Weeks Fourteen & Fifteen | Index

 

Howdy, folks. Given the plethora of 100-day summaries inundating the recent media, Weekly Index took some time off. But it’s back with a vengeance now, and with a request: if Weekly Index is useful to you, or if it could be more useful or otherwise improved, let us know either via Facebook and Twitter or by email to weeklyindex [at] gmail.com.

Meanwhile, as usual, SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. Here’s the run-down.

President Trump:

  • Celebrates his 100th day in office with an approval rating of 42%, the lowest 100-day approval rating of any president since polls began.
  • Blames the troubles of his first 100 days on the Constitution and specifically on checks and balances to presidential power. “It’s a very rough system,” he said. “It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country.”
  • Appoints renewable energy skeptic Dan Simmons to lead the renewable energy committee at the Department of Energy.
  • Suggests that former President Andrew Jackson could have prevented the Civil War had he not died 16 years before it ended. He further speculates on the causes of the Civil War, and lamented the paucity of scholarly inquiry into its history. “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?” he asks during a radio call-in show.
  • Reminds the nation that May 1st is Loyalty Day. Nation blinks.
  • Signs a bill preventing a government shut-down on his 100th day in office. The short-term budget bill preserves funding for the government through September, lacks funding provisions for Trump’s border wall, increases military funding, and preserves funding for Obamacare provisions. Trump later says that he would support a government shut-down in the future: America “needs a good ‘shut-down.'”
  • Signs executive order that had been expected to upend the Johnson Amendment, which among other things keeps religious groups from supporting specific candidates. But the executive order fell short of Trump’s threats, and those planning to sue for the Amendment’s preservation backed down.
  • Plans to strip funding from State Department team that advances women’s rights across the world…just as his daughter Ivanka defends his record on women to a German audience, sharing a stage with Angela Merkel.
  • Launches a new anti-immigration hotline so that victims or witnesses of crimes allegedly committed by immigrants could easily report them. Immigrants’ rights activists rally behind #AlienDay hashtag and overwhelm the hotline with complaints of crimes committed by aliens–from outer space.
  • Golfs.

In other news,

  • House Republicans shove through a more inhumane version of their previous healthcare bill, this time modified to placate the far-right Freedom Caucus. The new bill, which isn’t yet reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office, will slash Medicaid and insurance subsidies; imperil coverage for those with pre-existing conditions; let states waive the requirement to provide essential services coverage (eg. maternity or emergency care); defund Planned Parenthood; and cut taxes mostly to the benefit of the wealthy. A key provision guarantees that Obamacare benefits remain intact for legislators.
  • At a town hall in Lewiston, in response to a constituent’s claims that the new GOP healthcare bill’s Medicaid cuts are tantamount to a death sentence, Representative Raul Labradour (R-Idaho) derides his constituent’s claim as ridiculous: “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” Jeers ensue.
  • Minnesota sees largest measles outbreak for thirty years, a suspected result of anti-vaccination campaigns targeting vulnerable recent immigrant populations.
  • The Interior Department lists monuments whose status are up for review, a process that could rollback protections on millions of acres of public lands. Public comment opens on May 12th.
  • The Senate committee working on the rewrite of the House Trumpcare bill comprises 13 men, 0 women.
  • Sally Yates, former acting Attorney General, gives searing testimony to Senate subcommittee about Michael Flynn and the Trump administration’s Russia ties.
  • The E.P.A. does not renew the terms of five members of a major scientific advisory board, vowing instead to open up the regulatory review process to industry representatives and other energy stakeholders. “This is completely part of a multifaceted effort to get science out of the way of a deregulation agenda,” says Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
  • U.S. jobless rate reaches a 10 year low.
  • Media learns that former President Barack Obama warned Trump against hiring Michael Flynn two days after the election, advice Trump clearly ignored at the nation’s peril.
  • The FCC investigates complaints against late-night comedian Stephen Colbert for a brief and brilliant on-air roast of Trump. Trump’s supporters flood the office with calls for his removal.
  • Jared Kushner’s sister appears before a group of wealthy investors in Shanghai to present the case for their investment in Kushner family property development, touting $500,000 “investor visa” to attendees. “It’s incredibly stupid and highly inappropriate,” said Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. “They clearly imply that the Kushners are going to make sure you get your visa.”
  • A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia begins hearing an appeal on the Trump administration’s revised immigration ban.
  • Protester Desiree Fairooz is convicted for laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing in January.
  • Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee tweets that he will spend Cinco de Mayo drinking “an entire jar of hot salsa and watching “old Speedy Gonzalez cartoons.” Condemnation is fast and furious.
  • Beyoncé starts a scholarship fund for black women pursuing higher education. #truefeminism #BLM #takenotesIvanka
  • Congress is on recess this week. Take this opportunity to visit a town hall near you and let your legislators know how they’re doing.

