Here’s a selection of stories from the past week, as of Thurs., Sept. 6:
A victory for LGBT activists in India this week as the country’s Supreme Court overturned a law criminalizing gay sex. It was seldom used to actually criminally prosecute people, mostly for threatening and blackmailing purposes.
Tragedy in Brazil this week as the Museo Nacional in Rio de Janeiro went up in flames. Luckily no one was reported injured, but it’s an immense cultural loss –nearly 20 million artifacts and documents were held in the museum, and some 90 percent were reported lost. Protestors across the city met police after the fire was linked to the government’s cutback on spending and poor maintenance of the building.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh was on the stand this week as his confirmation hearings before the Senate begin. Day one saw protestors interrupting and gathering outside Capitol Hill, including some dressed as characters from the recent TV treatment of the “Handmaid’s Tale,” which, in case you didn’t have to read it in high school, is about a dystopia that treats women as property and severely limits every aspect of their lives. This is important as one of the main issues being discussed is Kavanaugh’s stance on the Roe v. Wade decision, as well as LGBT rights. Some 70 protestors were arrested on the first day alone. Democratic senators repeatedly interrupted proceedings with calls for the hearings to be stalled, with some calling for it to be stopped altogether, outraged that 42,000 documents were released the night before the hearings began. Their complaints were two-fold: one, that they didn’t have enough time to review what they had, and two, that there were still more than 100,000 documents being withheld by the Trump administration.
Talk about intrigue –everyone was abuzz this week about the anonymous New York Times op-ed written by someone alleging they were within the “resistance” within the White House, set on keeping President Trump in check. The fact the NYT allowed anonymity is telling, reports Axios, since they usually require sources of opinion pieces to identify themselves. No one knows who the author was, since the list of ‘senior officials’ it could be lists in the hundreds, and speculation abounded as people, including the West Wing, played a guessing game. Accusations were even levied at VP Mike Pence. Trump’s response was to tweet the totally ambiguous “TREASON?,” call the editorial “gutless” and say he was the only reason the NYT was still around. WH nerves are frayed this week after copies of legendary Wash Po reporter/editor Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” leaked to the press and painted a less than ideal picture of the president –the latest in a series of books to come from sources close to the president and illustrate scenes of chaos from behind the scenes in the Oval Office.
Big tech also had hearings on Capitol Hill this week, as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were grilled by lawmakers about their handling of foreign meddling and user privacy. Notably missing was Google, whose offer to send a top legal representative in place of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) CEO Larry Page was rejected –instead, Congress opted to seat an empty chair at their place.