NEWS: June Kicks Off With Elections, Abdications, And Resignations

Bowe Bergdahl freed in prisoner swap. Bergdahl was the only remaining POW being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and he was released in exchange for five Guantanamo Bay inmates. The decision by the Obama administration to complete the prisoner exchange has angered some on the right, many citing Constitutional requirements that Congress be notified 30 days before any such swap takes place. Others have raised questions about Bergdahl’s 2008 capture by Taliban forces, alleging that he had left base with plans of desertion. Emails suggest he had become disillusioned with the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

VA Secretary Erik Shinseki resigns. The resignation comes after increased attention on the highly ineffective Veterans Affairs hospital system, where long wait times and falsified documents have become a norm. Bipartisan calls for Shinseki to step down grew following the most recent report by the VA inspector general, which found that a massive coverup had taken place in an attempt to hide long waits for veterans seeking services.

Official campaigning begins for Scottish independence. Although it has been in the news for months, official campaigning didn’t begin until May 30. The referendum is expected to be defeated, albeit narrowly given the recent surge in support for separation. Voting will take place on Sept. 18 of this year.

Brazil facing massive unrest before World Cup. Coming a year after widespread protests hit Brazil, the country has seen a surge in demonstrations against corruption and policies that are hurting the poor. Much like the Olympics, the World Cup has caused large scale evictions and home demolitions in order to construct necessary stadiums.

Four dead in Tehran sandstorm. The huge dust cloud, along with 70 mph. winds, blew into the Iranian capital during rush hour. Crashes, power outages and uprooted trees were brought on by the storm.

Bassem Youssef ending show. The popular host of Egypt’s “Al Bernameg,” a satirical news program often likened to “The Daily Show,” will end the show due to an increasingly restrictive political environment in Egypt. Youssef has become known internationally following comparisons to Jon Stewart, who joined him for an interview while Stewart was in Egypt.

Spanish King to abdicate. Juan Carlos has been the ceremonial monarch since 1975, following the death of dictator Francisco Franco. Although once popular for modernizing Spain, Juan Carlos has lost public favor in recent years. He will be replaced by his son, Felipe, who enjoys mostly popularity. Given the figurehead nature of the Spanish monarchy, the change is not expected to have large political impact.

Fabien Cousteau to spend 31 days underwater. The grandson of Jacques Cousteaufamed conservationist, filmmaker and inspiration for Steve Zissouhas begun Mission 31, during which he will spend 31 days living underwater. The mission is being carried out in honor of his grandfather’s legacy and will build on exploration first done by Jacques Cousteau. It is unclear if they have helmets with rabbit ears in order to pump in music, or if dolphins will play a key role in research.

Syrian elections held. Voting began Tuesday in what can only be called a way too little, way too late bid to infuse Syrian politics with a little democracy. Bashar al-Assad, the embattled president, is expected to win. Rebel-held areas of the country, which have been the scene of a vicious three year civil war, will not participate.

Murder of pregnant woman sheds light on honor killings. When a young woman was beaten to death by her family for marrying a man against their wishes, the international community responded with condemnation. Now, voices within Pakistan are calling for a change in the society that allows such practices to take place. The largely conservative clergy has joined those in favor of ending the practice, with the Pakistan Ulema Council stating that it has nothing to do with Islam.

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