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February 4, 2017
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A business trip to Uruguay taken in January by Eric Trump, the third child of President Donald Trump, cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills for the Secret Service agents and State Department staff who accompanied him.

Eric was visiting the South American country in his capacity as an executive of the Trump Organization, which the president's adult sons are managing in their father's stead. He was accompanied by Secret Service agents whose hotel bill totaled $88,320, as well as staff from the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay's capital city of Montevideo, who spent $9,510 on hotels so they could "support" the Secret Service. Those hotel bills may have been for as few as two nights.

The trip's expense and potential appearance of ethical compromise came under fire after The Washington Post published a story about the cost to taxpayers Friday night. "There is a public benefit to providing Secret Service protection," Kathleen Clark, a law professor and ethics expert at Washington University in St. Louis, told the Post. "But what was the public benefit from State Department personnel participating in this private business trip to the coastal town? It raises the specter of the use of public resources for private gain." Bonnie Kristian

1:38 p.m. ET

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) had Republicans up in arms when she called for her supporters to physically harass White House officials. But even Waters' own party isn't necessarily on her side.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted a calm response to Waters' message Monday, calling instead for measured responses to President Trump's "lack of civility."

Waters channeled America's recent habit of confronting Trump officials at restaurants at a rally Saturday, telling supporters to "create a crowd" and "push back" if they see Cabinet members in public. Republicans including The View co-host Meghan McCain, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), and Donald Trump Jr. all predictably fired back. So did the president, again using his "low IQ" insult for Waters.

But Pelosi's response was rare, tweeted political journalist Yashar Ali. CNN's congressional correspondent Manu Raju broke down why Pelosi had to tiptoe in her response to the Congressional Black Caucus member and fellow Californian:

You could call that thinking ahead — or maybe just politics. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:12 p.m. ET
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever prescription drug made from marijuana Monday, The Associated Press reports. The medication, Epidiolex, is an oral treatment for seizures associated with two rare forms of childhood epilepsy. "This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies," said the FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb.

Epidiolex uses cannabidiol (CBD), one of the chemicals in the cannabis plant, not tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the "high" associated with the drug.

"The difficult-to-control seizures that patients with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome experience have a profound impact on these patients' quality of life," said Billy Dunn, the director of Division of Neurology Products at the FDA's research wing. "In addition to [Epidiolex being] another important treatment option for Lennox-Gastaut patients, this first-ever approval of a drug specifically for Dravet patients will provide a significant and needed improvement in the therapeutic approach to caring for people with this condition."

The medication, which comes in the form of a strawberry-flavored syrup from Britain's GW Pharmaceuticals, was tested in trials with more than 500 patients. Read about its common side effects and the approval process at the FDA's website. Jeva Lange

1:10 p.m. ET
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Move over Jay-Z and Beyoncé, there's a new power couple in town — and they're baring it all for ESPN The Magazine's annual Body Issue.

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe and WNBA great Sue Bird are the first same-sex couple to be featured on the cover of the Body Issue, which aims to challenge beauty norms and celebrate the diversity of all athletic bodies.

With the politically charged state of the U.S., Rapinoe told the magazine that posing with Bird for the cover felt necessary. "Just think of how far we've come, but also the current climate. Not only are we female athletes, but we're dating as well. It's kind of badass," said Rapinoe, a forward for the U.S. National Women's Soccer team and Seattle Reign FC.

Bird, who plays point guard for the Seattle Storm, agreed, saying she believes the cover will only get better with age. As the years go by, it'll only seem more momentous that they were the "first openly gay couple to be in the issue," she said.

For the 10th anniversary of the Body Issue, ESPN is putting out 10 covers altogether, reports People. The covers include three other female athletes: soccer player Crystal Dunn, softball player Lauren Chamberlain, and basketball player Breanna Stewart. The issue hits newsstands June 29. Amari Pollard

11:52 a.m. ET
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The tech world is just as white as ever, 2016 industry data obtained by Reveal and published Monday shows. And while Facebook has claimed it just can't find qualified minority employees to disrupt its overwhelming masculinity, it also can't cover up the fact that it's whiter than the majority of Silicon Valley's 177 largest companies.

