news·6 min read

Daily Skimm: Farmer Aid Package, UK PM Theresa May, and a Surprise House Cleaning

Farmer Aid Package
Getty Images
May 24, 2019



The Story

The Trump administration is writing farmers a $16 billion check.

We are farmers, bum ba dum bum bum bum bum.

So that's insurance. This has to do with the trade war. Since last year, the US and China have hit each other with billions of dollars of tariffs. The US's goal: to cut down on the trade deficit with China. And end what it considers unfair practices, like alleged IP theft. But farmers are getting caught in the middle of this beef.

How so?

Before the trade war, China used to buy around half of all US soybean exports. Last year, the amount it spent dropped almost 75% – from about $12 billion to about $3 billion. And the Trump admin gave farmers up to a $12 billion check to make up for the losses. Now, it's back with another band-aid.

Is there an end date to this trade war?

Probably, but unclear when. The two sides looked close to reaching a deal earlier this month, but China apparently made some last-minute edits. Now, Trump says China might try to wait this out until the 2020 election, hoping a Democrat will replace him. He might be onto something: Chinese tariffs are hitting US farmers in red and swing states – a blatant attempt to hit Trump where it hurts. Because, you know, he's all about that base.


Farmers are paying for this trade war, but they're not alone: if the Trump admin follows through with the next round of tariffs, it will make pretty much everything the US buys from China more expensive, costing the average US household $831 a year. Some think the trade war is worth it – and are hoping Trump holds firm. Others are getting impatient as their livelihoods are being used as a negotiation tactic.

Disaster relief

The Story

Also on the US's 'we got you' list: people suffering from natural disasters. Finally.

Why 'finally'?

In recent years, places like the Southeast, Midwest, California, and Puerto Rico have experienced a range of natural disasters, including floods, wildfires, and hurricanes. Some have been linked to climate change. The federal gov has sent billions to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. But it – and states across the US – still need help. And have been straining to pay for things like food stamps and infrastructure repairs. But for months, Democrats and Republicans couldn't agree on a deal.

We're talking about disaster relief here. What was the holdup?

Border funding. The Trump admin wanted to include more spending to address what it calls a humanitarian crisis on the US-Mexico border. It's now giving up. Yesterday, senators on both sides of the aisle said 'we're on board' with $19.1 billion in aid. The House and President Trump are expected to do the same as early as today.


This aid is much-needed relief for many Americans looking to rebuild their lives. And could come days before this year's hurricane season officially begins.


Who's throwing in the towel…

UK PM Theresa May. Refresher: In 2016, the UK voted to Brexit (aka British exit) from the EU. Then-PM David Cameron (who was anti-Brexit) stepped down and May took over the job to figure out how to actually make the breakup happen. But this year, lawmakers voted down her Brexit deal…three times. The UK was supposed to leave the block in March, but the deadline got pushed off until October. Earlier this week, May said that she wanted lawmakers to vote on her plan for a fourth time. And that if it passed, she'd hold a vote in Parliament on whether to hold a second Brexit referendum – but nobody bought her offer. Today, she said she's "done everything I can" to deliver Brexit, but that "sadly I have not been able to do so." So she'll resign as leader of her party on June 7, but will stay on as PM until a successor is chosen.

  • I volunteer as tribute: The race begins on who will become the next PM. Potential options include Boris Johnson, a pro-Brexit former foreign secretary, and Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary. The new PM could attempt to figure out a deal that makes UK lawmakers and the EU happy. Or could move forward with a no deal exit, which could lead to serious trade confusion and chaos.

$: What's money got to do with it? Here's what Brexit could mean for your wallet.

Who's searching 'best lawyers in the UK' on Yelp…

Julian Assange. Yesterday, the DOJ said it charged the WikiLeaks founder with violating the Espionage Act. Last month, Assange was kicked out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London (that's what happens when you're the world's worst roommate) and arrested for skipping bail in 2012. The US also said 'but wait, there's more' and charged him for conspiring to hack into a gov computer. Now the US is upping the ante with 17 more charges for doing things like soliciting and publishing classified info. He reportedly faces up to 175 years in prison for all of the charges.

  • Pay attention: These charges are opening up a lot of questions about First Amendment rights and protections for journalists who publish classified info since the DOJ reportedly argues that Assange went beyond First Amendment protections.

Thing to Know: Espionage Act. Originally passed during World War I to punish spies and others who weren't loyal to the US. Now, it's typically used to target people like gov officials who leak classified info.

What people are watching…

Kenya. Today, it's expected to rule on whether to end a colonial-era law criminalizing gay sex. Currently, that can lead to a 14-year jail sentence. Back in 2016, LGBTQ activists pushed courts to change that, arguing it violates the country's constitution. A ruling on this case was supposed to come out in February, but the court pushed it off to today because it needed more time to go over the case.

  • Ripple effect: Kenya is one of about 70 countries that criminalize homosexuality, about half of which are in Africa. But it has ruled in favor of LGBTQ issues in the past. And many are hoping that if Kenya rules in favor of gay rights now, other countries could follow suit.

What people have feelings about…

Botswana. The country just overturned its ban on elephant hunting. There are more elephants there than anywhere else in the world (around 130,000). In 2014, the country's then-president (a conservationist) imposed the ban to protect the elephant population size. But the new gov is reversing it, saying the ban negatively impacts people's livelihoods – since elephants can destroy farmers' crops and in some cases even kill people.

  • Elections v elephants: Some think that the gov is doing all of this to win over rural voters before this year's elections, which are going down in October.

Who's as badass as the superheroes in the new Marvel series

These West Point grads. A record number of black women are graduating from the military academy this weekend. Cheers to you, ladies.

When you're freezing at the office...

Skimm This. Our daily podcast explains why women work better when they're not constantly reaching for a sweater. Sincerely, cold women everywhere.

When you finally get credit that's way overdue...

This is bittersweet.

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