He could still change his mind. President Donald Trump is expected to ignore a growing chorus of opposition and order the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Obama-era legislation currently protects an estimated 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, known as “dreamers,” from deportation. Sources say the White House is expected to give Congress up to six months to find a replacement before officially terminating the program. Yet with DACA’s bipartisan support in Congress, aides reportedly say nothing is set in stone just yet.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It shook the Earth. Today North Korea claimed it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb miniaturized to fit long-range missiles, which it reiterated would target the United States. In response, President Donald Trump threatened to cut trade to China, Pyongyang’s only ally, and Defense Secretary James Mattis warned that “a massive military response” awaits those who threaten America or its allies. Scientists must still evaluate the nuclear upgrade claim, but U.S. measurements of tremors at the test site were 10 times stronger than those generated by earlier tests.
Nothing to hear here. The U.S. Justice Department says it possesses no information supporting President Donald Trump’s claim that Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower wiretapped before November elections. The department’s response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit corroborates testimony by ousted FBI director James Comey, but the White House said it “isn’t news.” The administration has defended the president’s March tweets as referring to routine surveillance of Russians that picked up conversations with Trump campaign aides. Democrat-linked American Oversight, which launched the suit, vowed further action aimed at exposing government malfeasance.
It won’t soon be forgotten. Hurricane Harvey dumped 4 feet of rain on parts of Texas this week, causing 47 deaths and billions of dollars in destruction. Among many who suffered were 139 hospital patients, relocated after Beaumont’s water system failed. The storm cut power to nearly a million customers — including the Arkema chemical plant near Houston, where unrefrigerated organic peroxide continues to explode, spewing toxic smoke. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has released some of its strategic oil reserves to stabilize fuel prices after refinery closures, while a new hurricane, Irma, threatens the East Coast.
Is it the perfect storm? Congress begins its autumn session this week facing a government shutdown, a red-state disaster and President Donald Trump’s wall. The president’s made non-funding the border barrier a deal-breaker in budget negotiations, which must raise the debt ceiling and formulate a spending package by Sept. 30 to keep federal agencies operating. To kick things off, Democratic and Republican legislative leaders will meet Wednesday with the chief executive, who’s requested an initial $7.8 billion for Texas hurricane relief that promises to delay wall funding yet again.
He’s playing the long game. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be the most hawkish leader in Japan’s postwar era, but when it comes to dealing with North Korea, he’s armed with little more than tough talk. Yet the Japanese people’s growing fear of their belligerent neighbor has served one key policy aim of Abe’s right-wing government: “normalizing” the militarization of the constitutionally pacifist state. Since Abe’s been in charge, there’s been an annual increase in Japan’s Self-Defense Forces budget, meaning North Korea may be helping rearm its historic rival to the east.
If you insure it, they will build. Chronic flooding, climate change and tightening budgets raise tough questions about who deserves disaster relief. Federal flood insurance has long bailed out homeowners who cling to properties in chronic flood zones. Since 1978, an estimated 30,000 “severe repetitive loss” properties have cost taxpayers $5.5 billion, prompting a short-lived 2012 reform that’s since been repealed. Now the National Flood Insurance Program is $25 billion in debt, and the government’s buying up risky properties — but not as fast as sea levels are rising.
The Week Ahead: Today conservative chancellor Angela Merkel is to debate her strongest rival, Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, ahead of Germany’s Sept. 24 elections. Anticipating Tuesday’s start of a Chinese ban on its seafood, North Korea boosted exports to $50 million in July. And as Americans observe Labor Day on Monday, British McDonald’s workers will stage an unprecedented strike.
Know This: President Trump returned to Texas on Saturday, serving hot dogs to hurricane victims, loading care packages and marveling that things were “going so well.” After setting NASA’s endurance record with nine months in space, astronaut Peggy Whitson, another U.S. astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut landed safely in Kazakhstan today, returning from the International Space Station. And firefighters are battling one of Los Angeles’ largest wildfires ever, with 5,800 acres burned so far.
Answer This: Tell us how you really feel. OZY and WGBH are bringing you a terrific new TV show, Third Rail With OZY, launching on PBS this fall! Each Wednesday, we’ll post a provocative question, focusing on topics that might make it onto the show. This week: Should North Korea and others be allowed to have nuclear weapons if the U.S. can? Go deep. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts or a personal story, and we might feature your answer next week.
They don’t handle the truth. Politically polarized media outlets have long shaped facts to fit their agendas. More recently though, right-wing sites and networks have been turning to full-on propaganda — including a new video site run by presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump called Trump TV. This “state TV,” as it’s been dubbed, and similar sites seem well-suited to a president who’s based his popularity on discrediting legitimate reportage he finds unsupportive. But the powerful disinformation echo chamber can be countered, experts believe, with equally emotional, facts-anchored appeals.
It’s a tangled web we read. According to trend tracker BuzzSumo’s analysis, more than half of the 50 most shared articles about autism on social networks make unsupported claims about the condition. Experts warn that such posts, preying upon parents’ frustration with conventional medicine, help promote unscientific claims and “cures” that are dangerous for children. While it’s easy to understand the skepticism after doubters helped debunk old and accepted theories — like those blaming parents for the illness — rejecting today’s legitimate research could cause even more harm.
They’re not ashamed. Seven volunteers are fighting for Nigerian women’s health — one pad at a time. Raising both awareness of the taboo topic of menstruation and donations as Sanitary Aid Nigeria, they’ve already distributed 4,600 sanitary pads to some 4,300 girls and young women in schools and internal refugee camps across Nigeria since 2015. In a country where an estimated 65 percent of women can’t afford pads, experts say SAN is changing lives, lowering childbirth risk and raising school attendance, and the program could reach far more women if the government agrees to help.
“Bury me and arise.” So urged Taras Shevchenko, an exiled 19th-century Ukrainian poet whose statues have replaced Lenin’s and whose verse travels with national troops fighting Moscow-backed separatists. With such a “founding father,” it makes sense that Ukrainian fine art, fashion and film are thriving, realizing Shevchenko’s dream of a Ukrainian identity unshackled from Russia’s. Politicians may struggle with corruption while soldiers battle for territory, but the young country’s creative minds are creating steampunk-style gas masks and nurturing a “Made in Ukraine” movement that is undeniably vsi svoi — “all ours.”
American football is as unique as its native land. So as college ball advances and the NFL begins its season Thursday with an apropos Patriots–Chiefs matchup, expect disputes over political expression and violence. Even the great Aaron Rodgers thinks fellow pro quarterback Colin Kaepernick deserves a job, national anthem protests notwithstanding, while a veteran TV analyst is quitting over the sport’s endemic brain injuries. But in a competition that can be the nexus between politics, God and country, plenty of fans and team owners won’t take this sitting down.