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10 Things to Ask About the News- Mar. 28th

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Important Dates and Women’s History Month Fact: Before I get into the last Women’s History Month fact, I’d like to add that this Thursday on March 31st is Cesar Chavez Day. For those unclear, Cesar Chavez was an American labor leader and civil rights activist. And also, this Friday is April Fool’s Day! Moving onto Women’s History Month, today I’d like to highlight Rosalind Franklin who studied the DNA molecule and formed the basis of the final helical model. However, the discovery of the DNA molecule was recognized by Jim Watson and Francis Crick, who won the Nobel Prize for the discovery and Franklin was not credited.

Will Smith

On Saturday night, during the 2022 Oscars, American actor Will Smith had an altercation with comedian Chris Rock after Rock made an off-color joke about Smith’s wife and her hair loss. Smith appeared to have smacked or punched him on live television in the middle of his presentation in the Oscars broadcast, before returning to this seat to loudly shout and curse at Rock for using his wife in his joke. Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, suffers from a medical condition of alopecia that results in hair loss, a condition she has openly talked about before. 

Engagement Questions

  • What does this event—and its reception—reveal in the way the public receives and possibly supports spectacles of violence? 
  • What example might this set for etiquette in formal spaces like the Oscars? Do we perceive a divergence from civility in not only entertainment spaces but also political arenas?
  • What are the boundaries of comedy?

Biden’s Budget Plan

Released Saturday, President Biden announced a budget blueprint, calling for higher taxes on the wealthy, lower federal deficits, and more funding for military spending, homeland security, education, police, public health, and housing. Considered a center-leaning plan of $5.8 trillion in federal spending in fiscal 2023, Biden hopes to fight inflation, spend on climate change and tribal nations, and tax billionaires. President Joe Biden intends to propose a minimum tax of 20% on households worth more than $100 million and cut projected budget deficits by more than $1 trillion over the next decade.

Engagement Questions

  • What does such a federal budget represent in terms of priorities? Do you agree? 
    • What would your budget prioritize? 
    • Some things to currently consider:
      • War in Ukraine and subsequent inflation trends, COVID-19, research, public health and health care, climate change, education, police funding, foreign aid, housing, military and national defense spending, and more
  • There appears to be a bigger emphasis on increased military and national security spending due to the war in Ukraine. What are your thoughts on this? Is this the right move? How should America allocate our resources?
  • Do you support the tax proposal? What kind of taxation do you believe is appropriate and why? What are your thoughts on a progressive tax system?

Jackson and Confirmation Hearings

Last Thursday was the last day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice candidate, Ketanji Brown Jackson. Taking questions from senators and facing criticism for her legal record and philosophies, she defended her experience and credentials for several days. So far, no Democratic senators seem to oppose Jackson and anticipate her confirmation in April. Many Republican senators are expected to oppose, though some seem willing to support her. In a 50-50 Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris would break the tied vote.

Engagement Questions

  • What could Jackson’s confirmation mean for the Supreme Court and for the Democratic party? 
  • What is the purpose of the confirmation hearings and how is it perhaps necessary or unnecessary for the democratic process?
  • Reflecting on her answers to the questions as well as her composure at court, what are your opinions of Jackson? Where might she stand or what role would she play in our polarized climate? What could she represent? 
    • How might Braver Angels principles be helpful in such a setting? 

Editor’s Note: Every week, BA Media intern Janus Kwong compiles a briefing document for our national media staff’s reference, a guide for thinking through the major news items we and our fellow Americans might have at top of mind. These documents don’t assert a party-line or standard; they lay out some themes and guide us through key questions, and like the best of our work, they bring us a little closer to understanding things with a spirit of goodwill, through a commitment to process. They shouldn’t be seen as fact-sheets or strategic assessments, but as reflective little guides to help us cultivate the Braver Angels Way as we approach any issue at all. We in the media team are reflecting on these questions ourselves, and we invite interested BA members to do so too, and share your thoughts with us at media@braverangels.org or in the comments. -LNP

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