Obamacare premiums will skyrocket next year, an attack at a Pakistani police college killed dozens, Pennsylvania’s former attorney general is heading to jail, and more from across the United States and around the world.
Attack on Pakistani Police College Kills Dozens of People
Three heavily armed militants wearing bomb vests stormed a police training college in southwestern Pakistan late Monday, killing dozens of cadets.
Officials say at least 54 cadets at the Balochistan Police College in Quetta were killed in the attack. That number is likely to rise. Two of the militants died after detonating their vests, while the third militant was killed by security forces.
Local authorities told Al Jazeera that hundreds were injured in the attack on the training center. The New York Timesreports:
The college’s three compounds has a single entrance, officials said, and the militants were able to enter by killing the sentry in a watchtower. Some 250 cadets were trapped for several hours as security forces mobilized to retake the compounds.
Police say the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group was responsible for the attack. Several attacks by militants have taken place in the Balochistan province, which is close to the Afghanistan border, including an August bombing that left 88 people dead.
Mumbai Mosque Lifts Ban Barring Women From Worship
Women will now be permitted to enter the Haji Ali Dargah, a mosque and dargah that is a prominent landmark in the southern part of Mumbai, India.
Prior to this decision, the trust that governs the mosque only allowed men to enter the inner sanctum, insisting the presence of women near the tomb of a revered saint signifies a “grievous sin” in Islam, Al Jazeera reports. The ban had been in place since 2011.
Restricting entry for women, though, was deemed illegal by the Bombay High Court in August, sparking multiple nationwide campaigns advocating for fair religious rights for women to worship.
In a previous hearing, T.S. Thakur, India’s chief justice, addressed the issue of equal access to the mosque.
“Exclusion is not there if nobody is allowed after a certain point. There is exclusion if women are not allowed after a certain point and men are,” the chief justice said, according toThe Hindu.
While women will be allowed to enter the mosque, they will not immediately be given clearance to worship. The trust told the Supreme Court Monday it will take several weeks in order to implement various alterations, including the creation of special entries to the tomb and removal of certain structural obstructions inside the dargah in order to give women an unrestricted view of the sanctum.
Built in 1431 A.D., the Haji Ali Dargah was built by a wealthy Muslim merchant who later became a saint named Haji Ali Shah Bukhari after he renounced all worldly pleasures before embarking on a pilgrimage to Mecca. The 400-year-old sanctuary attracts thousands of worshipers every year.
Noorjehan Niaz, co-founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, an organization that describes itself as an “autonomous, secular, rights-based mass organization led by Muslim women,” told Agence France-Presse the appeal helps restore the equality that has always been present within Islam. Niaz was one of several petitioners who pushed back against the trust’s decision to keep women out, citing constitutional grounds.
“It is restoring the Islamic values of what we have always believed as Muslims, that Islam is a religion of equality, democracy and women’s rights,” Niaz said.
Just weeks before the general election, the Affordable Care Act is about to face a new wave of criticism.
The Obama administration confirmed Monday that health care premiums may increase by double-digits next year, while some consumers may be limited to just one insurer. The Associated Press has more:
Before taxpayer-provided subsidies, premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan will increase an average of 25 percent across the 39 states served by the federally run online market, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services. Some states will see much bigger jumps, others less.
Moreover, about 1 in 5 consumers will only have plans from a single insurer to pick from, after major national carriers such as UnitedHealth Group, Humana and Aetna scaled back their roles.
Administration officials, though, claim that subsidies will rise along with the premiums, making health insurance more affordable for consumers. Most of the 10 million HealthCare.gov consumers receive subsidies.
Republicans have long criticized the law, saying Obamacare would shoot premium rates up. And despite recent setbacks in states across the country, where it has become harder to make treatment affordable and widely accessible, the Obama administration has defended the law.
The new sign-up season starts on November 1, one week before the election. Republicans running for national office, from congressional seats to the presidency, have advocated for repealing the law and replacing it with someone new. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have argued the law should be fixed without a full repeal.
Netflix announced Monday it plans to raise $800 million of debt in order to finance new original content.
The new debt offering brings the company’s long-term debt load to approximately more than $3 billion, according to Business Insider. Netflix’s statement highlights that the company “intends to use the net proceeds from this offering for general corporate purposes, which may include content acquisitions, capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions.”
