On Monday, it was rumored that President Barack Obama would attend one of the most important events in the world. No, not the G8 Summit, not a meeting with the Dalai Lama, Putin, or any other political leader — instead, Obama was allegedly attending the 66th Primetime Emmys. Because when you're in your second term as president, what else do you have to do? Fortunately, it turns out that sometimes, allegedly really does just mean allegedly — President Obama did not, I repeat, did not rub shoulders with Hollywood's finest.
I mean, come on, the man deserves a break. He has a pretty stressful job, what with the recent execution of James Foley and the even more recent identification of his killer as a British rapper, the worsening Ebola crisis, the situation in Gaza, and let's not forget Ukraine. But then again, we elected him to deal with those things.
He also just got back from vacation on Sunday, which must've played a role in his decision to opt out of the Emmys, especially considering the success he's seen there. After all, his collaboration with Zach Galifianakis on their Between Two Ferns sketch might be the best thing I've seen all year, and Obama received a Creative Arts Emmy last Saturday for his stellar performance.
But as riveting as some of the shows and characters are, the president knows that Olivia Pope isn't really fixing all the problems in Washington, and Frank Underwood isn't actually scheming his way into the White House.
And more importantly, that his performance in a sketch isn't nearly as crucial as his performance in the Oval Office.
So while Obama is obviously free to spend his spare time (does he actually have that much?) as he wishes, here are a few things he'll probably be attending to instead of the Emmys.
James Foley's killer
On Sunday, British ambassador to the United States Sir Peter Westmacott informed the American public that James Foley's executioner was "close" to being identified. On Monday, Westmacott made good on his word, and it is now all but confirmed that Foley's killer is a former British rapper named Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, otherwise known as "L Jinny" or "Lyricist Jin."
Although MI5 and MI6 remain tight lipped on the name, reports have confirmed that agents believe they have successfully matched the voice heard in Foley's execution video to Bary's old rap tracks.
Bary's pedigree makes him a likely suspect for the crime, as his father, Adel Abdel Bari, has been accused of working with Osama Bin Laden, and is believed to have been involved in the 1998 US Embassy bombings.
Ebola, which just keeps getting worse
While the two Americans infected with the deadly virus made miraculous recoveries after being treated with the experimental drug ZMapp, the Ebola outbreak is far from contained. In fact, it has now spread not only to other parts of Africa, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the first non-West Africa nation to report Ebola deaths, but also to the United Kingdom.
On Sunday, a British man named William Pooley was flown back to his home country after falling ill, and is being treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London. He is hailed as a "hero" by the organization he was working for at the time of his infection, and is reportedly being given the "best possible care."
And while more developed, more affluent nations are able to treat their own patients on a one-off basis, Ebola is laying waste to much of Africa that has neither the infrastructure nor the medical supplies to adequately respond to the thousands upon thousands of cases that continue to emerge day after day. Worse yet, another Liberian doctor who was also given ZMapp, has died.
Gaza, which still hasn't improved
Though truces and ceasefires aplenty have been propositioned, the violence in the Gaza Strip continues to escalate without an end in sight. In the six days since the failure of the last truce, at least another 112 Palestinians have lost their lives as 350 Israeli air strikes have ravaged what is now the most dangerous 139 square miles in the world.
Israeli reports claim that no fewer than 130 rocket and mortar bombs were launched by Hamas forces on Monday, and while many of them were likely neutralized by Israel's powerful Iron Dome antimissile system, at least one Israeli civilian was injured.
Ukraine, which we definitely shouldn't be ignoring
While most of the attention that was once focused on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has now been diverted to Gaza, Ebola, and domestic crises, the situation in eastern Europe remains as volatile as ever.
On Monday, the New York Times uncovered horrific scenes of mistreatment on the Russian-Ukrainian border, with a pro-Russian gunman forcing an accused spy to stand with a sign reading, "She kills our children," while those who passed by slapped "her face and [threw] tomatoes at her."
Mike Brown, who represents more than one man
While many of the above situations are rather removed from the United States, there is more than enough turmoil and strife within the country to keep the president busy.
On Monday, Ferguson shooting victim Michael Brown was finally laid to rest, and although the violence in Missouri has abated, tensions remain high. Attendees at Brown's funeral held their hands up in what has become the unofficial sign of the protest, and both the state and federal investigation into the events that transpired before Brown was fatally shot are still underway.
President Obama did not attend Mike Brown's funeral (though he did send three aides), nor did Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who has come under significant fire for what many say was a poor handling of the situation. Brown's death remains a stark reminder of the racial divide that still exists in the United States, even with an African American president at its helm.
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