Kentucky Drugs, Soldiers Gone Wild, and Trump, Trump, Trump
Hi everyone, this is Jesse Dominick, and welcome to our daily USA Really podcast where we talk about the latest stories, opinions, and news published on our site. Don’t forget to keep your eye on the site every day for real news and real stories from real people, giving you a perspective and look into an America you don’t always see in the conventional media.
Let’s first take a look at today’s opinion piece from Richard Caldwell, “The Promoted Vagaries of Not Seeing Eye to Eye in the Bluegrass State.” We touched on this one as a preview yesterday, where we told you how Caldwell introduces the reader to Kentucky Republican State Senator Jimmy Higdon who, in the author’s view, sometimes starkly contrasts with the status quo of his party’s most recent ideologies. He also gives us a look at some other well-known Kentucky politicians, including Rand Paul and Governor Ernie Fletcher, whose plane was nearly shot down in midair en route to President Reagan’s memorial service in 2004 because they hadn’t informed anyone at D.C. air control about their flight.
But the “star” of today’s article is Jimmy Higdon, a grocer-turned-politician, who is currently pushing for dramatic reforms in how the state handles its opioid epidemic, calling for law enforcement, community leaders, church groups, and schools to unite in community-wide watchdogs to combat the drug problems in their neighborhoods. He is also vocally critical of how much the traditional war on drugs has cost the taxpayer.
Republicans usually fall on the side of support for law enforcement, but Higdon’s stance seems to have more of a call for the police to be reined in. Check out his piece, learn something new about good ol’ Kentucky, and see what you think.
On to some news.
Our first news piece is a typical slice of politics: sure to evoke strong emotions and arguments from all sides. “The Bad Romance Between America and the Hague” tells us about the International Criminal Court, an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague in the Netherlands. The court’s main purpose is to investigate war crimes and genocide, and it looks like America isn’t too thrilled when the court’s peering eye turns our way. National Security Adviser John Bolton recently gave a speech to the court, promising sanctions from Washington if they attempt to indict Americans in alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. America was criticizing the court under W too, and we’ve declared any condemnation of our policy from third parties to be inadmissible. Only the worst, most extreme Americans don’t want to give their support to our troops, but what to do when our troops get out of control? What side do you come down on?
Another article, “The U.S. and ‘The Illegitimate’ Court: A Complicated Relationship,” gives you, dear reader, a second look at the issue.
In our first podcast we hit on the hot-button topic of immigrants, so today let’s talk about the equally contentious issue of refugees. Our next article reports that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced that the United States will cap the number of refugees allowed into the country at 30,000 for the fiscal year of 2019, which starts on Oct. 1. I’m sure you can imagine that this announcement was met by scorn and hatred and shouts of racism. By way of contrast, we welcomed 85,000 refugees in Obama’s last year. Now, under Trump, the overall numbers have been slashed, although the percentage of European refugees has tripled. Pompeo appealed to national security concerns, but critics have been quick to condemn the measure as an attack on refugees and on the nation itself and its compassion towards refugees. Get the full scoop in the article “US Slashes Number of Refugees to 30,000 for Next Year.”
Of course, what news day would be complete without a little, or maybe a lot, of Trump? It’s a pretty common opinion that Trump is an egotist, but is this trait bringing him into conflict with his Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis? There seems to be a number of voices coming out saying yup, there’s trouble brewing. The issue basically boils down to Mattis’ willingness to sometimes disagree with Trump rather than praising him at every turn. They disagree on NATO, on the Iran nuclear agreement, on Korea, and more, and who knows –is Mattis a democrat at heart? Whatever he is, those close to him are sure he’s not willing to sacrifice his views to keep his post. Is Mattis on the way out? “Mattis-Out: Trump Wants to Make a Loud Reshuffle at the Pentagon” gives us reason to think so.
In more Trump news, he is now placing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. Trump, in a statement announcing the new round of tariffs, warned that if China takes retaliatory action against U.S. farmers or industries, “we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports.” The escalation of Trump’s tariffs on China comes after talks between the world’s two largest economies to resolve their trade differences ended in nothing. Both sides intend to continue the negotiations, but at this point, anything could happen.
We all know that smoking slowly kills. But on Monday, a discarded cigarette nearly killed 22 people at once in a Brooklyn parking garage. The fire quickly spread through the garage, embracing multiple cars in its flames. The fire burned for at least three hours, and smoke could be seen from miles away. 18 firefighters and 3 civilians suffered from smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion, but thankfully no one died. The fire is being investigated as suspicious. Get the full story, including a video, in the article “Fast-Growing Fire Nearly Claims the Lives of 22 People in Brooklyn.”
