What You Missed This Week

March 19, 2018


Mueller Investigation Inches Closer to Trump

Special Counsel Robert Mueller recently subpoenaed the Trump Organization to turn in some documents, many of which are related to Russia. This is the first time that Mueller has made a request that is directly related to President Trump’s businesses, and this indicates that the investigation is far from over, contrary to what the lawyers who work for President Trump previously anticipated.


In response, Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, ordered General Rod Rosenstein to shut down the investigation. He later clarified that he made this statement in personal capacity, and not on behalf of the President.


FDA Trying to Lower Nicotine Quantity in Cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration took the first step in what will be a long and complicated procedure to reduce the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to make them “minimally addictive or non-addictive.” This notice was published in the Federal Register, and it included data from an FDA-funded study by the New England Journal of Medicine, which concluded that reducing nicotine levels could bring down smoking rates from the current 15% to 1.4%. This would result in 8 million fewer tobacco-related deaths in the country.


 Photo: AP image


Cutting the nicotine level, Mitch Zeller from the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products explained, will not only make it easier for people to kick their smoking addiction, but it will also prevent young people from experimenting with cigarettes and becoming addicted.


Nationwide School Walkouts Occur on One-Month Anniversary of Parkland Shooting

Last Wednesday, on the one-month anniversary of the Parkland school shooting, thousands of students chose to walk out of their schools at 10am to protest gun violence; some students participated in defiance of school authorities. As the New York Times put it, “the emergence of people not even old enough to drive as a political force has been particularly arresting, unsettling a gun control debate that had seemed impervious to other factors.” In many schools, parents and teachers joined in, while in others, authorities threatened to hand out detention to the students for walking out. The walk out lasted a total of 17 minutes, one for each of the Parkland victims. The governor of Florida signed a bill last week to raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 years old, a move that has caused the NRA to sue the state.


   Photo: Seattle Times image



Putin Blames Russian Minorities for Meddling in US Elections

The Russian President denied Russia’s involvement in the U.S. presidential election of 2016, saying that he “couldn’t care less,” and he named the “Ukrainians, Tatars, [or] Jews” as possible suspects in an interview with NBC News. He also asked for evidence that Russian policy had, in fact, been broken by the interference of Russians in the US election.


Russia’s next presidential election will take place this year, with the first round on March 18th. Putin faces little opposition, and Russia’s growth over the last 18 years indicates that he will serve a fourth term in office.


Hong Kong’s Richest Man to Retire in May

Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man will formally be retiring in May of this year. He will be passing on his “$100 billion retail, infrastructure and property empire” to his eldest son, Victor Li. Mr. Li started his business making plastic flowers in the 50s, and today he is hailed as “superman” for his dealmaking. At the age of 89, he is passing on the business to his 35 year old son, who has been an apprentice on Mr. Li’s side for years now.


Philippines pulling out of International Criminal Court

On Friday, the Philippines informed the U.N. Secretary General that they will be pulling out of the International Criminal Court (ICC), while still remaining committed to the rule of law. This move came after a court prosecutor began looking into accusations that the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, as well as other top officials had committed crimes against humanity during their war on drugs.


The government has denied these allegations, claiming that the 4,000 people killed as part of the war on drugs were all armed and resisted arrest.


The President of the ICC, O-Gwon Kwon of South Korea, has urged the Philippines to engage in some dialogue rather than withdraw. International activists see this as an attempt to evade justice by the president of the Philippines.


In Other News

Elizabeth Holmes Charged with Fraud

A compelling personal story of accomplishment came to an end this week with Elizabeth Holmes, founder of blood-testing startup Theranos, being charged with fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleged that Holmes, Theranos, and their former president, Ramesh Balwani, mislead customers with deceptive product demonstrations, incorrect claims, and false reassurances about regulators.

Theranos claimed that their technology had been deployed in battlefields in Afghanistan, and they exaggerated the financial status of the company. Holmes has agreed to a settlement in which she will pay a $500,000 fine and serve a ten-year ban on serving as an officer or director of a public company. She will also give up her role as the majority voting control of Theranos, as well as a significant share of her equity.


Stephen Hawking Passes Away at 76

The entire world mourned the loss of famous physicist Stephen Hawking on Wednesday, posting obituaries on social media, as well as messages of personally meeting him or being affected by his work. Many also hailed him as a source of inspiration for the disabled community. Hawking was an advocate for disability rights and he viewed these rights as a positive thing, saying that “they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in."


 Photo: Mitchell Toy image


#TimesUp Hits Vice Media, Richard Meier

Co-founder of Vice Media, Shane Smith, stepped down as CEO on Tuesday. Nancy Dubuc, a veteran TV anchor, will take his place. This has come after a month of sexual misconduct, gender pay gap, and sexism allegations that the organization has been dealing with. Since last fall, journalists from other organizations have been uncovering settlements against Vice employees that involve sexual harassment or defamation.


 Photo: New York Times image


Similarly, architect Richard Meier, 83, has been accused of sexual harassment by 5 women. Meier is famously known as the architect of the Getty Center in Los Angeles. He has been accused of exposing himself and grabbing women. When confronted with these allegations by the New York Times, Meier decided to take a six month leave from his position as the founder and managing partner of his firm. He also issued a statement saying he was “deeply troubled and embarrassed by the accounts of several women who were offended by my words and actions. While our recollections may differ, I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my behavior.”


My name is Pankhuri Kumar. I'm a 23-year old graduate student, majoring in Journalism and Computer Science. I'm a nerd about technology and hope to make the world a more informed place with data. I'm obsessed with Indian food, The Office, and Harry Potter.


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