Trump Declares a Public Health Emergency in Response to Opiate Addiction
President Donald Trump gave a speech this past Thursday in which he called the opioid crisis a “national health emergency.” Many fear this announcement was little more than ceremonial. Trump did not fulfill a campaign promise by officially designating the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” which would trigger significant funding to be allocated towards alleviating the crisis.
The Department of Health and Human Services is treating it as a “public health emergency,” a designation that only frees up $57,000. In Ohio, the opioid crisis is estimated to have cost $8.8 billion in 2015.
Trump announced that more funds will be allocated towards “really great” advertising and advocated to develop programs urging youth to refrain from using opioids in order to prevent addiction before it starts. Trump also said that he would suspend a rule that only allows Medicaid funding for addiction facilities with fewer than sixteen beds, would crack down on Chinese fentanyl producers, and give states more leeway in their allocation of federal funds.
These moves have been criticized by Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Claire McCaskill for being empty gestures; unlikely to solve the problem without putting substantial funding behind them. Public health organizations have also questioned the purported effectiveness of the measures.
Over 300,000 March in Pro-Spanish Unity Rally
Waving Spanish flags and calling for the arrest of Catalan’s removed-President Carles Puigdemont, over 300,000 marched in a pro-Spanish unity rally in Barcelona on Sunday. After the regional parliament declared independence on Friday, the Spanish government stepped in, removing Puigdemont from power and dissolving the parliament. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has declared that new elections will be held on December 21st.
The United States, Mexico, and most European states have announced solidarity with Spain against Catalan independence. Recent polls in local newspapers suggest just over half the population of Catalonia supports unity with Spain.
Trump Releases New Batch of JFK Documents
President Trump announced this weekend that he would allow the release of thousands of documents related to the JFK assassination to the public. This release comes as a consequence of a 1992 law, The JFK Records Act of 1992, that required all the assassination files to be stored at the National Archives and Records Administration. Under that law, the documents were due for release on October 26th, and the president decided not to impede the unveiling process.
National security agencies requested that Trump withhold or redact certain classified documents due to last-minute national security concerns. In an announcement Friday, he revealed that he plans to release more of the records in an attempt to maintain “full disclosure” and “transparency.” The rest of the documents will be parsed out to the public by April 26, 2018.
Approximately 2,800 documents were released on Thursday, which give more context to the 90% of files already released in previous batches. The file contains not only materials from the 1963 assassination itself, but also from law enforcement records and investigations through the 1990s.
Though it will take time to sift through the documents, historians do not expect there to be any bombshells in this file that would significantly change the current understanding of the assassination. The official statement remains that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone-wolf who fired at the president’s limousine, causing President Kennedy’s ultimate demise.
Federal Court Approves First Charges of Mueller’s Trump-Russia Investigation
CNN announced that a federal court approved the first charges filed by Robert Mueller’s team on Friday as a result of its ongoing investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Mueller, an FBI Director under presidents Bush and Obama, was appointed by the Department of Justice as special counsel to this investigation in May. It is not known yet what the charges are or who they were filed against, but Mueller’s team has prepared to take anyone charged into custody this week, perhaps even by the end of the day Monday.
In response to this news, Trump unleashed a series of tweets Sunday morning accusing the Democrats of using the investigation to draw attention away from the GOP’s tax reform efforts. He called it a “Witch Hunt for evil politics”, even though Mueller was appointed by Trump’s own Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. This week’s charges only mark the beginning of a lengthy process, but they should provide an interesting indication into the direction and scope of Mueller’s investigation.
In Other News…
Following scrutiny from Congress and FEMA, Puerto Rica has cancelled its $300 million contract with Whitefish to rebuild the island’s power grids following Hurricane Maria.
The president of Iraqi Kurdistan will step down after last month’s independence referendum caused Iraqi government forces to seize greater control of the region.
The majority of Houston Texan players knelt during the National Anthem on Sunday in response to leaks of their team owner saying, referring to previous protests, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”
Former President Barack Obama has been called for jury duty in Illinois.
The bones of Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej were laid to rest Sunday following a five-dayfuneral ceremony in Bangkok.