THE TOPICS OF EPISODE EIGHT
NEWS PERTAINING TO THE ACTIVITIES OF THE WHITE HOUSE
- Trump announces new steel and aluminum tariffs.
- US executives warn that the tariffs could damage the strengthening US economy.
- Manufacturers who use aluminum and steel to produce cans, cars, refrigerators, and additional goods warn of shortages, price surges, and trade barriers on US exports levied for retaliatory purposes. Executives complain of a lack of specific detail regarding the plan for the new duties.
- Trump imposes a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum.
- The president of the German Steel Federation, Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, said that the EU must act to end the new tariffs or the European steel industry “is going to be left footing the bill for American protectionism.
- Trump immensely harmed his own infrastructure plan by instituting the new tariffs.
- Tariffs, industry groups say, will diminish prospects of American energy independence as the price of building steel pipelines will rise sharply.
- Goldman Sachs economists said that Trump’s new tariff plan doesn’t rely “on any economic argument and instead imposes trade restrictions on national security concerns.” They also added that “This could lead to other trading partners taking similar actions and could ultimately weaken the international trade conventions like the [World Trade Organization] rules.”
- Economists fear an international trade war.
- Trump’s chief economic advisor, Gary Cohn, will resign from the White House after 14 months. The announcement marks Cohn’s failure to dissuade Trump from the tariffs. Cohn also tried to dissuade Trump from leaving the Paris climate accord, another issue he was on the losing side of.
- Trump signed act to levy new tariffs on Thursday.
- After intense lobbying and pressure from Congress, Trump moderated his plan. Canada and Mexico are now exempt,” and Australia, which Trump called a “great country” and a “long-term partner, will likely also be soon.
- Trump plans to meet Kim Jong Un for nuclear talks
- Trump breaks with the formalities of negotiation and avoids using lower-ranking officials to contact the government first.
- The talks were spurred by a de-escalation between the two halves of Korea following the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongyang.
NEWS CONCERNING OTHER AMERICAN AFFAIRS
- The Justice Department is suing California over three of it statutes that protect sanctuary city systems and undocumented immigrants because they say it violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.
- The Supremacy Clause says that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”
- Climate change lawsuit advances
- The Ninth Circuit Appellate Court ruled that the case termed Juliana vs. US can move forward for trial after the White House attempted to prevent the case from beginning, alleging it could not on legal grounds.
- The case is filed by teenagers seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. They claim that the government’s lack of regulation on climate change is unconstitutional because it denies them a stable climate and will cause flooding and harm to natural resources.
- They use the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Ninth Amendment’s protection of unenumerated rights to make allege constitutional protections.
NEWS CONCERNING THE POLITICAL ACTIVITIES OF EUROPE AND ITS NATIONS
- Populism disrupts electoral outcomes and party activities in Europe.
- A new pact was announced in Germany this week. It will form a coalition joining the center-left Social Democrats and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own conservative Christian Democrats.
- Anti-establishment votes accounted for half of Italy’s parliamentary elections. Distrust towards immigrants, fiscal constraints, and politicians in general bolstered support for the 5 Star Movement and other populist Italian policies.
- A former English spy and his daughter were found comatose from poisoning on a bench in Salisbury, England this week
- Sergei V. Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, 33, were targeted with a rare nerve agent.
- Skripal spied on Russia.
- His death was likely carried out by agents from Russia.
- It is unclear how England will respond to the likely Russian aggression.
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TOPICS DISCUSSED ON THIS EPISODE
- Supreme Court denies Trump’s attempt to expedite future Supreme Court ruling on ‘Dreamers.’
- The Supreme Court will consider a new death penalty case.
- The Supreme Court conducted oral arguments for Janus v. AFSCME Council on Monday.
- The Supreme Court reverses and remands Jennings v. Rodriguez
- Dick’s Sporting Goods Stops Selling Assault-Style Weapons, Raises Age for Gun Buyers
- The Georgia GOP attacked Delta for ending its program of discounting rates for NRA members.
- Trump backs Senate gun regulation proposal
- North Korea shipped chemical weapons factory-building supplies to Syria
- Trump promotes digital director Brad Parscale
- Kushner Security Clearance Downgraded
- Hope Hicks intends to resign
- Justice Department will investigate warrant distribution
- Republicans sue to end the Affordable Care Act
- Pro-business tax cuts are largely absent from the new Canadian tax plan
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NEWS CONCERNING THE FLORIDA MASSACRE
- Trump to support expanded background checks for gun ownership following an increased push for gun control after the Florida school shooting last week.