Facebook isn't even the worst offender in the Bay Area. Ten companies didn't have a single black female employee in 2016, and three didn't have a black employee whatsoever, per the newly compiled data. The median of black executives across all 177 companies was zero percent.

And Facebook is one of only 26 companies that will own up to its dismal diversity data. All the others refused to publicly unveil their numbers, so Reveal could only access anonymous versions of their federal race and gender reports.

Still, the news wasn't all bad. Women comprised the majority of employees at two anonymous companies, and women of color made up one-third of executives in another.

The other 174 have a lot of work to do. Read more about the findings at Reveal. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:47 a.m. ET
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Cigarettes sold in the U.S. and Europe are made using tobacco that is increasingly produced via child labor in poorer nations, an investigation by The Guardian published Monday found.

In places like Malawi, Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, Zimbabwe, and India, rising numbers of children work in harsh conditions on tobacco fields instead of attending school. Because families working on tobacco plots are often indebted to landowners, they are forced to bring their children into the fields as unpaid labor, continuing the cycle of generational poverty, reports The Guardian.

About 1.3 million children were working in tobacco fields in 2011, the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control said. Child labor has decreased in many places, but the U.N.'s International Labor Organization says wealthier nations have shrugged the practice off onto poorer countries. "Although there are no estimates of the number of child laborers in tobacco globally," an ILO report read, "surveys indicate that in impoverished tobacco growing communities, child labor is rampant."

Major tobacco companies told The Guardian that they are doing everything they can to combat the use of child labor. Company officials say they tell suppliers not to employ children and work with outside organizations to keep children in school and away from tobacco fields. Despite the commitment and efforts, WHO expert Vera Da Costa e Silva said the circumstances that lead to child labor continue to cycle. "No effective actions have been taken to reverse this scenario," said Silva. Read more at The Guardian. Summer Meza

11:07 a.m. ET

Former President Barack Obama has mostly confined himself to private life since leaving office last year, declining to comment with any regularity on the choices of his successor. That silence is intentional and strategic, a lengthy New York magazine profile published Sunday night reveals.

Per New York, Obama has at least three significant reasons to keep quiet. First, he's following institutional tradition at a time when many institutions seem to be in flux:

Modeling his political engagement out of office after George W. Bush's, of all people — privileging the customs and traditions of our democracy rather than upending some in order to fight for others — may be among the most optimistic choices Obama has ever made. [New York]

Second, he doesn't want to crowd out new voices:

"He's recognizing that the party and our country will benefit from other voices having an opportunity to weigh in, and that opportunity would be all but completely obscured if he were regularly sharing his opinion on these issues," says [former White House Press Secretary] Josh Earnest. [New York]

And third, Obama is hyper-aware that inserting himself into the news cycle could help, rather than hinder, President Trump's agenda:

Obama believes more than ever in his capacity to spark an immediate backlash among Trump fans and to make any policy matter far more partisan. ... "It's pretty clear what President Trump's political strategy always is, which is to find a foil," says Earnest. "And with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton, his most prominent foil has been Barack Obama. That's been a very effective strategy for President Trump to galvanize his base and effectively put Republicans on Capitol Hill in the fetal position." [New York]

Read the full report on Obama's post-presidency life here. Bonnie Kristian

10:41 a.m. ET
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Pope Francis decried suppression of press freedom in "so-called democratic" countries in a Monday Reuters interview.

"The right to information is a right that must always be protected," he said. "States that have something they don't want to be seen always stop the media and freedom of the press, and we must fight for freedom of the press. We must fight."

The pope specifically addressed the plight of the Rohingya, a Muslim-majority minority in Myanmar whose violent persecution by government troops as well as Buddhist mobs and militias has been labeled by the United Nations a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing." Two Reuters reporters covering the Rohingya crisis have been jailed by Myanmar since December.

"I would like that the reason why they are in prison be clarified. If they have committed a crime or not. But it is important that the situation be clarified," Pope Francis said. "In some countries maybe things are going well, but there are many ways to silence the media." Bonnie Kristian

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