News & Analysis of Economic, Racial, Gender Justice and More

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has resigned and will leave her post by the end of the year. In a joint press conference on Tuesday, President Trump praised her work. “She’s has done a fantastic job, we’ve done a fantastic job together, we’ve solved a lot of problems, we’re on the process of solving a lot of problems. In the beginning, North Korea was a massive problem. And now, we’re moving along; it’s moving along really nicely.”

The Washington Post describes Haley’s exit as odd, saying, “The White House is effectively announcing the exit of its most popular Cabinet official — the extremely rare one who has strong approval among Republicans and Democrats — just before voters vote. Apart from perhaps Defense Secretary James Mattis, nobody is seen as being such a steadying influence in an unwieldy administration as Haley is.” Some consider Haley a presidential contender in 2020, but she has denied it. Trump is expected to name her replacement in the coming days. According to The Atlantic on the short-list for a new UN Ambassador is, “his former deputy national-security adviser, Dina Powell; the recently confirmed ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell; and a wild-card pick: Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka.”

Hurricane Michael is just hours away from making what the National Hurricane Center is calling, a potentially catastrophic landfall on Florida. As of this morning winds had reached speeds of 145 mph. According to CBS News, “Michael could be the worst storm ever to hit the Panhandle.” Florida Governor Rick Scott had issued evacuation orders earlier this week but on Wednesday morning he tweeted, “The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone. First responders will not be able to come out in the middle of the storm. If you chose to stay in an evacuation zone, you must SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY.” Those last three words were capitalized to emphasize their urgency. About 30 million people are in the hurricane’s path.

The Trump administration on Tuesday indicated it will lift federal restrictions on summer sales of ethanol-blended fuels. The proposal is a gift to corn farmers in Iowa, and according to AP, “is something of a reward to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman led a contentious but successful fight to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.” Currently the Environmental Protection Agency allows about 10% of gasoline to consist of corn-based ethanol. But in the summertime a high-Ethanol blend is banned because of concerns that it worsens smog. But advocates of ethanol say that is not true.

The first trial over the Trump Administration’s controversial citizenship question on the US Census is expected to start on November 5. The trial is the result of two major lawsuits in New York that two top Trump administration officials are expected to testify at: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Justice Department official John Gore. But the Trump’s Justice Department attempted to block their depositions and was denied by a federal appeals court. Now the decision about their testimonies heads to the US Supreme Court where Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg oversees that specific court. According to Politico, “The dispute about how much deference judges should show to executive branch officials could become the first matter new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh publicly votes on.” The lawsuits in question, “allege that Ross lacked a legitimate reason to add the citizenship question to the 2020 Census. It was last asked nationally on a decennial U.S. census in 1950.”

In another case the Supreme Court made a decision upholding a voter ID law in North Dakota – which Justice Brett Kavanaugh was not a part of. The law requires that voters have a home street address in order to register to vote. Critics denounced the law saying it would disproportionately impact Native Americans residing on reservations in the state. The Native American Rights Fund, which opposes the law says, “the U.S. postal service does not provide residential delivery in these rural Indian communities.  Thus, most tribal members use a PO Box. If a tribal ID has an address, it is typically the PO Box address, which does not satisfy North Dakota’s restrictive voter ID law.” The group added, “The Legislature passed these provisions despite knowing they would suppress the Native American vote. This law was implemented in order to deny qualified Native American voters access to the ballot box.”

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that some Amazon workers are upset about their employer’s decision to raise all wages to $15 an hour, because, “based on the information they have received so far — they may end up making thousands of dollars less a year.” In lieu of raising wages for all their workers, Amazon announced that it will end its practice of handing out stock grants and monthly bonuses, which means that some workers will see a wage loss. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who has long championed higher minimum wages and who has especially targeted Amazon, wrote a letter to the company, “asking Amazon to confirm how the total compensation of employees who would have received stock options — those with the company for two or more years — will be affected as a result of the recent changes.” Amazon has not yet responded to the letter but it has released a statement saying that the higher minimum wage, “more than compensates for the phaseout,” of the stock and incentive bonuses.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, ICE is releasing hundreds of migrants from its southern Arizona detention center. According to NBC, which broke the news, “Hundreds of migrant families seeking asylum in the U.S. were released from detention in Arizona this week without warning and without instructions on where to go, how to find relatives or travel to their court hearings.” The detainees were released with ankle monitors on. A senior official at the Department of Homeland Security said that the release was the result of overflowing detention centers and, “the start of a dam breaking.”

In international news, Saudi Arabia is under scrutiny for the alleged murder or disappearance of a Saudi journalist in Turkey. Jamal Khashoggi who was known for his strong dissenting views on the Saudi government, was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. According to the Washington Post, “Turkish investigators think Khashoggi, 59, was killed shortly after he entered the consulate on Oct. 2 and his body later removed from the premises, according to a U.S. official and sources close to the investigation.” Additionally, “Turkish investigators also are trying to nail down the exact movements of 15 Saudi nationals who arrived in Istanbul the same day and are suspected of having a role in Khashoggi’s disappearance.” President Trump on Tuesday said he would be speaking with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about Khashoggi.

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