- Trump spoke to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R., Texas) about such legislation, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
- Trump now supports expanded background checks for gun-ownership, a minimum gun-purchase age of 21, and a ban on bump stocks. He opposes a ban on semi-automatic rifles.
- Trump supports arming school teachers.
- Trump defends the NRA as a group of ‘patriots’ who want to ‘do the right thing’
- He held a press conference where he said this (https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/22/politics/donald-trump-nra/index.html)
- Also, it has been made very clear that the president of the NRA (Wayne LaPierre) is ultra-conservative. This statement is reaffirmed when he says “You should be anxious and you should be frightened” about the potential of another Democratic takeover of the House, Senate and White House,”
- Republican Governor of a Vermont Phil Scott has reversed his beliefs on gun control. After police thwarted a potential attack by an eighteen year old who said he planned to “shoot up” a school, Scott said “That has a way of rocking your very core, and for that I had to do some reflecting, some soul searching myself to determine what we can do to protect our most precious resource, which is our kids,” Scott said. Scott now support restrictions on high capacity ammunition magazines, expanding background checks for private gun sales, and raising the legal gun ownership age to 21.
- Surviving teens ignite gun-control movement
- Teens that survived the Parkland shooting have created a sophisticated pro-gun-control social media operation.
- The number of the retweets of the hashtag #NeverAgain reached 100,000 retweets on Thursday—a 500% increase compared to a week earlier. The hashtag has been retweeted a total of over 500,000 times according to Twitter.
- They have raised $2.2 million is an internet fundraiser for a rally they plan to have in March.
NEWS ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE STATES OF AMERICA
- Pennsylvania announces new district map.
- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found the district map to unfairly benefit Republican candidates for the House of Representatives.
- Although Democratic and Republican voters are split equally in the state, Republicans have a 13-5 advantage in the House. They have been the leading party in Pennsylvania by proportion of Representatives since 2010, and the gerrymandered maps have been used since 2011.
- Even though this has passed, the issue remains very partisan. Democrats pro, republicans against. “I applaud the court for their decision and I respect their effort to remedy Pennsylvania’s unfair and unequal congressional elections,” said Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
- The Florida GOP backed raising the gun-ownership minimum age to 21.
- French President Emmanuel Macron attempts to boost economy with new legislation.
- The legislation reduces job protections and red tape that force companies to have unnecessary staff, and thus encourage job creation.
- Macron seeks to end decades of tension and volatility between business owners and labor unions.
- In September, Macron gave companies greater power to negotiate worker conditions with employees, among other measures.
- All these measures are apart of Macron’s plan for a labor-system overhaul aimed reinvigorating the economy and preventing mass-layoffs.
- Prime Minister of France Édouard Philippe France announces plan to decelerate Islamic extremism
- Private schools accused of cultivating Islamic extremism will be shut down
- Teachers will be trained to identify radicalized teens
- France will open 1,500 new spots in high security wards for radicals in prisons in a plan to isolate radicals from normal inmates
- France will work with the Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May to dampen online Islamic propaganda
WHITE HOUSE NEWS
- The US levied more sanctions than ever this Friday on North Korea.
- The new sanctions target dozens of companies and ships and one individual.
- The targeted individual was Tsang Yung Yuan, a Taiwanese citizen who has coordinated coal transfers between Russian brokers and North Korea to evade sanctions.
- The new sanctions are designed to prevent North Korea circumventing an international ban on its exportation of coal and its importation of certain fuel resources.
- Trump said that “If the sanctions don’t work, we’ll have to go to phase two.” He stated that alternative efforts to put pressure on North Korea would be very “rough” and “very, very, unfortunate for the world” during a speech at the Political Action Council in Maryland.
- Trump endorses Mitt Romney to be a Utah senator.
- Mitt Romney will be the likely successor to Orrin Hatch, who announced his retirement in January.
- Despite formerly calling Romney a “stone-cold loser,” Trump tweeted “He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to @OrrinHatch, and has my full support for endorsement!”
- US officials plan to open a new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14.
- The Financial Action Task Force of the US government has placed Pakistan on its terror-financing watchlist
- The US government is withholding $2 billion in security assistance
- Being on the list makes it more difficult for Pakistan to borrow, facilitate international banking transactions,and export, and it damages Pakistan’s prospects of foreign direct investment.
- Richard Gates plead guilty.
- Richard Gates was a former Trump campaign aide who was indicted by Robert Mueller on October 30.
