Although some of the details are still emerging, North Korea’s state-owned Korean Central News Agency first reported on November 29 that leading archaeologists had discovered the remains of a “unicorn lair” in Pyongyang, North Korea. The story indicated that the Academy of Social Sciences had “reconfirmed a lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom.”
Their evidence: a rock carved with the words “Unicorn Lair.” That’s irrefutable!
How about we shake things up a bit this week? Let’s start with some sports news for a change.
College football’s regular season came to an end yesterday, with the Alabama Crimson Tide edging out the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship, 32-28, to win a national title shot against the undefeated Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish boast the second-stingiest defense in college football, with approximately 10.33 points allowed per game. Only Alabama itself allows fewer points per game: 10.31.
In hockey, federal mediators have failed to resolve the stalemate in the NHL’s labor talks, leaving the entire season’s cancellation feeling more likely by the day, while my St. Louis Blues’ inability to even win a virtual hockey game grows just as paramount. (Thanks, EA Sports.)
I know it’s tempting to kick off the week with the obvious local Black Friday headlines, but let’s start with a wider gaze, shall we? You probably recall the Arab Spring that began unfolding around two years ago. It’s not clear, however, if the revolution did the region much good.
Egypt, which featured a great deal of positive press coverage during the revolution, is perhaps the most obvious example, as it is now under the thumb of new president Mohammad Morsi. On Wednesday, Morsi won widespread praise for his role in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas forces — many commentators in western nations called out Morsi for apparent partisanship toward the Hamas faction, but much of his own country hailed his work as a shining success. On Thursday, however, he stunned the people in his fledgling democracy by granting himself incredibly broad new powers, making his own unilateral decisions trump those of any Egyptian court.
Let’s get straight into the big news item of the week. As you’re surely already aware, Israel has been fighting with Palestinian forces for many years, with consistent hostility between the two groups. Last week, for instance, southern Israel was being pummeled by rockets from Hamas, the terrorist organization which controls the Gaza Strip, in addition to a few stray shells from Syria. In a major turn of events, however, Israel’s most recent air strike, dubbed Operation Pillar of Defense, was a successful assassination of Hamas’ military commander, Ahmed Jabari.
The Wednesday attack further destroyed over 20 underground rocket launchers belonging to Hamas and the affiliated Islamic Jihad, which Israeli leaders hope will neutralize much of the long-range threat against their nation. Hamas, on the other hand, said that Israel “has opened the gates of hell,” and promised a vicious response. Hamas official Ismail al-Ashqar says that the organization plans to “burn Israeli cities” with attacks that may include suicide bombings similar to those employed by al Qaeda operatives.
The presidential election reached its conclusion late Tuesday night, with incumbent Barack Obama earning a second term in the Oval Office over challenger Mitt Romney. The result thrilled Obama’s supporters, who waited well past midnight to hear their candidate proclaim victory under the night sky in Chicago, reviving the inspirational rhetoric that drove voters in 2008. And it was a night of anguish for the Romney camp, with the team searching for an explanation — after all, if Romney had merely received as many votes as John McCain did in 2008, he would have won the election — and with Republicans astonishingly losing ground in the Senate when they hoped to instead overtake the left-wing majority.
The fateful day is almost upon us. On Tuesday, citizens across the nation will cast their ballots for the next president of the United States. Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have been hard at work over the final weekend of campaigning, both sides hoping to swipe as many votes as they can in order to pull out what may be a narrow win in two days.
Even as both sides have pushed to maintain an upbeat appearance as we near the finish line, the candidates have become mired in arguments over a poorly timed comment by Obama, who suggested during a Friday speech in Ohio that the American public should re-elect him over Romney out of “revenge.” Republicans have blasted Obama for the comment, with Romney saying that people should “vote for love of country, not revenge,” while Democrats argued that too much is being made of his word choice, showing that Romney is desperate enough to resort to “scare tactics” amid stalling momentum in the polls. Either way, it’s left Romney’s latest messages feeling oddly reminiscent of Obama’s 2008 campaign, with Romney echoing Obama verbatim in imploring Americans to vote for “change.”
Going into the third and final presidential debate on Monday, most major polls had Barack Obama and Mitt Romney effectively tied, with the difference between them within the margin of error. With the momentum swinging toward Romney, though, some analysts argued that Obama needed to completely dominate the last debate in order to stem the tide. But despite Obama’s best efforts, such dominance was nowhere to be found as the two candidates fought to a draw over foreign policy.
Well, actually, that’s not quite correct. The two candidates didn’t really fight to a draw. Obama indeed fought throughout the debate as he went on the offensive, trying to slam Romney throughout the affair. But Romney would have none of it, choosing to focus on the similarities between the two candidates’ policies instead of highlighting differences. He passed up countless opportunities to hammer Obama on how he handled foreign policy nightmares like the tragedy in Benghazi, to take a stand against Cuba in order to impress Florida voters, or to simply pressure Obama on the increasingly bloody global climate.