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Politics with Anisha

Keep up with all things political with Anisha's weekly column

In the News this Week

In the News this Week: 2/4 


The first signs of an outbreak appeared on the 8th of January, 2020 in Wuhan, China. As of today, the 4th of February, 2020, the Chinese government has reported 20,438 confirmed cases, though there are rumors that they might not be reporting all the cases they have. Hyundai, the South Korean automobile manufacturer, reported today that they are suspending production at its factories in South Korea due to supply chain problems that are the result of the spreading coronavirus in China. There is now a two-week quarantine that American citizens and permanent residents who are traveling from China to America have to undergo as a precaution to try and stop the spread of the virus internationally. As of Monday, there have been 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across the United States, including Massachusetts.


The issue of a shortage in surgical face masks has arisen in China and is quickly becoming a problem in the United States as well. Hong Kong’s chief executives have issued statements saying to stop wearing the masks in order to save them for medical workers. Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control has said that the only time healthy people need to wear face masks is when visiting a hospital. While it is true that sick people wearing face masks can slow the spread of infection, when healthy people wear them there is no real protection against the disease. Most experts agree that the best way to protect against the virus is to wash your hands on a regular basis and avoid touching your face.


Just today, a Diamond Princess cruise ship carrying 3,700 people was quarantined after one of the passengers tested positive for coronavirus off the coast of Japan. None of the passengers will be let off the ship until each of them has been tested to see if they carry the virus by officials from Japan’s Health Ministry.


In the News this Week


In the World:

  • Iran freed an American that they had been holding since 2016 in a prisoner swap with the US

    • On Saturday, Iran released an American graduate student who had been held for 3 years after being suspected of being a spy. Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University Ph.D. student, was arrested in August 2016 on charges of espionage while conducting research in Tehran. He was sentenced to 10 years and sent to Evin Prison. He was released as part of a prisoner swap in which the US released an Iranian scientist named Massoud Soleimani. Soleimani had been arrested and found guilty of conspiring and attempting to export human growth hormones from the US to Iran without authorization. The Swiss government facilitated this swap since the US and Iran do not have diplomatic relations with each other.


On the national level:

  • Kamala Harris has ended her presidential campaign

    • On Tuesday, Kamala Harris ended her presidential campaign due to the fact that it does not have enough funding to continue. Another factor was her low poll numbers in the states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and California, all states that she was poised to do well in. This decision came only weeks before the deadline to withdraw from the primary ballot in California, Harris’s home state. She is going to travel to early-voting states in order to thank her staff for their dedication and support for her campaign. 

  • President Trump is temporarily delaying designating Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations

    • On Friday, President Donald Trump said in a tweet that he will delay designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations at the request of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The Mexican government has been against this designation of cartels as terrorist organizations and said that such a move could be considered a violation of Mexico’s sovereignty. Trump said that even though all the paperwork was done and he was ready to issue a declaration, he will temporarily hold off. President Obrador thanked him for this. 

  • Hundreds of thousands are losing their access to food stamps as the result of new laws being passed by the Agriculture Department

    • On Wednesday, the US Department of Agriculture gave their final approval on a rule change that tightens work requirements for food stamp recipients. The rule change only applies to able-bodied workers without dependents, so families, disabled people, the elderly, and pregnant women are not going to be affected. The current law gives adults three months’ worth of food stamps within a three-year period unless they work or are in a vocational training program for at least 20 hours a week. States can get waivers from the time-limit rule in areas with an especially low amount of jobs. The new rule makes it more difficult to get these waivers. Before, counties that received these waivers had unemployment rates as low as 2.5%, whereas now, a county would need to have a minimum unemployment rate of 6% in order to get the waiver. The US Department of Agriculture said that 688,000 people would lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as a result.

In the News this Week: 11/3 - 11/9

In the World:

  • ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is killed

    • On Saturday, U.S. troops led a raid that resulted in the death of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist and the leader of ISIS. When approached by troops, Al-Baghdadi set off a suicide vest, killing himself and three children that were with him. 

On the national level:

  • As of Tuesday afternoon up to 186,000 residents are under evacuation orders in California due to fires that are currently raging. Utility companies are planning to cut off power to hundreds of thousands of people for both Tuesday and Wednesday to make sure any faulty electrical equipment will not lead to any more blazes. The high hurricane-like winds that are currently fueling the ongoing fires can also down live power lines, leading to more wildfires being created. As a result, Californian utility companies have been shutting off power more frequently this year as a precaution due to incidents in previous years in which they have received criticism for.

