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5 Lewis Honors Students Receive Top Honors

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 11, 2021) — Earlier this month, the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College held its Spring 2021 Medal Ceremony in two physically distant ceremonies in the Gatton Student Center. As is tradition, all of the Lewis Honors College graduation awards were announced at the ceremony.

Associate Dean Czarena Crofcheck announced the nominees and winners for the five annual honors awards: the Raymond Betts Crystal Award, the Diachun Award, the Leadership Award, the Diachun Scholar Award and the Evans Scholar Award. 

The Raymond Betts Crystal Award is awarded to a student for outstanding service to the Lewis Honors College and the UK community at large. The winner is awarded a crystal globe award to represent the potential for excellence in service and to have a global impact. The 2021 nominees were Thomas Calderaro, Anna Foose, Auburn Mattingly, Philip Meersman, Kamryn Stewart and Emma Vaught. The winner was Emma Vaught. 

Vaught served as a Lewis Honors College peer mentor, was one of the founding members of the Lewis Student Diversity and Inclusivity Coalition and served the Lexington community through a variety of service opportunities. She majored in human health sciences, with a minor in health advocacy

The Diachun Award is given to a graduating senior who has demonstrated outstanding research talent in the form of an independent project and who holds high promise for further professional development in professional or graduate school. The winner receives a certificate and a $1,000 award to be used for expenses in graduate or professional school. The 2021 nominees were Rebecca Caldbeck, Rachel Mooney, Lily Silverstein and Emma Vaught. The winner was Rebecca Caldbeck. 

Caldbeck has been doing undergraduate research at UK for several years and spent a summer as research intern with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She was also the first-place winner in physical and engineering sciences in the Oswald Research Competition in 2020. She majored in agricultural and medical biotechnology and in natural resources and environmental science, and also earned the Distillation, Wine and Brewing Certificate.

The Leadership Award is given to a graduating senior who has excelled in leadership positions at the university, department, college or community level. The 2021 nominees were Javid Fathi, Andrew Moak, Alyssa Williams and Jacob Zimmerman. The winner was Andrew Moak.

Moak served as the president of his fraternity, where he led efforts to address the importance of mental health. In 2020-21, he served as the president of the Accounting and Finance Honors Fraternity, where the membership recently doubled. He majored in accounting and finance and was a member the Global Scholars Honors Pathway program.

The final two awards, the Diachun and Evans Scholar awards, were a result of a gift from Karen and Jan Henson, established to recognize the highest academic achievement. All Lewis Honors College students are eligible to receive these awards. Candidates are selected based on their GPA and course rigor at the end of December before their graduating year. This distinction includes a monetary award of $3,000. 

The Diachun Scholar Award is given to a senior majoring in science or a related field. The 2021 finalists were Emily Andreasson, Thomas Calderaro, Carson Hardee, Claire Scott and Clarissa Somers. The winner was Clarissa Somers.

Somers majored in food science, was active in undergraduate research, gained experience as a production management intern and has served as a peer leader. She plans to attend graduate school at University College Cork to continue her studies in food science.

Somers’ research interests are in the study of human breast milk and Assistant Professor Rachel Schendel from the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment believes that Somers will achieve many great things in her future scientific research.

“As I got to know Clarissa better and discuss her career goals, I was impressed by her extraordinary long-term vision, organization and commitment to her chosen field,” Schendel said in her recommendation for Sommers. “Clarissa’s lightbulb ‘I want to dedicate my life to this’ moment happened in high school, where she had the opportunity to join a university research lab as a research intern investigating barriers to breastfeeding implementation. She realized that she wanted to understand breast milk at a chemical and physiological level and thus needed to choose an undergraduate program that would provide a solid basic science foundation as well as specialized training in food chemistry, analysis, nutrition and processing. Food science as an undergraduate major has well-prepared her for building a career in breast milk research, and her decision to pursue a taught master’s in food science at University College Cork is a sound follow-up.”

The Evans Scholar Award is given to a senior majoring in humanities or a related field. The 2021 finalists were Nicole Blackstone, Michael Di Girolamo, Kristen Karem, Michaela Lansdale, Chelsea Russell, Kayla Stroud and Anna Wagner. The winner was Michael Di Girolamo. 

Di Girolamo double majored in foreign language and international economics, with a focus in Chinese and international studies, with a concentration on comparative politics and societies. He also minored in Italian and Spanish. Michael was a Chellgren Fellow and co-founded two student organizations, one for Chinese and one for Korean language and culture. Di Girolamo plans to attend graduate school to study international relations and hopes to spend a year teaching English abroad prior to entering his graduate program.

Associate Professor of Chinese Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences Liang Luo spoke to Girolamo’s impact as a student at UK and his promising future. 

“Michael spearheaded the introduction of Korean language instruction at the University of Kentucky. With his leadership and with the help of Korean faculty and community members, I was able to secure a Korea Foundation Grant to seed a lecturer position, hence introducing Korean language formally to students at the University of Kentucky starting Fall 2019,” Luo said in his recommendation for Di Girolamo. “Michael has consistently maintained academic excellence and a strong leadership record during his studies and service at the University of Kentucky. His broad interests in at least four foreign languages (Chinese, Korean, Italian and Spanish) in both social sciences and humanities prepared him well for a promising career in diplomacy and international relations.”