- Gates pleaded guilty on Friday with providing false information and financial misdeeds.
- Gates and Manafort laundered $75,000,000 through secret offshore accounts in Cyprus, the Seychelles, Saint Vincent, and other locations, generating Gates $30,000,000 for personal expenses.
- Gates was paid millions of dollars to represent a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine from 2008 to 2016.
- Gates will serve up to six years in prison.
- Robert Mueller continues to maintain his innocence of the October 30 indictment, a position that will be difficult to maintain after Gates confessed.
- The indictment does not include meddling of Russia in the election.
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Topics of Discussion
- Rob Porter Scandal
- FBI contradicted white house.
- Top Trump aides, seeking to explain their decision not to immediately take action against senior White House official who accused of abusing both his ex-wives, have repeatedly tried to obscure facts about what the White House knew about staff secretary Rob Porter and when they knew about the allegations.
- As of today, Porter has denied all the allegations against him.
- When Kristen Welker of NBC asks White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sanders defends Porter in this clip.
- Colbie Holderness published a piece in the Washington Post on Monday with pictures of injuries she had allegedly received from Porter. She wrote “living in constant fear of Rob’s anger and being subjected to his degrading tirades for years chipped away at my independence and sense of self-worth. I walked away from that relationship a shell of the person I was when I went into it, but it took me a long time to realize the toll that his behavior was taking on me.” (Source: Rob Porter is my ex-husband. Here’s what you should know about abuse.)
- Florida Mass Shooting
- This is the eighth school shooting that caused deaths or injuries in just the first seven weeks of 2018. (Source: How many US school shootings have there been in 2018 so far?) Congress has refused to tighten restrictions on gun ownership, even after 20 children and six educators were massacred in 2012 in Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.
- Conservative response focuses on mental health, but not gun control.
- President Donald Trump addresses nation after Florida school shooting
- In this weekend’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, a piece about the Florida school shooting by Peggy Noonan was featured in the Opinion section. It is called “The Parkland Massacre and the Air We Breathe: What’s gone wrong with our culture that produces such atrocities? It’s a very long list.” She claimed the legalization of most forms of abortion was among the causes for the rise in mental illness and school shootings.
- Hundreds protested the NRA’s support for gun ownership. (Play excerpt: ABC News: Hundreds protest outside NRA headquarters following Florida school shooting) The NRA Institute for Legal Action has lobbied the legislature for for pro-gun legislation since 1975. (Source: NRA-ILA: About)
- New immigration bill
- A much-anticipated bipartisan deal that would have paired a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children with $25 billion in border security and some other measures failed to get the 60 votes necessary to advance legislation after furious White House opposition. The vote was 54-45.
- Special Counsel Issues Indictment Against 13 Russian Nationals Over 2016 Election
- 37 page indictment was filed United States District Court. (Read the full indictment at jdrcpolitics.com/indictment
- Mr. Robert Mueller said that the 13 individuals have conspired since 2014 to violate laws that prohibit foreigners from spending money to influence federal elections in the United States.
- This indictment charges that the foreigners falsely posed as American citizens, stole identities and otherwise engaged in fraud and deceit in an effort to influence the U.S. political process, most notably including the 2016 presidential race.
- Important: While the indictment does not directly accuse the Russian government of running the operation, American intelligence agencies including the FBI and CIA have said that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a what The New York Times is calling a “multipronged campaign to boost” to Trump’s political chances and damage to Hillary, especially at the time of the election. In addition, the indictment points out that the two Russian firms involved in financing it hold various Russian government contracts.
- According to sources, Russia is using “bots” to interfere with American Elections. These bots are apparently hiding behind multiple social media accounts, particularly Facebook and Twitter. (:
- The indictments’ main emphasis, however, is on the propaganda efforts of one Russian group in particular: the Internet Research Agency. That group’s operations — which included social media posts, online ads, and organization of rallies in the US — were, the indictment alleges, often (but not exclusively) aimed at denigrating Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, and at supporting Donald Trump’s. (0:42)
- According to sources, Russia is using “bots” to interfere with American Elections. These bots are apparently hiding behind multiple social media accounts, particularly Facebook and Twitter. Play video here (Start 0:42)
- Trump has hitherto called Russian interference a hoax.
Sources: CNN, CasonVids, The New York Times,
JDRC Politics Episode 5
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- The attack: A van plowed into a crowd of people in Barcelona near Las Ramblas, an area popular with tourists.
- The victims: At least 13 people were killed, and more than 100 more were injured. At least 15 of the injured were in critical condition.
