Optimize: week of Jan. 7


Welcome to Optimize, a weekly update to keep you informed on what has happened during the week. Here are five national/international stories (and one local one) that you should know:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg health issues and their implications

Due to recent health issues, the notorious “RBG” has been absent from the bench. But what does this mean for the future of the Supreme Court? Change. Conservatives Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy are lined up as successors for a very liberal Ginsburg. Although she has made no such announcements of leaving her position, doing so would result in massive change (especially when considering the ongoing Trump battles in the courts currently).

Government shutdown

The government has just finished its third week of partial closure (21 days), tying for the longest lapse of funding.  Nearly a quarter of the government has gone without pay (either in the form of furlough or temporary work without pay) in order for debates to ensue on border-wall funding, and this Friday marks the day that thousands of government employees will begin to miss paychecks. In response, hundreds marched on Washington to demand an end to the shutdown.

Jeff Bezos divorce

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, announced in a joint statement with his wife that they were filing for divorce. Because the two reside in Washington, the $137 billion is required to be evenly split between the separated couple. Mackenzie Bezos may become the richest women in the world after she accrues half of the company and extra assets that have to be given up by her other half.

Trump threatens to cut funding from national disasters

During the government shutdown, President Trump has attempted to cut off federal emergency aid from the California wildfires. His plan is to redirect these funds to go towards the building of his border wall, a proposal that has received immense amounts of backlash. Trump is backing this decision up by referring to the building of the wall as “a state of emergency.” 

Cyntoia Brown to be released and pardoned

The governor of Tennessee recently granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown, the woman who was sentenced to life in prison after killing the man who bought her for sex when she was 16. She was originally tried as an adult and convicted because, after shooting the man who bought her, she stole his money to appease her pimp. Because of the theft, the court ruled that the crime was motivated by robbery rather than self-defense. There was an outcry from politicians and celebrities alike to free the victim of child sex trafficking from prison. After Brown spent 15 years in prison, the authorities decided that if the incident had happened today, the trial would have gone differently.

Border wall updates

With Donald Trump’s southern border wall being the center of national news for the past few weeks, even years, here is an overview of all things “wall.” Trump has claimed that the recent trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada signifies that Mexico really is paying for the wall; however, no construction or funding approval has been granted from Congress at this point. It is still unclear how such a construction will be funded and the impacts that it will have on society, foreign relations and the environment . However, the president remains confident that a wall is inevitable and even boasts (yet to be proven statements) support from unpaid, federal employees and former presidents.

Local Bonus: Hep. A at BDubs

An employee at Bloomington’s Buffalo Wild Wings has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A and claimed to be working with food at the restaurant during the contagion window of his virus. The Monroe County Health Department is holding vaccination clinics for anyone who consumed the food between Jan. 2-6. Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus. Symptoms can include nausea, jaundice, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain, though many cases show few to no symptoms. The restaurant has been disinfected since the discovery of the exposure and is back open to the public. The Monroe County Health Department recommended anyone to contact their healthcare provider if they were exposed to Buffalo Wild Wings during Jan. 2-6.