Friday Spotlight – April 14, 2017

Image courtesy of REUTERS/KCNA. Copyright 2017 Thompson Reuters. Click for restrictions

Each Friday, Torchlight Media will publish a summary of the major news that happened for that week: the announcements and events, the twists and turns of ongoing stories, and all of the other highlights in between. Our goal is to give you a big-picture look at the week’s news so that even if you can’t follow everything yourself, you can have a general sense of where things stand. We hope, too, that seeing the highlights laid out will help you separate the small, pointless stories that crop up over the week from the more impactful, ongoing stories.
Here’s what’s in the spotlight for this week:

  • On Sunday, President Trump ordered a fleet headed by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson toward the Korean peninsula. The fleet movement coincides with a ballistic missile test by North Korea last week. The ship movements became more prominent Thursday when NBC reported that the US was prepared to launch a preemptive strike if North Korea attempted another nuclear test, citing “multiple senior intelligence officials.” However, events around North Korea frequently involve bluster, bluff, and saber-rattling, and the movement of ships to the area does not necessarily indicate an impending conflict.
  • On Tuesday, Republican Ron Estes won the special election for Kansas’s 4th Congressional district. Estes earned 52.5% of the vote, beating Democrat James Thompson’s 45.7%; Libertarian Chris Rockhold came in a distant third. While the result was not surprising, the margin was. Estes won by 6.8 percentage points in a district that Donald Trump won by 27 points, and which the previous Republican candidate, Mike Pompeo, won by over 30 points. The sharp swing of s strong Republican district may be a forerunner of a leftward swing in other special elections and the 2018 midterms.
  • On Wednesday, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning last week’s chemical weapon attack in Syria. The resolution would have further called for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s government to cooperate with investigators. The veto comes after President Trump ordered missile strikes last week on the Syrian air base from which the chemical attack was launched.
  • Congress was in recess this week, which meant a lot less movement in the political news world. When they return, however, they will need to address the Federal budget, as the current continuing resolution (which is a bill funding the government in the absence of a formal budget) expires on April 28. This means we’re likely to see another showdown over the debt ceiling. Torchlight’s resident economist David Sptizley has written a Lamppost article explaining the debt ceiling; check it out in preparation for that debate.