The Daily Moth 7-4-19

Justin Amash Leaves GOP, becomes an Independent; Former MI Governor withdraws from Harvard fellowship after backlash; Update: US officials working on citizenship question; Deaf people in Hong Kong

[Transcript] Hello, welcome to The Daily Moth. It is Thursday, July 4th.

I’m Christian Young again subbing for Alex, who is out-of-state.

Are you ready for today’s news?


1. Justin Amash Leaves GOP, becomes an Independent

This morning, in an op-ed in the Washington Post, Rep. Justin Amash (39) from Michigan announced that he is “declaring independence” and is leaving the Republican Party.

Amash was the only Republican in Congress that has publicly said that the Mueller report says President Donald Trump committed impeachable acts.

President Trump tweeted responding to Amash’s article by saying this is “great news for the Republican Party” and that Amash “knew he couldn’t get the nomination to run again” in Michigan because he’s “already being challenged for his seat.”

Amash was on his fourth term but he was being challenged by Michigan State Rep. Jim Lower who described himself as “Pro-Trump,” and Amash hasn’t announced whether he will run for office again.

The only other independents in Congress – Bernie Sanders (Vt) and Angus King (Maine) caucus with Democrats in the Senate, but Amash hasn’t announced if he would caucus with Democrats. However, the Democrats already control the House of Representatives so this doesn’t change that.

Amash said he was a lifelong Republican, but in recent years, Amash says he’s become disappointed and frightened by the “party politics”, that most Americans are not “rigidly partisan” and that Americans can do better than a two-party system.

The link to Amash’s full Washington Post op-ed article is in the transcript:



2. Former MI Governor withdraws from Harvard fellowship after backlash

Yesterday, former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced in a tweet that he turned down the offer from a research fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of State and Local Government.

When the school sent out a press release that Snyder was offered the job as a senior research fellow last Friday, there was heavy social media backlash because of his past in handling of the Flint water crisis that started back in April 2014 when he was the governor. He ended his term in 2018.

When Snyder turned down the offer at the school, he also tweeted that “it would’ve been exciting to share my experiences, both positive and negative; our current political environment and lack of civility makes this too disruptive. I wish them the best.”

Mari Copeny, the 11-year-old known as “Little Miss Flint”, created the hashtag #NoSynderFellowship to lead the opposition against the appointment and also tweeted #SynderForPrison.

Almost 7,000 people signed an online petition in opposition which was created by another Harvard Kennedy School fellow, Tiffani Bell.

Snyder has been heavily criticized for his role in the Flint Water Crisis for not paying attention to warnings and for not acting fast enough to resolve the crisis.

Snyder publicly apologized for the crisis in 2016 saying there were “failures at all levels of government” including the city, state and federal level.

Snyder hasn’t been charged with a crime, but recently he was added as a defendant in a major class action lawsuit against the state of Michigan.

Flint is still repairing its water pipes that are still contaminated and is estimated to be completed by 2020. Even then, the people of Flint will have difficulties trusting their government whether the water quality really is safe to drink because of their history of ignoring warnings and covering up evidence.



3. Update: US officials working on citizenship question

This is an update on the White House’s push on adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Today, President Donald Trump said the US Department of Justice and Department of Commerce will continue finding various legal options to add the citizenship question to the 2020 census even on Fourth of July.

The process of printing the questionnaire without the citizenship question has already begun and the Supreme Court has said the question cannot be added to the Census unless they get a better explanation why it’s necessary to add the citizenship question.

Trump tweeted today that it was “so important for our Country that the very simple and basic ‘Are you a Citizen of the United States?’ question” to be asked in the 2020 Census.

One of the arguments is that adding the question would help enforce the Voting Rights Act which guarantees Americans their right to vote without discrimination, but critics say fewer people would respond to the census resulting in a less accurate census.

There are about 327 million people currently living in the US and the census helps allocate federal, state and local funding.


04 Deaf people in Hong Kong


There were recent demonstrations in Hong Kong.

[Image of massive protests on a Hong Kong city street]


This was about a bill called extradition law that would have allowed China to order extraditions of suspected lawbreakers or for those who challenged the Chinese government.

People are angry because this bill would enable China to assert greater control over Hong Kong.

Hong Kong folks fear it would expose anyone in Hong Kong who challenged or insulted China’s government. China has a flawed justice system. China also has poor legal protections for defendants.

The protests have forced the Hong Kong government to suspend consideration of the bill.

[Image of a bustling Hong Kong skyline against a backdrop of a bay and mountains]


Isn’t Hong Kong part of China? Yes, but it is a semi-autonomous region.

