Puerto Rico Recovering from Aftermath of Hurricane Maria
Puerto Rico is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. On September 29th, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz begged the US for help, stating, “If anybody out there is listening, we are dying. And you are killing us with the inefficiency.” President Trump responded to her plea by questioning her leadership abilities, criticizing the fact that “[Puerto Ricans] want everything done for them,” and praising American aid workers on the ground. President Trump indicated he will be visiting the island Tuesday.
Puerto Rico remains largely without running water or electricity, with only 14% of cell phone towers working. As flooding continues, some areas are being evacuated due to dam threats. Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has stated he would like to see more aid delivered, but that Puerto Rico appreciates the federal response.
Trump Contradicts Diplomatic Approach to North Korean Conflict
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced during a trip to Beijing that the US is engaging in high-level communications with North Korea in an attempt to “calm things down.” This statement, coming a few days after North Korea’s foreign minister accused the United States of declaring war, reaffirmed the State Department’s commitment to negotiating a “peaceful resolution” to the region’s growing crisis.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, President Donald Trump appeared to directly contradict Secretary Tillerson’s diplomatic approach, writing, “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…” President Trump has confronted North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un with fiery rhetoric over the last few months, most recently threatening to “totally destroy” the rogue state if it continues to provoke the United States. It remains to be seen how the State Department will reconcile this disjunction between its diplomatic pursuits and President Trump’s combative approach.
Catalonia Votes to Declare Independence from Spain
In a referendum on Sunday, October 1st, Catalonia voted in favor of becoming an independent state. This region of Spain, which includes Barcelona, has been wrestling with the idea of self-determination because of “moral, cultural, economic and political” differences from Spain. Many Catalans believe that the region pays more in taxes than it reaps in government services. There are also cultural differences between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, a conflict that can be traced back to the early 1900s.
Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, tried and failed to prevent the vote for independence from occurring. The Spanish court claims the referendum is unconstitutional and the government will refuse to recognize Catalonia as an independent state. Spanish police attempted to stop Catalans from voting by forcibly taking ballot boxes and papers. The Catalan government has condemned these acts as “state violence.” Riots have broken out across the region, and over 800 people have been reported injured.
The future steps for Catalonia are unknown. Europe and the U.S. have spoken in favor of a united central Spain, while Scotland has extended its silent support of the independence movement. The coming days will be turbulent while both Spain and Catalonia begin to figure out how to proceed.
DPR Highlight of the Week
In this week’s DPR Highlight, Erin Bagis writes about whether or not the Kurdish referendum is a positive step on the road towards peace in the Middle East.
In Other News…
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia announced they will end a longstanding policy that forbids women from driving.
The Kurdish region voted overwhelmingly to declare independence from Iraq on Monday; the Kurds are the world’s largest ethnic group without a homeland.
Tom Price, Pres. Trump’s Secretary of Health & Human Services, announced his resignation on Friday following public backlash towards his use of private planes on taxpayer expense.
On Wednesday, the GOP’s tax reform plan was presented, which includes large cuts on corporate and individual taxes, as well as a repeal of the estate tax.
ISIS claimed responsibility for a terror attack Saturday night in the French city of Marseille. A knifeman killed 2 civilians in a train station before being shot dead by police.
In Edmonton, Alberta, a truck driver drove into a police barricade and stabbed an officer. He then rammed into 4 pedestrians before being arrested. There were no fatalities.
OJ Simpson was released from prison on parole on Sunday after serving 9 years for attempted robbery of the Palace Station hotel-casino in Las Vegas.