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Building the wall with funding for Puerto Rico

Megan Jelinger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced this week that the Pentagon will pull funding from 127 Defense Department projects abroad and at home in order to divert some $3.6 billion toward constructing more of President Trump’s long-promised border wall. [Vanity Fair / Eric Lutz]
  • The money will help build 175 miles of new fencing and barriers along the US-Mexico border. Many of the abandoned projects include schools and daycare centers for military families, while Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts will also take a hit from the loss of some $400 million. [Washington Post / Paul Sonne and Seung Min Kim]
  • The Pentagon refers to these projects as “delayed or deferred,” when really, they’re canceled. Congress will have to reapprove them so they may receive funding again, a process that would practically take a long time. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • Projects aiming to deter Russian aggression in Europe are also included in the list, with some $770 million being now pulled. Late on Thursday, Esper told media in London that maybe it’s time for European allies to “pick up the tab,” and to share the burden of building the infrastructure. [Reuters / Idrees Ali]
  • Trump declared the need for a wall a national emergency in February, which granted him the ability to tap this $3.6 billion that was previously earmarked for military construction. Without it, he’d need approval from Congress for further funding. [Politico / Anita Kumar and Caitlin Oprysko]
  • The administration’s move this week, though, has been highly publicized — especially in local media. Reports from all 23 states afflicted by the loss of funding have been running all week, detailing the projects that would no longer come to realization in their respective areas, potentially angering voters. [Washington Post / James Hohmann]
  • According to the latest poll by Gallup, 60 percent of Americans oppose major new construction of the border wall, a slight increase from the 2018 figures. [Gallup / Jim Norman]

Here’s what you missed this week on “Brexit”

  • Brexit is literally tearing families apart. Boris Johnson’s latest blow since taking over as British prime minister comes after his brother, Jo, resigned from his roles as both a government minister and a member of the Parliament, citing being “torn between family loyalty and the national interest.” [NPR / Shannon van Sant]
  • As the New York Times’s Stephen Castle points out, Jo’s resignation is the cherry on top to possibly “one of the most miserable starts ever” for a UK leader, who, this week, gave up control of the legislative agenda, expelled 21 lawmakers from his own party, and lost a vote to uphold a no-deal Brexit. [NYT / Stephen Castle]
  • These defeats don’t seem to sway Johnson, though, who stated that he’d rather “be dead in a ditch” than ask for another Brexit delay. [The Times / Kate Devlin]
  • The default option for the UK is to exit the European Union without a set agreement on issues like trade and Northern Ireland on October 31, which the Parliament generally agrees is not viable. In the meantime, Johnson is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the most disastrous British PMs. [CNN / Eliza Mackintosh]
  • For a full breakdown of what went down this week, read Jen Kirby’s piece for Vox. [Vox / Jen Kirby]


  • Copies of the much anticipated sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood were shipped to readers by Amazon a week ahead of its release, a move that has angered independent booksellers who fear the online retailer will face no backlash by the publishing company. [NYT / Heather Murphy]
  • The flip phone is making a comeback, but with a twist. Nokia is reintroducing a model released a decade ago, this time though with features consumers may find necessary for their day-to-day needs, like 4G mobile internet and apps like YouTube, Facebook, and Whatsapp. [CNBC / Ryan Browne]
  • H&M marks the latest in a number of brands — Vans, Timberland, North Face — who moved to stop supplying leather from Brazil due to concerns regarding the Amazon wildfires. These announcements come amid growing protests in the Latin American nation that the government is doing too little to respond to the environmental crisis. [Reuters / Anna Ringstrom]
  • Was the Loch Ness monster in Scotland just one really big eel? A scientist from New Zealand who collected genetic material from the lake said he found a large amount of eel DNA, making the idea at least plausible. [AP / Malcolm Ritter]


“On the outside, criminal justice reforms are often weighed against hard data points on recidivism risk and crime. Living on the inside, I found it to be a complex world filled with contradictions and still rooted in punishment but aspiring to be a place of rehabilitation.” [NBC anchor Lester Holt reflects on his experience spending two nights in a maximum-security prison for a report on mass incarceration / NBC News]

Listen to this: Gerry with the bad maps

A historic court decision erased some of the most gerrymandered maps in the country this week. North Carolina now has two weeks to redraw them. [Spotify | Apple Podcasts]

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