- The arrests: Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said two suspects have been arrested. One suspect was Moroccan, while the other was from the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Police are treating the incident as an act of terrorism.
- And ISIS: The terror group claims attackers as “soldiers of the Islamic state” — but it has not explicitly claim responsibility for attack.
- Other: There was an explosion in Catalonia which may be connected to the incident. All trains and public events in Barcelona have been cancelled.
Donald Trump’s Dissolution of his Councils
After several business leaders announced their resignations from the White House’s American Manufacturing Council in recent days, President Donald Trump announced he was ending the panel Wednesday, along with the separate Strategic and Policy Forum.
“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” wrote Trump on Twitter. “Thank you all!”
Eight members of the American Manufacturing Council dropped from the panel following Trump’s response to last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. A ninth, Greg Hayes of United Technologies, announced his resignation just minutes after the president’s tweet.
“.@Merck Pharma is a leader in higher & higher drug prices while at the same time taking jobs out of the U.S. Bring jobs back & LOWER PRICES!” -Tweet from Donald Trump
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“Today the main issue will be discussing is the Unite the Right white supremacist rally and surrounding events in Charlottesville. Protestors, counter protesters, and those wishing to support the injured and deceased have been active in Charlottesville since lm. Friday. Trump’s comments sparked further fury more recently.
- August 11
- Events began on Friday when white nationalists marched through the campus of the University of Virginia chanting Nazi phrases.
- “White lives matter””
- “You will not replace us”
- “Jews will not replace us”. (Anti-defamation League)
- “While waiting for rides at Nameless Field after the march, several of the ‘alt-right’ protesters hurled anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic slurs at several reporters and community members asking them questions” (Cavalier Daily)
- August 12
- The Unite the Right rally was held in Emancipation Park.
- A state of emergency was declare at 11:00 AM due to violence against counter protestors by white supremacists and Neo-Nazis.
- Heather Heyer was killed by a deliberate vehicular ramming in the afternoon. She was protesting against racism at the rally.
- The vehicle driver–a man with Nazi sympathies–was arrested for the crime.
- The ramming was declared by H.R. McMaster as an act of “domestic terrorism.”
- Trump made his first statement
- We all must be united and condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!” He said, “we condem in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” He added, “What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order.”
- The decision reportedly came from Steve Bannon, founder of alt-right Breitbart News agency. Bannon feared losing alt-right support.
- This statement was heavily condemned
- The Congressional Black Caucus declared Trump’s statement to be due to white supremacy, and added that it was an example of Dog-Whistle Politics and False Equivalency.
- Following the statement, the NAACP implored Trump to remove Steve Bannon from his position.
- August 13
- Vigils and counter protests occurred the day following the rally.
- August 14
- On August 14, from the White House, President Trump said:
“To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered. […] Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
- Trump was initially reluctant to make this statement, but was persuaded by Chief of Staff John Kelly.
- NAACP president Cornell William Brooks said this statement was a “rhetorical minimum.”
- Many were dissatisfied by how late Trump’s statement arrived.
- August 16
- Trump held a Q&A with the press at Trump Tower saying: “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.” Trump also said that there were “very fine people on both sides”.
- Trump suggested that liberals would attempt to remove statues of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington
- More than 60 Republican and Democratic members of Congress condemned Trump’s remarks in the press conference (including among others, Senators Bernie Sanders, John McCain,
- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “The president’s continued talk of blame ‘on many sides’ ignores the abhorrent evil of white supremacism…”
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- Analysis of this tweet: “Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
- Donald Trump: The ‘locked and loaded’ President
- Briefly discuss the newfound specificity of the DPRK’s and Donald Trump’s rhetoric
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has a very different ideas about handling North Korea. He is more similar to past presidents (which some Trump supporters viewed as too soft) in that he advocates for forcing North Korea into disarmament talks.
- Trump must decide the path the US takes to handling North Korea
- The US could risk a war with North Korea if it decided to destroy their nuclear capabilities
- Obama-era investigations found this would lead to possibly millions of deaths in South Korea, Japan, and the surrounding era
- The US could accept North Korea as a nuclear power
- This could create a form of Cold War tensions
- China’s response
- China wants to deescalate tensions by forcing the US to talk with North Korea
- Trump’s remarks are being criticised by Chinese-state media
- China has implemented more defenses along the North Korea-China border in the case of military conflict
- Chinese imports of North Korean resources provide for the majority of its export money
[In other news…]
- Trump continues public criticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
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