Newscoop Footnotes: April 1, 2019

Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes — the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about.

Hi, I’m Arasha Lalani.  

Interesting developments this week in world politics.

  • First, in the Ukrainian presidential election on Sunday, comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy received over 30% of the vote, overwhelming the 17.8% received by incumbent president Petro Poroshenko. The two candidates will proceed next month to a runoff.

    In his satirical TV show, Zelenskiy plays a history teacher on an anti-corruption mission, who unexpectedly becomes president. Zelenskiy has no political experience, and no campaign platform other than that of change. If he is elected, the challenges ahead of him will be no laughing matter — an intractable standoff with Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, and ongoing corruption in the country. In contrast to many of the candidates who have been riding the populist wave across Europe, Zelenskiy is notably pro-EU.

    Source: Kyiv Post, BBC

  • And on Saturday in Slovakia, another political newbie became the country’s first female president. Lawyer and anti-corruption activist Zuzana Caputova led a campaign that called for “transparency, decency and fairness in politics and in public life.”
    The New York Times reported that Caputova was swept to victory by many who felt that “the populism of the governing party — with its unrelenting attacks on migrants and the European Union — had become little more than cover for corruption.” Her election is being portrayed by many as an indicator that the recent populist wave across Europe is being stemmed.

    Source: News York Times, BBC

  • Next, a week ago last Friday, U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller delivered to Attorney General William Barr his completed report on possible attempts by Donald Trump and his campaign to collude with Russia to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and to obstruct the investigation that followed. On March 24th, Barr released a four-page summary of Mueller’s report — a report hundreds of pages long. Barr’s summary of Mueller’s conclusions? That Mueller “did not establish” collusion. And also, that Mueller did not draw a conclusion on obstruction, despite much evidence supporting it.
    Mueller’s reasons for not coming to a conclusion on the obstruction issue are still unknown. It could have been his acknowledgement of the Department of Justice position that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Maybe he just intended to pass on to the U.S. Congress the facts that would allow them to make a decision as to possible impeachment.

    But Barr is a political appointee of President Trump, which has raised concerns for many. He also penned an earlier memo disputing the validity of the Mueller investigation. Overwhelming majorities of Americans from both parties are now demanding the release of the full Mueller report.

    Source: NPR, Vox, AFJ, Lawfare

  • And more bad news for Central America. In characteristically knee-jerk fashion, Trump expressed his annoyance at the wave of Central American immigrants into the U.S. by announcing on Friday that he was cutting off aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

    Trump’s move was widely denounced, including by many in his own party. It displayed what many say is a fundamental misunderstanding of the underlying reasons for the huge number of people fleeing those countries. Gang violence, drug trafficking, and lack of economic opportunity leave people with little choice but to flee for their lives — in one sense or another.

    Source: New York Times

  • Finally, to Africa. Cyclone Idai, which hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi mid-March, has killed 746, injured 2,390, and severely disrupted the lives of nearly 3 million. And now there’s a cholera outbreak in Mozambique, with the number of known cases nearing 500.

    But while the devastation from the disaster continues, it’s already out of the news. Just try finding it on the front page of most western papers.

    Source: AfricaNews, The Guardian

This has been the latest edition of Newscoop Footnotes – important events getting too little attention.


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