Of course, fire isn’t the only force of nature hitting newsstands these days. While the bulk of the hurricane has left the Carolinas, the death toll keeps rising because of the rains, floods, and tornadoes. Now a post-tropical cyclone, Florence has killed 32 people, trapped hundreds more and cut off an entire city, officials said. Among the victims are one-year-old Kaiden Lee-Welch who was swept away by rushing waters Sunday and later found dead in Union County, North Carolina, an elderly man whose body was found by his submerged car, also in Union County, and a three-month-old who died when a tree fell on a mobile home in Dallas, North Carolina. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has called it a “monumental disaster.” Get the full scope of the damage, with plenty of eyewitnesses accounts in the article “Florence Has Claimed the Lives of 32 People and Deaths Continue to Rise.”
And thanks to flooding brought on by Hurricane Florence, a state of emergency has been declared at the Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant in Southport, North Carolina. Some of the employees have been stuck there for a week now. Thankfully, food is being brought in by helicopter. Get the full details at “’State of Emergency’ Declared at Brunswick Nuclear Plant in Southport, NC.”
How long has the media been going on about RussiaGate? Can there really be anything left to say? Well, today we report in the article “Trump Declassifies Some Information on the ‘Russian Investigation’” about the president’s order to declassify a number of documents related to the investigation, as well as to publicly release all text messages relating to the investigation, without redaction, of the former Director of the FBI James Comey, his Deputy, Andrew McCabe, a former FBI agent Peter Strzok, , FBI lawyer Lisa Page and former official of the US Department of Justice Bruce Ohr. Trump says the Russia investigation cost him 25 points in the polls, so let’s see what this info dump will show us!
Yesterday’s look into history centered on the Constitution, and today we take a look at the laying of the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. in 1793. The ceremony was conducted by George Washington himself, along with eight other Freemasons, decked out in Masonic regalia. Our piece today covers the history of the Capitol, from Washington’s selecting of a plot of land in 1791 to its design and construction, to its destruction in the War of 1812, to its later rebuilding and expansion. Also of note, Jimi Hendrix died this day in 1970 at the tender age of 27.
In “Spies and Patriotism,” Chris Frazier gives a quick, but penetrating and somewhat poetic breakdown of the life of a spy, where “You don't serve your country. You serve an empire and an array of multi-national corporations.”
The U.S. has seen an increased demand for teachers in recent years, with student numbers soaring in some areas, but that doesn’t always come with increased pay, and many teachers are being drawn away into more profitable professions. The article “The Teacher Shortage and Virtual Education” introduces us to the Ector County School District in Texas that’s considering hiring a whole slew of “virtual teachers” who would be in the classroom via screen only. Each classroom would have to have an aide present as well to keep order. It’s certainly unorthodox, but it just might be the answer for many struggling school districts.
In other school-related news, more than 20 schools in Illinois have installed the new BluePoint alert system, similar to a fire alarm, that teachers, students, and staff can use to alert police to a shooting. School shootings have been on all of our minds in the past few months, and maybe this new system can show some positive results. Check it out in the article “More Than 20 Illinois Schools Install Blue Emergency Boxes That Notify Police of an Active Shooter.”
“Mystery Solved: The Dreadful History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia” tells the hard-to-believe story of the Chagossian people–the little-known victims of two colonial powers, the UK and the United States, whose governments manipulated diplomatic rules and colluded to remove the Chagossians from their Indian Ocean homeland to create a major U.S. military base on the island of Diego Garcia. The two governments have gotten away with this injustice for the past 50 years despite the Chagossians’ valiant efforts to return home. As the article laments, “Sometimes one tragedy tells us how a whole system works behind its democratic facade and helps us to understand how much of the world is run for the benefit of the powerful and how governments lie.”
And that’s our look at today’s articles, but we have a preview of two of tomorrow’s articles for you as well.
“Is Jeff Bezo's Nightmare World the Future for America's Children?” by P. D. Corday brings you the story of the obscenely rich founder and CEO of Amazon—the richest man in the world, and probably one of the richest of all time. Conditions in Bezos’ warehouses seem to have more than a hint of sweatshop in them, highlighting Bezos’ brutal ethic of exploitation of American workers. Now, Bezos has set his gaze upon the poor, and helping poor children, in a bid to boost his image. But is this exploitation something we want for our children? And what kind of bizarre worldview would they be inculcated with in a Bezos school anyways? Be sure to check out this piece tomorrow for more of the puzzle.
Finally, I want to tell you about “The American Artist: Working for a Living in America,“ by Luis Lazaro Tijerina, which you’re going to see on our pages tomorrow. Tijerina takes a look at two modern American artists, quite different from one another, but bonded by a similar work ethic that actually brought them public torment. I don’t want to give too much away about this fascinating piece, but let’s say it involves a famous actor from the Cosby Show, and a silent film starlet who eventually found herself blacklisted when she rejected the advances of the man who headed a film studio at Columbia Pictures. That has obvious parallels to today’s film industry.
That’s all we have for you today. Thanks for listening, thanks for reading, and we’ll see you around some time.