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Letter sent on Oct 20, 2017

The News

October 21, 2017

It’s Saturday and the end of the third week of October. Controversies and self-induced injuries defined much of the week for the White House, with conflicting or incendiary statements by President Trump dominating headlines across several areas of politics and policy. Following last week’s signing of an executive order cutting funding for the Affordable Care Act health exchanges by the president, Senators Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander created a bipartisan agreement to continue funding the exchanges in light of Trump’s decree, which he initially announced support of before back-pedaling his comments on Twitter.

Elsewhere, the president found himself engulfed in a larger controversy regarding his inability to offer condolences to gold star families, culminating in a defense of the president by his chief of staff during a press conference, where Chief of Staff John Kelly had to speak about the death of his son in Afghanistan in 2010. By the end of the week, both of Trump’s immediate predecessors George W. Bush and Barack Obama gave implicit rebukes of the current president’s behavior during separate speeches in New York and Virginia.

In other top news, a truck bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia killed over 350 people; a federal judge in Hawaii blocked the third edition of the Muslim travel ban; the Senate passed a budget plan that included $1.5 trillion in tax cuts matched by unspecified spending cuts over the next decade; Florida authorities arrested three men for firing at a group of counter-protesters during a Neo-Nazi rally; and a federal appeals court denied abortion access to a detained immigrant teen.

Enjoy the weekend and thanks for reading the weekly edition of the newsletter.


The Wonks Team

Politics and Public Policy

  • FiveThirtyEight examines the Supreme Court’s aversion to numbers, citing legal culture’s dismissal of statistically-based evidence and how that could shape current cases on gerrymandering and access to user privacy data.

Business, Science, and Health

  • FiveThirtyEight writes about Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, explaining why the unique environment of the island drives up energy costs compared to the mainland U.S. and why the damages incurred from Hurricane Maria proved particularly devastating.
  • Monday’s episode of “Fresh Air” from NPR: Terry Gross interviews sleep researcher Matthew Walker on the restorative function of sleep, how pills or alcohol affects the quality of sleep, and how sleep changes with age.

Sports and Culture

  • The Ringer debates the value of a Netflix account in light rising monthly subscription fees and the improving quality of original programing from competing streaming services Amazon and Hulu.
  • FiveThirtyEight writes about Thursday’s sports equinox, when all four major American sports leagues hold games, and how the event has become a more common occurrence in recent years thanks to the expansion of Thursday Night Football.