News rundown: What you missed week of April 17

A lot has happened in the world over the past week. Let’s catch up on the major news headlines:


Israel and Iran tensions flare

Relations between Israel and Iran worsened last week after an Israeli strike within Iranian borders. Air defense systems were activated in multiple Iranian provinces last Friday morning as explosions were reported near the city of Isfahan, according to Iranian state media. The city, notable for its extensive history, is also home to nuclear facilities. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed no damage was reported to the facilities.

The Israeli strike is the latest escalation in a growing regional conflict. The move comes after an April 13 Iranian attack on the state in which more than 300 drones and missiles targeted Israeli soil, according to Israeli officials. While most of the attack was intercepted by Israel’s defense systems, a 10-year-old girl was injured. This attack, Iranian officials said, was conducted in retaliation to an April 1 Israeli attack on an Iranian consulate in Syria, which resulted in the death of top Iranian officials.

Israel’s latest attack generates further uncertainty regarding heightened tensions in the Middle East. Retaliation by Israel was discouraged by many of the nation’s Western allies, who now hope the situation can be diffused through diplomatic means. The high stakes between Israel and Iran come during the seventh month of the conflict in Gaza, which is still actively ongoing. 


Trump trial enters opening arguments

Opening arguments began in former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in the state of New York on Monday after a jury was swiftly selected last week. As Trump arrived at the case on Monday, he characterized it as “a very, very sad day in America.” 

The case, which is already the source of substantial media attention, also made headlines last Friday when a man self-immolated near the courthouse. The man, identified as Maxwell Azzarello, was declared deceased by the New York-Presbyterian Cornell Medical Center after succumbing to his injuries. While his act doesn’t appear to be directly related to the Trump trial, Azzarello threw pamphlets relating to a conspiracy theory before setting himself on fire, authorities said.


Congress passes foreign aid bills

President Biden signed multiple significant bills into law yesterday. On Saturday, a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan was approved in the House of Representatives, with a separate vote for each nation. Taiwanese aid received broad support, while a faction of progressive Democrats and some Republicans voted against assistance to Israel. A majority of Republicans also voted against Ukraine aid. The bills come at a time when American foreign aid is under increased scrutiny across both sides of the political aisle. 

Also attached to the foreign aid package was legislation forcing the social media platform TikTok to be sold by parent company ByteDance. Supporters of the bill cite national security concerns relating to China, where ByteDance is headquartered, as justification for the legislation. The company will have about nine months to sell TikTok. 

The bills swiftly passed in the U.S. Senate and reached Biden’s desk yesterday.


Columbia University cancels in-person classes after protests

Hostile tensions during protests at Columbia University over the weekend caused officials to switch to virtual classes on Monday, the first day of Passover. The protests, relating to the conflict in Gaza, come as concerns over antisemitism are growing at the Ivy League school. Columbia President Minouche Shafik said in a statement, “Our bonds as a community have been severely tested in ways that will take a great deal of time and effort to reaffirm.”


Featured photo courtesy of SWinxy, Wikipedia