be traveling to a mountain for the next nine months while on the planet.
CNN – Feb. 9, 2013
On Friday, February 7, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was given his ceremonial goodbye, even before his planned successor, former Senator Chuck Hagel, was announced. Various political and military leaders were in attendance. Panetta has faced a fair level of criticism concerning the Benghazi terror attack, the rise of Islamic extremists in Mali and the gas plant siege in Algeria, however his stepping down ceremony was graceful and respectful. Before Panetta stepped down, he warned that sequestration, $50 billion annual spending cuts within the next 10 years, should be the country’s main concern.
Chokri Belaid was killed in front of his home last Wednesday morning after receiving numerous death threats for his outspoken criticism of Tunisia’s Islamist-led government. The public was outraged and many showed up to mourn the death of this prominent political figure. Belaid’s brother claims that this murder was, “a clear messaged to Tunisians…shut up, or we kill you”. The United States urges Tunisia’s government to conduct a professional investigation to get to the bottom of Belaid’s killing.
Seven new ministers were appointed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Cabinet, replacing the heads of the oil, finance, social affairs, labour, housing, public works, and agricultural ministries. However, the source of the front lines of the conflict, such as defense and interior, remain unchanged. There have been several ongoing battles, such as air raids in the town of Zamalka, fierce clashes between rebels and troops in the town of Daraya and the regime forces are battling to retake control of an 8km belt around the capital. The UN estimates that more than 60,000 people have been killed over the past two years.
Fireworks exploded to celebrate the Luna New Year in China, which will be the year of the snake. Two hundred million people across the country travel home to be with their family. The government has asked people to limit fireworks in an effort to limit air pollution.
Gov. Snyder received mixed reviews about his budget for the 2014 fiscal year. The budget was applauded for providing a 2% increase in funding allotment for Michigan public higher education institutions. At the same time, it was critiqued as being a “no brainer” and unquestionably the right thing to do for the state given Snyder’s previous 2011 cuts to higher education. Among other things, the budget also focuses on “health benefits, pre-elementary education and rebuilding transportation infrastructure.”
Across the Northeast, the blizzard broke precipitation records, cancelled 2,200 flights, contributed to the deaths of five individuals, caused 700,000 customers to lose power, failed to put of New York’s Fashion Week, and delighted the ski industry.