This new plan follows Netflix’s letter to shareholders released last week, where the company said its primary goal is to achieve 50 percent original content, accompanied by 1,000 hours of new programming in 2017. The company also estimates an expansion of its content budget to roughly $6 billion in 2017.
In its third quarter, the company announced last week that global streaming revenue totaled $2.2 billion, of which 40 percent was generated abroad. Its operating income amounted to $106 million while net income was $52 million. The company cited the strong influence of the fantastical thriller, Stranger Things, and how its cross-demographic appeal helped distinguish Netflix’s original programming. By the time 2016 concludes, the company said, Netflix will have issued approximately 600 hours of original programming.
Pennsylvania's Former Attorney General Sentenced 10 to 23 Months in Prison
Kathleen Kane, the former Pennsylvania attorney general, was sentenced Monday to 10 to 23 months in prison for illegally leaking grand-jury secrets and lying about it.
“This case is about ego—the ego of a politician consumed with her image from Day One," Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy said Monday of Kane, WTAE reports. “This case is about retaliation and revenge against perceived enemies who this defendant ... felt had embarrassed her in the press.”
Kane was also sentenced eight months of probation.
The first woman and Democrat elected to be the state’s top prosecutor, Kane was first charged in 2015 for orchestrating a leak of confidential grand jury documents in order to circulate a negative story about a political opponent, though she repeatedly denied the allegations. In August, Kane was convicted of nine criminal charges, including criminal conspiracy and perjury. She later resigned.
The one-term attorney general reportedly asked the court for leniency Monday, citing the effect a long sentence would have on her 14 and 15-year-old sons.
“There is no more torture in the world than to watch your children suffer and know you had something to do with it," Kane said. “I have been punished.”
The court, however, was less sympathetic.
“Your children are the ultimate ... collateral damages. They are casualties of your actions," Demchick-Alloy said. "But you did that, not this court.”
French Presidential Hopeful Draws Comparisons to Marie Antoinette
How much does a chocolate croissant cost in France? According to French presidential hopeful Jean-François Copé, not that much.
In an interview Monday with French broadcaster Europe 1, the center-right candidate was asked how much the popular pastry costs, to which he responded, “I have no idea … I think it must be around 10 or 15 cents”—far below it’s actual retail value of between 1.10 to 1.30 euros.
The gaffe gained widespread attention on social media, with many users comparing Copé to Marie Antoinette and her famous (probably apocryphal) words: Let them eat cake.
Polémique sur le prix du pain au chocolat : @jf_cope a raison. Pourquoi manger des pains au chocolat ? Que le peuple mange de la brioche !
“I confess to being very conscious of my waistline ... So to be honest I stopped the "chocolate" long ago!” he tweeted Monday.
This isn’t Copé’s first pastry-related controversy. In 2012, he faced backlash from both the left and the right after alleging that French children couldn’t enjoy chocolate croissants during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, citing “anti-white racism.”
The honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a little bit of everything.
She’s an associate justice of the Supreme Court, obviously.
She’s opinionated, sometimes unflinchingly.
But on one night this November, and one night only, Ginsburg, the justice dubbed “The Notorious R.B.G.,” will add yet another achievement to her résumé in the role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp in The Daughter of the Regiment, or La fille du régiment. The opera originally premiered in 1840 and was produced by Gaetano Donizetti.
She’ll appear in the non-singing role November 12, and Michael Solomon, senior press representative for the Washington National Opera, said this particular role has historically been portrayed by an operatic diva, of sorts.
"There's a long history of, you know, famous, larger-than-life women playing this particular part,” Solomon said. “So when we programmed this opera into our season, Justice Ginsburg was a very natural choice for the role and we're thrilled that she accepted."
Now, for context, the 19th century comedic opera operates a bit like an archaic rom-com: Marie, a young woman who is raised by soldiers, falls in love with a peasant, Tonio. In turn, she must convince her many surrogate fathers to allow her to marry her beloved, where meanwhile, a mysterious suitor from her past named Marquise also seeks her affections.
Francesca Zambello, artistic director for the Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center, describes Ginsburg’s role as one with a “deus ex machina” responsibility. “She only has two appearances in the opera and all of her dialogue has been rewritten for her,” she said.
