Know Before You Go: Scalia, Gravitational Waves, and the UN in Syria

Here are the Top Five News Stories that caught our eyes this week:

  1. US Supreme Court Justice Passes
    Justice Antonin Scalia (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away at the age of 79 on Saturday. Scalia passed away in sleep on Saturday while on a hunting trip in Texas. Being appointed in 1986 by Ronald Reagan, he was the first Italian American to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. Scalia’s death opens up a huge possibility for the power balance on the Supreme Court to shift from a conservative 5-4 majority to a liberal 5-4 majority. While President Barak Obama plans on nominating Scalia’s replacement as soon as the Senate is back in session, the Republicans are protesting that the nomination and appointment should be done by the next President of the US. For more information on this story, visit
    • Why You Need to Know This: The death of Scalia has the ability to turn the Presidential Race and US politics on its head over the next few months. The court will continue to meet whether or not Scalia has a replacement. This could mean a vastly different set of opinions and rulings coming forth while the court remains at 4-4. The Presidential Race could focus in on this issue over the next coming months. If Obama nominates a liberally minded candidate, the Republican presidential candidates will be up in arms. It will be key to watch this

      With Reagan
      Scalia with Reagan Before his Appointment (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: Be aware of what Obama and the candidates do over the next month. This nomination will be key in making US Laws for the years to come.
  2. US-Cuba Commercial Flights
    US Travel General and Cuba General (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: For the first time in 50 years, the United States and Cuba has signed an agreement that will allow commercial air traffic to begin between the two countries. While there have been charter flights that have been going back and forth between Cuba and the US, this will open new doors for more traffic to come and go, perhaps even five times the amount that is currently flying. Commercial airlines could begin flying to Cuba in the fall. For more information on this story, visit
    • Why You Need to Know This: We’ve mentioned the thawing relationship between the US and Cuba many times over the past few months. The one main point that Cuba is awaiting is for the economic links to be reinstated. The trade embargo on the country has been in place for over 50 years; the Obama administration has wanted to take the embargo away, but the move has been blocked by the Republican controlled Congress.
    • Office Top Tip: Faculty from ISU are beginning to think about taking students to Cuba. The more that the US and Cuba repair relationships, the more opportunities there will be to go to Cuba.
  3. Gravitational Waves
    Gravitational Waves
    Image released about the pattern of Gravitational Waves (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: In one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the past decades, scientists are claiming that they have proved Albert Einstein’s theory of Gravitational Waves. To do this, they have watched two black holes collide, causing the space-time around the two to warp. The Gravitational Waves discovery is being hailed as one of the most important developments since DNA and the discovery of the Higgs particle. For more information on this story, visit
    • Why You Need to Know This: The science that goes into Gravitational Waves and the math behind it is immensely complex. Even with reading this article forwards and backwards, it is still something that is difficult to wrap your mind around. The good news with this is that it opens doors for scientists for years to come. With the proving of Einstein’s theory, along with his Theory of Relativity, there will be new and exciting things for scientists to explore and discover.
    • Office Top Tip: If you are into science or even slightly had the itch to become an astronaut as a kid, check out the full article. It goes into immense detail and shows how big of a deal these Waves really are.
  4. Pope in Mexico
    A gift given to the Pope upon his arrival in Mexico (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: On Saturday, Pope Francis began his five-day tour of our southern neighbor, Mexico, which has the world’s second largest Catholic population. He began his journey at the National Palace, a location where no Pope before has been welcomed. He continued his day by holding a mass in front of the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In a brave address to bishops and government officials, he spoke about the drug problem in the country. The Pope’s itinerary is grim, with his goal to visit some of the country’s most violent and poorest regions. He will visit the poorest state, Chiapas, and the former murder capital of the world, Ciudad Juarez. For more information on this story, visit
    • Why You Need to Know This: Pope Francis has been known to make waves in his visits around the world. He has never remained silent on issues and his trip to Mexico will be no different. The main concern is what will occur in Ciudad Juarez. Security has obvious been beefed up over the past weeks, but there is still a large concern over safety.

      The Pope greeted by Mexican Citizens (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: Whether you are religious or not, check out the Pope’s message about eliminate drugs in Mexico. It is powerful.
  5. UN Help in Syria
    Syria Aid Sites
    Seven Cities that UN Aid will be going to (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: As the Syrian Civil War has raged on for years. With thousands dead and even more displaced. People have been trapped in towns as they have been surrounded by both sides of fighting. One of the towns that has come out the worst for this is Madaya; the citizens of Madaya of have been dying of starvation. Now, the United Nations have come together to try and get aid to the areas. On Tuesday, the UN met with the Syrian Government in Damascus. Now seven areas have been agreed upon where UN Support will go, including Madaya. The International Syria Support Group will be able to help the half a million people in the besieged areas, but it is unclear at this time if there will be any permanent cease fire. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is still backed by the Russians. For more information on this story, visit
    • Why You Need to Know This: The country of Syria has been under duress for quite some time. Allowing the UN convoy to enter the country and get help to the areas that are in desperate need is a huge first step. With aid coming into the cities as soon as today, there will hopefully be more to come.
    • Office Top Tip: Be aware of Syria’s struggles and do what you can to help. Right now, there is nothing much to do except for waiting.

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