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The Weekly Recap 3/31/19

Daniel Chase

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We never stop to consider the fact that life is just as complicated for the rest of us as it is for ourselves. We become so consumed by the flotsam and jetsam in our own lives that we’re blindsided to the lives of others. As upsetting as this may be, we’re not at a loss for solutions. The first step is take initiative and ask the people around you how they’re feeling. Don’t just blindly ask, make it clear that you’re interested. Next, you want to have a general understanding of what is going on in the world around you. This could have a bearing on how people are feeling. The best way to do this is to recap the previous week’s events, so we’ll do just that. 

Mueller Unchained 

Over the course of the last twenty-two months, special counsel Robert Muller has conducted an in-depth investigation into whether President Donald Trump, and many members of his administration, colluded with Russian individuals to help him secure the 2016 presidential election. Throughout the investigation, Mueller interviewed high-ranking legal officials, a myriad of witnesses, and several Labrador retrievers, and, on Friday, turned in his report to Attorney General William P. Barr. 

“The special counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the attorney general to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime. We concluded that the evidence developed during the special counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense…”

Attorney General William P. Barr 

Don’t Try This At Home

If you’ve had the chance to visit the movies this month and view “Captain Marvel,” or at least see the trailer, then I’m sure you’re familiar with the scene in which Brie Larson’s character, Carol Danvers, assaults an elderly woman on a NYC train. We later find out that this octogenarian is, in fact, a shape-shifting Skrull, but that’s not important right now. Outside of the Marvel cinematic universe, over the week, a 36-year-old man was caught on camera brutally beating up an elderly woman on the subway. The man, Marc Gomez, was charged with two counts of second-degree assault, third-degree assault and harassment. 

“The subject wanted for the brutal subway attack of an elderly woman is in custody. The victim was treated and realized from the hospital and is getting the care, advocacy and support needed. Thank you to the worldwide community for the tremendous assistance.”

Dermot Shea, NYPD Chief 

Democrats Are Never Happy

Americans have spent the last two years doing two things; enduring the Trump presidency, and awaiting the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into said presidency. Well, yesterday Mueller and Attorney General William Barr shared that the report had been submitted and reviewed, and President Trump was found largely innocent. Now, to be clear, Mueller and Barr are the only two individuals to have seen the investigation’s findings, and the Democratic leadership is not happy with this. Barr informed Congress that the Mueller investigation failed to find substantial information to indict President Trump for obstructions of justice. 

“In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to  testify before the House Judiciary Committee in the near future…”

Jerry Nadler (D-NY), House Judiciary Committee Chairman

Wait, I Thought He Was A Good Guy?

Let me just say that I apologize for President Donald Trump dominating much of this news segment, its truly not up to me. Moving on, Lawyer Michael Avenatti, famously known for providing legal support to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, was arrested today on federal bank fraud and wire fraud charges. Per the limited details of his arrest, California prosecutors say Avenatti was cuffed for embezzling client money to pay his own bills. According  to the Associated Press, he was released on $300,000 bond in New York. 

Immediately following his arrest and release, Avenatti tweeted his feelings, as well as a weirdly off-base remark about an upcoming case. 

“As all of you know, for the entirety of my career I have fought against powerful, powerful people and powerful corporations. I will never stop fighting that good fight. Tomorrow, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by Nike that we have covered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball…”

Michael Avenatti

Call A Veto Truck 

The House on Tuesday pulled out all the stops to override Trump’s veto but, to no avail, their efforts failed. According to Vox, in order to override a presidential veto, House Democrats “would have needed two-thirds of the chamber’s support, or 290 votes. They were 42 votes shy, despite convincing 14 members of the Republican Party to join the cause. Despite the disappointing attempt made by the House to stop Trump’s veto, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tried to find a silver lining for the situation. 

“Whether we can succeed with the number of votes is not the point. We are establishing the intent of Congress. The president has decided to be in defiance of the Constitution, to deface it with his action. Both houses of Congress in a bipartisan way sent him a bill that said this is how we will address border security. He had to sign the bill to keep the government open. Trump defied the Constitution with his action. Congress has overridden that. He did veto it.”