The performance will oscillate between English and French, and though Ginsburg holds a more than distinguished day job, she’ll be joining rehearsals to observe and participate closer to showtime. Cindy Gold, the actress, will assume the role for the remainder of performances following Ginsburg’s.
During the performance, there’ll be occasional winks at the audience, Solomon said. “People … will be able to hear snippets from her past decisions that are quite famous and other things that are, kind of, related to Justice Ginsburg,” Solomon said.
The Washington National Opera’s The Daughter of the Regiment premieres November 12 at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C..
It’s all but certain: The EU’s proposed trade deal with Canada is dead because of objections from Wallonia, the Belgian region.
“The federal government, the German community, and Flanders said ‘yes,’” Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister, said Monday. “Wallonia, the Brussels city government, and the French community said ‘no.’”
That essentially means the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which was seven years in the making, won’t be signed later this week when Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, visits Brussels. We knew the deal was in trouble last week when Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s trade minister, walked out of talks, declaring the EU incapable of ratifying the deal.
Wallonia, a staunchly socialist region of 3.6 million people, expressed fears CETA would degrade consumer, labor, and environmental protections, while granting excessive power to multinational corporations. Belgian law mandates that all the country’s five subdivisions must sign off on any deal. The EU’s 27 other regions all want CETA to go ahead, citing potential trade benefits.
The EU’s failure to secure the CETA deal portends the fate of any future British arrangement with the bloc after it officially leaves the European Union following the Brexit vote.
Even teen idols get old eventually. Bobby Vee, the singer who took “Take Good Care of My Baby” to the top of the pop charts in 1961, has died at the age of 73, according to the St. Cloud Times. Vee had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Vee got his big break when another teen idol, Buddy Holly, died in a 1959 plane crash along with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper while en route to a show on the Minnesota-North Dakota line. Robert Veline, a 15-year-old Fargo boy, hastily put together a band to fill the bill at the concert, launching his own career.
“Take Good Care of My Baby,” written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, was his biggest hit, sitting at No. 1 for three weeks, but Vee had a string of hits, last charting in 1970. Other top songs included “Run to Him” and “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes.” He continued to perform for years. One member of his band in the early days, briefly, was a young Minnesota musician who called himself Elston Gunn, and who would later win the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature under a different pseudonym.
Some Webcams That Took Down the Internet Last Week Are Being Recalled
Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology, the Chinese manufacturer, said Monday it will recall some of its webcams after hackers last week targeted its products and caused the shutdown of some of the biggest sites on the internet.
News and social-media sites faced restricted access because hackers redirected devices like webcams, DVRs, and other gadgets that make up the “internet of things” to overwhelm the sites with traffic. Security researchers learned hackers focused on products made by Xiongmai Technology because of easily exploited passwords for its equipment.
The company said it would recall some products sold in the U.S., like security webcams, and strengthen password protection and send users a software patch for products sold before April of last year. The company said the largest issue came from users not changing default passwords, which made the devices easy to hack.
The hack was a surprise not only because of how well it worked, but because of the scale. By targeting Dyn, the major DNS host company, hackers slowed sites like Twitter, Amazon, Reddit, Netflix, and many more. This recall may fix the affected products, but preventing further attacks will be hard, because it’s difficult to update passwords on these devices, and some companies hard-code the product, meaning they can’t be altered.
Iraqi lawmakers voted over the weekend in favor of banning alcohol sales—a move that has drawn sharp criticism from the country’s minority populations.
The proscription, approved late Saturday night as part of a draft law on municipalities, applies to the sale, production, and importation of alcoholic beverages in the country; those found violating the law could incur fines of between 10 million and 25 million dinars ($8,000 to $20,000). While proponents of the ban cite its legal basis in Iraq’s constitution, which prohibits any law contradicting Islam, its opponents also cite the constitution, which protects freedom of religion for minorities, including Iraq’s Christian, Yazidi, and Sabean populations.
Kurdish officials condemned the law and said it would not be implemented in the autonomous northern region, though the Iraqi parliament said the law does not apply there, Syrian press agency Ara Newsreports.
Although Islam strictly forbids the consumption of alcohol, it has always been available throughout Iraq—particularly in shops run by minorities.The ban spurred debate on social media, with many users criticizing lawmakers for prioritizing the proscription over more pressing matters, such as the government’s offensive to retake Mosul from ISIS. One cartoon circulating on social media depicts Iraqi forces turning their backs on Mosul and firing at a bottle of arak, a popular Levantine spirit.
