Week in Review

28 September 2018



#METOO IS NOT AS POWERFUL AS SOME HAD HOPED. The #MeToo movement has swept the globe in the last year, having its largest impact in the state it started in, America. Yet, it has spread through Europe and even into China. This past week has given the movement the chance to demonstrate its true power, as Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, accused on multiple counts of sexual misconduct will be judged today as to whether he is fit to become a Justice. To the dismay of many, he is likely to be approved in the U.S. senate as Jeff Flake, a Republican Senator and likely the deciding vote released a statement this morning, saying he would vote to approve Kavanaugh. Unless there is a dramatic change of events in the coming hours, this will be the second Supreme Court nominee with sexual misconduct allegations to be approved. How this leaves the #MeToo movement is unknown. It has certainly altered the environment of entertainment and pop cultural, but seems to have failed at least so far to alter the political realm.

REQUEST FOR ICC TO INVESTIGATE VENEZUELAN HUMAN RIGHTS’ ABUSES. Argentina, Canada, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru have signed a request for the Venezuelan government to be investigated by the International Criminal Court. Prime Minister Trudeau said he wanted to send a message that the situation in “Venezuela is catastrophic” and that “there is a humanitarian crisis going on in a country that used to be one of the most successful” countries in South America. In stark contrast to the states requesting the investigation, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said that the U.S. would neither recognize nor cooperate with the ICC. With this all taking place at the United Nations, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, hit back at the U.S., using imperialist rhetoric and calling them out for retreating to unilateralism. He failed to reply to the ICC request.

THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION ON SHAKIER GROUND THAN EVER. After a report was released that accused deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein of wanting to wiretap the President, attempting to get him impeached on account of the 25th amendment, there were conflicting reports of his status in his current position. While some reported that Rosenstein had submitted his resignation and others reported that Trump was going to fire him, he has retained his position for now. A meeting that was planned to take place yesterday between the President and Rosenstein was postponed due to the Senate hearings regarding the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Similar to previous high level officials being fired, once it is leaked that they made a degrading remark about the President, their days often become numbered in the administration. It seems that Rosenstein has saved his job after talking with the president, as President Trump said, “We’ve had a good talk...We have caught people doing things that are terrible. I would much prefer keeping Rod Rosenstein, much prefer”.

A SECOND BREXIT REFERENDUM? The Labour Party in the United Kingdom has just made the idea of a second referendum, whether to remain or leave the European Union, a possibility. In a vote by members, there was overwhelming support of a second referendum, one they have coined, “a people’s vote”. Yet, with much of the Labour’s support across the country being against remaining, an actually referendum seems unlikely or at least unlikely to to change the results. Instead, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will likely find more success in a vote on Prime Minister May’s Brexit proposal as a referendum on her confidence from the legislature. There are many hardline Conservatives that reject the proposal with the European Union as much as the Labour members do. Further, her talks with Brussels have been rocky and not made much progress. The ability to predict a hard, soft, or no Brexit is difficult, which makes the possibility of a change of government all more likely. The U.K. is over two years removed from the initial Brexit referendum, but there is far from a conclusion on what the outcome will actually be.

DEMOCRATIC REFORMS IN ETHIOPIA ARE HAVING UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. The state’s new prime minister, Abby Ahmed, has made great strides in creating an Ethiopia that is more democratic than ever before. Long-perceived as a surveillance-state, controlling political freedoms, the past few months have seen a stark reversal. The most recent change has been the invitation for previously banned political organizations - largely ethnic in representation - to return to the Capital to participate in the flourishing democratic institutions. Unfortunately, the allowance of these groups has instilled ethnic violence, which until recently the government had ignored. When the violence finally reached Addis Ababa, the capital, the government cracked down, and not only on the people committing violence, but arrested over 1000, charged on just petty offences. Amnesty International called for the people taking part in the protests to be “release immediately and unconditionally”. Illustrative of the difficulties in maintaining democratic institutions, Ethiopia is going to have serious growing pains as it continues its democratic reforms.

TWO-STATE SOLUTION FARTHER AWAY THAN EVER. Since President Trump has come to office, the conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians has been some of the worst in years. This manifested itself in the speeches to the United Nations by both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mr. Abbas. Their speeches attacked each other’s credibility and were opposed on nearly ever topic. The Israeli law on self-determination was criticized by Mr. Abbas as racist, while Netanyahu argued that it has helped the vibrant democracy. Now, President Trump claims to present a proposed solution within a few months, but his previous talk of a two-state solution seems unlikely with the recent actions he has taken, especially since moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Even if he does propose a two-state solution, it will likely be disingenuous and favour the Israelis.

TOP CONSPIRACY THEORIST IN ITALY NOW RUNNING STATE TV. The populist coalition in Italy has made another move that is sure to disturb the liberal leaders of Europe. On Wednesday night, the Italian parliament approved Mr. Marcello Fao as chairman of Italy’s state broadcaster RAI. Known for his dissemination of conspiracy theories, including: the claim that Hillary Clinton attended a satanic dinner; a full-scale American military mobilization; and the Russian poisoning in the United Kingdom as being a hoax. He is now in charge of arguably the most powerful cultural force in the country. This threatens to transform Italy’s populist parties’ power into widespread cultural influence that could alter how facts function in Italian politics. Yet another example of how the first true populist government in Europe threatens to undo much of what has been built in the past 70 years.