While You Weren’t Looking: 5 stories from the week that don’t make moral equivalencies

While You Weren’t Looking: 5 stories from the week that don’t make moral equivalencies
L to R: Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.); President Donald Trump; WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Mic/Getty Images
L to R: Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.); President Donald Trump; WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Mic/Getty Images

This week, the greater part of the nation watched in horror and shock as the president of the United States failed to adequately condemn the acts of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

But even as the nation fixated on the president’s response to white supremacy — and tried to make sense of the subsequent mixed message that was the impending dismissal of his far-right chief strategist Steve Bannon — the government continued to carry out policy decisions, most of which ended up buried beneath the Charlotesville headlines.

Here are five stories from the week you might have missed:

Democrats introduce a host of bills to take down Confederate monuments

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) Frank Franklin II/AP

More than 150 years later, some lawmakers have decided you don’t get a trophy for second place in the Civil War. Two new bills have been introduced by House Democrats to remove memorials to the Confederacy from federal property.

The first bill, introduced by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), would force the Pentagon to change the names of 10 military bases around the country that are named after Confederate military figures who once fought against U.S. armed forces in the separatist war. In addition, the bill would also force several bases around the country to change the names of streets dedicated to such figures.

Another bill, introduced by Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Penn.), would force the end of federal funding for the creation, maintenance or display of Confederate statues in the Capitol and on federal property across the country.

Justice Department’s review of Time Warner-AT&T merger in its final stages

Time Warner building in New York
Time Warner building in New York Mark Lennihan/AP

A report this week in the Wall Street Journal stated that the Justice Department is in the final stages of reviewing a potential merger between telecom giants Time Warner and AT&T.

Both Democrats and Republicans have been critical of the deal. Trump himself voiced concerns about the merger on the campaign trail. Some outlets have reported that Trump sees the deal as potential leverage over the cable news network CNN, which is Time Warner-owned.

Some experts expect the deal will be approved due to the fact that the two companies are not technically competitors.

Trump abandons his plans for an infrastructure council

President Donald Trump at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia.
President Donald Trump at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia. Steve Helber/AP

President Donald Trump has abandoned his plans for a White House infrastructure council, according to Bloomberg News. The council would have included industry leaders in construction to help Trump shape his plan to spend as much as $1 trillion on new infrastructure.

The announcement follows the dissolution of two other White House business councils that were abandoned after members began to leave en masse to protest Trump’s response to Charlottesville. On Friday morning, members of Trump’s arts and humanities committee followed suit.

GOP congressman meets with Julian Assange to deny Russia hacking story

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) Lauren Victoria Burke/AP

Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in an attempt to downplay allegations of Russian election interference.

“He reaffirmed his aggressive denial that the Russians had anything to do with the hacking of the DNC during the election,” Rohrabacher said in an interview with the Orange County Register.

In 2016 WikiLeaks released the DNC emails that were allegedly obtained by Russian hackers in an attempt to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Rohrabacher is known for having his own close ties to the government of Russia and has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Department of Transportation faces a lawsuit for not enforcing seat belt rules

Traffic moves across the Memorial Bridge in Washington.
Traffic moves across the Memorial Bridge in Washington. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Two consumer groups are suing the Department of Transportation in an attempt to force them to comply with an Obama-era seat belt regulation.

Center for Auto Safety and KidsAndCars.org are bringing a case against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to meet a deadline to begin requiring automakers to install warnings for rear-seat passengers not wearing seat belts.

The rule had been designed to reduce auto fatalities that occur due to the high rate of adults who elect not to wear seat belts when sitting in the rear seat of a vehicle.

The lawsuit is being brought in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.