The Week in Review- May 16, 2018

Pastor Sparks Further Controversy at U.S. Embassy
Robert Jeffress, a Dallas evangelical pastor known for his offensive language towards Jewish, Islamic and gay communities, led the opening prayer on Monday for the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Jeffress has been quoted saying “you can’t be saved by being a Jew” and that Mormonism and Islam are “heresy from the pit of hell.” He was part of Trump’s evangelical advisory board and was a fervent supporter in the 2016 presidential election. Considering the religious and political divisiveness of the citystate, the decision to have Jeffress at the embassy ceremony has been criticized by many politicians—like Mitt Romney who tweeted that a “religious bigot” should not be delivering the blessing for the new embassy ceremony. Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is appeasing to the conservative, evangelical Christians that make up Trump’s base, as well as Israeli leaders who have long considered Jerusalem their capital. Jeffress’ pro-Christian rhetoric is also in agreement with both groups.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict kills Dozens of Palestinians
Israeli troops fired on Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border in what has been the most violent day of conflict in weeks of unrest. Since March 30, Palestinians have gathered on the border in an effort to reclaim the right to their ancestral homeland—the protests intending to mark the height of weeks of resistance in the wake of the 70th anniversary of the creation of Israel and the subsequent Palestinian displacement. The protests are led by the militant group Hamas, a group whose rise caused Israel to impose a harsh blockade at the Gaza strip as of 2007. At least 55 Palestinian protesters died in what Israeli officers called an act of self defense—this violent outbreak occurring only 50 miles southwest of the US embassy celebrations in Jerusalem. In additions, injuries add up to a stifling 2,700, with six children dead due to shrapnel, exposure to tear gas, or firearm wombs.

Star-studded Met Gala exceeds Past Fundraising
The Costume Institute Gala, more commonly referred to as the Met Gala, raised over $12 million for the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.This figure exceeded the previous year. The Costume Institute houses over 35,000 costumes from the 15th century to present day with the museum. This level of fundraising for the arts is achieved by the celebrity spectacle and opulence surrounding the event. The Met Gala has been held since 1948, and since the rise of celebrity culture in the 70s and 80s, it has transformed into an international affair. Each Met Gala ticket is approximately $30,000— and it is not unlikely for tickets to be compensated to ensure the most influential celebrities are present. This year’s theme coincided with the new exhibition, as is the case with every Met Gala theme. The exhibition entitled “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion in the Catholic Imagination,” running until October 2018, includes approximately 50 pieces on loan from the Vatican, with different works inspired by Catholic iconography and style over the centuries.

Spotify Enacts New ‘Hate Content’ Policy
The popular and multinational music conglomerate Spotify has started to remove artist from their service who are perpetrators of sexual violence. Rapper and singer R. Kelly’s music can no longer be accessed on the streaming service due to allegations surrounding his charges on possessing child pornography and abuse. He is the first artist under Spotify’s new “hate content” policy which states that music that “expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender, identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability” will be monitored and removed. However, well-known artists convicted of sexual violence remain accessible on the platform, while R. Kelly has yet to be convicted and has since been removed. This kind of blacklisting has sparked debates beyond the community of the role of art in regards to the artist. The separation between artist and artwork, in the system Spotify is utilizing, insists that the artist be considered in respects to the artwork.

Monsoon Season brings Devastation to Climate Change Discussion
Sandstorms typical of this summer season have proven to be deadly in the Northwestern areas of India. Since late Wednesday, lightning strikes and strong dust storms have killed over 110 people, with hundreds more injured. A shortage of water and no electricity due to uprooted electric lines increased the vulnerability of those affected by the storms. With winds up to 70 miles per hour, structural damage and several health concerns have caused a dire situation; early this month, similar storms killed 134 and injured approximately 400. “Climate change is intensifying all extreme weather events,” Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General at the Centre for Science and Environment said. “As the climate gets warmer the temperature gradient is going to become very steep. This steep increase in temperature gradient will lead to two things—heat waves and sand storms.”

Volcanic Activity continues in Hawaii
Neighboring rural communities outside of Hilo, the largest settlement in Hawaii, have been facing relocation and devastation due to volcanic eruptions over the past 10 days. Nearly 2,000 people have been relocated from their homes as activity from Kilauea volcanic areas continue to pose a threat. Poisonous gases and air pollution are killing trees and grasses, even though they are out of the path of direct lava. For the jungles and forest covering the area, lava flow is inciting fires and causing rock to solidify at rapid rates, vastly altering the terrain and the roads. Small earthquakes hitting the area caused lava levels to drop and crater’s rims to collapse. In this case, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense, boulders could be projected from the eruptions, and plumes of smoke could soar as high as 20,000 feet. The 19 lava outbreaks have already destroyed approximately 40 structure and homes, with more eruptions predicted to occur.

Jacqueline Lewis can be contacted at
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