The U.S. Officially Criticizes the President of the Philippines
The top U.S. diplomat to Asia said Monday that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is causing unneeded uncertainty for world leaders, especially the U.S., with his controversial comments.
After meeting with the Philippines foreign minister, Daniel Russel, the U.S. assistant secretary of state, said “the succession of controversial statements and comments and a real climate of uncertainty about the Philippines’ intentions has created consternation in a number of countries, not only in mine.”
“This is not a positive trend,” Russel said.
At a meeting in Beijing last week, Duterte said he wanted to “separate” from the U.S. in favor of a closer relationship with China and Russia. “There are three of us against the world,” he said. “It’s the only way.”
Duterte, the populist former mayor of Davao, took office in June. Western criticism of his war on drugs—which has resulted in 3,500 people being killed, many extrajudicially, since June—has angered Duterte. He cursed the European Union and called U.S. President Obama a “son of a whore.” U.S. officials have seemingly brushed off Duterte’s remarks as colorful talk—until his visit last week to China from where he returned with billions of dollars in signed deals.
Tom Hayden, who campaigned against the Vietnam War, championed liberal causes, and was prosecuted by the Nixon administration in the “Chicago 7” trial, died Sunday in Santa Monica, California, after a long illness, his family said in a statement. He was 76.
Hayden’s political activism began while he was still a student in 1960 at the University of Michigan. He was instrumental in the creation of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), worked in campaigns to desegregate the South, and was one of the drafters in 1962 of SDS’s Port Huron statement. Six years later, he was in the news again: He helped organize anti-war protests at the now infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The protests turned violent and Hayden and seven others were tried in what became known as the Chicago 7 trial. (One defendant, Bobby Seale, was tried separately). Hayden and three of his fellow organizers were convicted of crossing state lines to incite a riot—a judgment that was later overturned.
Hayden was a staunch opponent of then-raging Vietnam War. He visited North Vietnam in 1965 to meet with the Communist leaders there. He was branded a traitor by many of his detractors for his visits to Hanoi and his view of the war. But that didn’t affect his future political career: He served in both the California state Assembly and state Senate for years where he was a leading progressive voice. His runs for Los Angeles mayor and California’s governor were unsuccessful. Hayden also wrote several books and articles and remained an advocate for social-justice issues.
Hayden was married three times: to Sandra "Casey" Cason, a fellow student activist, from 1961 to ’62; to Jane Fonda, the actress and anti-war activist, for 17 years until 1990; and Barbara Williams, the actress from 1993. He is survived by Troy Garity, his son with Fonda; and Liam, his son with Williams.
Here’s what’s happening Monday as the operation to retake Mosul from ISIS enters its second week: Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have besieged the town of Bashiqa, about 8 miles from Mosul, cutting off a supply route to the city. Iraqi forces, who are advancing on Mosul from the south, are also making headway. ISIS is responding with suicide bombings, which has slowed some of the momentum, but U.S. officials say all objectives have been met so far.
One week into #Mosul operation, all objectives met thus far, and more coalition airstrikes than any other 7-day period of war against #ISIL.
But there is a potential complication: Turkey’s involvement.
Turkey wants a military role in the battle to retake Mosul, which was part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries until 1918. Last week, Iraq thanked Turkey for its interest, but said it had the operation covered. But over the weekend, Turkey said it provided Peshmerga fighters—belonging to a faction that has close relations with Ankara—with artillery support in the Bashiqa operation. Iraq denies that any such thing happened. We’ll cover the claims and counterclaims, as well the as operation to retake Mosul, in the coming days.
French authorities began Monday to clear migrants from the camp in Calais known as “the Jungle” before the planned dismantling of the facility.
Writing in The Atlantic in 2015, Simon Cottee noted that Calais’ proximity to the English Channel made the port city a destination for migrants looking to illegally enter the UK. Some 7,000 migrants live in the makeshift camp, often in squalid conditions, hoping to board UK-bound trucks; the UK has taken in some of the more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors in the facility.
About 1,200 French officials began the operation to clear the camp. Migrants will be taken from there to more than 400 processing centers across the country where they will be allowed to claim asylum. They will be deported if they are deemed ineligible. The camp is expected to be dismantled starting Tuesday.