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Speaker

The Trump administration made an incredibly bold move in overriding the actions of a bipartisan-backed congressional resolution.  To some this may be just another disagreement from President Trump, but to others this is an indication that Trump is stubbornly determined to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Congress will do what they can to defend the constitution and stop Trump from using funds otherwise allocated for a true national emergency.

Juss-tice Isn’t Served 

In a Shyamalan-esque turn of events, Chicago prosecutors dropped all charged against actor Jussie Smollett, who local officials took to court over accusations of staging hate crimes against himself and filing a false police report, said CNN. Since this story hit major news outlets, people have been tossing and turning about the likelihood that two people shouted racial and anti-gay remarks at someone. The fact that people said he staged the entire attack only furthers the fact that we are living in a society that has a lot of work to do. 

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to the case..”

statement from Illinois State Attorney’s office 

Brexit Is Causing Quite A Ruckus 

For us Americans, it’s safe to assume that we’ve been too focused trying to process the actions of out president to care much about anything else. However, if you consider yourself a geopolitical connoisseur, then you should be interested to know that British Prime Minister Theresa May informed Conservative members of Parliament on Wednesday that she will step down if Brexit gets the greenlight. Basically, May is well aware that some people aren ’t keen on her in government, and she is so passionate about making Brexit happen that she’s willing to put her career on the line. 

“I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party. I know there is a desire for a new approach, and new leadership, in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won’t stand in the way of that…”

Theresa May, British Prime Minister 

Border-line Upsetting 

To say that immigration reform is a complicated issue in America is like saying that space travel is so easy a toddler could do it; it’s simply untrue. In addition to being a very polarizing issue, we are talking about the fate of millions of migrant individuals who simply wish to live happy, healthy lives in America. Over the course of the last few months, migrants have been detained along the Southwest Border of the U.S., where many have little to no access to clean drinking water, food, or lavatories. According to several sources, this week federal agents arrested over 4,000 migrants trying to cross the border — the highest daily total recorded in 15 years, according to a senior official with Customs and Border Protection.

“The breaking point has arrived. CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest border — and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso. We are doing everything we can to simply avoid a tragedy. But with these numbers, with these types of illnesses we’re seeing at the border, I fear that it’s just a matter of time.”

CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan

Young Moolah, Baby 

Moolah Mobile is a company which has created custom home-screens for mobile users that display ads in a “non-invasive” set location of one’s device. Per their official website, each time an advertisement is shown on one’s phone, the user earns “10% of what Moolah was paid for showing that ad in real time.” Users are paid in the form of “Moolah” which can be used in the Moolah Store for a variety of items. This company has commodified space on personal mobile devices and created a micro-gig economy in the process. Sound crazy? Keep reading. 

Moolah took its screen-buying operations one step further today when the Company announced that it had formed a partnership with SurgePhone Wireless, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Surge Holdings Inc (SURGE) to launch the first free wireless service for low-income communities. Yes, folks, the companies will offer completely free service for mobile device users. Through the use of Moolah’s passive income platform, users will be able to use money earned from ads on their home screens to fully pay their new phone bills. 

“Partnering with Moolah Mobile enhances our ability to utilize emerging technology to improve the quality of life for low income, under-banked, subprime credit and immigrant populations in the U.S…This partnership gives Surge a competitive advantage by essentially creating a no-cost product offering that currently doesn’t exist. I look forward to partnering with the team at Moolah Mobile on other products down the road as we both work to provide technology and digital services to the disadvantaged.”

Brian Cox, Chief Executive Officer, Surge 

We Asked For The Abridged Version

Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned in his homework earlier this week, and the subject of his essay was investigating claims that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. No member of the Legislative Branch has had the chance to view the 300-page report, and people continue to express their frustration at this fact. Over the weekend, Attorney General Bill Barr released a four-page summary to the House Judiciary Committee, saying, in his words, that the report failed to find evidence of any sort of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

“How can I say this more clearly? Show us the report!”

-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)


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Does China’s Bull Market Indicate Global Stock Market Momentum?

