America’s political ructions keep bursting from its borders. Here’s our guide to the past week’s four big US stories sending reverberations across the globe.
— Donald Trump refused to provide witnesses or documents in the Democrats’ impeachment process. This effectively ushers in the constitutional crisis long predicted for his presidency. Hold onto your hats: America will be even more distracted and unpredictable than usual.
— See above. The President who vowed to get US troops out of foreign quagmires has let Turkey attack his Kurdish allies in Syria, and a humanitarian crisis is underway. Despite what Trump said on Thursday, troops were still in the country. If there’s a choice between global stability and domestic political wins, it’s obvious which course Trump will take.
— Another setback for Boeing means bad news for global travel. After crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, American Airlines now says it doesn’t expect the manufacturer’s new 737 Max jet to re-enter service until January. And there’s news of a glitch with another 737 model. Truly an annus horribilis for an iconic American firm.
— Another US blue chip, Apple, deleted an app that Hong Kong protestors used to track police, and the NBA’s mainland charm offensive blew up over a tweet about democracy in the territory. It was a clarifying week in US-China relations: Beijing, increasingly confident and powerful, is laying down the law for US corporations playing in its growing market. But there will be trouble at home if those companies renounce the very freedoms that helped them grow in the first place.
“They got him”
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was pranked by two Russians pretending to be Turkey’s minister of defense, according to his office.
In the August audio recording obtained by Politico, Graham calls the Kurds “a big problem” and “a threat” to Turkey — in apparent contradiction of his recent statements about Turkey’s offensive in northeastern Syria.
“We have been successful in stopping many efforts to prank Senator Graham and the office, but this one slipped through the cracks,” his spokesman told CNN. “They got him.”
“The ones that get away”
Diplomatic immunity is one of the perks that come with being a government official abroad (or the family of the official). It’s not just a special passport and a fast track through airports — it shields you from any local law.
Diplomats often take advantage: Unpaid traffic tickets and illegal parking by diplomats were once such a plague in New York City that then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg reportedly decreed that if local police couldn’t ticket diplomats, they should just seize their cars.
A more serious implication of diplomatic immunity has been in the news this week, around the tragic death of a British teenager. An American official’s wife is suspected of being involved in a car crash that killed him and is sheltering under diplomatic immunity.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Trump to help return her to the UK but his new friendship with the President may not count for much.
Earlier this week, Trump described the situation as a “terrible accident” and “a very, very complex issue.” But he also seemed to sympathize with the suspect. “You know, those are the opposite roads. That happens,” said the President, noting that Britons, unlike Americans, drive on the left.
Perhaps conscious of how that must have sounded to the victim’s parents, Trump has now softened his tone, saying he thinks the US and UK will be able to “work something out.”
— by Hadas Gold
Caption contest winner: We all deserve to imagine a more relaxed world. So the winner of this week’s caption contest is Ron, who captioned this photo of Russia’s president and defense minister: “What do you suppose would happen if we smoked this?”
Number of the day: 51%
It’s not so much the number, but where it came from that’s eating at Trump. A Fox News poll found that a majority of Americans now want the President impeached and removed. Trump is acting like he’s been betrayed by a member of his own team, slamming the highly regarded Fox polling operation.
“From the day I announced I was running for President, I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll. Whoever their Pollster is, they suck,” he tweeted on Thursday.