Elsewhere,

  • Britain’s prime minister Theresa May continues to barrel towards the snap election she called in April in order to quelch Labour party dissent against her hardline “Brexit means Brexit” agenda. So far, her tactics seem to be working: she seems to be laps ahead of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who’s widely reputed to be a very weak candidate.
  • Russia withdraws from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest after Ukraine–this year’s Eurovision hosts–refuse their singer’s visa. Tensions flare, promising a particularly entertaining broadcast.
  • The World Trade Organization rules in Mexico’s favor in a trade dispute with the US on the US’ refusal to sell Mexican-caught tuna. The decision allows Mexico to impose trade sanctions worth $163 million a year against the U.S.
  • Turkmenistan marks its national Horse Day. This year’s celebrations culminate in authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov first winning a horse race, and then singing a song–complete with backup dancers–he composed himself for himself. Turkmenbashi 2.0.
  • An Australian bar is forced to cancel its plans to hold a wet t-shirt competition to mark Anzac Day, the anniversary of the first major World War One battle involving antipodean nations.
  • Suspected Russian hackers attempt to shift France’s election toward far-right candidate Marine Le Pen via a release of sensitive centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron campaign information shortly before French voters went to the polls. The attempt fails.
  • As a New Yorker piece puts it, France retains its right to claim intellectual superiority over America by voting for centrist Macron and against far-right Le Pen as their next president. Yes, 34% of French voters still supported a party that is racist, xenophobic, anti-EU, and fascist, but nevertheless, 66% did not, and it is worth celebrating France’s defiance of the tide of barbarism and nationalism rising elsewhere. Vive la France!

 

Week Nine | Readings

Better late than never. As Sunday draws to a close, light a fire, grab a whiskey and tuck in for a few good reads.

  • Finally, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking Intelligence Committee member, lays down with remarkable clarity the reasons for the House investigation into Russian collusion and interference. Watch it in full, and then keep pushing for an independent investigation:

Week Nine | Index

Sorry for the delayed posts. Between a busy work week and everything else, sometimes a little extra processing time is called for. Trevor Noah has a new Daily Show segment called “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That,” in which he whizzes through all of the crazy events that happened that day and reminds us that, in normal times, each would be a huge story. The Index serves a similar purpose, except we’re cramming a whole week in. So here goes.

  • In the biggest news of the week, a rushed vote on TrumpRyanCare is pulled after the GOP cannot amass sufficient GOP support to pass it. With only 17% of Americans endorsing it, it became a political hot potato, and despite last-minute, late-night, backroom dealmaking (including promises to axe mandatory benefits like maternity, ER, and mental health care), neither the Freedom Caucus nor some moderate Republicans come on board en masse. Trump and Ryan both give press conferences blaming the Democrats and everyone but themselves.Democrats rejoice. Ryan pledges to fight on, and then presumably hits the gym for some anger-cardio. Pump it!
  • The Senate passes bill allowing Internet service providers to sell people’s info (including browsing histories and even emails) without asking permission first.
  • Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch completes three grueling days of Senate confirmation hearings in which the Democrats asked hardball questions about how he might vote in certain circumstances, which Gorsuch studiously avoids answering, and in which GOP-ers ask largely softball questions, such as (literally), “Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?” (Gorsuch demurs.) Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asks Senate Democrats to join him in voting against Gorsuch nomination, thus likely forcing Republicans to deploy the “nuclear option” to get their candidate confirmed.
  • The House Intelligence Committee continues hearing testimony about Russian interference–and possible Trump administration collusion–with the 2016 election. High-/lowlights include an outstandingly clear introduction to the investigation by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA: worth a watch in full); FBI Director James Comey’s testimony that there is no evidence to support Trump’s wiretapping claims; his confirmation that the FBI is conducting an investigation into Trump campaign collusion with Russia; committee head Rep. Devin Nunes taking new evidence first to Trump and then to the press corps instead of sharing it with his committee, thus casting further doubt on the independence of the hearings; and Nunes then taking the committee behind closed doors, to the outrage of Democrats on the committee and the general public. Rumors that Michael Flynn may have struck a deal with the FBI start circulating.

Donald Trump:

  • Promises to let Obamacare self-destruct, which may mean defunding it in his new budget proposals, thus opening the door to a new GOP plan.
  • After his second Muslim-ban is ordered halted, orders that no computers or tablets be brought into the cabin on non-US carrier flights from eight Muslim-majority countries, including key allies.
  • Calls Russian hearing developments “fake news.” Yawn.

Elsewhere:

  • A terror attack on Westminster Bridge and at the Houses of Parliament in London leaves five people, and the attacker, dead, and scores injured.
  • ICE raids and deportations continue.
  • Israeli police arrest an Israeli-American teen in connection to a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the U.S.
  • Conservative pundit Tomi Lahren is suspended from Fox News, likely because she said she is pro-choice.
  • Chuck Berry dies; later the same week, his estate releases a new Chuck Berry record with new material.
  • North Korea tests a new rocket engine–again.
  • Germany votes for a law that would pay restitution and clear the records of gay men imprisoned for homosexuality in the decades after World War II.
  • A lawsuit is filed against Saudi Arabia by 9/11 victims and their families, setting a worry precedent that may come back to bite the U.S.

And in other news,

  • South African footballer, upon being deemed player of the day, on live t.v. thanks “my wife and my girlfriend… I mean my wife.”
  • The OED Word of the Day on Friday is “phatic.” Hey, D.T., look it up. It’s gonna be great.

 

Week Seven | Readings

  • A couple of reminders that America’s internal turmoil is nothing compared to what’s happening elsewhere: Melissa Gronlund, in Artforum, reports on the international “Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage” conference in Abu Dhabi, with special emphasis on Syrian heritage sites  |  Britain’s Channel Four news airs short video showcasing the chaos and devastation of Aleppo families inside a barebones, resource-poor, beseiged hospital.
  • Finally, yet another SNL video that nails it: