SPLASH! News for April 17, 2017

Dive Into the News of the Day

Kiran Opal


Pence Warns North Korea: “Strategic Patience is Over”

TIME – Viewing his adversaries in the distance, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, “the era of strategic patience is over.”

Pence made an unannounced visit to the Demilitarized Zone at the start of his 10-day trip to Asia in a U.S. show of force that allowed the vice president to gaze at North Korean soldiers from afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire. As the brown bomber jacket-clad vice president was briefed near the military demarcation line, two North Korean soldiers watched from a short distance away, one taking multiple photographs of the American visitor.

Gorsuch Era on US High Court Begins With His First Three Cases

Reuters – The U.S. Supreme Court, back at full strength after being shorthanded for 14 months, gets down to business on Monday with President Donald Trump’s appointee Neil Gorsuch hearing arguments in his first three cases as part of a restored conservative majority.

The cases involve employment and property disputes and the timing of securities class-action lawsuits. None of the three is a blockbuster likely to split the court ideologically. But Gorsuch will be on the bench for one of the court’s biggest cases of its current term on Wednesday in a Missouri church’s lawsuit that tests the limits of religious rights.

One of the lawyers due to argue the second case before the justices on Monday will be a familiar face to Gorsuch. Neal Katyal, who served as acting solicitor general in Democratic former President Barack Obama’s Justice Department, heartily endorsed Gorsuch’s nomination, even testifying at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.

Violent Clashes in Berkeley Oversimplified by Media

Esquire – According to reports in mainstream news outlets like CNN, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, Saturday saw pro-Trump demonstrators clash with anti-Trump protesters in Berkeley, California, while more placid “Tax Day” marches took place around the country calling on the president to release his tax returns. The news stories offer largely the same account and framing as that given by the LA Times: “hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed Saturday at a ‘Patriots Day’ rally… Both groups threw rocks and sticks at each other and used a large trash bin as a battering ram… Twenty-one people were arrested… Eleven people were injured.”

All of this did happen. But such accounts missed the most crucial aspects of what was at stake in the Berkeley clashes, and thus fail to explain why there were aggressive altercations at all. To frame Saturday’s events as a fight between supporters of the president and his denouncers roundly misses the key tensions undergirding the confrontation: that of anti-fascists versus white nationalists.

Trump Further Entrenches US Military in Somalia

Common Dreams – Two weeks after President Donald Trump gave military officials wider authority for conducting airstrikes in Somalia, the United States military said that dozens of troops had arrived in the country, a sign of increased U.S. involvement there.

The arrival of the roughly 40 regular troops in the capital of Mogadishu occurred on April 2, and marks, as the BBC writes, “the first time regular U.S. troops have been deployed in Somalia since 1994,” months after a notorious battle that left thousands of Somalis dead.

The development comes amid increasing concerns regarding United States’ “unchecked use of military force”—and amid a new warning from the United Nations that the country is on the brink of famine.

The War on Drugs is Racist

The Guardian – When I first read the Washington Post story that Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III wants to “bring back” the War on Drugs I thought to myself: bring back? Where did it go? Is General Sessions himself on drugs? Because, despite a few modest reforms, somebody would have to be high to think the War on Drugs has really gone away.

But the framing of an impetus to “bring back” the drug war is the same as Trump’s fantasy of making America “great again” and must be understood for exactly what it is: a white power grab to control black and brown people couched in the restoration of past glory.

Drugs have long been used to scapegoat black and Latino people, even as study after study finds that white youth use drugs more than their non-white peers and white people are the more likely to have contraband on them when stopped by police. As Trump plans a “deportation force,” a War on Drugs amped up on raids will help create darker skinned scapegoats as he rips immigrant communities apart.

Written by Pamela Getz

Writer and Activist. Follow Pamela on Twitter @goddesspamela.

Pamela Getz is Editor of International Affairs for Progressive Army and a member of its Editorial Board.

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SPLASH! News for April 17, 2017