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This Week’s News: Losing Immigrants, Allies, and an Accident in Oakland

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We’re digging into some stories that popped up over the week, stories that touch you here in the Bay or beyond, make you laugh or piss you off. We try to mix it up for full sensory indulgence, so here goes.

We voted!

Well, some of us voted anyway. We’re putting together an in-depth summary of state and local election results, so look out for that in the coming days. Hopefully we’ll know who the next San Francisco mayor will be by then.

Tragedy and disgust in the East Bay

A 28-year-old Oakland folk singer was killed when her bicycle and an SUV collided on Skyline Blvd. on May 31. Tatyana Schmid was half of an acoustic duo TATATEO and an avid hiker and cyclist who led Backroads trips. Schmid was also a photographer and Chilean adventurer, and from all accounts sounds like someone many of us would love to have known. We send our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

Tatyana Schmid. Photo courtesy of East Bay Times.

On the opposite end of the goodness spectrum, we have Brandon Genest. The 27-year-old former Lafayette high school teacher was arrested at his Walnut Creek home Tuesday and charged with two counts of lewd acts with a child and three counts of indecent exposure while moonlighting as a babysitter for families in various cities around the Bay Area, according to NBC Bay Area. Genest is being held on $1.2 million bail and police are asking the public to come forward with any further information they can provide about the case. If you have any information, contact Detective A. Martin at (925) 943-5870.

White House breaks the golden rules

Amid negotiations with North Korea and you know, the business that goes into being a leader of the free world, Trump’s administration has been embroiled in controversies that would tank any other president. But as we’ve come to be acutely aware, this is not the reality that we are used to and traditional rules do not seem to apply.

Rule #1: Nobody is above the law

Trump’s, mostly former, legal team wrote a letter to the special counsel‘s office in January explaining their assessment of the president’s legal obligations, immunities and rights. It was mentioned in said letter that the president cannot be subpoenaed, ever be found guilty of obstructing justice and that he has unfettered authority over all federal investigations, including the right to end them when he pleases. They reason that the broad interpretation of executive powers is legal and necessary in order to ensure “that the office remains sacred and above the fray of shifting political winds…” Analysis and debate regarding the letter’s bold assertions have ensued since the New York Times published the leaked letter Sunday, inspiring several prominent attorneys and law professors to formally respond and rip apart the constitutional logic in the Trump legal defense. The White House publicity ringer (I mean lawyer) Rudy Giuliani upped the ante when during one of his cable news-loving tours, he expressed to CNN’s Chris Cuomo that Trump could shoot former FBI Director James Comey and not be prosecuted, hypothetically speaking of course.

Pardon myself? Why not? Photo courtesy of the Economist

Feeling emboldened, Trump took to Twitter to claim that he has an “absolute right” to pardon even himself if he sees fit. And he may have to, given the recent discovery that a now former Cambridge Analytica director met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in February 2017 to discuss the 2016 election results. It was also reported that Cambridge Analytica, a firm used and paid by the Trump campaign, had been funneling payments to WikiLeaks via cryptocurrency prior to their face-to-face sit-down, a method of “donation” that evades reporting requirements.

Rule #2: Don’t piss off your allies

Did you know that Canada presents a national security threat to the United States? No? Either did most people, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who was quoted on Meet the Press as saying the idea is “quite frankly, insulting and unacceptable”. Acceptable or not, Trump used this logic, a term that should be taken lightly, to justify launching an all-out trade war with Canada, Mexico and China, imposing steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. All three are U.S. allies, or were anyway. Of course, each affected country has since retaliated with billions of dollars worth of tariffs on goods we export. It seems like the president just can’t leave well enough alone, including a healthier-than-usual economy that he’s claimed responsibility for and boasted about. The disaster potential of a trade war has even the Koch brothers concerned enough to throw millions of dollars into a campaign to fight Trump’s anti-free trade agenda.

Trump and Trudeau (a.k.a. the national security threat). Photo courtesy of Business Insider

I’m not sure who we root for in this Trump v. Koch scenario – it’s a little uncomfortable.

Rule #3: Do not inflict “cruel or unusual punishment”

Imagine a downtrodden mother arrives at a county office asking for temporary assistance because she is desperate to feed and shelter her child. Now imagine that county officials immediately arrest the mother and take her child away to some unknown shelter where kids are being caged until they can find proper placement. That’s pretty much the equivalent of what the Trump administration has sanctioned at the southern border with Mexico. If you were that mother and that was your child, I can guarantee that you’d consider that to be “cruel and unusual punishment”. It turns out that the United Nations would agree with you as they’ve made several requests (demands) in writing and in the press again Tuesday that the U.S. discontinue the practice of separating migrant children from families that LEGALLY approach the border and request asylum. The administration’s  “zero tolerance” policy ignores the difference between illegal entry and those who legally ask for help.

Migrant families with children. Photo courtesy of The New York Times

We could report on several other broken rules in just this week, but we’ll let you digest these gems first.

SPORTSBALL! (Cause we all need a good distraction)

The San Francisco Giants polished off the three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks with 5-4 win, taking two of the three games.

The unstoppable Kevin Durant and a frustrated LeBron James. Photo courtesy of ABC30 Fresno

The Golden State Warriors could sweep the Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wednesday night’s surprise comeback win in Cleveland gets them just a little closer to that reality, and largely (okay, fully) due to Kevin Durant’s 43-point assault that carried the game despite Steph Curry’s “off” night and closed out Game 3, 110-102. Stay tuned for Game 4 at 6 p.m. Friday to see if they can bring home another trophy immediately or will have to keep up the fight Monday with home court advantage.

 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.