Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes —
the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about.
Hi, I’m Zoe Licata.
- Well, we’re now entering week 5 of the U.S. government shutdown. While there’s a little bit of movement, it’s nothing too promising. 800,000 federal workers are going without pay, and more than 4 million contractors are being affected. The White House Council of Economic Advisors is estimating that each week of the shutdown cuts quarterly growth by .13 percent. That means the last four weeks have already cut the country’s economic growth by .5 percent. And it could get much worse. If Brexit negotiations continue to head south, and trade tensions between the U.S. and China deepen, it could take the U.S. into a recession.
- And the very public dispute between New York Knicks center Enes Kanter and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to focus public attention on some important issues that many people might otherwise miss. The basketball player Kanter has been outspoken in his criticism of Erdogan as an authoritarian that is shredding Turkey’s democracy. And Erdogan has a habit of labeling anyone who criticizes him as a “terrorist.”
But aside from Erdogan’s dismal record on human rights and press freedom, the situation with Enes Kanter has also focused us on the fact that Erdogan and other authoritarians have been using the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, as their personal political weapon to capture and silence critics and other political enemies.
Now, Erdogan is seeking an Interpol arrest warrant for Enes Kanter, claiming that the basketball player is a “terrorist.’ Kanter clarifies, saying that “The only thing I terrorize is the rim.”
Sources: Washington Post and Foreign Policy
- And here’s a very exciting development that makes U.S. politics feel as small and petty as it is. Avi Loeb, an Israeli American theoretical physicist and chair of Harvard’s astronomy department, has been speaking and writing about a strange elongated asteroid-like object that was observed in October of 2017 travelling through our solar system. The astronomers at the University of Hawaii who spotted it named it “Oumuamua, the Hawaiian word for “scout” or “messenger.” Oumuamua was the first interstellar object detected within our solar system.
Now, Professor Loeb — an eminent scientist at one of the most prestigious research universities in the world — is suggesting that the object “may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth’s vicinity by an alien civilization.”
Source: The New Yorker
- Back to earth. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set out last week on his anti-Iran tour of the Middle East, which seemed on its face designed to move focus off the Saudis’ murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But there was far more underpinning his effort.
As Pompeo awkwardly avoided holding the Saudi crown prince responsible for Khashoggi’s murder, he announced in Cairo on January 10th that Iran is “the greatest threat of all in the Middle East.” Here’s one big reason for his odd monocular vision: Pompeo, like U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, is an evangelical and a “Christian Zionist.” He believes that Jesus Christ will return only when the Jewish people occupy all of the Holy Land. This translates into him blocking the creation of a Palestinian state, and countering with a fury anyone he sees as a possible enemy of Israel (i.e., Iran).
This works for Donald Trump, because evangelical Christians are his biggest and most reliable voting block. One quarter of the U.S. adult population is evangelical, and 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016. As Trump faces greater and greater legal and political peril, he is evermore dependent on their support.
Source: Haaretz, New York Times, The Guardian
This has been the latest edition of Newscoop’s Footnotes – important events getting too little attention.
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