- By the Staff of The Meredith Herald -
Healthcare – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced an end to the Graham-Cassidy bill, the newest attempt by the GOP to accomplish President Trump’s campaign promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act This round was defeated by the firm opposition of Senator Susan Collins (R-Mn); the loss of her “yea” would have left the bill unable to pass if a vote was called. This was the fifth and possibly final attempt to scrap or seriously undermine the ACA; Senator McConnell also announced Republican lawmakers’ intention of moving on to a tax overhaul effort.
Puerto Rico – The island is without electricity and scarce on food and water after a devastating pass by Hurricane Maria last week. On Tuesday Sept. 26, around 3:00pm, President Trump agreed to provide federal aid for 100% of needed cleanup, rather than the usual 75% (with the remaining 25% normally being paid for by the state itself). According to the Washington Post, the aid is allocated for debris removal and emergency services. The island’s agriculture has been decimated, and a region that was already facing significant financial crises is now attempting to prepare for a long and extremely difficult recovery.
Saudi Arabia – The country decided to repeal its notorious ban on women driving, possibly more for public relations purposes than egalitarian concerns. The measure will not go into effect until June of 2018. Multiple justifications have been given in the past for the law forbidding women to drive, including male family members’ concerns about cars breaking down and women being stranded.
White House – On Monday, Sept. 25, the White House disclosed that at least six of Trump’s close advisors used private email to communicate about government business, as did lower level White House employees who often engage with the public. Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus, along with other officials, are known to have used private email accounts for work purposes. This is not illegal, as long as the work-related emails are forwarded to government accounts for recording and oversight; the current Justice Department request for documents from the administration revealed this personal use and will theoretically uncover any mishandled information.
NFL Protest – On Sept. 1, 2016, Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, began a streak of kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest against racial injustices and police brutality in America. The debate that arose tended to focus not on racial injustice but whether the decision to kneel during the anthem was disrespecting the American flag. President Trump inflamed the issue recently with comments in a speech and on Twitter, where he tweeted #StandForOurAnthem and suggested that players should be “fired or suspended” if they choose not to stand. On Sunday, Sept. 24, the NFL had a variety of responses; some players knelt, other teams locked arms in solidarity, some stayed in the locker room altogether, and some declined to acknowledge the issue at all. It remains to be seen how NFL owners and players will respond in the weeks to come.
Local Sports – The Carolina Panthers suffered a defeat this past Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, lowering their record to 2-1. If you were watching and caught the end of the Detroit Lions v. Atlanta Falcons game after that, you found out that some losses are worse than others as the Lions made what they thought was a game-winning touchdown, but had it overturned after review of the play. On the upside, if you’re an NC State fan, the Wolfpack left the weekend with an improved winning record of 3-1 and a great win against Florida State. Elsewhere in the Triangle, UNC and Duke faced off, and the Blue Devils came away with a 27-17 victory over the Tarheels.