“This weapons transfer is obviously disappointing and will set back efforts to promote the political transition that is in the best interests of the Syrian people and the region.” Senator Bob Corker, the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, regarding the transfer of advanced missiles to Syria from Russia in a statement on May 16, 2013
WEEK OF MAY 13, 2013
Nation: Wrong move, I.R.S.
This week we learned that the International Revenue Service targeted some conservative groups, particularly those with the words “Tea Party” in their name, with extra scrutiny in their investigations. The White House and Congress are both fuming but plan to work together to resolve the problem and ensure this does not happen again. In a statement this week, President Obama said the I.R.S.’ conduct was “inexcusable” and accepted the resignation of the acting IRS commissioner. He will appoint Daniel I. Werfel, the controller of the Office of Management and Budget to the position (who oversaw the sequester).
Politics: If you think the President is angry, talk to AP reporters this week.
The I.R.S. news isn’t the only big controversy this week. We also learned that last year the Department of Justice secretly seized Associated Press reporters’ and editors’ phone records over a period of two months. The news cooperative’s top executive called it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.” Freedom of speech, freedom of the press and reporters’ potential confidential sources are all on the line. House lawmakers grilled Attorney General Eric Holder on the issue Wednesday, but Holder responded that he wasn’t in charge of the investigation. Not it!
World: The drama over Benghazi continues.
Facing mounting pressure, the White House released more than 100 pages of administration emails discussing the situation in Benghazi, Libya. The exchange includes a discussion on what public statements should be released in an attempt to show that the decisions were driven by intelligence officials, not political advisors. But what the emails primarily reveal are disagreements within the administration over what could confidently be said about the attacks while an investigation into the assault was ongoing. It’s clear the administration wants to move on. But the question is, how soon will it be able to?
Business: Define “economy.”
Federal Reserve officials are grappling with how to decipher the economy’s mixed signals, and they are differing on the direction of the recovery. The stock market has been busy this week reacting to six Federal officials statements on the diverse outlines of the economy and the direction of the recovery. On Thursday stocks fell after a Fed official said the central bank could begin easing up on its monetary stimulus this summer. “It does spook the market a little,” a chief investment officer noted about the possibility.
Science: Remember Dolly the sheep?
Scientists succeed in using cloning to create human embryonic stem cells, a step towards developing replacement tissue to treat diseases. This “regenerative” medicine seeks to provide rejection-free transplant tissues to patients. This scientific first produced embryonic stem cells: starter cells to all other cells in the body, which mean potentially they can grow into any type of tissue. But since we now can, the debate will continue as to if we should.
Women’s Affairs: Angelina Jolie’s medical choice.
Angelina Jolie wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which she detailed her recent decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. Because of her mother’s death to cancer, Jolie chose to be tested for the “faulty” gene BRCA1 which sharply increases a woman’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. She was a carrier, and her doctor estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer. Jolie wanted to share her decision because “because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience.” And, “I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer.” Bravo, Mrs. Brad Pitt.