This past week, the world’s most notable celebrity was the victim of an armed robbery, a little girl took to Twitter to show the world the hell she is living in and a ‘monster’ hurricane made landfall in the U.S.
This week in news:
1. Kim Kardashian robbed at gunpoint in Paris apartment
Highly-visible reality television star, Kim Kardashian West, may have been a bit too visible on social media this past weekend when she was overseas for Paris Fashion Week. Armed, masked men disguised as police officers entered the building in the early morning hours on Monday and forced the concierge to let them into Kardashian’s apartment.
The men held her at gunpoint, bound her hands and feet and carried her to the bathroom while they took over $10 million worth of jewelry. Kardashian believed that she was either going to be physically harmed or killed, however she was left unscathed – but emotionally traumatized.
There is speculation now as to how exactly the men were able to get away without leaving any DNA evidence behind or any trace of their whereabouts on surveillance cameras, leading some to question the authenticity of the attack. But others are suggesting that perhaps Kardashian left a trail for her captors to follow with her social media posts, specifically on Snapchat where she was very clearly shown alone in her room.
Kardashian’s husband Kanye West cut his concert in New York short when he got wind of the news. Kardashian quickly got on a private jet and made her way to the New York metropolitan area soon after the incident, where she was reunited with her husband and two children.
2. Russian-backed Syrian forces closing in on Aleppo
As the five-year-old Syrian civil war rages on, a critical battle for the country’s most highly-contested city is underway, and the regime has already breached the front lines.
Russian president Vladimir Putin, who entered the war as an ally to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in September 2015, is now sending the Syrian government an advance missile system in the wake of a breakdown in ceasefire talks with the U.S. The move causes concern in the international community, as Assad’s regime has been known to use excessive force against its own civilians in the past.
Aleppo has always been the most crucial city over the course of the war, as it is a major metropolitan hub that has been split between the rebel Free Syrian Army and Syrian government forces. Nearly 400 have died and more than 1,200 injured over the past two weeks with Syrian and Russian bombs striking civilian homes and hospitals.
Syria and Russia’s joint strategy is to relentlessly bombard Aleppo (which will result in many more civilian casualties) until the rebels feel that they have to surrender in the interest of their own fellow citizens’ safety. But it has Western powers like the U.S. wondering: how can a government be so irresponsible? And furthermore, what happens next if the rebels fall?
3. Seven-year-old Aleppo citizen documenting crisis on Twitter
Speaking of the situation in Aleppo, one little girl – with the help of her mother, Fatemah – has received national attention by showing the world firsthand what it is like to live in the war-torn city.
Text, photos and videos all document in real-time Bana, a seven-year-old Aleppo citizen, and her family fearing for their lives. Several Tweets plead with Bashar al-Assad’s regime to cease the bombings, as they go to sleep every night fearful that they may not wake up.
The Alabeds’ residence lies in rebel-held east Aleppo, where Syrian and Russian forces are closing in – and taking many civilian casualties in their wake. Many of their neighbors’ houses have been struck and/or destroyed by airstrikes, and they hope that theirs will not be next.
4. Potential escalation in Israel-Palestine conflict
After a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip made landfall in southern Israel on Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) retaliated on Thursday by firing tank shells into the Hamas-controlled territory. They also carried out airstrikes, and one Israeli pilot who participated was killed in a plane crash.
The Israel-Palestine conflict had been mostly dormant since a 50-day war in 2014 until earlier this year. Two Palestinian terrorists opened fire on the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv in June, attacking in response to Israel building illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank – a move that was not viewed favorably by the international community. Thousands of Palestinians were subsequently prohibited from entering Israel, causing further uproar.
5. President Obama sets commutation record
In the twilight of his term in office, President Barack Obama is setting all kinds of commutation records.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 102 prisoners, most of whom are serving time for drug-related offenses. This follows a record-setting August in which Obama commuted 325 sentences, contributing to a record-setting year in which he commuted 590 total.
Additionally, he now holds the record for the most by a single president, with 774. Of those re-sentenced today, 21 will be released on Feb. 3, 2017. Obama’s latest push contributes to the growing trend of re-sentencing in the interest of eliminating mass incarceration and reviewing unfair, harsh sentences that have become outdated.
6. Samsung products are exploding
Samsung customers may want to consider ditching their favorite consumer electronics provider, at least for a little while.
First, there was the massive recall of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 cell phones in September when battery charge flaws were causing a small number of phones to catch fire. A total of 2.5 million new devices were ordered to be shut off and brought back to the retailers their owners bought them from.
Just weeks later, as we mentioned in last week’s edition of “This Week in News,” the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning that there were several reports of a specific brand of Samsung washing machine exploding. The warning was for machines manufactured as early as March 2011, which means that potentially thousands of consumers have been at risk for over five years.
Now, fueling the fire even further, a Southwest Airlines flight was canceled on Wednesday after a passenger heard a “pop” and found that his phone was smoking before the plane took off. Had it been more serious and had it taken place in-flight, it could have resulted in mass casualties.
The CPSC is investigating the latest incident.
7. Second presidential debate set for Sunday night
The past two weeks have not been kind to lightning rod Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Many believe he lost the first presidential debate, and as a result, he entered the month of October with a 32.7 percent chance of winning next month’s election; he has since dropped as low as 18.2 percent as of Friday, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
Still reeling from the first debate, Trump has since come under attack after the New York Times reported that he could have avoided taxes for 18 years. Trump, who has broken with tradition in opting not to release his tax records, defended himself after the recent findings, quoted by CNN saying, “I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit… Honestly, I have brilliantly used those laws.”
In a tailspin, Trump and his surging rival Hillary Clinton will face-off at 9pm ET for the second of three presidential debates, this one moderated by ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
8. Hurricane Matthew pummels southeast U.S., Caribbean
The U.S. was spared the worst of ‘Monster’ Hurricane Matthew after it devastated Haiti, leaving almost 900 people dead. Still, the southeastern U.S. suffered some tragedy of its own – five were left dead in Florida, three in North Carolina and three in Georgia.
The storm has been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as of Saturday, but it passed by Florida at Category 4 (it also peaked at Category 5 for several hours between September 30 and October 1).
The storm made landfall in South Carolina but stayed mostly off the coast as it traveled up the southeast, leading to mass evacuations and several emergency declarations and/or curfews in the states affected.
Considered one of the most anticipated storms since Hurricane Katrina, Matthew sent southeastern Americans into a frenzy. Governors Nikki Haley (South Carolina) and Rick Scott (Florida) both publicly implored that residents evacuate, reiterating that riding it out would be too dangerous.
Over 2.5 million people were told to evacuate, over 1,500 flights throughout the state of Florida were canceled, and 560,000 people in Florida alone were left without power. Major flooding and winds of up to 140 mph affected the U.S., and now that the worst is over, the southern states are beginning their clean-up efforts.