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International Relations

Israel set to swear in government, end Netanyahu’s long rule | International

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel is set to swear in a new government on Sunday that will send Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into the opposition after a record 12 years in office and a political crisis that sparked four elections in two years.

Naftali Bennett, the head of a small ultranationalist party, will take over as prime minister. But if he wants to keep the job, he will have to maintain an unwieldy coalition of parties from the political right, left and center.

The eight parties, including a small Arab faction that is making history by sitting in the ruling coalition, are united in their opposition to Netanyahu and new elections but agree on little else. They are likely to pursue a modest agenda that seeks to reduce tensions with the Palestinians and maintain good relations with the U.S. without launching any major initiatives.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, remains the head of the largest party in parliament and is expected to vigorously oppose the new government. If just one faction bolts, it could lose its majority and would be at risk of collapse, giving him an opening to return to power.

The country’s deep divisions were on vivid display as Bennett addressed parliament ahead of the vote. He was repeatedly interrupted and loudly heckled by supporters of Netanyahu, several of whom were escorted out of the chamber.

Bennett’s speech mostly dwelled on domestic issues, but he expressed opposition to U.S. efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

“Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” Bennett said, vowing to maintain Netanyahu’s confrontational policy. “Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action.”

Bennett nevertheless thanked President Joe Biden and the U.S. for its decades of support for Israel.

Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said the new government will likely be more stable than it appears.

“Even though it has a very narrow majority, it will be very difficult to topple and replace because the opposition is not cohesive,” he said. Each party in the coalition will want to prove that it can deliver, and for that they need “time and achievements.”

Still, Netanyahu “will continue to cast a shadow,” Plesner said. He expects the incoming opposition leader to exploit events and propose legislation that right-wing coalition members would like to support but can’t — all in order to embarrass and undermine them.

The new government is meanwhile promising a return to normalcy after a tumultuous two years that saw four elections, an 11-day Gaza war last month and a coronavirus outbreak that devastated the economy before it was largely brought under control by a successful vaccination campaign.

The driving force behind the coalition is Yair Lapid, a political centrist who will become prime minister in two years, if the government lasts that long.

Israel’s parliament, known as the Knesset, will convene to vote on the new government at 4 p.m. (1300 GMT). It is expected to win a narrow majority in the 120-member assembly, after which it will be sworn in. The government plans to hold its first official meeting later this evening.

It’s unclear if Netanyahu will attend the ceremony or when he will move out of the official residence. He has lashed out at the new government in apocalyptic terms and accused Bennett of defrauding voters by running as a right-wing stalwart and then partnering with the left.

Netanyahu’s supporters have held angry protests outside the homes of rival lawmakers, who say they have received death threats naming their family members. Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service issued a rare public warning about the incitement earlier this month, saying it could lead to violence.

Netanyahu has condemned the incitement while noting that he has also been a target.

His place in Israeli history is secure, having served as prime minister for a total of 15 years — more than any other, including the country’s founder, David Ben-Gurion.

Netanyahu began his long rule by defying the Obama administration, refusing to freeze settlement construction as it tried unsuccessfully to revive the peace process. Relations with Israel’s closest ally grew even rockier when Netanyahu vigorously campaigned against President Barack Obama’s emerging nuclear deal with Iran, even denouncing it in an address to the U.S. Congress.

But he suffered few if any consequences from those clashes and was richly rewarded by the Trump administration, which recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, helped broker normalization agreements with four Arab states and withdrew the U.S. from the Iran deal.

Netanyahu has portrayed himself as a world-class statesman, boasting of his close ties with Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has also cultivated ties with Arab and African countries that long shunned Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians.

But he has gotten a far chillier reception from the Biden administration and is widely seen as having undermined the long tradition of bipartisan support for Israel in the United States.

His reputation as a political magician has also faded at home, where he has become a deeply polarizing figure. Critics say he has long pursued a divide-and-conquer strategy that aggravated rifts in Israeli society between Jews and Arabs and between his close ultra-Orthodox allies and secular Jews.

In November 2019, he was indicted for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. He refused calls to step down, instead lashing out at the media, judiciary and law enforcement, going so far as to accuse his political opponents of orchestrating an attempted coup. Last year, protesters began holding weekly rallies across the country calling on him to resign.

Netanyahu remains popular among the hard-line nationalists who dominate Israeli politics, but he could soon face a leadership challenge from within his own party. A less polarizing Likud leader would stand a good chance of assembling a coalition that is both farther to the right and more stable than the government that is set to be sworn in.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Britain will be America’s pet. But it’s Europe’s future that’s at stake | Simon Tisdall

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Beneath the strained bonhomie of the G7 summit lurks a visceral fear: that Joe Biden’s bid to build a democratic alliance to stem the authoritarian tide led by China and Russia will split the world in two, leaving Europe, betrayed by Boris Johnson’s turncoat Britain, to play piggy-in-the-middle.

