What You Missed This Week

April 3, 2018


New Trump Administration Policies for Transgender Troops

The Trump administration approved a new policy recommendation, which allows transgender troops to continue in their ranks, but they would have to serve according to their gender at birth. The policy also states that people who “require or have undergone a gender transition are disqualified from military service,” while giving the Pentagon the power to make exceptions.


This policy has sparked outrage among the transgender community, troops, and veterans. Activists are now expected to challenge the policy, which is a mask for transphobia. The memo by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis contradicts several studies, as it claims that allowing transgender troops to serve in the military will impede unit cohesion.


2020 Census to include questions on Citizenship

This week, the U.S. Census Bureau released the questions for the 2020 Census Count, and questions about citizenship are included. These questions were requested to be added by the Justice Department. For the national headcount, each household will be asked: “is this person a citizen of the United States?”


This new addition (along with some other changes) has led to calls for lawsuits and legislation changes. Critics claim that the common fear of declaring your immigration status will lead to a serious undercount of persons in the census, impacting proportional representation in Congress, state government share of federal funds (including natural disaster funding), and the accuracy of population data for businesses and studies.


Female Legislators Question Delay in Sexual Harassment Legislation

Last Wednesday, all 22 female legislators wrote a letter to the Senate questioning their lack of action regarding a sexual harassment legislation, expressing their “deep disappointment.” The legislation would handle how sexual harassment claims are handled in Capitol Hill. It was passed by the House of Representatives last month, but since then, there has been no progress in the Senate to push the legislation forward.



Photo: Associated Press



Catalonians Protest over Puigdemont Arrest

On Sunday, Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalonia leader, was arrested in Germany on an international arrest warrant as he was travelling from Finland to Belgium. He had planned to turn himself in to Belgian authorities, his lawyer said. In response, protesters took to the streets in Barcelona almost immediately, and police authorities resorted to striking protesters with batons in order to control the crowds.

This is the latest wave of agitation in this country, which has been in turmoil since October, when Catalonian leaders formally declared independence and were ousted by the central government.


60 Russian Diplomats Accused of Spying on the US

The Trump administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats this week, and moved to shut down the Russian consulate near Seattle, accusing the diplomats of being Russian spies under diplomatic cover. They have seven days to leave the country, and the Seattle consulate was shut down due to a security concern regarding its proximity to a U.S. Navy base.


This move has come in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in London, which resulted in multiple countries taking similar measures to punish Moscow and push back against Putin. This is one of the more significant moves taken by the Trump administration against Russia, since President Trump has typically been friendly with Putin until now.


Kim Jong Un Visits China, Willing to Lay Down Nukes over “Goodwill”

Kim Jong Un decided to pay China an unofficial four-day visit due to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s invitation. There were speculations about the visit when photos were released of a green train pulling into Beijing, the same train that Kim’s father and grandfather used to make foreign visits.


This visit was later confirmed, and it is the first time that Kim Jong Un has traveled outside of North Korea since taking power in 2011. During the visit, Kim confirmed that he would be willing to meet with President Trump, and he vaguely mentioned plans of the denuclearization of North Korea.


In Other News


Photo: Getty Images


Linda Brown Passes Away

Linda Brown, who is the face of the Brown vs. Board of Education case, the landmark civil rights case that involved a lawsuit against the state of Kansas, claimed that the “separate but equal” doctrine was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court took two years to unanimously vote against racial separation in schools.


Forgotten Settlements Found in the Amazon Rainforest

A research funded by National Geographic and published in the journal Nature Communications has challenged the belief that the pre-Columbian Amazon was sparsely populated. The research team used satellite imagery to identify ancient earthworks used for ceremonies or geoglyphs in unexplored parts of Brazil, and they followed up this initial research with manual examinations in most of the sites. Furthermore, they took information from the 24 known sites in order to build a model that can predict the features of other similar sites based on elevation, precipitation, and other factors. The research has led to researchers re-evaluating the history of this region.


 Photo: New York Times


Atlanta’s Government Still in Lockdown

Five of Atlanta’s 13 local government departments have been seriously disrupted for over a week as they continue fight against SamSam, a standard type of ransomware. A spokesperson from the City of Atlanta said that operations have been “severely impacted” and rebuilding the infrastructure will “take some time.”


Hackers typically make hundreds of thousands of dollars by launching SamSam attacks, as it is a very effective type of ransomware. SamSam is able to attack systems by finding vulnerabilities and guessing weak passwords. These SamSam attacks, which are unlike other malware, have brought the security standards of government agencies across the country into question.



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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