U.S. continues Niger investigation

The United States military is still investigating the events that occurred in Niger two weeks ago when four U.S. soldiers were killed during an ambush, apparently by a regional branch of the Islamic State. Tensions have risen in the region

U.S. Army Green Berets are stationed in Niger as part of an operation to help train the country’s military and assist in counter-terrorism efforts. Specifically, the neutralization of ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) is a main priority of the military endeavor.

ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) was founded in 2015 after the group’s leader, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, split from an al-Qaeda group and pledged allegiance to ISIS.

According to two U.S. defense officials, the Pentagon’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) has dispatched a team to Niger to verify and investigate the details of what happened. The Pentagon officials are cautious to label this dispatch as an investigation. However, they maintain that the events of Oct.4 are unclear.

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Tropical Storm Nate on path for Louisiana

The state of Louisiana has declared a state of emergency in preparation for the anticipated landfall of Tropical Storm Nate, which has killed over 22 people so far in Central America.

Currently moving northward and strengthening in the Caribbean sea, Nate is expected to make landfall east of New Orleans on Saturday night as a category 1 hurricane. In the past two months,  Nate will be the third hurricane to have hit the United States.

Storm surge watches have been issued in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, where officials have urged residents to gather supplies and abide by any local evacuation notices.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Nate will shower the affected areas with between 3 and 12 inches of rain, and storm surges of 4 to 7 feet are expected.

Trump to do away with Iranian nuclear deal

Having critiqued the Iranian nuclear deal since his 2016 campaign, President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States “must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions.”

The accord between Iran, France, China, Russia, the UK and US was signed in 2016 under President Obama. Intended to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the deal allows for a limited amount of uranium enrichment for energy and research purposes.

Trump’s decision to eventually decertify the Iranian nuclear deal could be a precursor for the reimplementation of economic sanctions against Iran. Furthermore, such a move could alienate the other partners in the agreement, hindering multilateral relations.

President Trump is expected to deliver a speech elaborating further on his strategy concerning Iran and the Middle East sometime next week.

Secretary Tillerson denies resignation allegations

On Wednesday, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed speculation that he was considering resignation. Tillerson explained that he is committed to serving President Trump, never having pondered resignation.

The Secretary of State’s time in office has recently been surrounded by controversy, as President Trump has called for Tillerson to stop pursuing diplomacy with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

 

By telling Tillerson to essentially stop doing his job, President Trump is undermining the United States’ diplomatic potential.

Although Trump’s disregard for the State Department’s duties are meant to act as a projection of power, it ultimately lowers morale within the administration and is counterintuitive.

Supreme Court balance at risk

Recent speculation suggests that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy may retire before the end of President Trump’s first term in office.

Sworn into the court in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan, Justice Kennedy holds the tie-breaking swing vote and is responsible for making major judicial rulings.

Kennedy has supported both sides of the aisle, siding with liberals on LGBT rights, abortion, and affirmative action, while helping conservatives on matters related to the second amendment and voting.

The potential departure of Kennedy would give conservative Republicans a dominant position in the Supreme Court, as President Trump would undoubtedly appoint a right-leaning justice to fill the vacant seat.

As America’s political climate shifts to the right, the Supreme Court’s status in the near future will be the difference maker in whether or not conservatives will be able to advance their political agenda.

Puerto Rico relief efforts boosted following recent controversy

As of September 30th, the Department of Defense is expanding relief efforts and the presence of emergency response personnel in Puerto Rico. This follows public outrage directed towards President Trump, who some believe is not doing enough to help the storm-stricken island.

The President recently engaged in a twitter feud aimed at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, leading some to question his leadership ability.

In spite of Trump’s controversial remarks, Mayor Yulin Cruz insists on focusing on uniting to ameliorate relief efforts across Puerto Rico.

Although the federal government’s efforts to help Puerto Rico recover have been criticized, it seems as if both the Puerto Rican government and Federal authorities are committed to cooperating and remedying the issue at hand.

 

Pence visits ravaged Southeast Texas

Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Rockport, Texas on Thursday. The small coastal town of approximately 10,000 people was left devastated by Harvey, which first made landfall on the area.

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Vice President Mike Pence assists in the cleanup effort during a visit to Rockport, Texas. (Associated Press)

Helping to remove debris and facilitate the cleanup effort, Pence assured Rockport residents that the federal government would support them on their long path to recovery.

“We promise you, we’re going to stay with you every step until we bring Southeast Texas back bigger and better than ever before,” said Pence.

The Vice President’s visit comes days after President Donald Trump traveled to Corpus Christi to meet with federal, state and local leaders.

With storm damage exceeding expectations, the region will need far more than visits to get back on track. Although, giving the citizens of Texas a sense of security is the first step to recuperation.