Despite public applause for Biden’s key message – that the US is “back” after the xenophobic hyper-nationalism of Donald Trump – European leaders seem far from convinced. They worry the EU may be sucked into a second, limitless cold war, and that Biden, who will be 82 in 2024, could be unseated by a hawkish Trump or Trump clone.

The message to Europe in Johnson’s fawning weekend embrace of Biden and America, symbolised by a reworked Atlantic Charter and much Cornish corniness, was clear. Like a whipped bulldog craving favour, Brexit Britain will be Washington’s obedient, needy pet. Johnson is no Winston Churchill. But like Churchill in 1941, he’s desperate for US backing.

Biden will strive to hold the transatlantic alliance together, which for him means all the European democracies, including the UK. But the Johnson government’s anti-EU trajectory, seen in the latest row with Brussels over Northern Ireland, threatens his vision.

Last week’s forceful pre-emptive intervention by senior US officials suggests that London will eventually be forced to compromise, if only because Johnson dare not jeopardise the wider US relationship. Yet UK-EU antagonism looks set to deepen. Biden will have to tighten the leash again in future.

Europe’s concerns about strategic isolation as a newly divisive, bipolar world order takes shape are well founded. To its east lies China, Russia and like-minded regimes in India, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia – autocratic, aggressive and contemptuous of western-defined international norms.

To its west lies the US, a damaged power, divided against itself, whose political stability and consistency can no longer be depended upon. Biden’s efforts to restore normalcy to international relations are assured of European support for as long as he lasts, as this week’s EU-US and Nato “reunion” summits will demonstrate.

But if Trump or his followers regain power, a permanent US rupture with Europe and its liberal, multilateralist principles may become unavoidable. This in turn could wreck the EU if, say, copycat populists in Poland or Hungary were to definitively break with Brussels. For his part, Johnson would be happy to see Trump return and the EU split asunder.

Fears about Europe’s future in a hostile world are reflected in a comprehensive new survey of EU states by the European Council on Foreign Relations. It reveals what its authors call “a widespread lack of confidence in the US ability to come back as leader of the west”. Most Europeans believe America’s political system is broken.

This disillusionment is not wholly due to Trump. “More than a year after the start of the pandemic, the feeling has taken root among Europeans that they cannot rely on the US, Russia or China, and that they must move towards greater self-reliance,” the survey concludes.

In short, they don’t trust anyone any more. Instead, majorities believe Europe should develop unified responses to global threats. They prefer pragmatic partnerships to permanent alliances. Many want the EU to be a “beacon of democracy and human rights” and a great power capable of defending itself.

At a time when the EU faces an extraordinary 21st-century agenda – the climate crisis, the pandemic, economic recovery, migration, digitisation, cyber-threats and rightwing populism – such ambition should, in theory, be welcome.

And yet Europe’s politicians and bureaucrats seem unprepared. While the public wants the EU to do more, confidence is low that it will – not least due to its Covid-19 missteps. “Disappointment with EU institutions has now come out of the periphery and gone mainstream,” the ECFR says.

This reflects a broader problem: a dearth of effective national leaders. Few are committed to building the independent, self-sufficient Europe voters want. Solidarity is lacking when it comes to standing up to China over Xinjiang and Hong Kong, to Russia over Ukraine, Belarus and Alexei Navalny, or to the US over Israel-Palestine and trade.

In Germany, to which many Europeans look for leadership that never quite arrives, Angela Merkel’s imminent departure as chancellor has created a sort of funk. Despite talk of a Green revolution, voters seem likely to opt (as usual) for the safe, inward-looking, centre-right choice – namely Armin Laschet, Merkel’s CDU successor.

In France, Emmanuel Macron, who has no illusions about Johnson or US altruism, regularly calls for a fiscally, economically and militarily integrated Europe. Yet the president’s eloquence has not helped him at home, where he was quite literally slapped down last week. In any event, he is increasingly distracted by a tough 2022 re-election battle.

In Italy, the rise and rise of far-right parties such as the Brothers of Italy, feeding off immigration fears, inspires ultra-nationalists, xenophobes and bigots everywhere. Brothers leader Giorgia Meloni’s ideas about identity and globalist conspiracies make her a natural ally of Trump, not of Biden or Brussels.

Those who look, meanwhile, for strong EU leadership look in vain. If the union were a true democracy, Ursula von der Leyen, commission president, would have been voted out over her vaccine fiasco. But the EU does not work that way, which is part of the problem.

For EU leaders, the G7 perpetuated a fantasy of power and purpose. Unless they urgently take ownership of its destiny, Europe will be squeezed like an unripe lemon between rival global forces that share neither its values nor its interests.

Europe’s choice: be a standup player on the world stage – or risk becoming a quirky cultural museum for Chinese tourists and the butt of Trump’s and Johnson’s jokes.

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International Relations

Foreign diplomats face expulsion | Citypress

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 International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pando addressing the media at Luthuli house. Photo: Christopher Moagi


International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pando addressing the media at Luthuli house. Photo: Christopher Moagi

POLITICS

The department of international relations and cooperation on Thursday confirmed that Lesotho diplomats and their family members had been given 72 hours to leave the country after they were found to have been involved in the illicit peddling of duty-free alcohol.


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