Newscoop Footnotes: October 16, 2018

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


Hi, I’m Arasha Lalani.

In the news this week, the world continues its lurch to the right of center. We’re watching to see what it means to the future of U.S. leadership, the stability of the Middle East and the Balkans, and the ability of the world to stem global warming before it roasts the planet.

  • Among the really big news this week, scientists of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their report — sounding the alarm on the risks to the planet if global warming is not kept to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. The report spoke of unprecedented changes in transportation and energy systems that would have to take place over the next decade in order to meet that level and prevent the catastrophic changes to the planet that would otherwise occur. The Trump U.S. White House, which pulled the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Climate Accord last year seems unconcerned, responding:  “…governments do not formally endorse specific findings presented by the authors.” 

    In an October 8th opinion piece for the Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan sounded her own alarm:  “The planet is on a fast path to destruction. The media must cover this like it’s the only story that matters.”
  • The other really big story this week is the disappearance of the respected Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the announcement by the Turkish government that Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a Saudi hit team sent by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It seems that Khashoggi may have recorded his own questioning, torture and murder on his Apple watch. In any event, the Turkish authorities say they have audio and video footage of him being questioned, tortured and murdered.

    There has been much criticism this week of Donald Trump’s reluctance to speak out about the          intelligence pointing to the Saudis’ murder of Khashoggi. This is surely due in part to the close anti-  Iran alignment between Trump, the Saudis and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Khashoggi’s            murder complicates greatly any alliance with the Saudis.

    And also, the sanctions against the Saudis that would need to follow once Trump acknowledged      what the Saudis have likely done would mean the loss of hundreds of billions in U.S. arms sales to    them. We’ve seen that the U.S. doesn’t block arms sales to anyone — except to Iran.

    Enough about Trump.

    Here are some other important events that haven’t been much in the news:

  • Brazil is rushing toward the election of its own Donald Trump: Jair Bolsonaro.

    Despite his regular racist, homophobic and xenophobic remarks, Bolsonaro won 46% of the vote in  the first round. The run-off will be held on October 28th, between Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad  of former President Lula da Silva’s left-wing Workers’ Party. Bolsonaro is being given an 85%            chance of winning the election.

  • Iraq has a new government. In keeping with the 2003 agreement that followed the U.S.-led invasion of the country, the speaker of parliament is again a Sunni, the president a Kurd, and the prime minister Shiite. For the first time since 2005, though, those elected to the two top jobs have not come from the two parties that traditionally controlled those posts. Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadar is being seen as the kingmaker, with technocrats from his list having come out on top.

    Strange that the new Iraqi government of President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul      Mehdi shows more promise of stability right now than do the governments of many western              countries.

  • And in elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serb nationalist Milorad Dodik has won a seat in the 3-member collective Bosnian presidency — Croat, Bosnian Muslim and Serb. The country is still divided between the Serb Republic (Republika Srpska) and the Muslim-Croat Federation. Dodik, who is closely tied to Russia, has been active in encouraging the Bosnian Serbs to secede.
  • And that brings us to something we found quite fun. Following in the wake of Donald Trump’s bruising tariffs on China, China decided to target its own retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. states that supported Trump in 2016. Trump and VP Pence did not find it at all humorous. While Trump and Pence continue to dance around the unanimous conclusion of the American intelligence community that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections to help Trump, it is very funny to now hear Trump and Pence call China’s clever tariffs “election meddling.”


This has been the latest edition of Newscoop’s Footnotes – important events getting far too little attention. See you next week with more.


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