Week in Review- May 23, 2018

Bill Equating Criticism of Israel With Anti-Semitism Passes in South Carolina
A newly passed budget in South Carolina’s 2018-19 state budget included a “rider” measure which designates any criticism of Israeli policies in public schools or universities as anti-Semitic. Supporters of the measure—called the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act—tried to pass it as a separate law for two years, but this year put it into the state budget. Opponents say the bill does not actually address anti-Semitism, but that it halts academic debate and that Israel is not to be conflated with Judaism. Proponents argue that all criticism of Israel is inherently anti-Semitic. Republican Senator Alan Clemmons sponsored the bill and said that Jewish people are subject to intense anti-Semitism in the United States. He has previously taken the lead in pro-Israel efforts. The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement opposing a federal version of the bill and said that it would infringe upon First Amendment rights of people who have opposing political views.

CIA Documents Leak Suspect Named
The main suspect of a 2017 document leak detailing the Central Intelligence Agency’s hacking operations has now been identified. In what is referred to as the Vault 7 leak, the website WikiLeaks released confidential documents which included instructions for use of agency hacking tools, though it did not actually contain much of the computer code used for the operation. The documents included information about software techniques to overtake iPhones and turn smart televisions into surveillance devices. It was considered the largest loss of classified documents in the agency’s history. The suspected leaker is Joshua Schulte, a former CIA software engineer who had previously designed software to be used to infiltrate the computers of terrorism suspects. Schulte was charged and jailed last August with possession of child pornography. Authorities say he had 10,000 illicit images on a server that he was using for business purposes. Prosecutors said they plan to file a new indictment within the next 45 days.

Incumbent Venezuelan President Wins Reelection Amid Voting Boycott
In an election originally scheduled for December, Venezuelans voted for the reelection of current President Nicolas Maduro, granting him about 68 percent of the votes cast. The country has been struggling with massive inflation and widespread hunger for the last three years. Those who opposed the election called for a boycott and said they would not recognize it as valid. Only Venezuelans living in Caracas or abroad were allowed to participate in the presidential election and the majority of the popular candidates from the opposition have either been barred from running or have been jailed. There were four candidates in the running for president, with two front runners—current President Nicolas Maduro and Henri Falcon. Falcon is a former state governor who later joined the opposition. He received 1.8 million votes in the election. Voter turnout for this election was a low 46 percent, whereas the two previous elections had a turnout of about 80 percent.

Student Gunman Kills 10 in Texas High School Shooting
A student gunman killed eight of his classmates and two teachers on May 19 at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, making it the 22nd school shooting of 2018. Carrying a shotgun and a .38 revolver, the suspect shot and injured 13 additional people. No motive has been announced but court documents note that the suspect said he had intentionally spared certain people he liked so that “he could have his story told.” Local police engaged in a 15-minute shootout with the suspect until he surrendered. Law enforcement officials also found two homemade explosive devices left at the school during the shooting. The guns are believed to have been taken from the suspect’s father. The suspect has been denied bail and is charged with capital murder and aggravated assault on a public servant.

US Senate Confirms Gina Haspel as CIA Chief
In a 54-45 vote, United States Senate members confirmed former intelligence officer Gina Haspel as the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on May 18. Haspel had previously been acting Director since April 26 when former Director Mike Pompeo was confirmed as Secretary of State. She will be the first woman to direct the CIA. Haspel received widespread support from many CIA senior officials but drew criticism from her previous position supervising a detention site in Thailand where terror suspects were waterboarded. During her senate confirmation hearing, Haspel said that she would never resume such techniques but did call the torture tactics “immoral” when asked. Two Republican Senators, Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Jeff Flake, voted in opposition of Haspel’s confirmation, while six Democrats voted in her favor.

Bomber at Cricket Match in Afghanistan Kills Eight People
Three bomb explosions killed at least eight people at a cricket match on May 19 in Eastern Afghanistan. The attack occurred at the Spinghar cricket stadium in Jalalabad during a Ramadan night time cricket tournament. The organizer of the match was also killed. A spokesman for the provincial governor said that at least 45 more people were wounded in the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though the Taliban sent a statement to news outlet Al Jazeera stating that they were not involved in the attack. Cricket was previously forbidden in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime in the 1990s, but has recently become increasingly popular throughout the nation. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement condemning the attack, emphasizing that the attackers, whomever they “are not bound to any creed or religion, and they are the enemy of humanity.”

Sofía can be reached at
[email protected].