Morning Update: Chillin' Out, Maxin', Taxin' All Things

Samantha Bee apologizes, Trump pardons a conspiracy theorist, and your weekend longreads. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, June 1.

Trade war SZN: Trump hits Canada, Mexico, and the EU with tariffs

The president’s tariffs could possibly ignite a trade war. Let's walk through it.

Okay, start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. Back in March, Trump announced a 25% tariff on steel coming into the country and 10% tariff on imported aluminum.

But it’s June now. What changed? Trump’s initial announcement gave Canada, Mexico, and the EU exemptions from those tariffs — an exemption that expired at midnight last night.

Why would Trump want to impose the tariffs? The move is seen by many as an attempt to get leverage in the ongoing negotiations between the US, Canada, and Mexico over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Right. Trump doesn’t like NAFTA. He’s railed against it on the campaign trail and said it was a bad deal for the US. However, negotiations have dragged on for over a year and a half.

Back to the tariffs. Is this bad? “Bad” is subjective. I can tell you it’ll almost certainly mean higher prices for consumers. Major industries are warning of tens of thousands of job losses due to increased costs and retaliation from trading partners.

How do trading partners retaliate? There is no formal “trade war” button. Countries might just find themselves trading (ha!) escalating tariffs.

Has that already started? Yes. Mexico announced its counter-tariffs. They will hit US steel as well as pork, sausages, apples, grapes, blueberries, and cheese.

What about Canada? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $12.8 billion (US) worth of retaliatory tariffs on American goods, the same amount the US is imposing on Canada.

That seems intense. When asked if he was starting a trade war, Trudeau said, “We’re ready for anything.” Canada’s tariffs heavily target US steel, but also a long list of products like yogurt, beer, whiskey, ketchup, and sleeping bags. Sleeping bags. Trudeau has no chill.

Are Republicans in support of Trump’s decision? Trump is overruling the party on this. Republicans have overwhelmingly urged the president to abandon his tariff plans, over fears that red states that voted for Trump could be hit worst of all.

What happens now? The last president to attempt steel tariffs was George W. Bush in 2002. He abandoned them a year later because the costs outweighed the benefits to the steel industry. On the other hand, the tariffs could be a tool to force a speedy resolution to NAFTA negotiations.

Quick brief

  • Former Gambia dictator Yahya Jammeh claimed he could cure AIDS. Three people are now suing him over his bogus clinic.

  • A 4-year-old husky named Nikita killed 24 animals in a small Utah town in just a few hours. The dog’s owner is facing charges.

Samantha Bee and TBS have apologized for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt”

On her TV show Full Frontal on Wednesday night, Samantha Bee called the president’s daughter a “feckless cunt” who needs to convince her father to change his immigration policies.

By the next morning, Bee was the recipient of a great deal of criticism. The White House called the comments “vile and vicious.”

The host apologized for the comments, saying, “I crossed a line and I deeply regret it.” TBS, the network that airs Full Frontal, also apologized.

Go deeper:

Scaachi Koul wrote a great piece on this, where she argues that Bee’s “real crime was hurling a lazy insult at someone who deserves a sharper critique.”

Trump says he will pardon far-right commentator Dinesh D’Souza

President Trump said he’s granting a “full pardon” to conspiracy theorist and far-right pundit Dinesh D’Souza.

D'Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to campaign finance fraud. At the time, his lawyers argued that the charges regarding his illegal contributions to a Senate candidate were politically motivated.

Here’s the thing: D’Souza is not a well-known figure among Trump’s base. If you’re wondering why Trump pardoned him, you’re not the only one — Trump allies don’t see how the move is beneficial to the president.

Meanwhile, Trump said he’s thinking of giving a pardon and a sentence commutation to Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois who is serving a 14-year term for corruption, and his “biggest fan” Martha Stewart.

Mobile social media users in Uganda are going to have to pay a new daily tax

The East African country passed a new law that will tax people for using WhatsApp and Facebook on their phones. Here’s the thing, though: No one knows how the government is going to implement it.

The new law will charge users 200 Ugandan shillings (roughly 5 cents) for each day they use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. The bill also created a 1% tax for all mobile money transactions, a popular payment method for Ugandans, especially those who live in rural areas far away from banks.

One activist we spoke to told us the new law was “a deliberate move to censor Ugandans and cut down on dissenting voices.”

It remains unclear how the government will figure out which mobile subscribers use the apps.

Summer weekends are for longreads

First up, a touching piece I personally can relate to acutely. Michelle No wrote about the linguistic gap between her and her parents, who speak broken English. So much is communicated in the nuances of language, and when that’s not an option, the writer and her parents find other ways to express love. Here’s What It’s Like To Love Parents Who Speak Broken English.

If we’re being honest, Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet didn’t suddenly reveal to ABC that she was bigoted — that much was already clear. As Anne Helen Petersen writes in a smart essay, the tweet sheds light on how uncontrollable Barr had become. “To be uncontrollable in Hollywood,” Petersen writes, “is to render yourself a liability to the brand and, even worse, to the bottom line.” How Roseanne’s Bigotry Finally Became A Liability.

I haven’t yet seen The Tale, but I found Alison Willmore’s take on the HBO film to be an excellent read. In her review, Wilmore uses the film as an entry point to explore the question of who gets prominently featured in the #MeToo stories — far too often, it’s the accused men, and not enough of the women sharing their experiences. The Tale serves as an “argument that, rather than debating when various exiled men will be allowed to return to the spotlight ... we should shift our attention to the people those men targeted.” Who Gets To Be At The Center Of #MeToo Stories?

Hydrate and read something good,


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