Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes —
the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about.
Hi, I’m Zoe Licata.
There were a lot of extraordinary events this past week that got nowhere near the attention they deserved, and it was pretty hard to fit everything into a succinct Footnotes review. We’ve selected some that seem particularly noteworthy.
- First, as Algeria moved closer to April elections, the country’s 81-year-old president Abdelaziz Bouteflika had been trying to secure a fifth term for himself. In the face of rampant unemployment and corruption, anti-government protests continued for more than 2 weeks. With the country nearly united in opposition to Bouteflika, on Sunday more than 1,000 judges announced their refusal to supervise elections if he ran. Even the military had begun aligning itself with the protestors.
President Bouteflika finally backed down and announced he will not run again. However, he also postponed the April elections, with no new date in sight.
Source: Al Jazeera
- And the Trump Administration moved last week to absorb the U.S. Palestinian Mission in Jerusalem into the new U.S. Embassy to Israel. If you’ll remember, Donald Trump took the extraordinary step in December 2017 of unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He then moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last May.
An important footnote: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are both fervent evangelical Christians, which involves unconditional support for Israel and near-total opposition to a Palestinian state. Trump also badly needs the U.S. evangelical vote in the 2020 U.S. election. Such personal religious and political self-interest can be seen reflected in many of the administration’s recent decisions on Israel/Palestine.
Source: New York Times
- Next, we’ve learned that after President Trump rejected additional food aid for Puerto Rico as “excessive and unnecessary”, the U.S. territory has begun cutting food stamp benefits needed by more than 43% of Puerto Ricans. The cuts mean that a Puerto Rican family will receive about 40% less than a family on the mainland.
The island has not recovered from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island in September 2017, causing thousands of deaths and more than $90 billion of damage. The disaster also created food insecurity for over a million Puerto Ricans.
Puerto Rico does not have a voting representative in either the U.S. House or Senate, nor can Puerto Ricans vote in presidential elections. With the current U.S. administration very focused on the influence of certain voting blocs in upcoming elections, Puerto Rico is at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to federal budget decisions.
Source: Washington Post
- And a spot-on opinion piece by Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post this week points to the similarities between the disastrous Brexit affair and recent elections elsewhere in the world, including the U.S. 2016 presidential election. Applebaum notes these common attributes:
* a very close and controversial election
* “a lot of wealthy men talking about the people and their will “
* targeted advertising campaigns, stolen data and fake social media accounts
Also, one of the biggest funders of the exit-EU campaign, Aaron Banks, turns out to have very significant business connections to Russia — which he tried to hide. Those include Russian gold mines, shell companies, a Russian ambassador, offshore accounts and political lobbying. All of that should be familiar to anyone who has followed Russian influence in other elections around the world.
Source: Washington Post
- And finally, with all the very disturbing news right now, it was incredibly exciting to hear that researchers have edged closer to a cure for HIV. It was reported in the journal Nature last week that a British man who was HIV-positive has been in remission for a year and a half after receiving a bone marrow stem cell transplant of virus-resistant cells. This comes a decade after another patient was fully cured with a similar treatment.
Source: Nature, Washington Post, Time
This has been the latest edition of Newscoop’s Footnotes – important events getting too little attention.
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