Joe Samuel

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The markets in China are up by more than 30% so far this year.  The Shanghai composite had jumped by over 30% since the end of 2018 and the Shenzhen component has rallied by more than 40%.  Despite the weak finish to last year, China’s stock markets have been on a bull run so far in 2018.  This comes during a period of optimism about potential trade deals with the United States.

China Compared To The US Markets

Compared to the other averages like the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500, which have risen 13% and 15%, the Chinese markets are outpacing the US by more than double. This comes after these same Chinese markets experienced the worst performance in a decade.  The Shanghai composite closed the year on a low note with a decline of roughly 25$ compared to 2017.

What has helped boost Chinese stocks has had much to do with the economic turn around as it would seem.  Beijing reported on Wednesday that it saw better than expected economic growth for Q1 of 2019. This comes after months of worry about a global economic slowdown lead by China.  The most recent GDP figures show the Chinese economy grew by more than 6% year over year during the first 3 months of 2019.  This beat the 6.3% expectation from the Street.

What Will The Future Hold For China?

“We’ve started to see retail investors in China feel a little bit more optimistic but they’ve been busy trying to just take their money back after a terrible year in 2018, so the money is not really at work at the moment,” Tai Hui, Asia-Pacific chief market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, on CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Wednesday.

It also helps as optimism continues to grow.  Beijing may be on the verge of coming to an agreement with the United States. The slew of massive tariffs from both economic giants was thrown about during 2018. This initially caused more worry and triggered large market sell-offs before the New Year.

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Politics

The Weekly Recap 4/7/19

Daniel Chase

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There’s nothing quite like a nice cup of coffee to start the morning. It’s almost like within that cup of mysterious liquid lies a magic to help us start the day. Coffee is the drink of champions no matter what obstacles they may come across but nothing can compare knowing the future. It hasn’t been proven that any one actually can tell the future but our best attempt at this is reviewing our past to inform how to act in the present, thus altering the future. Now that we’re on the same page, please enjoy this healthy serving of your weekly recap. 

Leave Biden Alone 

There are certain people the media covers quite often because of their inclinations to say racist things or make women feel uncomfortable, but there stands to be a select few that have managed to stay out of the negative spotlight. Former Vice President Joe Biden is one such person who has given off the never-hurt-a-fly vibe. Biden may or may not announce his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election, but on Friday, Lucy Flores, Nevada’s Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2014, came forward and said that Biden made her feel uncomfortable when he was weirdly physical at a campaign event. 

“Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable nor do they recall what she describes.”

Bill Russo, spokesperson for Joe Biden 

Melania Trump, Everyone 

I don’t know what you’ve heard about First Lady Melania Trump but I’m here to tell you that she’s a stand-up individual. Actually, to be fair other than her debacle with decorating the White House with red Christmas trees during the holiday season I’m not really sure what she’s been up to. According to recent reports, First Lady Trump’s “Be Best” program, a program designed to focus on major issues facing children today, encouraging them to be best, is doing quite well. My only issue that how can someone “be best,” wouldn’t it make sense to “be the best” or “be one’s best?” 

I digress, Melania announced over the weekend that she’s now working the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, an organization founded under President George W. Bush. 

“When Mrs. Trump was was made aware that there is an existing mechanism in government that convenes 20 agencies that focus on youth-specific programs, she saw that as a real opportunity to bring their good work to the forefront and ensure that those programs aligned with Be Best get the attention and focus they deserve.”

Stephanie Grisham, First Lady Trump spokesperson 

Biden, Now We Can’t Do This…

It has now come to the media’s attention that Joe Biden, former vice president and potential presidential candidate, has been accused by a second woman of him touching her inappropriately. Earlier this week, Lucy Flores, a former lieutenant gubernatorial candidate, came out and said that Biden had kissed her forehead at a campaign event and it made her incredibly uncomfortable. On Monday, Amy Lappos told a Connecticut newspaper that Biden rubbed noses with her at a 2009 fundraiser. Lappos stated that it “wasn’t sexual” but her head was grabbed. 

Naturally, Biden responded with his own statement: 

“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my attention.”

Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States

Be Careful

Anytime friends of mine get into Ubers or other ride-hailed vehicles, I always remind them to check the license plate on their smartphone app and compare it with the vehicle that has shown up. Unfortunately, a University of South Carolina student was taken advantage of and murdered over the weekend. The body of Samantha Josephson, 21, was found in a forest on Friday night when she didn’t come home after a night out. 

“We want every college student in America to take a pledge that says they will never get into a ride share without first asking the driver, “What’s my name,’ to make sure that they are getting in the right vehicle. This is really a national problem. We thought we had a safe city here and a safe campus, but this might happen again this weekend if a student gets into one of those vehicles and hasn’t fully confirmed that it’s the right vehicle.”

Harris Pastides, University of South Carolina President 

Borders Are Bad For Business, Beats, Battlestar Galactica 

According to a recent economic study released on Tuesday, countless American businesses, including manufacturers and farmers, will lose $726 million per day if President Donald Trump makes good on his threat to temporarily shutdown the US-Mexico border. Chat Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers told The Hill that over 21,000 companies in the U.S. export to Mexico.

“The NAM has been to the border to witness the situation firsthand. Congress absolutely must tackle comprehensive immigration reform immediately to address the real national security and humanitarian concerns that are a direct result of our current broken system. We’re getting somewhat mixed messages from the markets right now. We have really strong job growth, optimism is high when I talk to firms about their overall outlook, but they also have this lingering worry about the global economy, and looking at Germany and China, we’re already seeing materially slower growth than even a couple of months ago.”

Chad Moutray

Bern, Baby Bern That Money!

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is back at it again with the white hairs and is showing no signs of slowing down. Sanders in February announced his entrance into the pantheon of candidates running for president in the 2020 election. According to recent reports, he’s raised $18.2 million from over five-hundred thousand donors since his initial announcement. If these numbers are in fact correct, Sander has raised more money than any other Democratic presidential candidate currently in the running. 

Compared to other candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris, Sanders has raised most of his funds from smaller donors rather than deep-pocketed individuals. 

“We’re building a campaign to win and we’re planning to win from the outset.”

Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager for Sanders 2020

Facebook…Why Do We Even Bother? 

It’s almost painful how often Facebook has dropped the data privacy ball over the last few months. To be honest, I’m fairly close from closing my own account in an effort to secure my private information. According to a TechCrunch report released this week, over 540 million user profiles were exposed due to two separate third-party companies who failed to keep them safe. As for the team that discovered the data exposure, the UpGuard Cyber Risk team today reported that Cultura Colectiva, a Mexico-based media company exposed “146 gigabytes of records including comments, likes, reactions, account names, FB Ids and more.”

Given the increasing value of data among the tech industry, one would think that Facebook  would be more careful with which companies it works with/shares user data with. In all fairness to Zuckerberg and his team of rag-tag engineers at Facebook, mistakes happen, especially with computers. Having said that, Facebook has dominated the headlines over the last six months for several “mistakes” that bring to mind the question of whether our data is truly safe when stored on internet databases and social media sites. 

“For app developers on Facebook, part of the platform’s appeals is access to some slice of the data generated by and about Facebook users. For Cultura Colectiva, data on responses to each post allows them to tune an algorithm for predicting which future content will generate the most traffic. The data exposed in each of these sets would not exist without Facebook, yet these data sets are no longer under Facebook’s control. In each case, the Facebook platform facilitated the collection of data about individuals and its transfer to third parties, who became responsible for its security.”

UpGuard

Mr. Trump, Your Taxes, Please…

After years of birther movements and lascivious acts, it seems as thought the tables have turned. On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal submitted a formal request for the tax returns from President Donald Trump. Transparency for U.S. presidents is one thing, but especially considering the doubt and mistrust from the Democratic Party towards Trump, it would serve him well to share his taxes.

“Consistent with its authority, the Committee is considering legislative proposals and conducting oversight related to our Federal tax laws, including, but not limited to, the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President. Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws…”

Richard E. Neal   

Swipe For The Next Page 

Bumble arose as a cultural alternative to Tinder. The app was created with a women-centric framework that structured the app around a woman’s right to choose. If a male swiped right on a female, and she swiped on him, it was up to the woman to initiate the conversation. The app instantly took off and became the less-creepy dating app on the market. Tinder remained operable for hook-ups, but Bumble has been lauded as a place to find true love. 

