A Political Halloween Week. Independence Movements. No More Tweeting.
This week will be Halloween week politically in the United States that will fill the nation with drama, surprise, and horror for some given potential arrests stemming from Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. CNN describes this as “Dread, expectation hang over Washington before Mueller sweep” and Fox news as “Mueller indictment looms.” Meanwhile, the techopolies (tech giants: Google, Facebook, and Twitter) will be knocking on Congress’s door the day after Halloween pleading their case that the Russians did not trick the American people by using their technology platforms and that Congress give them treats in the form of continuing to let them operate in an unregulated manner. But wait, there’s more! Trump will likely be naming the next head of the Federal Reservethis week and on Friday the latest jobs report will be released.
Despite all of the political turmoil, the stock market has been hitting record highs. Speaking of the economy and main street, no one seems to know anymore how to define the middle class. And some argue (like David Brooks at the NYT) that partisanship is eroding the “political middle class (centrists)” as “Americans are making partisanship the basis of their identity – their main political, ethnic and moral attachment.”
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Hundreds Of Thousands March For A Unified Spain: On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of supporters of a unified Spain–the so-called silent majority–spilled into Barcelona’s streets, underscoring the depth of division in Catalonia over the issue of independence. Polls and recent elections have shown that about half of the Catalan electorate oppose secession from Spain, but a vocal independence movement has brought the current crisis to a head. On Friday, a unilateral declaration of independence was announced in a vote that was boycotted by three national parties. Spain’s central government responded by scheduling an election for December 21 and removing Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont, dissolving its parliament, and dismissing its government.
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US Ambassador to the UN Makes First Trip to Africa: Nikki Haley visited Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo in one of the first “tangible” signs of interest in Africa by the Trump administration. Haley was the most senior member of Trump’s administration on the trip to the three countries. In Kinshasa, she spoke privately with Congolese President Joseph Kabila and told him he must hold a long-delayed election by the end of next year or the vote will lose international support. The Congolese opposition was critical of her statement as it implies no election would take place this year, which violates a deal Kabila signed with the opposition last December. “Calling for Kabila to stay in power beyond December 31, 2017 is the equivalent, pure and simple, of making oneself complicit with the evil genius!” opposition leader Olivier Kamitatu wrote on Twitter above a photo of Haley from her visit.
Kurdish President Loses Job Over Referendum Backlash: Just over a month ago Kurds were dancing in the street after voting overwhelmingly for independence from Iraq. The referendum had been denounced by all its neighbors and the US.While the vote was wildly popular with the Kurdish people, the move backfired. Just over a week ago, Iraqi forces fought to reclaim oil-rich Kirkuk, dashing Kurdish hopes and stripping away a third of Kurdish-held territory. As a result, veteran Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani told parliament he would step down on November 1 as Kurdish president, and ask for his powers to be dispersed. The Kurdish prime minister, Nechirvan Barzani, is expected to be handed some of the presidential duties, with the rest to be contested among senior officials. Other Kurdish officials are now attempting to hang onto the last of their remaining revenue streams – the border crossings to Syria and Turkey that provide passageways for Kurdish oil exports.
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Iran To Continue Making Missiles For Defense: In a speech on state TV Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country will continue to produce missiles for its own defense, and that doing so would not violate any international agreements. Earlier this month President Trump refused to certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 deal aimed at preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief. UN inspectors have continually verified Iran’s compliance with the multi-nation accord. Congress has imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, asserting its missile tests violate a UN resolution calling on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and says it has no plans to build nuclear-capable missiles.
Roger Stone’s Tweet Storm Is Unceremoniously Silenced: Last week Twitter blocked Russian media from buying ads on its social network. Now it’s thrown Roger Stone off the party boat. Stone, longtime Republican operative, former campaign adviser to Donald Trump, and serial foul-mouthed tweeter, was SO horrendously and continually offensive Friday night, hurling torrents of unprintable epithets against CNN anchor Don Lemon and New York Times columnist Charles Blow, that his account was finally suspended. Twitter, which rarely comments about its actions against individual accounts, referred to its policies against abuse, harassment and intimidation.
It seems Stone, who has been pushing the boundaries of propriety since working for Richard Nixon in the 1970s, went ballistic again as word began spreading late Friday that indictments are coming Monday from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations into alleged Russian election meddling, campaign collusion and presidential obstruction of justice.
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