Monday Briefing | December 18

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Albdulaziz Al Saud. | Photo courtesy Rob Griffith — Pool/Getty Images

Stories to Follow

Putin’s visit to the Middle East: Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Middle East on Monday, December 11, surprising Russian troops with his first visit to a Russian air base in Syria before heading to Egypt and Turkey to discuss bilateral ties. His visit is reflective of deepening ties between Russia and the Middle East in the wake of protests erupting across the region as a consequence of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Republican Tax Cuts: President Donald Trump defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the American middle class and suggested that it could lead to explosive economic growth, making the US economy “rock.” The legislation marks the most extensive redrawing of taxation in America since President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax cuts. Conversely, Bernie Sanders accused the Trump administration of capitulating to the demands of wealthy rightwing donors and labeled the bill as “payback for the billions of dollars that donors have invested in conservative politicians over decades.”

California wildfires are the state’s third-largest on record: A raging California wildfire became the state’s third-largest on record on Saturday, with more devastation likely. The blazes broke out 12 days ago and have killed a firefighter and a woman attempting to flee. So far, the fire has burned 259,000 acres of land and is only 40 percent contained. Meanwhile, no rain has been forecast and the National Weather Service reported that the area is enduring its second-driest water season on record.

This Week in JPI

Fall 2017 Issue: Thank you to all who came out last week to celebrate the launch of the Fall 2017 JPI Journal! Congratulations to all the authors who contributed to this issue, where we cover the Iran Nuclear Deal, the role of NATO, and evolution of the Euro identity.

Political Analysis At the United Nations and at Home, a Push to Recognize Puerto Rico’s Right to Self-determination
Lucia Seda writes about Puerto Rico’s impulses towards self-determination in the wake of the destruction left by Hurricane Maria and rising debt.

Happening This Week

An Invocation: The Politics of Haunting | Monday, December 18, 7-9 PM, Asian American Writers’ Workshop 112 W 27th St
How does history – particularly the history of war, colonialism, and marginalization – impact the work of Asian American poets across time and space? How does language act as a haunting space of intervention and activism? Poet and scholar Jane Wong raised these questions with her digital multimedia project, The Poetics of Haunting. For the last workshop event of 2017, Wong and poets Carlina Duan, Christine Shan Shan Hou, and Muriel Leung read work and share images that boldly invoke historical and familial ghosts so that we may feel their presence.

One-on-One Conversation with Sam Gold and David Caparelliotis | Monday, December 18, 7-8 PM, SDC Foundation 321 W 44th St
Theatre often struggles to include and embrace diverse voices and artists, and this is certainly true of artists with disabilities. However, directors and casting directors are uniquely positioned to change producing practices and the perceptions of audiences well before the lights go up, and indeed, even before the first rehearsal – and it starts with the casting breakdown. Join SDCF Foundation Director David Roberts as he sits down with director Sam Gold and casting director David Caparelliotis to discuss opportunities in collaborating with artists with disabilities. They will explore authentic representation of disabled characters by actors with disabilities, as well as the casting of those same actors in non-disabled roles.

In Your Free Time

Consider The New Middle East podcast with UCLA’s Professor James L. Gelvin and Kevin Harris. In the wake of the United States and Russia’s attempts to reposition themselves within the Middle East, the podcast explains how the region got where it is today, and what direction it is heading towards in the future.

This Monday Briefing is brought to you by Zuha Siddiqui.

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