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  • Writer's pictureTéa Satariano

Weekly News Blast | Dec 31 - Jan 7

protestors protesting the Supreme Court's decision to ban abortions outside the Supreme Court building

In the wake of the Supreme Court gutting abortion rights in 2022, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case surrounding Idaho's strict abortion laws (Ian Hutchinson, Unsplash)

Supreme Court’s First Interference in State Abortion Rights Since 2022 Decision

On January 5, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the state of Idaho to enforce a strict abortion ban, stating that they would hear arguments in April on the matter. The law, which bans abortions in even severe medical emergencies, is being contested by the Biden administration, which argues that hospitals receiving Medicare funding are required by federal law to provide emergency care, including abortion, regardless of state or local law. The Biden administration successfully sued to block the law on these grounds in 2022, with a court ruling that Idaho’s exception only for fatal cases is narrower than federal laws, However, recent cases in the state have effectively stalled any real change to the law. As a result, the Supreme Court intervened and set a date for which oral arguments will be heard. 

This decision may prove to be extremely impactful in the fight over abortion rights, as it comes on the heels of another court decision to hear a conservative appeal to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill Mifepristone (which has been approved for decades). As multiple other states, such as California, attempt to battle strict abortion laws through federal appeals, it is clear that a decision in Idaho, which thus far has the strictest written abortion laws to date, will have a ripple effect across the country regarding reproductive care. 

Panda Diplomacy Returns to the United States

Besides being China's beloved national symbol, pandas have recently become a symbol of positive relations between China and their foreign allies. While rather jokingly referred to as “Panda Diplomacy,” the gift of a panda to any country has been seen as a sign of respect and allyship since the mid-1940s. As a rather strained relationship between the United States and China continues, the promise of a giant panda for the country, or more specifically California, is a sign of positive diplomatic relations ahead.

During the past week, China and the U.S. celebrated their 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties, a momentous occasion considering China’s rise as both an economic and military super-power has created tension between the two states. The U.S., through multiple administrations, has also critiqued China’s handling of its territories and diplomatic relations with smaller Asian countries. This is likely to have contributed to China’s removal of several pandas on loan to American zoos in the recent year, an act that concerned many who feared the contentious relationship had finally boiled over. Though Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi did make a quick remark on the allyship’s recently muddled past, asking the U.S. to respect China’s path of development, Wang closed with the remark that “preparations are ready for a giant panda to return to California within the year,” suggesting that a peaceful coexistence of world powers has been renewed. 

Fears Arise that the Israel-Hamas War Will Spread to Lebanon

Just as the world began to wind down after celebrating the new year, Saleh al-Arouri, a senior official and deputy leader of the Hamas organization, was killed along with six others in an attack in Beirut, a peninsula on Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast. The attack was by drone strike within Lebanon’s capital city and represents the first assassination in the Israel-Hamas war to take place outside of Palestinian territories. Arouri lived in Beirut, but the attack nonetheless activated the Lebanese military, whose leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that the group would not hesitate to fight until the very end should Israel extend the war into Lebanese territory. 

Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah have maintained historical animosity, with the last major incidence of war between the two ending in a stalemate in 2006. This however poses the dangerous possibility that Lebanon may enter the war should they be provoked to join Hamas in a struggle with Israel. Since the stalemate, Hezbollah has acquired a more formidable army and armory, suggesting that should the war spread to Lebanon, a more dire, bloody battle may lie ahead for the Middle East.



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