Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Trump Selects Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

President Donald Trump (R) announced Neil Gorsuch (L)
Tuesday as his nominee to fill the seat left vacant after
the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016
President Trump announced his selection for the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the late Justice Antonin Scalia last year, with Neil Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals as his pick. Trump said of Gorsuch at the announcement address, "The qualifications of Judge Gorsuch are beyond dispute. He is the man of our country and a man who our country really needs and needs badly to ensure the rule of law and the rule of justice."

Gorsuch has served on the Tenth Circuit Appeal Court since 2006, where he was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by voice vote. A native of Denver, Colorado, he is the son of  Anne Gorsuch Burford, Environmental Protection Agency head under Reagan. He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University, where he founded The Fed, a satirical newspaper, along with Andrew Levy, now a Fox News personality. He graduated from Harvard Law School and received a degree from the University of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar.

Calling Scalia a "lion of the law" at the announcement, Gorsuch is known for his advocacy an originalist, textualist approach in interpreting the Constitution, similar to that of Scalia. Gorsuch will likely most often side with the conservative side of the court should he be confirmed, giving the court a 5-4 conservative majority, with Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy (for whom Gorsuch had once clerked) as the swing vote.

Democrats have begun to announce their opposition to Gorsuch, many angered that Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, received no hearing or vote by the Republican Senate. Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-OR) released a press statement, saying, "This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee (Gorsuch), and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the Court.”

If more Democrats feel the same way, it could set a lengthy, tense confirmation battle in the weeks ahead.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Protesters, Rioters Come Out in Force After Trump’s Inauguration

Demonstrators, angered by the election of Donald Trump as US President, began demonstrations across the United States, and even globally, as they marched Saturday as they voiced opposition to the new leader and his proposals.

The largest, the ‘Women’s March on Washington’ is the largest planned, attracting protests to march through Washington. Other satellite demonstrations, many also dubbed as a ‘women’s march,’ occurred throughout cities in the US, along with large international cities, such as London and Brussels.

Police used tear gas to control rioters during the Trump inauguration
Credit: AP/Mark Tenally
The day of the inauguration saw riots by self-proclaimed anarchists as they broke windows and destroyed and burned cars and other properties.  Many of the rioters wore black clothing and masks to prevent their identification. At least 217 people in Washington have been arrested for riots occurring just prior to Trump’s swearing in.

Donald Trump Inaugurated as 45th President of the US

Chief Justice John Roberts administering oath of office to Trump
Credit: White House
Donald John Trump became the 45th President of the United States on Friday, succeeding Barack Obama after serving eight years in the position. Vice President Mike Pence was inaugurated shortly before Trump took the oath of office.

The inauguration marks off the over two month transition process after Trump won the 2016 Presidential election in November, defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Clinton, along with her husband former President Bill Clinton, and former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush attended the inauguration, as did Obama per the tradition of a sitting President to attend the swearing in of his successor. Former President George H.W. Bush did not attend the inauguration in the wake of his hospitalization after complications from pneumonia. 

Trump promised a return to government controlled by the people in his inaugural address, criticizing trade deals and other government actions he sees as detrimental to Americans. Making clear his message, Trump said, “We are transferring power from Washington, DC and giving it back to you, the people."

Trump also seemed to be less open to foreign interventions aimed at changing the structure of government in foreign countries, saying, "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone." However, the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will likely require some further measure of foreign intervention by the newly-inaugurated President.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mother-Daughter Actresses Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher Die One Day Apart

Carrie Fisher, famous for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, died on December 27, following a heart attack she suffered on a flight on December 24. Fisher’s death was unexpected, given the actress’s age of 60.

Her mother, noted Hollywood actress Debbie Reynolds, suffered a stroke shortly after the news of her daughter’s death, succumbing to her condition a day after on December 28 at age 84. Their deaths appear to have capped off a year of a myriad of celebrity deaths, including Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frye, and Garry Marshall.

US Responds to Alleged Russian Hacks, Russia Hedges

After US intelligence agencies reported that the Russian government was behind hacking attacks on,  Democratic National Committee servers, which revealed embarrassing details about the campaign of Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in hopes of influencing the outcome of last month’s election, President Barack Obama ordered 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country, along with closing two compounds operated by Russia. The two compounds, US officials claim, were used for espionage.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, while advised to respond in turn and expel the same number of American diplomats from Russia, acted deferentially to incoming President Donald Trump, who has taken a more relaxed view towards Russia. Putin did not expel any diplomats and instead invited children of American diplomats to the Kremlin for a holiday party. Trump responded in a tweet, “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!”

Democrats have criticized Trump’s reaction, saying that Trump has become to friendly with the Russian government, which many of them see as aggravating the conflict in the Syrian Civil War. Some Republicans, on the other hand, have criticized the intelligence reports, claiming disagreements among the reports about the actual extent and motives of the Russian government, along with criticizing Obama’s response to the reports.

While Obama is still president for the next three weeks, it appears as if the bulk of the US response to the alleged Russian hacks will occur with a President Trump in the White House.