Politics roundup: Mueller has issued his report. What do we do now?


Robert Mueller has delivered his report on Russian election interference. Does this mean anything for Congress, the White House, and the rest of us?

Mueller’s report has been released. Now what?

After years of anticipation, Robert S. Mueller III has released his investigation’s report on possible election interference from Russia. It’s not all fireworks, however. According to Attorney General William Barr, the report has cleared the White House of any collusion charges levied against the administration.

This conclusion surely comes as a disappointment to those who had hoped that Mueller would deliver a bombshell report that would leave the presidential administration in metaphorical ashes. Anyone with a “Mueller Time” t shirt has almost certainly left it sitting in their dresser drawer for the time being.

Yet, chances are that we’ll be dealing with the implication of the Mueller report for quite some time. That is, if we ever get to see the whole thing. Right now, the entirety of the report is in the hands of A.G. Barr, who hasn’t committed to releasing an un-redacted edition to Congress.

From the public point of view, we’ve seen just over 100 words of at least 300 total pages. That discrepancy is generating quite a lot of angst amongst Democrats, who are currently making headlines with their concerns.

The White House, meanwhile, seems to be riding on a wave of elation following the seeming all-clear. The apparent exoneration could very easily be used as a key component of the President’s 2020 reelection campaign.

May offers to resign for Brexit

While the Mueller report is generating plenty of news pieces in the United States, it doesn’t have the immediate, sweaty anxiety that many feel over Brexit. That’s not without cause. For all of the talking, planning, and voting, the British Parliament still can’t agree on an exit plan. They have rejected yet another attempt to cement a deal between the U.K. and the European Union, concerning the U.K.’s impending exit from the E.U.

In a last-ditch attempt to get her plan through, Prime Minister Theresa May volunteered to step down, the idea being that a more popular politician would take over and usher the plan through to completion. Many members of Parliament seemed to like the idea, though there is no guarantee that May’s successor will have an easy time of things.

May did not offer up a particular date. It could happen relatively soon, given how much the offer has done to bring hardline Brexit politicians back into the fold. Currently, Parliament is debating the matter. This morning, a third Brexit deal vote failed.

Saudi Arabia frees some, but not all, feminist activists

Modern Saudi Arabia will undoubtedly have a complicated legacy. For all that the de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and his supporters have pushed modernization, they have also garnered intense criticism.

What’s been going badly for Crown Prince MBS and others? There is the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, generally considered now to be masterminded by the Crown Prince. There is the intensifying animosity between Saudi forces and Iran, as played out in other nations like Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has also faced international condemnation for the status of its female citizens. Saudi women have dealt with deeply sexist laws, including those requiring male guardianship, restricting voting rights, and forbidding women the right to drive.

Some of these laws have eased or even been demolished entirely, as when Saudi women gained the right to vote in 2015. In 2018, much was made of the decision to allow women to drive.

Yet, it is still difficult, even dangerous, to be a feminist activist in Saudi Arabia. Recently, three women were released after a 10-month detention stemming from their advocacy efforts. They allege that male interrogators touched them inappropriately, forced them to break their Ramadan fasts, and tortured them and other imprisoned women.

Facebook sued by HUD

Facebook is being sued for discrimination by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In the case, which was announced on Thursday, HUD says that Facebook violated fair housing laws when it allowed advertisers to screen who could see ads, including those promoting housing. As they currently stands, these parameters can make ads invisible to people on the basis of expansive categories like gender, religious beliefs, race, and ethnicity.

The social media giant has had its fair share of run-ins with the law and Congressional committees recently. This isn’t even the first time it’s been accused of discrimination via its ad settings. Last year, the National Fair Housing Alliance brought similar charges against Facebook. The group even created a fake ad that was invisible to African-American and Hispanic users, which was approved by Facebook.

The NFHA and Facebook reached a settlement last week, in which Facebook promised to make major changes to its advertising platform.

DeVos attempted to withdraw Special Olympics funding

It’s not that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has come out and said that she specifically wants people to dislike her and her actions. But it is difficult to see some of them otherwise. Take the most recent case, wherein DeVos said that she wanted to cut her department’s funding for the Special Olympics.

Well, DeVos claimed that she personally didn’t want to cut the Special Olympics out of the budget. However, she spentthree days defending the move. On Thursday, the president announced that he had overridden the Department of Education and approved funding, at which point DeVos said that she had supported funding the Special Olympics all along. It’s just that she decided not to, you know, actually say so.

And, finally, your palate cleanser

After all of that, you may just want to descend into a dark cave and not return for a unspecified, but very long period of time. That might not be quite so bad, given that caves are actually pretty fascinating features in both our planet and human history.

Caves have preserved the remains of human ancestors going back thousands of years, including the discovery of human ancestors dubbed Homo naledi, who lived more than 200,000 years ago. Dawn of Humanity is a fascinating documentary that covers the process of going into the South African cave and recovering the ancient remains.

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Early and modern humans have found that caves can be pretty decent places to live, make art, and, nowadays, make some extra income through vacation rentals.

Maybe a comfy bed in a spare cave with lighting and cable doesn’t have the same dramatic ring as a dank, dripping retreat, but you might to check it out nonetheless.