News and Media
After weeks of mostly peaceful protests, the people of Puerto Rico now have a new governor, Pedro Pierluisi. The former governor, Ricardo Rosselló resigned last Friday, an action he took only after weeks of refusing to step down, despite the demands made by the protestors.
Protestors were frustrated with Rosselló’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and angered by a leaked chat which was full of obscenities, misogynistic, racist and homophobic statements, in addition to insensitive remarks about hurricane victims.
Rosselló’s successor, Pierluisi is a veteran politician, who served as Puerto Rico’s non-voting congressional representative from 2009 until 2017. He also ran against Rosselló in the 2016 primaries but lost. He was justive secretary under Rosselló’s father, Pedro Rosselló, during his term as governor.
Despite the successful ousting of Rosselló, protestors continue to be disappointed with his replacement. A protest march, complete with banging drums, pots and pans, made its way to the governor’s residence, singing the national anthem. They were decrying the process which brought Pierluisi to power and his connections to the federal control board that recommended financial cutbacks for Puerto Rico.
As one protestor explained:
“It’s obvious that the constitutional setup that we have isn’t working for the people,” he said. “None of the options is one the people chose or want or deserve.”
John Paul Stevens died at the age of 99 on Tuesday in Florida after suffering a stroke the day before. He was the third-longest sitting US Supreme Court Justice in history.
Stevens was a Republican from Chicago who sat on SCOTUS from December 1975 until June 2010. Only William O. Douglas (1939-1975) and Stephen Field (1863-1897) served longer. When Stevens retired at the age of 90, he was the second-oldest justice ever at the time of his retirement. Only Oliver Wendell Holmes was older.
“He is the quintessential judge — someone who holds to that traditional view that the function of any judge or justice is to decide cases fairly and clearly. His opinions have a distinctly Midwestern character: strong, honest and direct,” said Jonathan Turley in 2009, George Washington Law School professor writing in the Northwestern University alumni magazine profile.
President Gerald Ford nominated Stevens in 1975 to replace Douglas, a liberal stalwart. The court had begun its move away from one of its most progressive moments in American history. When Stevens retired in 2010, President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to help liberalize what was then a conservative court that had been dominated by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and his successor, John Roberts. Between 1975 and 2010 Stevens had moved from the center as a pragmatist to a justice who was frequently the most liberal voice on the bench. Later in his career he became famous for his merciless dissents in such cases as Bush v. Gore, the case that the 2000 presidential election tipped on; and Citizens United v. FEC, the landmark election finance case. But he was also more liberal on issues like affirmative action and the death penalty.
“He has served his nation well,” Ford wrote to Fordham Law School in 2005, “at all times carrying out his duties with dignity, intellect and without partisan political concerns. Justice Stevens has made me and our fellow citizens proud of my three-decade-old decision to appoint him to the Supreme Court.”
Are you curious about what books our leaders and shakers are taking with them on vacation this summer? Here is what a few of the people that have been in the news lately had to say about their reading choices:
- James Comey, former FBI director–The British are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777.
- Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice, chief counsel; and member of President Trump’s legal team—Volume three of the six-volume collection of Winston Churchill’s The Second World War. For fun Sekulow is reading Ringo Starr’s Photograph.
- Beto O’Rourke, former Texas congressman and now one of several Democratic presidential candidates for the 2020 race—The Fall of Carthage, by Adrian Goldsworthy; and Lake, by Art Cullen.
- Lori Lightfoot, mayor of Chicago—Bluebird, Bluebird, from the Highway 59 series, by Attica Locke.
- Newt Gingrich, former House speaker—The New Girl, by Daniel Silva.
- Gloria Allred, lawyer for women’s rights—The Mueller Report; and I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections, by Nora Ephron.
- Melina Abdullah, civil rights activist, professor and chairwoman of Pan-African studies at Cal State University, Los Angeles—Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi; and Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson.
- Gretchen Carlson, journalist, author, and sexual harassment survivors’ advocate—The Moment of Lift, by Melinda Gates; Educated, by Tara Westover; Maid, by Stephanie Land; The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo; and The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur.
Mexico became the first signatory to the new North American Free Trade Agreement negotiated in 2018 and signed by the USA, Canada and Mexico in November of that year. The new deal replaced NAFTA, which President Trump called in his 2019 State of the Union address a “catastrophe” while urging Congress to approve the new deal, known as USMCA. the US, Mexico, Canada Agreement.
Being the first of the three countries to sign sends a message to the other two partners that Mexico is committed to the principles of the deal.
“USMCA passes! Mexico goes first with clear signal that our economy is open,” Jesús Seade, Mexico’s undersecretary for foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter. “We’re confident that our partners will soon do the same,” Seade added.
The Mexican Senate passed the USMCA only three weeks after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador submitted it to the lawmakers for their approval. Obrador had to call a special session for this purpose, since the regular session had already concluded its work at the end of April.
The bill passed by an overwhelming majority of 114 in favor, 4 against, and 3 abstentions.
The Trump administration expressed pleasure at Mexican’s move, hoping to have the agreement ratified in the US Congress during the summer. But congress, especially Democrats, are not in a hurry to pass the deal. They want the administration to change provisions in the deal related to enforcement, labor, environmental issues and drug pricing. If the Democrats succeed in making changes to the agreement, the new deal will have to go back to Mexico to vote on the newer version.
Canada said they are going to wait and see if the US makes any changes to the bill before their Parliament votes on the agreement.
“Our plan is to move forward in tandem with the U.S. We think of it as a kind of Goldilocks approach. Not too hot, not too cold. We’re not moving too fast, not moving too slow,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said last week.