Xi Jinping, GOP Tax Reform, George H. W. Bush Sexual Assault Allegations, and Senator Jeff Flake in: 60


Chinese President Consolidates Power

On Wednesday morning, China unveiled its newest senior leadership committee, known as the Politburo Standing Committee, during its 19th National Congress. However, a clear successor to President Xi Jinping was noticeably absent from the committee, possibly indicating that Xi Jinping will pursue leadership past 2022.

In the past, China’s president would rule for 10 years, or two, five-year terms. When the Politburo Standing Committee would be revealed for the second term, a clear successor for leadership was typically present. President Xi Jinping took control of the China’s Communist Party in 2012, and the lack of a successor signals that Xi will possibly break the tradition established in 1990 by then-President Deng Xiaoping.

Additionally, it was announced Tuesday that his name would be added to the Chinese Communist Party Constitution. The new section is titled “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics of a New Era”. This addition to the constitution by a living leader is the first since Mao Zedong, allotting Xi with much more power than any of his predecessors. With such action, Xi Jinping is consolidating his power, drawing global attention to China and its role around the globe.

GOP Works Towards Contentious Tax Reform Plan

The President and Republican members of Congress are currently working on a tax reform plan, which is expected to be voted on by the end of the year and may prove to be quite controversial.

Despite Mitch McConnell’s claims after Tuesday’s meeting that: “If there’s anything that unifies Republicans, it’s tax reform,” many of the potential components of this reform bill may prove contentious. Among these are a proposal to streamline the tax code and reduce the current seven tax brackets to three. This may raise taxes for low-income individuals.

There has been much debate over whether or not the plan would limit how much pretax money people can contribute to their 401(k) retirement plans. Trump sent out a tweet denying this proposal, but a few Republican Congressmen have indicated otherwise.

George H.W. Bush Apologizes Following Sexual Assault Allegations

On Wednesday night, former President George H.W. Bush responded to actress Heather Lind’s allegations that he had touched her inappropriately during a photo op several years ago. On Tuesday, Lind said in a now-deleted Instagram post that, Bush, “touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side.”

Responding in an initial statement Wednesday, Bush’s spokesman Jim McGrath emphasized that, ”President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind.”

Later, actress Jordana Grolnick told sports news site Deadspin that she had read Lind’s account and that her experiences were “entirely similar.” Responding again in a longer statement later in the day, McGrath cited Bush’s confinement to a wheelchair while explaining that Bush had, “on occasion… patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.”

This news comes after widespread allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein emerged earlier this month, with other well-known men being accused of sexual harassment and assault in the time since.

Senator Jeff Flake Decides Not to Run for Re-Election; Bashes Trump

On the senate floor on Tuesday, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced he would not seek re-election in 2018. Flake has been one of only a handful of GOP senators to harshly publicly criticize Trump.

In his speech, he continued his criticism of the president, specifically aiming at his conduct in office. He called out president’s “regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms” and said the president has a “flagrant disregard for truth or decency.”

He also called on members of his own party to stand up for the president, saying that “it is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered praise for Flake after his speech. “We have just witnessed a speech from a very fine man, said McConnell. “A man who clearly brings high principles to the office every day.”

Through this criticism, Flake has furthered the divide within the GOP, marking an important moment for future of the party—whether they will support the president or abandon him in favor of their establishment ideals.

In Other News… 

Scott Brown, US Ambassador to New Zealand, received an official complaint for perceived sexist remarks made to staff at a Peace Corps event in July.

France is currently facing its worst butter shortage since World War II. This follows the abolition of milk quotas by the EU, which has sent Europe’s dairy market in flux.

The salacious dossier on Trump that detailed his ties with Russia was revealed to have been funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

North Korea’s Foreign Minister strengthened threats that the country will soon test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

Whitefish Energy, a small Montana energy firm, landed a $300 million contract to repair Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

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