What happened? Hong Kong was under the control of the British Empire for more than 150 years until 1984, when there was a joint declaration between UK and China. Britain agreed to give Hong Kong to China.

[Image of a handover ceremony with text: The agreement between Britain and China was in 1984. The actual handover was in 1997.]


China promised to allow a “high degree of autonomy” to Hong Kong, including guarantees of free speech that was not available in China. Examples are freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom to protest against the government without reprisals.

During the British colony period, Hong Kong was popular with migrants who treasured its freedoms. Many who were politically against China or those who committed crimes and were fugitives found refuge. China also had economic and political instability that caused poverty and suffering, causing more migrants to move to Hong Kong. They have enjoyed the freedoms.

[Image of Chinese President Xi Jinping]


In 2017, Chinese president Xi Jinping warned during his visit to Hong Kong that challenges to Beijing’s rule wouldn’t be tolerated or permitted. It was a chilling message.

[Image of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam]


Hong Kong’s Chief Executive’s name is Carrie Lam. She has pushed the bill, but after the demonstrations and protests, she has apologized and suspended the bill. But protesters said this was not good enough, as it meant she was for China rather than for Hong Kong, and asked for her resignation. Protesters want the bill to be completely withdrawn.

[Image of a crowd of protesters holding identical signs that read, “NO EXTRADITION!” There is one sign that shows Lam’s face with the words, “LIAR” on it.]


I wonder what Deaf Hong Kong people’s perspectives are on this situation and what impact the bill would have on their lives.



Hi, my name’s Connie Lo. This is my sign name. I’m from Hong Kong and I’ve lived there for a while now.


Hi, my name’s Jason Wong. I’m from Hong Kong and I’m deaf.


CALLIE: How have rights been eroded in Hong Kong and what about Deaf people’s rights?


It doesn’t matter if you’re deaf or hearing, you’ll lose some extent of rights. For example, their freedom of speech and expression would be eroded. Also, in whatever you print, in the news, any freedom of speech would be restricted. Three, our voting rights would be restricted as well. So that’s what caused us all, many of us, to have deep concerns so consequently we decided to march. That’s the reason.

CALLIE: What are your concerns on the bill? How will it impact Deaf people’s lives if it passes?


Here in Hong Kong, their government system is set up with two systems for one country. I mean Hong Kong controls its own while the Chinese has their own separate system. The Chinese government controls their own country, but Hong Kong is considered a part of China. With that recent bill, if they convene and pass this bill then it would affect everyone regardless if they’re deaf or hearing. Their quality of life and rights will be diminished. Like, for example, if a hearing person wanted to speak their native language Cantonese, they might have to change their spoken language to Mandarin. They’ll have to change their traditional writing to simplified writing? What about the deaf people? Would that mean deaf people in Hong Kong would have to learn Chinese sign language? They’d need to change their written language too. Also, the march itself is a freedom of expression and would there be less of that? If someone who was either hearing or deaf, doesn’t matter, for example, a deaf person is arrested and put into jail then who would interpret for that person? Would that person be a Chinese interpreter? It’s our lives and we’re worried about that bill.

CALLIE: How have the hearing and Deaf communities in Hong Kong collaborated in the protests?


Hearing and deaf people have been working together when many deaf people watching the news, or any TV wouldn’t know what’s happening. Hearing people could help by keeping us informed like with the march, the reason behind it and everything. It’s been helpful for Deaf people and they get be more involved in the action, in the march.

CALLIE: How are you dealing with police violence? Do you mind explaining that?


Some deaf people have hearing allies and they stick together. The police, whew, many of them just wanted to throw these tear gases that really irritate your face. About 150 of them. Then they fired about 20 lead beads too. And three, they had these purple sprays they used on people who were reporters or workers. Pretty intense. Some, actually all of these people were pretty scared, and they just wanted to be safe, but they knew they had to stay and fight this war. Then after a while, at around 8pm, when it was getting dark, it got crazy when they threw these explosives. All these people were so scared, and they just ran. The deaf people were watching and following the crowd’s lead. But I also saw this, and it’s important that deaf people to be watchful for these things, there were some Hong Kong people who used their own gestures like these.

We all helped each other and worked together. It was a really great feeling. All these people of Hong Kong wanted to fight for their rights. We must change Hong Kong’s system. We don’t want China taking over. We want to prevent that from happening.

CALLIE: What meaningful action are you asking for from the global community?


We need to get the word out, we want the G20 countries to check in on the situation. Because there would be economic implications in Asia and Hong Kong plays an important part. If that bill were to pass, then our economy and trading would fail. That’s why we’re marching.

CALLIE: Thank you for sharing your stories. I am in solidarity with you.



That’s all for today, See you all tomorrow and stay with the light!


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