Welcome to Week 3 of the Monday Updates.
There is, of course, more news happening every day that could certainly spike your blood pressure, anxiety, or sense of concern. Try to take care of yourself if you’re watching it all – use the critical analysis approach to news sources to settle on one or two that you feel are pretty good at giving solid information without sensationalized headlines and pay attention to those. Or find a friend who is good at filtering through the plethora of information to help keep an eye on what’s happening without being overwhelmed.
For my part, in addition to these Monday Updates (and other posts on the blog – there are things happening here, which I’ll talk about later this week) I intend to begin to utilize my professional writing page on Facebook a bit more. I currently share a lot of information as “public”on my personal Facebook page (so if you want to find me and “follow”me go ahead – just be aware I am generally not accepting friend requests at this point, simply because of the limits I’ve put on myself around friend-request acceptance on there).
What I see as the most important news pieces to pay attention to this week have been around International Relations. Trump has taken some actions that are generally outside of proper etiquette for interactions with foreign powers. One of the most troubling of these is the conversation with the Taiwanese president. For those who, like me, may be a little unaware of the status of relationship between Taiwan and the US, it helps to have some context to understand this matter.
The United States and Taiwan have a variety of social and economic ties. They are our 9th largest trading partner, and we are their 2nd largest trading partner. There are 148 sister cities between Taiwan and the U.S. and they are our 7th largest source of international students. The maintenance of these “strong, unofficial relations with Taiwan is a major U.S. goal, in line with the U.S. desire to further peace and stability in Asia.”
However, this is not a political relationship. Since 1979 there has been no official (political) relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan. The Taiwan Relations Act lays out the situation, but basically it amounts to the United States recognizing Taiwan as a part of China, and therefore being governed by the Government of the People’s Republic of China. I find it an interesting thing to know, and I now want to know a lot more about it but… like the idea or not, the reality is that there are important expectations of the President of the U.S., and having a conversation with the president of a country that we do not officially recognize as an independent country is not within those expectations. And it causes issues with China – it sets a shaky precedent that does not bode well for future relations.
If you want a general overview of more of what has been happening (and some insight into the ideas around boycotting Trump-related businesses) I highly recommend reading this article by Kareen Abdul-Jabaar.
The Dakota Access Pipe Line – while not completely halted, is at least being delayed! The Army Corps of Engineers is not going to grant access to lay the pipeline as originally planned, Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Work, stated that “…it’s clear that there’s more work to do. The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
More Good-ish News and a Thing That Can Be Done!
Trump’s conflict of interests are a huge concern. The president-elect has taken to Twitter to inform us that he will be holding a news conference to tell us about what will be happening as far as “leaving” his business, but since he seems to think that letting his children sit in on meetings with foreign officials and that having them take over ownership of the business counts as a “blind trust,” I have my doubts that he will actually be able to separate himself from his business interests.
There has been a push to get the House Oversight Committee to investigate Trumps conflicts of interest. 17 committee members sent a letter to Jason Chaffetz, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, urging him to start the work of the oversight committee to investigate these potential conflicts.
The good news here – within this letter they note “Americans across the country have flooded our Committee’s office with thousands of calls in strong support of this investigation, jamming our phone lines with more calls than we have ever received in response to any other issue.”
PHONE CALLS HELP! All these coordinated call efforts, really making our voices known, does do something. So, let’s keep it up.
Call Chaffetz and implore him to begin an investigation into the conflicts of interest, immediately. His DC office number is (202)225-7751. Keep up the calls to press him, and others on the committee, to make this happen.
Be aware, the reception you receive when you call Chaffetz office might be less than cordial – from anecdotal accounts from people they have encountered staff that seem none to happy about the calls. Even more reason to keep it up — squeaky wheel and all that.
Since it can also be nice to do something to say thanks – give a call to folks who signed the letter and thank them for keeping the pressure on Chaffetz to do the right thing.
Even More Good News, and a Super Simple Action
The webpage Brietbart, which is a “news” source that perpetuates a half-filled, racist rhetoric, has seen advertisers pulling their adds! Corporations such as Kellogs have pulled their advertising from the site, stating that Brietbart does not match their company values.
This is great, but there is something we can do to perhaps make an even stronger dent on Brietbart. Google Advertising currently contracts with them, but we can encourage them to stop. If you go to the Brietbart page and find a Google Ad you can click on the little triangle that appears near the top of the ad. This will take you to a new page that talks about Google Ads, but if you scroll to the bottom it has a space where you can report the page the advertisement appeared on. There is a box that says the site you were just on promotes racial intolerance. Click this, and then be sure to put something in the comments (it can be simply reiterating what the statement you clicked on says). Then submit this.
It may not make a difference, but it is a simple action to take that could result in some big results. If Google gets enough of these reports perhaps they, too, will look at the ways in which the site does not complement the stated values of Google Corp.
One Final Action Suggestion for The Week.
Finally, I would like to recommend that people start thinking about writing letters and reaching out to the media. There are a number of media sources that are doing things which normalize what is happening in our country right now, that continue to refer to the “Alt-Right” despite the AP guidelines to name then as they are as White Supremacists. Write letters to the editor calling these out, calling attention to what is happening – reiterating the increase of hate crimes, the conflicts of interest, the dangers of those that Trump is looking to appoint to his cabinet.
We’ve already seen that phone calls can have an impact, so let’s continue to raise our voices in as many forms as we can. Speak out, Write out, and don’t fall into complacency.