Trump-Free Friday Politics Roundup


Take a break from Trump-related news and see what else is happening in the world of politics

Did you know that there is an entire political world outside of Trump’s Twitter account? You might be led to believe otherwise, given how much news outlets are compelled to focus on the missives delivered through the POTUS’ phone. Who knew that 140 characters could drive so many people to collective madness?

Yet, believe it or not, there are quite a few non-Trump news items on the table. In fact, there is a entire world out there full of people and politics.

If Trump’s given you tunnel vision, then take a few minutes to consider the world outside of the Oval Office.

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Geert Wilders Loses, Leaves Dutch Politics in Turmoil

Geert Wilders, the far-right Dutch politician who picked “no Islam” as one of his New Year’s resolutions, lost his bid for Prime Minister of the Netherlands. While this brings a measure of relief to progressives worldwide, the contentious election has left the Dutch political system in turmoil. Wilders’ Freedom Party now sits as the second-most popular party in the country. His opponent, Mark Rutte, won in part because he played on growing anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.

With the rise of far-right populism throughout Europe and impending elections in France and Germany, many are concerned. Wilders himself has vowed to continue his fight for anti-immigration policies. In fact, he’s said that Rutte “has not seen the last of me”, as if he were a mustache-twirling supervillain retreating dramatically from his latest battle. More disquieting, however, are the number of Europeans who support his views.

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Rex Tillerson Doesn’t Want to Wait For North Korea

“Let me be very clear,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Seoul on Friday, “the policy of strategic patience has ended.” Tillerson was referring to the Obama administration’s plan for dealing with North Korea, the secretive communist country that has been developing ballistic missiles. The previous presidential administration had essentially been waiting for the North Korean government to collapse, helped along by sanctions and covert operations.

The administration’s exact plans are still unclear, however. Tillerson said that “We’re exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, and economic measures. All options are on the table.” Some commentators have raised concerns that Tillerson and his compatriots will rush towards a military solution, entering into yet another Korean War.

Previously, Tillerson rejected a Chinese plan in which North Koreans will cease their missile testing in exchange for a similar freeze in joint U.S.-South Korean annual military operations. These military operations are often viewed by the Northern side as practices for pre-emptive strikes on their country.

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North Korea Not-So-Quietly Ramps Up Missile Testing

Speaking of North Korea, they’ve been increasing their weapons program with increased boldness. In January, leader Kim Jong-Un claimed that the country is preparing for its first-ever test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. While previous missile failures may leave the average American scoffing, political leaders are taking the threat seriously. Journalists and commentators have even speculated on the possibility of nuclear war courtesy of North Korean aggression.

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AHCA Faces Troubles

The GOP-led replacement of Obamacare has been facing some significant challenges in Congress. A number of Republican representatives and senators have expressed reservations about the bill, meaning that any confirmation votes are in danger. As a result, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is now staring down potentially serious opposition.

This is either a good or a bad development, depending on who you ask. Some, such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) want to keep Obamacare and improve its coverage for more Americans. She has said that the AHCA “really misses the mark” and could spell disaster for older, rural Americans. Others, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), say the AHCA isn’t conservative enough.

If the current version of the AHCA goes into effect, around 24 million people will lose insurance. A disproportionate number of those Americans will be older and more rural citizens. Ironically, many of them likely voted for Republican politicians who now wish to make healthcare less accessible. At least the premiums will go down (for young, rich people).

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Nicola Sturgeon and Scotland’s Possible Referendum

Remember that whole Brexit business? For many Americans, it must now seem like a world away. “Haha,” we said as we smugly planted a Clinton/Kaine sign in our front yard, “we’ll never do something that dumb.” Well.

Now, rumbles of dissent are making their way throughout the United Kingdom. While talk of California or Oregon seceding paint a scenario that’s damn near impossible, such discussions are an entirely different matter in Scotland. An 2014 independence referendum generated about 55% “remain” votes, with about 44% of eligible Scottish people voting to make Scotland an independent country.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has raised the possibility of a second referendum on Scottish independence. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has said that “now is not the time”, what with the country’s ongoing efforts to leave the European Union. A majority of voters in Scotland voted to remain within the European Union.

Sturgeon has agreed that a referendum does not need to happen immediately, but should take place some time within the near future. She has cited a lack of cooperation from May, saying “[Y]ou can’t have discussion and reach compromise with people who are not prepared to enter into discussion and are not prepared to countenance compromise and that so far has been my experience of the PM”.

Next: Read Candid Margaret Atwood Essay on Dystopia

And, finally, a palate cleanser

Hey, you’ve made it to the end of the article! Good job, everyone. Here’s your reward: MATH BRAIN.