News Roundup

Supreme Court will hear arguments on partisan gerrymandering

  • The court will hear arguments in a case from Maryland regarding gerrymandering in 2011, when district lines were redrawn to reduce the number of GOP seats in the state, as was admitted at the time by Governor Martin O’Malley, who said the intent was to give Democrats control of more districts
  • This follows a similar case from Wisconsin heard by the Court in October, in which Republicans redrew lines to give themselves a super-majority, a case which hasn’t yet been ruled on by the court
  • Partisan gerrymandering has not previously been deemed a violation of the Constitution, so if it is, this would be a big change in American democracy

New moves on steel tariffs and trade

  • Pres. Trump revised a trade deal with South Korea which had originally been passed in 2011, this time doubling the quota of cars allowed to be sold to South Korea from 25,000 to 50,000 and using American safety standards instead of South Korean ones, in exchange giving South Korea a 70% average exemption from the 25% steel tariff passed by the White House
  • The two countries also agreed not to weaken either of their currencies to improve their side’s trade situation, the first such time a provision on currencies has been included in a trade negotiation so far, although since the provision isn’t in the official agreement it has no enforcement mechanism
  • Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has moved to tighten border security on material imports, making it harder for companies to ship cheap foreign steel and aluminum through the domestic market

China confirms meeting between President Xi and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

  • Confirmed only after Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un left Beijing on an armored train, the meeting was part of a 3 day trip to Bejing
  • China’s leader Xi Jinping told Pres. Trump last night that his meeting with the North Korean leader had gone very well, and that Kim was looking forward to meeting with Pres. Trump
  • A meeting between the North and South Korean leaders is planned for next month on the Koreas’ border, while Trump is planning to meet with Kim in May

More protests in Catalan region over the arrest of former leader

  • Roads have been blocked in the Catalan region to protest the arrest of former regional leader Charles Puigdemont following his arrest in Germany
  • Further decisions on Puigdemont’s case and fate appear unlikely to arrive before Easter, with a court in Schleswig deciding whether his extradition is admissible

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