History’s best marathoner has broken a mythical time barrier. But it doesn’t count as a world record.
Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET on October 13, 2019.
Early yesterday morning, in a misty park in Vienna, Eliud Kipchoge ran a marathon in less than two hours. His time, 1:59:40, is the fastest any runner has ever covered 26.2 miles. Kipchoge carved two minutes off his own world record and became the first marathoner to break the two-hour barrier.
At the event, branded the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, the performance was heralded as a radical, historic leap, his “Neil Armstrong moment,” as one announcer said. Indeed, Kipchoge himself—a soft-spoken 34-year-old Kenyan who dulls the pain of distance running by smiling mid-competition—has repeatedly equated his feat to reaching the moon. That comparison is audacious on the scale of human achievement, but in the galaxy of running, it might actually be an understatement. Running’s original moon landing, the sub-four-minute mile, took place back in 1954. Yesterday, Kipchoge launched running to Mars.
Our unpredictable and overburdened schedules are taking a dire toll on American society.
Just under a century ago, the Soviet Union embarked on one of the strangest attempts to reshape the common calendar that has ever been undertaken. As Joseph Stalin raced to turn an agricultural backwater into an industrialized nation, his government downsized the week from seven to five days. Saturday and Sunday were abolished.
In place of the weekend, a new system of respite was introduced in 1929. The government divided workers into five groups, and assigned each to a different day off. On any given day, four-fifths of the proletariat would show up to their factories and work while the other fifth rested. Each laborer received a colored slip of paper—yellow, orange, red, purple, or green—that signified his or her group. The staggered schedule was known as nepreryvka, or the “continuous workweek,” since production never stopped.
What the Amazon founder and CEO wants for his empire and himself, and what that means for the rest of us.
Where in the pantheon of American commercial titans does Jeffrey Bezos belong? Andrew Carnegie’s hearths forged the steel that became the skeleton of the railroad and the city. John D. Rockefeller refined 90 percent of American oil, which supplied the pre-electric nation with light. Bill Gates created a program that was considered a prerequisite for turning on a computer.
At 55, Bezos has never dominated a major market as thoroughly as any of these forebears, and while he is presently the richest man on the planet, he has less wealth than Gates did at his zenith. Yet Rockefeller largely contented himself with oil wells, pump stations, and railcars; Gates’s fortune depended on an operating system. The scope of the empire the founder and CEO of Amazon has built is wider. Indeed, it is without precedent in the long history of American capitalism.
Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact
The plane took off in weather that was surprisingly cool for north-central Bolivia and flew east, toward the Brazilian border. In a few minutes the roads and houses disappeared, and the only evidence of human settlement was the cattle scattered over the savannah like jimmies on ice cream. Then they, too, disappeared. By that time the archaeologists had their cameras out and were clicking away in delight.
Below us was the Beni, a Bolivian province about the size of Illinois and Indiana put together, and nearly as flat. For almost half the year rain and snowmelt from the mountains to the south and west cover the land with an irregular, slowly moving skin of water that eventually ends up in the province's northern rivers, which are sub-subtributaries of the Amazon. The rest of the year the water dries up and the bright-green vastness turns into something that resembles a desert. This peculiar, remote, watery plain was what had drawn the researchers' attention, and not just because it was one of the few places on earth inhabited by people who might never have seen Westerners with cameras.
The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?
For most of the past two decades, American troops have been deployed all over the world—to about 150 countries. During that time, hundreds of thousands of young men and women have experienced combat, and a generation of officers have come of age dealing with the practical realities of war. They possess a deep well of knowledge and experience. For the past three years, these highly trained professionals have been commanded by Donald Trump.
To get a sense of what serving Trump has been like, I interviewed officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees. Among the officers I spoke with were four of the highest ranks—three or four stars—all recently retired. All but one served Trump directly; the other left the service shortly before Trump was inaugurated.
People want to cook and eat together. Modern life has other plans.
Right now, a box of food from a meal-kit company is probably moldering in my apartment building’s mail room. I haven’t been down there in a few days, so maybe there isn’t one at this very moment. But more than two years of living in this building has taught me there’s basically always at least one box, forgotten and slightly stinky. When I visit friends, I often walk past a similar scene next to their elevators: cartons from Blue Apron or HelloFresh, waiting to find out if they’ll ever become the dinners they were meant to be.