In recognition of their upcoming eminence as a digital brand, Bumble today announced the release of Bumble Mag, a lifestyle magazine made in collaboration with Hearst Publications that has relationship-related content, dating advice, etc…Per the details of their announcement, the magazine is split into four sections, “You First,” “You + BFFs,” “You+Dating,” and “You+Bizz.” The organization of the publication is said to mimic the goals of the Company. 

“Bumble is at the forefront of inspiring women to make connections and take initiative in all aspects of their lives with its positive message of empowerment. The magazine is a perfect example of how HearstMade is changing the face of custom publishing with hyper-targeted content that reflected the brand’s ethos in the most authentic way…”

Brett Hill, Editorial Director, HearstMade

I Know Why The Caged Cohen Sings 

Michael Cohen, the disgraced former lawyer of President Donald Trump, knows that he messed up by being the President’s fixer. He orchestrated hush payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star, who spent romantic moments with our president, as well as committed campaign finance violations and he lied to congress. Now, Cohen is begging members of the Democratic leadership to let him go freely if he cooperates with Congress. He is asking for more time — before heading to the clink — to assist Congress in pinning down President Trump.

“We hope that this memorandum demonstrates that Mr. Cohen needs to be readily accessible and immediately available to provide ongoing assistance to Congress in order for it to fulfill its executive branch oversight responsibilities. Mr. Cohen was only recently able to access a hard drive with important documents.”

Statement from Michael Cohen’s legal team

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Politics

Here’s What You Missed 4/5/19

Daniel Chase

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If you’ve ever had the misfortune of taking a standardized test then I’m sure you’ll well aware of how awful they are. First of all, the structure of these tests is designed to confuse, trick, and otherwise fool the test taker. I can’t tell you how many questions I’ve read where they include information meant to make you slip up. Second, these tests are in no way, shape, or form a measure of one’s level of education. All these tests do is gauge if someone is a good test taker. Next, we have the cost of these tests which, depending on their “importance,” can be hundreds of dollars solely because someone decided to add more costs to one’s education. I completely disagree with the weight we place on our students in terms of performing on tests, and strongly believe we should focus on more important things when assessing their abilities.

Don’t test me, here’s what you missed in the news yesterday. 

Swipe For The Next Page 

Bumble arose as a cultural alternative to Tinder. The app was created with a women-centric framework that structured the app around a woman’s right to choose. If a male swiped right on a female, and she swiped on him, it was up to the woman to initiate the conversation. The app instantly took off and became the less-creepy dating app on the market. Tinder remained operable for hook-ups, but Bumble has been lauded as a place to find true love. 

In recognition of their upcoming eminence as a digital brand, Bumble today announced the release of Bumble Mag, a lifestyle magazine made in collaboration with Hearst Publications that has relationship-related content, dating advice, etc…Per the details of their announcement, the magazine is split into four sections, “You First,” “You + BFFs,” “You+Dating,” and “You+Bizz.” The organization of the publication is said to mimic the goals of the Company. 

“Bumble is at the forefront of inspiring women to make connections and take initiative in all aspects of their lives with its positive message of empowerment. The magazine is a perfect example of how HearstMade is changing the face of custom publishing with hyper-targeted content that reflected the brand’s ethos in the most authentic way…”

Brett Hill, Editorial Director, HearstMade

I Know Why The Caged Cohen Sings 

Michael Cohen, the disgraced former lawyer of President Donald Trump, knows that he messed up by being the President’s fixer. He orchestrated hush payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star, who spent romantic moments with our president, as well as committed campaign finance violations and he lied to congress. Now, Cohen is begging members of the Democratic leadership to let him go freely if he cooperates with Congress. He is asking for more time — before heading to the clink — to assist Congress in pinning down President Trump.

“We hope that this memorandum demonstrates that Mr. Cohen needs to be readily accessible and immediately available to provide ongoing assistance to Congress in order for it to fulfill its executive branch oversight responsibilities. Mr. Cohen was only recently able to access a hard drive with important documents.”

Statement from Michael Cohen’s legal team

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