Political Roundup

[CW: This column discusses anti-Semitic and anti-Black gun violence and death.]

In this week’s headlines…

Beginning on Oct. 22, a series of pipe bombs were sent to various prominent critics of the Trump administration. Police have and continue to intercept the pipe bombs. Targets included the Former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama, CNN’s New York City headquarters, Former Vice President Joe Biden, Former President and Former Secretary of State and presidential nominee Bill and Hillary Clinton, investor and liberal political activist George Soros and Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

The suspect, Cesar Sayoc, is an outspoken Trump supporter in Florida. Trump attempted to play defense by shutting down suggestions from commenters that his provocative and bellicose rhetoric inspired the attacks: “There’s no blame. There’s no anything.” Additionally, he complained about how the bomb threats would detract from Republican attempts to maintain political dominance at the federal level in the upcoming midterm elections (The New York Times, “After Arrest, Republicans Struggle With Mail Bombs Fallout,” 10.26.2018).

On Wednesday, a white man who has been identified as Gregory A. Bush opened fire at a Kroger grocery store in Louisville, KY, after attempting to attack a predominantly Black church, killing two Black men. U.S. attorney for the Western District of Kentucky Russell Coleman, stated, “Federal investigators are supporting local law enforcement and examining this matter from the perspective of federal criminal law,” meaning prosecutors may include hate crimes as part of the charges against Bush. The suspect was seen on video unable to enter the church, and he exchanged multiple rounds of gunfire with an armed civilian with a permit after exiting the grocery store and before being arrested (CNN, “Man who killed 2 at Kroger tried to enter a predominantly black church minutes earlier, police say,” 10.18.2018).

In international news…

Three Palestinian boys were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza strip on Oct. 27, medics have confirmed. The Israeli army attempted to justify criticisms of the attacks, which claimed excessive severity, by stating that the boys were attempting to plant a bomb near the border fence.

The death toll in the 2018 Gaza border protests has risen past 160 as Palestinians protest the dismal living conditions in the Gaza strip and demand the right to return to their ancestral homes, which are currently a part of the state of Israel. One Israeli soldier has since been killed. Egyptian mediators are currently urging the Hamas-backed protestors and the Israeli Defense Forces to seek a calm solution amid wider conflict (The Guardian, “Gaza: three boys killed in Israeli airstrike,” say Palestinian medics, 10.28.2018).

Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election on Oct. 28, leading with 55.2 percent of the votes against former mayor of São Paulo and left-wing candidate’s Fernando Haddad’s 44.8 percent. Bolsonaro, a former army captain and rightwing candidate who ran a deeply divisive election campaign, spoke of eradicating corruption and restoring Brazil’s economy. Haddad’s loss, a shift away from the power the Worker’s Party held for 13 years, indicates a change in ideological perspectives following a period of nearly constant political and economic corruption scandals.

Bolsonaro stated that his government would be a “defender of democracy and the constitution” and reinforced his commitment to the future of his nation. However, critics worry that Bolsonaro represents the rise of fascism in Brazil and seeks to undermine the individual freedoms promised by Brazil’s constitution (BBC, “Jair Bolsonaro: Far-right candidate wins Brazil poll,” 10.28.2018).

Hundreds of migrants have been moving through southern Mexico from Central America, with one migrant dying after having fallen off a truck in October. After reaching Mexico, the migrants struggle to find a place to settle in the area of Oaxaca. Outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto recently announced a plan to offer these migrants work permits with the stipulation that they not leave the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.

Furthermore, the migrants have grown increasingly hesitant to move toward the Texan border, as officials following directions from the Trump administration continue to separate families. Frustrated over the lack of certainty and opportunity in their futures, hundreds gathered last Friday, Oct. 26, in Arriaga, Mexico, to protest Mexico’s blockade of the migrant caravan (The New Yorker, “The Migrant Caravan Reaches a Crossroads in Southern Mexico,” 10.27.2018).

In our backyard…

On Tuesday, Oct. 30, the Dutchess County Interfaith Council and the Jewish Federation of Dutchess Country held an Interfaith Solidarity Vigil in memory of those killed in an anti-Semitic attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend. More than 500 people attended the vigil, which took place at Poughkeepsie’s Temple Beth-El.

Rabbi Daniel Victor delivered an address to those gathered together, saying, “When we sit with emotions that envelop us and conflicts that overwhelm us we know we can stand together as we do tonight” (Poughkeepsie Journal, “Hudson Valley residents come together in wake of synagogue tragedy,” 10.30.2018).

Poughkeepsie was featured in Hudson Valley Magazine on Oct. 23 for its revitalization efforts, which include improvements in the areas of housing, business and culture. The article highlights highend housing developments slated to open this year or the next—such as 40 Cannon Street and the Dutton Project—as well as pointing to rehabilitation and repurposing of properties formerly used for commerce. Business developments are afoot as well: Marist College and Health Quest are collaborating to establish a medical school in Poughkeepsie by 2022, and mainstay restaurant The Poughkeepsie Ice House obtained a full liquor license in July of this year.

Poughkeepsie Community Development Coordinator Paul Hesse and Economic Development Director for the City of Poughkeepsie Paul Calogerakis suggested that future initiatives may include a food hall, in addition to a hybrid coworking and apartment space in the city center (Hudson Valley, “Poughkeepsie Revitalization Efforts Put Community and Housing on the Rise,” 10.23.2018).

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