Weekly Review — February 12, 2019, 2:32 pm

Weekly Review

Matthew Whitaker testified before the House Judiciary Committee; Iran commemorated the 40th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution; teachers in Denver went on strike to protest how their base pay is calculated

Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on his supervision of the Justice Department and Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Over the course of the 258-minute hearing, Whitaker responded to questions with variations on “I want to be very clear” 10 times, praised committee members’ questions 13 times, and denied that there was a Trump Administration family separation policy; the chairman extended or reset time for three committee members.1 In his State of the Union address, which lasted 82 minutes, Donald Trump pledged to ask Congress for $500 million in childhood cancer research, and requested support for increased border security, saying, “Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.”2 Joshua Trump, who had been invited to attend the State of the Union because he has been teased for his surname, fell asleep during the speech.3 Campaign-finance records show that President Trump’s reelection campaign spent $97,904 on a law firm that represents Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of and senior adviser to the president, and, overall, has spent $6.7 million in legal fees for current and former associates over the past two years; the Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust, which was created in 2018 to help Trump Administration employees with legal fees associated with the Mueller probe, received donations totaling only $500,000 from Sheldon Adelson, whose company received $670 million in tax breaks after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and his wife.4 5 6 Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed that $2.3 billion in expected revenue for New York has been lost because of the tax cut; state and local tax revenue have declined by 50 percent in Massachusetts, 35 percent in New Jersey, 55 percent in Connecticut, and 24 percent in California.7 Explaining which parts of the state budget would be most heavily affected, Cuomo stated, “It’s education, it’s health care, it’s infrastructure.” In his state of the nation address, the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, offered incentives to increase the country’s birth rate, such as permanently canceling income tax for Hungarian women who have four or more children.8 9 “In all of Europe there are fewer and fewer children, and the answer of the West to this is migration,” said Orbán. “We Hungarians have a different way of thinking. Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children. Migration for us is surrender.” A new report found that 40 percent of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, which could lead to a total environmental collapse.10

Iran commemorated the 40th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution, and the US Supreme Court ruled against a death-row inmate who had asked that his imam, not the prison’s Christian chaplain, be in the execution chamber to console him, on the grounds that the request was “last-minute.”11 12 Classes at a Catholic school in Durham, North Carolina, were canceled in anticipation of protests against a lesbian alumna, who had been invited to speak at a Black History Month event.13 A Danish Jehovah’s Witness was sentenced to six years in Russian prison for extremism.14 Turkey denounced China’s camps for Uighurs, and called for their closure; the Chinese government, which refers to the camps as “vocational training centers,” released a video on state television of a singer who had been alleged to have died while in interned in a camp.15 “Today is February 10, 2019,” said the singer. “I’m in the process of being investigated for allegedly violating the national laws. I’m now in good health and have never been abused.” Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, whose father was revered by some as possessing godlike powers, was disqualified from running for the office of prime minister in Thailand’s 2019 general election.16 The pope publicly admitted that Catholic priests had abused nuns for decades, and the Utah State Legislature drafted a bill that would allow nonprofit organizations and churches to apologize for abuse and to administer aid to victims, but not be liable for damages.17 18

Teachers in Denver went on strike to protest how their base pay, which varies from year to year, is calculated; teachers in Zimbabwe have suspended their strike; and the Oakland Unified School District in California posted a Craigslist ad for emergency temporary teachers in anticipation of a strike.19 20 21 Indonesian police have apologized for wrapping a snake around the neck of a suspect during an interrogation about stolen cell phones.22 A Minnesota man who had shot and killed a teenager who was trying to rob him, in 2015, shot a school-bus-driver who had scraped his sedan during a snowstorm.23 The Duke of Edinburgh, who is 97 years old, voluntarily gave up his driver’s license several weeks after a car accident.24 Clark County officials in Washington State declared a state of emergency following a measles outbreak, and an Ohio teen had himself vaccinated after asking Reddit for advice.25 26Violet Lucca

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