Is China really an ‘economic enemy’ of the United States?


Putin wins reelection, China is at odds with the US, the government wants to spend all the money and more in this week’s Trump-free politics roundup.

China facing new tariffs from the U.S.

On Thursday, the United States announced that it will impose fierce tariffs on Chinese imports in an effort to combat the United States’ supposed “economic enemy.” Officials also hope that these stringent new rules will close a trade gap between China and the United States by $50 billion.

This move is also in response to complaints about China’s policies regarding intellectual property. In general, countries that currently do business with the nation are required to share their technology. Many people claim that China then adapts these outside ideas and technological advancements for its own purposes.

Though business leaders agree that this theft of intellectual property is an ongoing issue, many also worry about the backlash. China has already announced that it will impose similar tariffs on goods imported from the United States, totaling to about $3 billion in goods.

Putin wins election

Vladimir Putin won the Russian presidential election on Tuesday, surprising absolutely no one. He won with 76 percent of the vote, coasting comfortably into his fourth term as president. Over 67 percent of the population turned out to vote. Barring extraordinary measures, Putin will remain in office until 2024.

This victory is perhaps most interesting given Russia’s recent economic struggles. Putin’s government presided over this downturn, which hardly gave him a boost. What did help, however, was throwing money at the issue. Thanks to good marketing and over 18 billion rubles ($300 million), Putin and his party secured the election.

Also interesting is the sky-high voter turnout, given that Russia’s 2016 election had a dismal 47 percent of voters participating. While some were pressured to vote, that wasn’t the whole story. Putin enjoys genuine support from many Russians, which also helps establish him as a beloved politician.

He also apparently enjoys support from the White House. Putin received a congratulatory call from the U.S. president on Tuesday, even though the president reportedly saw at least one memo with “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” printed in all caps. It’s definitely an odd juxtaposition, given U.S. condemnation of the recent poison attack of a former Russian agent and generally strained relations due to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Sessions was investigated for perjury, fires McCabe

Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions was under investigation for possible perjury in 2017, according to sources cited in The New York Times. The FBI did so after Sessions admitted that he had contact with a Russian ambassador, contradicting earlier testimony he had given to a congressional committee.

The then deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe authorized the investigation. McCabe was recently fired just before his retirement due to a “lack of candor” in another internal investigation. Sessions himself rejected McCabe’s appeal, a move that now jeopardizes the former director’s government pension.

Though perjury investigations such as this one are relatively common, it is not a mark in Sessions’ favor. Sessions eventually recused himself from the Russia investigation headed by Robert S. Mueller III. The investigation is currently under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

John Dowd quits the president’s legal team

On Thursday, John Dowd, the lead lawyer for the president in Mueller’s Russia investigation, has resigned. In a phone interview, Dowd said that “I think [the president] has a really good case.”

However, that did not apparently do much to ease tensions between the president and his legal team. The president reportedly wished to take more aggressive action, while his attorneys urged caution. Dowd also drew the ire of the White House for making statements and composing presidential tweets that were ultimately described as “ham-fisted.”

Of particular concern was a possible interview with the president, conducted by Mueller’s investigative team. On Thursday, the president claimed that he would be willing to sit down and talk away with the special counsel.

Dowd, meanwhile, was of a different mind. In his capacity as counsel to the president, Dowd suggested that they should just shut down the entire Mueller investigation. He quickly walked back those statements and said they were his own opinions, but the damage was already done.

McMaster’s replacement makes people nervous

Just last week, national security adviser H.R. McMaster was ousted from his post. On Friday, we all learned that John Bolton will take McMaster’s place.

Bolton was an ambassador and undersecretary of state focusing on arms control during the George W. Bush era. More recently, he’s appeared as a talking head on Fox News, reportedly the president’s favorite network.

Bolton is especially aggressive when it comes to North Korea. While McMaster was hardly gentle when it came to foreign policy, neither did he call for preemptive strikes against the DPRK, as Bolton has done. Along with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director who will take over Rex Tillerson’s job as secretary of state, Bolton will help to create a significantly more hawkish White House.

Congress passes $1.3 trillion spending bill

This most recent spending bill will fund the federal government through Sept. 30. It passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday. Later that same night, the Senate voted in favor of the bill, too.

It’s a beast of a bill, clocking in at 2,232 pages. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is a vocal opponent of the spending measure, as he has been of many similar Congressional moves in the past. Besides the massive page count making it nearly impossible to read in time for the vote, Paul also pointed out that the bill is a significant leap in government spending. These include large boosts to defense budgets meant to please Republicans.

Meanwhile, increased money for domestic programs is making Democrats happy. Naturally, no one seems terribly pleased to see their colleagues on the other side of the aisle approving of anything.

$1.6 billion in funds is set to go to border security, without any meant for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, the bill does set aside money for student loans, child care and rural broadband installation, among other domestic programs. Another $700 million will go to election security, including technology grants to go to individual states.

The bill received a veto threat. However, it did get signed into law.

And, finally, your palate cleanser

What kind of body is the “right” one? That answer varies, depending on where you are in history and society, as well as how focused your are body positivity. Ideally, there is no “right” or “wrong” body, of course. Historically speaking, however, fashion has not always been quite so concerned about the issue. People have been binding themselves into corsets, cramming their feet into strange shoes, and inventing ever-stranger ways of adorning themselves.

That’s why the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is so fascinating. Even more interesting, perhaps, is its current exhibit, The Body: Fashion and Physique. You’ll have to be in New York City to see the exhibit in person; it’s on display through May 5. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t dive into a plethora of online resources stemming from the show.

Next: March for Our Lives: All you need to know about the protest

First off, there’s the exhibit website, which is rich with images and in-depth text labels. You can also read an interview with curator Emma McClendon at Jezebel.

If that sparks your interest, then read further with How to Read a Dress by Lydia Edwards. Speaking of changing attitudes towards bodies, you may also be interested in the shifting trends in maternity wear, outlined at Slate and Racked.