Week in Review

6 July 2018

Caricature of Scott Pruitt.

Caricature of Scott Pruitt.


NEW EDUCATION FOR IMMIGRANTS. Denmark has passed legislation requiring “ghetto children” to be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week to learn “Danish values”. These ghetto children come from low-income immigrant neighbourhoods known as ghettos. Scandinavian states, historically homogeneous, have not escaped the difficulties of dealing with the increased immigration all of Europe has felt in recent decades. Additionally, these neighbourhoods are under stricter and more punitive laws than other areas of Denmark. These types of reactions to ethnic differences usually do not solve the issues at its core, only exacerbate the underlying tensions.

PREDICTABLE, BUT UNSETTLING. Following Mexico’s election on Sunday, the leftist populist, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, as predicted, won. His victory continues the trend of resentful, tired electorates, searching for something different from the political elite. His margin of victory suggests that congress and the government of Mexico City will be won by his political coalition allowing him striking powers. What he will do with them is uncertain. He made a promise to clean the Mexican politics of corruption, yet, like many populist comes up short on specifics. He is remarkably similar to President Trump in the United States in that he suggests it is his person and virtue that will achieve greatness for his country.

POLAND BOLDLY REJECTS E.U. VALUES. Poland has been the perfect example of democratic backsliding in recent years. Following, if not leading a trend in Eastern Europe. This week the Polish government is forcing its top Supreme Court judge to step down in what it calls “freeing the state of any vestiges of communist rule. This is only the latest of many steps to destroy the free and democratic institutions in Poland, putting the government squarely against the European Union’s values. If the E.U. cannot reprimand Poland severely, it will face a serious crisis of emerging authoritarianism in the East.

MAYORS ON DUTERTE’S LIST. Two mayors have been killed in the Philippines this week, the fourth and fifth of Duterte’s presidency. Of the two Antonio Halili was on Duterte’s list of Philippine officials accused of getting involved with the drug trade. Duterte has threaten death not just upon drug addicts and pushers, but on government officials as well. His response to Halili’s death was not only unsympathetic, but alluded to his knowledge of why he died. Regardless, President Duterte’s war on drugs seems to be only intensifying.  

THE WORLD CUP, A MEANS TO END. While millions around the world are enjoying the World Cup, hoping their team makes it to the finals, President Putin sees it only as a political tool to strengthen his popularity at home and his perception abroad. He also needed a distraction to pass legislation on increasing the retirement age. A very unpopular move, but needed both because it has not been changed since Stalin’s dictatorship and Western sanctions have hurt the economy. Yet, even with Russia’s surprising win over Spain, Putin’s approval ratings dropped to their lowest in four years albeit still over 70%.

ABORTION IN AMERICA. Anthony Kennedy, a Supreme Court Justice in the United States recently announced his retirement. He was often the fifth vote for conservatives, but in some cases voted more liberally, crucially on Roe v Wade, the famous case permitting abortion from 1973. President Trump is almost certainly going to appoint a pro-life justice. That is, if he can get one through the senate. Republicans hold a slim majority and it would only take two to flip for a Justice to be denied appointment. This is still unlikely and with four states having already passed ‘trigger laws’, abortion could soon be illegal, at least in some states.

PRUITT RESIGNS AFTER 13 INVESTIGATIONS. Scott Pruitt may be one of the most outlandish of all President Trump’s appointees. As EPA Chief, he was supposed to protect the environment. Instead, he denied climate change was man-made and worked hard to deregulate the industry as much as possible. What forced his resignation was the 13 federal investigations he was under. These included purchasing a $43 000 sound proof room, demoted anyone who questioned his actions, took bribes from lobbyists, and tried to get his wife a franchise with Chick-fil-A. Unsurprisingly, after resigning he cited “unrelenting attacks on me personally” for the cause.