National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 1 (January 20–26)


Well, folks, we’re officially past the halfway point of Trump’s first term (assuming he serves a whole one, though I suspect everybody reading this hopes he does not). And true to the last two years, this past week was a wild roller coaster ride; I think more than a few of us were a little green by the time it ended. But at least we got some good news as we cruised to a stop.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a Presidential candidate! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

Half the news this week involves Disregard of Governing Norms, though at least we got some positive shutdown news in the end. (I’m separating the shutdown news into two sections, by the way, in the hopes that it will make the whole thing less confusing.) Here are the main things to know from this week:

It was a quieter week on the Russia Investigation front, but there were still some significant developments. Here are the main things to know:

Your “Normal” Weird:

  • Let Them Eat Loans. Commerce secretary and jackass billionaire Wilbur Ross was in the news this week for saying that he “d[oesn’t] quite understand” why furloughed federal workers seeking assistance from food banks didn’t just take out loans to make ends meet. To be fair, I don’t quite understand why his agency is charging 9% on the emergency loans they made available, so I guess that makes us even.
  • 2020 Campaign Ring. As we move forward into 2019, it’s unsurprising that Democrat candidates are beginning to throw their hats into the ring for 2020 — in addition to Senator Elizabeth Warren and Hawaii rep Tulsi Gabbard, who declared their intent to run last week, we’ve now also got Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris and San Antonio mayor Julián Castro stepping forward. (Perhaps more surprisingly, former Starbucks CEO and fellow billionaire jackass Howard Schultz has started to mutter about running as well on an independent ticket, because what this country needs is definitely a split vote.) At any rate, all six join candidates who announced prior to 2019, of course, and several major outlets are keeping track of all the current contenders as well as those likely to add their names. All told, it’s going to be a pretty crowded ring, but there will be an unprecedented four women running this election. (Hilariously, the Hill reports that Trump is already trailing several of them in polls.)

The Bad:

The Good:

  • LA Teacher’s Strike Successfully Concludes. The LA teacher’s union strike successfully concluded this week, winning terms such as classroom size caps and nurses at every school. The superintendent noted that though “40 years of under-investment [can’t be fixed] in a week,” the strike settlement represented a good start. Between this and the air traffic controllers’ impact on the government shutdown, this week had some powerful messages about the value of organizing.
  • Trans Rights Twitch Stream. Last weekend, UK Youtuber Hbomberguy began a spontaneous twitch stream of Donkey Kong 64 to support Mermaids, a trans rights organization that under funding threat due to moral panic caused by ‘faulty’ reporting. Incredibly, the stream went on for 57 straight hours, during which time it raised over $340,000 and drew cameo calls from everybody from Lindsay Ellis to Chelsea Manning to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As Hbomberguy himself noted on the twitch stream, the sheer success of the event highlights how many people believe trans rights are human rights — which is particularly welcome timing given the news above.

So that’s what I have for this week, which definitely was more than enough! For making it through, you deserve these portraits of an artist’s hamster and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and hopefully better) news, and I hope you will be back as well — but in the meantime, feel free to ping the National News Roundup ask box, which is there for your constructive comments. Send me questions! Send me feedback! Send me an extra few hours in the day!

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