In Massachusetts: 

  • Controversy has recently arisen regarding whether or not safe injection sites should be opened up in Massachusetts. Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts, has said that he believes supervised injection sites to be ineffective and that they do nothing to help people “get better.” The concept of supervised injection sites has been around for a couple of years, most popularly in Canada, Europe, and Australia. There are at least 100 of these sites around the world, where drug users come in with their own drugs and are given sterilized needles. They are then able to use these drugs in a clean space where they are watched by staff nearby who are equipped with breathing masks, and, most importantly, naloxone, a nasal spray that is used to save someone who is overdosing. The staff also provides information about safe drug use and rehabilitation facilities. While giving drug users a place to safely use drugs reduces the risk of fatal overdoses, critics say that these places also encourage drug users to continue using. 


On the national level:


  • Two weeks ago, President Trump acknowledged the fact that he accused Joe Biden of corruption through his son, Hunter Biden, on a phone call with the prime minister of Ukraine. This was exposed through a whistleblower complaint that was filed after White House officials allegedly tried to cover up all traces of the phone call. Supposedly, the President asked the Ukrainian prime minister 8 times to investigate Hunter Biden, and may have used military aid as leverage; keeping in mind Ukraine requires the military aid supplied by the United States in order to fight back against Russian aggression.

  • Last Wednesday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had to go to the hospital for ‘discomfort in his chest’. His doctors said that Mr Sanders had had a heart attack as he was discharged from the hospital on Friday. According to his doctors, Mr Sanders had a surgery in which two stents were put in to open up a blocked artery in his heart. His wife, Jane Sanders, announced that Bernie Sanders will still be participating in the Democratic Debate on October 15th.

  • Irani financed hackers made more than 2,700 attempts to identify the email accounts of government officials, journalists, and other personnel who were associated with Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. According to Microsoft, the cyberattacks took place over 30 days in August and September around and after the time that the Trump administration placed new sanctions on Iran. According to Iranian officials these sanctions, which were placed to decrease the country’s revenue from oil, have hurt the economy greatly.


In the World:

  • A drone strike on oil processing facilities in Saudi Arabia occurred on September 14th, shutting down half of the country’s oil production until Tuesday. Houthi rebels from Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, but evidence has emerged pointing to Iran as the perpetrators. President Trump declared that the U.S. was ready to strike back, but then said that he would wait for Saudi Arabia to tell him when to proceed. This led to criticism from others who accuse the President of having done Saudia Arabia’s bidding for a long time.


  • Last week, images of Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, wearing brownface makeup in 2001 surfaced. Prime Minister Trudeau has a reputation for being welcoming towards refugees and has apologized on multiple occasions for Canada’s history of abusing the indigenous people. Trudeau is also up for re-election in October but this incident has raised concerns that he might not be as amicable to racial diversity as he has shown so far.


On the national level:

  • On September 15th, the creator of OxyContin, the drug company Purdue Pharma, filed for bankruptcy. A deal was reached to try to resolve the lawsuits involving multiple states and U.S. territories alleging that the drug company misled doctors and patients about the harmful and addictive side effects of the prescription painkillers that they were marketing. The deal includes having the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma, give up control of their company, pay $3 billion in cash, and eventually sell Mundipharma, another pharmaceutical company based in Britain that they also own. However, 2 dozen states, including Massachusetts, are still either opposed to or have not yet accepted the deal. Restructuring the company through bankruptcy into a public benefit trust was also a part of the settlement deal that was agreed to by 24 states and 5 U.S. territories, as well as thousands of cities and counties who were suing the company for the role that they believed Purdue Pharma played in the opioid crisis. Being a public benefit trust would mean that the profits gained from the sale of their drugs would be used to pay for the research of medications that would be used to treat addiction and overdoses, as well as pay the plaintiffs’ claims, and they would also have to follow restrictions on their marketing and sales of their opioids. The Sackler family has refused to revise their offer in the hopes that eventually those who are suing them will change their minds. 


  • Last week, it came out that Trump’s administration is planning to take away California’s ability to keep the federal environmentally-friendly pollution laws that Obama’s administration put in place. Though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Transportation Department have plans to remove these laws, California wants to keep them.


  • Last Wednesday, President Trump named his chief hostage negotiator, Robert O’Brien, as his new national security adviser to help sort through their options in terms of retaliation against the drone strikes on Saudi Arabia. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the drone strike was an “act of war” before leaving for Saudi Arabia in order to conduct an emergency meeting with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He also said that the United States is now working on building a coalition to prevent any future attacks.


  • Last Wednesday, Greta Thunberg testified in front of a congressional subcommittee and urged lawmakers to “listen to the scientists” and take action. Later on in the week, climate change demonstrations led by teenagers began around the world. Students in New York were even given permission to skip school and go to the protests.


  • Last Friday, Walmart announced that it would stop selling e-cigarettes in their American stores. This comes after the new concerns about the harmful effects of vaping, which started when teenagers began to develop severe lung issues after having vaped products that either contained nicotine, THC oil, or neither. Over 500 people in 38 different states have been diagnosed with the illness.


  • Also last Friday, the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, announced that he was ending his candidacy for president. He said that he would end his campaign and continue working as the mayor of New York City.

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