This Week in News: Trump, Sports Ball, and China

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This week has been a lot of Trump, sports, another shooting, scapegoating and more Trump. As much as I hate to focus so heavily on the crap coming out of the White House, this week’s news pretty much dictates that I do just that. I apologize in advance.

But let’s get started with some local stories that matter.

Ghost Ship and musical chairs of accountability

Defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris are looking to get out of their upcoming trial before it even begins. The two are charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter resulting from the deadly fire at the artist collective warehouse in December 2016. Almena’s attorney Tony Serra filed several motions Wednesday in pursuit of case dismissal. According to CBS News, Serra claims that City officials failed to take action leading up to the fire and that there is not sufficient evidence to convict his client.

Vigil outside the Ghost Ship following deadly 2016 fire. Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

“There is universal agreement amongst the fire experts that those lost or destroyed materials were necessary to examine to ascertain the cause and origin of the fire,” Serra said.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner disagrees and believes the evidence against Almena and Harris is “very strong”. Both defendants remain in custody and are scheduled to appear in court in July.

YouTuber goes off the rails

Nasim Najafi Aghdam allegedly walked into the San Bruno YouTube headquarters Tuesday armed with a 9mm pistol and opened fire on three strangers before taking her own life. Her motive? CNN reports that the suspect was upset about the platforms policies with respect to monetizing her videos. Thankfully, all three victims are still alive and two have been released from the hospital, although one remains in serious condition.

Playing with balls

Sports worlds collided with the end of March Madness and the beginning of that bat and ball game we get so obsessed with. Villanova took the NCAA championship in Monday’s final game against Michigan, 79-62. In the land of local baseball, the Oakland As and the San Francisco Giants have each clocked three wins since the season opened March 29.

It’s no secret that the Warriors have had a tough month with injuries taking most of the All-Stars out of the game for extended periods of time, and that halftime ejection of Kevin Durant in his first game back against the Bucks surely didn’t help (either did the bullshit calls preempting KD’s use of “magic words”, but that’s another story).

Things looked like they were about to go from bad to worse Saturday when Sacramento Kings Vince Carter cut under Patrick McCaw as he went up for a shot in the 3rd quarter, causing a brutal fall that sent chills down the spines of players and viewers alike. McCaw came down hard on his back and rolled uncontrollably, almost spasm-like, with a look of what can only be described as pure anguish. As he was wheeled out on a stretcher and taken to UC Davis, members of both teams huddled in an impressive show of sportsmanship and camaraderie for an emotional prayer circle. In that circle was a visually distraught Carter, who apologized several times and was challenged to maintain his remorse for the remainder of the game.

The good news: McCaw did not suffer any permanent damage as was widely speculated. The spinal contusion he did incur tacks him onto the injured list for an estimated three weeks, but the sometimes small forward, sometimes shooting guard, will get the chance to play again.

But seriously, enough can’t be said for the love in the NBA highlighted by McCaw’s injury, among players, staff and across the fan base that came out in huge shows of support.

Trump vs. The World

Whether you’re a supporter of the president or not, you can’t deny that his behavior was erratic and aggressive over the course of the past week, more so than usual. His Twitter feed spewed vitriol for Democrats, DACA, Amazon, CNN, NBC, China and of course, California, et al. But we only have space to highlight a few of Trump’s ongoing wars. Here goes.

DACA: What Would Jesus Say?

On Easter Sunday, Donald Trump took to his favorite social media platform and gave on-camera interviews (on a church lawn, no less) to really bring in the spirit of Jesus…by declaring a war on any potential DACA deal. Citing Fox News reporting about “caravans” of illegal immigrants headed for the border, he claimed in a tweet that: “These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!”

If you’re a fan of facts, you may already know that his statement has the accuracy value of a steaming pile of shit because new immigrants are simply not eligible for DACA protection. But as he demonstrates time and time again, base-inciting rhetoric wins every time, facts be damned.

Photo courtesy of Quartz

Is Amazon (a.k.a. The Washington Post) the devil?

In yet another installment of Your President Picks Unnecessary Fights, Trump went on full Beast-mode attack against Amazon, apparently in defense of the U.S. Postal Service, with another series of tweets. Here’s one example of his general sentiment:

“Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax-paying retailers are closing stores all over the country…not a level playing field!”

It’s difficult to determine if the U.S. Postal Service wins or loses in the contract with the online shopping giant, as The Washington Post points out in a perspective piece published Wednesday. We do know for a fact that the online shopping trend has been detrimental to the success of brick-and-mortar stores, and Amazon is certainly at the center of that. But Trump’s sudden war with Amazon seems to have more to do with its CEO Jeff Bezos, who also happens to own The Washington Post…and we’re nauseatingly aware of Trump’s disdain for the newspaper’s coverage of him specifically, although the Post is just one of several outlets the president has dubbed “FAKE NEWS”.

Hey China, gimme some money

Trump is well known for his incessant self-praise when the economy is booming, but he has little to say when the stock market takes a dump, which it did once again Friday under the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China, as reported by CNN Money. I feel like we need one of those old bouncing ball commercials to explain where this pissing contest is at today, but I’ll do my best without it.

Trump is attempting to make good on one of his campaign promises by going after the trade deficit between the two countries. Less than a month ago, the president announced he would tack on 25 percent tariffs for imported steel and 10 percent for aluminum products, exempting Canada and Mexico from the list of impacted countries. By doing so, he defied cautionary advice from the leading White House economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and at least 45 U.S. trade associations. Cohn resigned shortly after the announcement.

China decided to hit back April 1 (no, not a joke) and threatened to add 25 percent to an extensive list of 128 U.S. products, including items like pork, wine, and fruits – you know, things working-class, middle America greatly depend on the export of. So of course, Trump doubled down Tuesday and offered up an even beefier list of an additional 1,300 Chinese imports that would be tariffed to the tune of 25 percent, this time going after items like medical goods.

But wait, there’s more. China refused to be outdone and Wednesday issued their own new list of 106 additional U.S.-made exports. The latest tariff threat hits hard as it goes after soybeans, automobiles and corn – again, industries that serve as bread and butter for many American workers and farmers.

There’s still a chance that both countries will back down, but China has made it very clear that the U.S. needs to be the first to step away from the ring. Reuters points out political consequences Trump and the GOP may face as a result of a trade war, something Chinese government is not nearly as susceptible to.

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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.