In this week’s headlines…
In an atypical move on Sept. 5, The New York Times published an anonymous Op-Ed essay at the request of the author, whom the Times stated was a senior official in the Trump administration. The article paints a picture of a divided White House, in which many senior officials are actively working against President Trump’s agenda. “Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making,” the author states (The New York Times, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” 09.05.2018).
In response, on Sept. 7, Trump condemned the article as an act of treason and called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to look into the source. It is not clear whether the White House has contacted the Justice Department to begin an investigation, which The New York Times has stated would constitute an abuse of power (The New York Times, “Trump Wants Attorney General to Investigate Source of Anonymous Times Op-Ed,” 09.07.2018).
On Sept. 6, India’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down the country’s ban on consensual gay sex following weeks of deliberation. Codified during the Victorian era by British colonizers, the law had been in effect for 150 years. As part of the ruling, the justices specified that, from now on, gay Indians are to be accorded all the protections of the Constitution. The more than two dozen petitioners who rallied to eliminate the ban included gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, each of whom risked being arrested simply by publicly sharing their identity (The New York Times, “India Gay Sex Ban Is Struck Down. ‘Indefensible,’ Court Says,” 09.06.2018).
Brett Kavanaugh, judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Trump’s nominee to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat left by Anthony Kennedy, concluded four tumultuous days of Senate confirmation hearings on Sept. 7. Some Senate Democrats opposed the hearings on the basis that not all of Kavanaugh’s White House records had been released. Debate also arose around an email sent by Kavanaugh during his tenure in the George W. Bush administration, in which he questioned the status of Roe v. Wade as a “settled law.” If confirmed, Kavanaugh is expected to tip the ideological bent of the Supreme Court to the right (The Wall Street Journal, “Kavanaugh Weathers Raucous Hearing,” 08.07.2018).
The New York Times reported on Sept. 8 that over the last year, the Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela to discuss overthrowing President Nicolás Maduro. One of the military officers involved in the talks is on the American government’s sanctions list of corrupt officials in Venezuela, having been accused of crimes including torturing critics, wounding civilians and trafficking drugs. Plans for staging a coup to unseat Maduro stalled after American officials decided not to assist (The New York Times, “Trump Administration Discussed Coup Plans With Rebel Venezuelan Officers, 09.08.2018).
In our backyard…
An application to open a charter school in the City of Poughkeepsie has been withdrawn, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported on Sept. 8. Educational consultant Robert Watson, who has been leading the effort to establish the Hudson Valley Charter School, stated that the applicant group chose to expand the scope of its proposal by establishing partnerships with businesses, collegiate institutions and charter management organizations. At a hearing in August, some local residents expressed concern that a charter school would harm the public school district (The Poughkeepsie Journal, “Poughkeepsie charter school proposal withdrawn, for now,” 09.08.2018).
Local volunteers will conduct this year’s Poughkeepsie Community Food Assessment on three dates throughout the fall, the first being Sept. 15. The survey is organized by Dutchess Outreach and researchers from Vassar and SUNY New Paltz. The results of the last survey in 2010–12 revealed that 26.8 percent of households in the City of Poughkeepsie were food insecure by Department of Agriculture standards. The first survey day will commence at 2 p.m. in the cafeteria of Poughkeepsie’s Family Partnership Center (The Buzz: City of Poughkeepsie eNewsletter, 09.06.2018).
On Sept. 5, the City of Poughkeepsie released the Draft Poughkeepsie Innovation District Policy Framework and accompanying zoning code regulations. The Poughkeepsie Innovation District (PID) is a multi-year project that aims to reenergize the downtown commercial section, with a focus on increased residential population and a creative economy. The newly released framework emphasizes “placemaking,” meaning the elimination of vacant property, as well as inclusion and diversity.
Interim Economic Development Director Paul Calogerakis commented, “The proposed zoning changes are integral to Poughkeepsie’s innovation economy, which will thrive in a mixed-use environment where people have the opportunity to spontaneously meet in collaborative workspaces, cafes, living rooms, and on the sidewalk” (The Buzz).
Looking toward the midterms…
On Sept. 9, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo denied prior knowledge of a mailing distributed by the New York State Democratic Committee, calling it a mistake and inappropriate. The mailer in question falsely claimed that Cuomo’s primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, and accused her of being “silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.” According to the last available public polling in July, Cuomo leads Nixon by more than 30 percentage points (CNN, “Cuomo distances himself from, criticizes NY Dems’ mailer targeting Nixon as unsupportive to Jewish community,” 09.09.2018).
In Anaheim, CA, on Sept. 8, former President Barack Obama encouraged Democrats to constructively express their displeasure with the current political climate by voting in November. The event represented Obama’s first rally of 2018. It was organized by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and aimed to boost seven Democrats running in districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 but currently represented by Republicans in the House. Speaking to 750 Democrats in attendance, Obama cautioned, “This is a consequential moment in our history. The fact is, if we don’t step up things can get worse” (CNN, “Obama implores Californians to vote and ‘restore some sanity in our politics,’” 09.08.2018).