Forgetting you mail-ordered a bespoke set of ingredients for a selection of restaurant-style recipes is a luxurious predicament to be in, but the frequency with which those meal kits seem to be abandoned points to the very same problem they were invented to fix: Consumer surveys have found that most people who buy meal kits do so in hopes of saving time. As it turns out, it takes time to unpack, cook, and clean up after a meal-kit dinner, too.
The tech industry is producing a rising din. Our bodies can’t adapt.
Karthic Thallikar first noticed the noise sometime in late 2014, back when he still enjoyed taking walks around his neighborhood.
He’d been living with his wife and two kids in the Brittany Heights subdivision in Chandler, Arizona, for two years by then, in a taupe two-story house that Thallikar had fallen in love with on his first visit. The double-height ceilings made it seem airy and expansive; there was a playground around the corner; and the neighbors were friendly, educated people who worked in auto finance or at Intel or at the local high school. Thallikar loved that he could stand in the driveway, look out past a hayfield and the desert scrub of Gila River Indian land, and see the jagged pink outlines of the Estrella Mountains. Until recently, the area around Brittany Heights had been mostly farmland, and there remained a patchwork of alfalfa fields alongside open ranges scruffy with mesquite and coyotes.
American pro athletes face pressure to stick to sports. Australia’s David Pocock has a different idea.
If Australia exits the Rugby World Cup this coming week in Japan, Americans will lose their last chance to watch one of the best athletes they’ve likely never heard of.
David Pocock, although born in Zimbabwe, has been a mainstay of the Australian rugby team for a decade. At his destructive best, he has been among the world’s top players, tormenting opponents with his uncanny ability to disrupt their attack. At 31, he has announced his retirement from the Australian national team at the conclusion of the World Cup.
But the mark that Pocock has left off the field may end up being better remembered than anything he has done on it. Pocock is among the more eclectic and politically engaged athletes his adopted country has ever produced. In 2014, he chained himself to mining equipment in rural New South Wales to protest the expansion of a coal mine. He and his longtime partner, Emma Palandri, famously refused to get married until gay couples were allowed to do the same—prompting some good-natured teasing when same-sex marriage was finally made legal in 2017. (The couple wed late last year.) He has been active supporting anti-poaching initiatives, sustainable farming, and poverty reduction back in Zimbabwe—which his family left in 2002 amid a wave of violence against white farmers. Pocock even paints his cleats all black to obscure any logos. Because he can’t be sure of the labor conditions that produced the shoes, he explained when I interviewed him two years ago, he doesn’t want to be seen as endorsing the manufacturer.
In the age of populism, certainty about the political future is a dangerous illusion.
Democracy was on the ballot yesterday in Poland. It suffered a stinging defeat that will have consequences far beyond the country’s borders.
For decades, political scientists regarded Poland as the great success story of the transition from communism to democracy. In no other large country in Central or Eastern Europe had democratic institutions taken such a deep hold, was there such a raucous press, and had civil society flourished to such a remarkable extent. According to a slew of regional experts, democracy in Poland was “consolidated”: Just as in Italy or Canada, one could count on it to remain stable for the foreseeable future.
This narrative started to come into doubt when Law and Justice, a far-right populist party, stormed into office on the heels of a government corruption scandal in 2015. The party’s leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, immediately started to attack the rule of law and curtail the independence of key institutions, such as the country’s public broadcasting network. As international observers from the European Parliament to Freedom House have noted, his reforms of the judiciary—designed to force independent judges into retirement and give government ministers more control over criminal investigations—amounted to a particularly grave threat to Polish democracy.
Congress and the White House have a tense relationship, and future administrations might well choose to build on rather than repudiate the Trump example of how to respond to a hostile Congress.
More than once since the Democrats captured the House of Representatives in the midterm elections of 2018, President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to express his irritation at “presidentialharassment!” Undoubtedly, he is not the first occupant of the Oval Office to feel that way, but his response has been different. The Trump administration has tended to adopt a posture of maximal presidential obstruction of congressional investigations into the conduct of the executive branch and the individuals surrounding it. That defiance has culminated—for the moment—in White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi declaring that the administration will not cooperate in any way with an impeachment inquiry that it regards as “illegitimate” and “constitutionally invalid.”