The Sunday Subject – June 2, 2024

Donald Trump became the first former US president convicted of criminal charges.

A New York jury found former president Donald Trump guilty on all thirty-four counts of falsifying business records to cover a sex scandal that threatened his presidential campaign in 2016. Trump called the trial “rigged” and “disgraceful” and vowed to appeal. President Biden said of the conviction, “The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed.” Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for July 11th, four days before the start of the Republican National Convention. 

The African National Congress lost its majority in South Africa’s parliament for the first time in a historic election.

Election results on Saturday showed that with almost all of the votes counted, the party received about 40 percent. This is the first time since democratic elections began 30 years ago that the ANC has not won an absolute majority. The slogan “2024 is our 1994” circulated among young South Africans on social media. This watershed election has ended the dominance of a party that led the fight against apartheid and could portend its downfall, as the material conditions of many South Africans have not improved under decades of ANC leadership and corruption scandals.

President Biden gave Ukraine permission to strike inside Russia with American-supplied weapons.

Germany also announced that it will give Ukraine permission to use German-supplied weapons to strike military targets inside Russia near Kharkiv. Both announcements are a major policy reversal that will help Ukraine defend Kharkiv, its second largest city. The policy of not allowing long-range strikes inside Russia has not changed; authorization remains for limited self-defense purposes and only against targets near the border with the Kharkiv region.

President Biden laid out a ceasefire proposal for Gaza, stating that “it’s time for this war to end.”

Earlier in the week an Israeli air strike in Rafah killed at least 45 people after hitting a tent camp for displaced civilians. The International Court of Justice ordered Israel to limit its military offensive in Rafah and cease any operations that might cause widespread civilian deaths and suffering.

Voting ended in India’s general election.

Exit polls suggest a sweeping victory by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a third term for incumbent prime minister Narendra Modi. The BJP is also projected to make gains across the country in previous opposition strongholds. The official election results will be reported on June 4th.

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