The News Memo
You made it through the week. Congrats. Now let's break down all the things you missed while you were being productive.
+GetSmart (How much time will you spend at red traffic lights in your life?)
📰 A school shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch (7 miles from Columbine HS), killed 1 student and injured 8 more. Both shooters were students at the HS, an 18 yr old male who peers say was bullied and depressed, and a 16 yr old juvenile female, who was transgender and identified as male. Handguns were used. Kendrick Ray Castillo, the one person who died in the attack, heroically charged the shooter to delay him. Authorities have not give a motive for the attack.
🐝 Human beings threaten 1M species of going extinct, according to a newly released 40-page "summary for policymakers" published by the UN. Dr Kate Brauman, a lead author or the report, states: "We have documented a really unprecedented decline in biodiversity and nature, this is completely different than anything we've seen in human history in terms of the rate of decline and the scale of the threat.”
📰 ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Bill Passes in Georgia: The bill, which is set to go into effect in 2020, bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected - typically around 6 wks into a pregnancy. Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi signed similar bills earlier this year. It is expected to face swift legal challenges; supporters of the bill hope these legal challenges elevate the case to the Supreme Court.
🚗 Uber and Lyft drivers organized a strike on Wed, May 8, in protest of low wages and uncathy business practices from the ride-sharing companies. Both drivers and riders were encouraged to participate in the strike, which were organized in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, and London among other cities, in the hope of sending a message to Uber before its upcoming IPO (today, May 10).
✈️ Boeing knew about the software glitch in the 737 MAX 8 jet for over a year before reporting it to the Federal Aviation Administration. Boeing only reported the error after the second deadly crash in Ethiopia that killed 189 passengers.
📰 North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday (May 9), as broadcasted by South Korean TV. The missile launches are the second weapons test in less than a week, calling into doubt whether North Korea will keep its word to denuclearize as promised in talks between Trump and Kim.
💊 Pharmaceutical companies will now portray drug prices on Television ads if the cost surpasses $35 per month in a huge move aimed at lowering prescription drug prices initiated by the Trump Administration. Lowering prescription drug prices has been a consistent goal for both Republicans and Democrats in recent years.
⛳ Tiger Woods was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump on Monday. Woods is the 4th golfer to receive the award. In his remarks, Trump said, "This evening, we are in the presence of a true legend, an extraordinary athlete who has transformed golf and achieved new levels of dominance… he's also a great person.”
👶 Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (Duchess and Dutch of Sussex) gave birth to their first child on May 6, a baby boy named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor (Master Archie). Prince Harry said, “It’s been the most amazing experience...How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension, and we’re both absolutely thrilled.”
U.S. Increases Tariffs on $200 B of Chinese Goods as Trade War Escalates
Why you should care: Trade affects us in many seen and unseen ways. Your 401K (if you have one) will likely take a hit for better or for worse depending on how these trade negotiations go due to fluctuations in stock markets.
The U.S. raised the tariff rate from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods today, Friday (May 10), after negotiations on Thursday in Washington failed to produce a deal. Trump had forewarned in a tweet last Sunday (May 5), that the U.S. would raise tariffs if certain demands were not met. Trump also said he is taking steps to slap 25% tariffs on another $325 billion of Chinese goods. If that happens, virtually all Chinese exports to the U.S. would be subject to the 25% tariff rate.
The announcement signaled an abrupt shift from the stance of previous weeks.
What led to the tariff increase?
In the past, China has made broad, vague commitments to some structural changes to their economy. However, the Trump administration was frustrated that China has not committed to a specific list of regulations and laws that will be changed, deadlines for their implementation and a way to monitor whether China follows through with their promises.
The structural changes at issue are:
Negotiations are set to continue today (Friday). China has said it will “take necessary countermeasures” although what they will be is unclear at this time.
What to watch moving forward
A prolonged trade war stands to drag on global economic growth, as companies struggle to plan for buying supplies, make investments, and build plants in a climate of uncertainty.
Trump Says No More: Invokes Executive Privilege Over the Full Mueller Report
Why you should care: The release and battle over the Mueller report is a historic moment that will be referenced for a long time to come. Make sure you know what is going on!
Simplify this for me...
The Trump Administration is now stonewalling Congress on anything related to the Mueller Report. President Trump argues the investigation into him and his campaign was thorough and found no collusion and no obstruction and should be ended.
The Democrats argue that Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, and the Trump Administration are shielding the full report with redacted materials because it contains damaging information against Trump that could lead to impeachment.
Alright, now give me more details...
On Wednesday (May 8), Trump invoked executive privilege (explained below) to avoid turning over the full, unredacted Mueller report to Congress. As a reminder, some of the report’s information was redacted because it contains sensitive grand jury material and information that would affect other on-going investigations. It is against the law to release grand jury material without a judge’s approval. The unredacted report has been made available to 12 top congressional leaders - 6 Democrats, 6 Republicans - but Democrats want it released to Congress as a whole.
Democrats demanded that Barr release the full, unredacted report to Congress by May 7, or he would be voted to be held in contempt of Congress (explained below). He did not release it by the set date.
What is executive privilege?
According to the BBC, “Executive privilege allows a president to keep certain materials private if disclosing them would disrupt the confidentiality of the Oval Office decision-making process.” It is meant to allow the president and his aides to discuss matters with constant public scrutiny.
Although executive privilege is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, it has been ruled by the Supreme Court that it is
1) Necessary for effective governance
2) Cannot be used to hide wrongdoing (1974, U.S. v. Nixon).
What does holding in contempt of Congress mean?
“To hold in contempt” means to charge a person for failing to comply with a court subpoena or for obstructing the work of the U.S. Congress.
The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. The vote for holding the AG in contempt will now go to the general House, where it is expected Democrats will pass it.
After the general House votes, there are three ways paths forward (video from the WSJ explains these three paths):
Meanwhile, in related matters:
Iran Threatens to Leave Nuclear Deal Unless Sanctions Are Relieved
Why you should care: Iran is increasingly becoming a power in the Middle East with nuclear capabilities and is a growing threat to the United States and other major countries.
Give me some context...
The Iran Nuclear Deal was struck in 2015 under President Obama. The deal was intended to slow Iranian nuclear production in exchange for the U.S. lifting sanctions on the Iranian economy. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2018, but Iran has still been complying with the nuclear agreements. Since U.S. sanctions returned in 2018, Iran’s economy has been contracting.
What happened this week?
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Wednesday (May 8) that Iran would stop complying with 2 parts of the nuclear agreement if sanctions relief is not given within 60 days:
Iran is appealing to the U.S. and the other 5 countries in the agreement to fulfill their financial and oil commitments that were laid out in the original agreement. Russia, China, Germany, France, and the UK are the other countries.
China and Russia are blaming Washington for the current situation. France, Germany, and the UK are urging both sides to fulfill its commitments, and were opposed to the U.S. withdrawing in 2018. Meanwhile, President Trump has taken a hardline stance towards Iran, and it appears unlikely that he will ease the current sanctions.