Adrian Olivier,

Sunday 26 March – Sunday 2 April

A school shooting took place on Monday in Nashville, Tennessee at a private Catholic preschool and primary school (teaching pre-k to sixth grade) called The Covenant School. The shooter, Audrey Hale, of Nashville was a 28-year-old former student of the school. Hale, armed with three weapons, entered the premises by shooting out a side door before going to a second floor where she discharged her weapon and killed six. The 6 victims – 3 adults and 3 children – were three school children, the head of the school, a substitute teacher and a school custodian (cleans the buildings, equipment, and furnishings of a school). At around 10:30 a.m., 14 minutes after the first reports of an active shooter, Hale lay dead – killed when police stormed the building. Dramatic body cam footage of the police storming the building was released and shows police going room-to-room searching for the shooter before hearing shots on the second floor. Police converge on the shooter and two police officers discharge their weapons at Hale. Hale reportedly fired at police vehicles upon their arrival. As for a motive, police reported that Hale had “resentment for having to go to that school”. They also reported that Hale was transgender (she believed she was a male) and was receiving treatment for an unknown “emotional disorder”. Police reported that Hale had prepared for the killings – she had a map of the school and had written a manifesto – and apparently planned on further attack. This is the 15th mass shooting (more than 4 victims) at a school or university in the United States since the infamous Columbine High School massacre in 1999. In a statement from the White House on Thursday, President Biden said “Transgender Americans shape our Nation’s soul”. 

A New York grand jury has voted to criminally indict Donald Trump. This is the first time a former American president has been indicted. According to the US Department of Justice, an indictment is the process when a person receives a “formal notice that it is believed that they committed a crime”. The charges remain under seal but the investigation centres on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with an adult actress. It is important to note that hush money payments aren’t illegal and Trump has denied the affair. It has also been reported that Trump faces more than 30 other counts related business fraud – despite falsifying business records only being a misdemeanour in New York State. A misdemeanour is a non-indictable offence. Donald Trump has appealed to his supporters to provide money for a legal defence. These appeals have proved fruitful – since March 18 his campaign has raised more than $2 million for his legal fees. First asked to surrender on Friday 31 March, his defence argued for more time. Consequently, Trump is expected in court on Tuesday for his arraignment. At an arraignment, a defendant is presented with the charges facing them and generally enters a plea. A judge then decides whether they should be released on bail or taken into custody. Following procedure, Trump will have his fingerprints takes, be photographed and then processed for a felony arrest. Media reports have speculated about whether Trump will be handcuffed when he surrenders. The same media reports have indicated that the former president wants to be handcuffed when he appears in court – likely to enrage his supporters and rally his political support. 

A rough schedule of how Trump plans to turn himself in has been released by his campaign. He has spent the weekend at his Florida Mar-a-Lago estate and will depart on Monday at mid-day to New York City. Flying on his private plane, he will spend the night in his Manhattan penthouse in Trump Tower. Early on Tuesday morning he will head to the courthouse where he will be processed. His arraignment is expected around 14:15. The campaign evidently expects that Trump will get bail – he plans to return to Mar-a-Lago after the courthouse proceedings and will deliver remarks on Tuesday night. There will likely be a very heavy police presence around the courthouse – and Donald Trump will be protected by his Secret Service protection detail. According to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll, 45% of respondents think Trump should have been charged with a crime in this case, whereas 32% don’t think so and 23% say they don’t know. 

Finland will formally join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) “in the coming days” says NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg after all 30 NATO allies ratified the accession protocol. Turkey was the last NATO holdout, but after the Turkish parliament on Thursday gave its approval, there are no more hurdles for Finland to join the alliance. Finland’s neighbour – and fellow NATO applicant – has not been given approval by Turkey. Turkey cites Sweden’s support of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey has designated a terrorist organisation. Sweden denies that it supports the PKK. Finland – which has historically attempted neutrality – has a highly capable military and a long border (1300km, or 800 miles) with Russia. Despite the small number of 19,000 active military personnel in the Finnish Defence Forces (plus 3000 Border Guards), Finland has a large reserve that has been maintained through conscription – widely supported by Finnish society. The fully mobilised field army is 280,000 strong with several hundred thousand reservists to fill losses. For context, Russia invaded Ukraine with a force numbering less than 200,000. Finland also has the largest and best equipped artillery forces in Western Europe – 1,500 artillery systems, including 700 Howitzer guns, 700 heavy mortar, and 100 rocket launcher systems. The Finnish military has more artillery firepower than the combined militaries of Poland, Germany, Norway, and Sweden can currently muster. 

Russia’s assumption of the presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has caused outrage in Ukraine, which has called for the other Security Council members to block the move. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Russia’s presidency “the worst joke ever for April Fool’s Day”. In a rather graphic image, Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhaylo Podolyak, called Russia’s presidency a “rape of international law”. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for Russia to be removed from the UNSC. As Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, this is not possible as the UN charter does not allow for the removal of a permanent member – in any event the presidency is largely a procedural role. The last time Russia held the Security Council presidency was in February 2022 – on the 24th of that month it launched its invasion of Ukraine. Each of the 15 members of the Security Council take up the presidency for a month on a rotating basis. 

Turning to North Korea, satellite images published in an article on the 38 North website – owned by the American non-partisan think tank The Stimson Centre – show increased building activity at North Korea’s main nuclear complex. The Nyonbyon – or Yongbyon – site, officially The Nyongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center is North Korea’s main nuclear facility. Construction was completed in 1964 with assistance from the Soviet Union. It is located in Nyongbyon County in North Pyongan Province, about 100 km north of Pyongyang. The site is notorious for producing all of the nuclear fissile material for the Hermit Kingdom’s six nuclear weapons tests from 2006 to 2017. The satellite images published by 38 North suggest that an Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR) at Nyonbyon – which would expand production and capabilities – was nearing completion after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered a ramping up of weapons-grade material for an “exponential” increase in North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. On Tuesday, North Korean state media released pictures of Kim inspecting new, smaller nuclear warheads. 

In the week ahead:

Trump’s charges will no doubt dominate the news cycle the whole week and will incite supporters and adversaries alike. 

2 thoughts on “The World That Was”
  1. The usual suspects have developed these absurdities.
    As with Rhodesia, the governments are manipulated.
    Even militarily, when gookshave same info.

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