Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes — the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about.
Dominating the news this week has been the sexual assault claim by psychologist Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Republicans in Congress are trying to drive through it to a confirmation vote as quickly as possible, but women everywhere are insisting that Dr. Ford be heard before any vote is held. Kavanaugh is the least popular SCOTUS nominee in American history.
After Trump tweeted an attack on Dr. Ford’s credibility, it spawned a new Twitter campaign that’s getting global attention: #whyididntreport. There, women who have experienced sexual assault and rape are recounting the challenges and trauma they experienced when trying to report assault and not being believed. It’s a powerful continuation of #MeToo for the country, and it remains to be seen how the U.S. Congress will deal with it as they try to push through the Kavanaugh vote.
And on September 22nd, Sunni gunmen attacked a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz, killing 25 and injuring more than 60. While it was not yet clear who was responsible, the fact that Iran is predominantly Shiite Muslim gave some clues. The principal Sunni suspects include: a) a Saudi-backed Sunni separatist group in the area that seeks its own state in southwestern Iran, and b) al Qaeda or Islamic State, who consider Shiites as heretics and regularly attack Shiite targets. The statements released by Iran this weekend indicate they think it’s the first. And the fact that the U.S. is closer than ever to Saudi Arabia does not strengthen U.S./Iranian relations.
It was also reported this week that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, over the objections of his staff, made the decision to continue backing the very controversial Saudi-led war in Yemen. Apparently, that was after Pompeo learned that withdrawing U.S. support would jeopardize $2 billion in U.S. arm sales to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Civilian casualties in that war have been enormous, numbering well over 50,000 — both from U.S. bombs dropped by the Saudis, and starvation and disease.
The other big story this week that deserves comment is a September 21st report from the New York Times that claimed deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had in the spring of 2017 discussed the possibility of both wearing a wire when speaking with President Trump, and invoking the 25th Amendment in an attempt to unseat him. Inasmuch as the New York Times report involved extremely important issues that could determine the future of the country, many have been expressing concerns that that news report was highly irresponsible. The reasons they offer include its reliance on anonymous sources; that it offers no witnesses to the purported events; that several others have disputed those claims (as does Mr. Rosenstein); and that the purported events are highly dated (claimed to have occurred in May of 2017).
President Trump has in the past launched assaults on the New York Times too many times to count, calling them “fake news” and “the failing New York Times”. Yet, he and many of his supporters have seized on the story as justification for removing Rod Rosenstein from his position at the U.S. Justice Department. Sean Hannity, however, on his September 21st Fox News show, strongly urged Trump to resist the temptation to fire Rosenstein, warning Trump that it is a trap by Democrats and others who would seek to take him down.
Time will tell.
This has been the latest edition of Newscoop’s Footnotes – important events getting too little attention. We’ll be back next week with more.