PACing It In
January 12, 2021
The Good News
- Paris agrees to turn Champs-Élysées into ‘extraordinary garden’ (Guardian). Mayor Anne will finally get her green gables.
- Establishment of second buffalo herd celebrated in northern Mexico (Mexico News Daily)
“Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.” — Oscar Ameringer
“Money in politics is like water running downhill — it finds its way.” — Jonathan Alter
Corporations PAC Up Their Donations And Head Home
(Jeremy Moeller via Getty Images)
Call it a case of ‘Better Late Than Never,’ but one thing’s for sure: Big corporations are deciding they don’t want their campaign contributions being linked to violent insurrections.
Over the weekend, a growing number of companies announced they are suspending contributions to the eight Republican senators and 139 House Republicans who voted against certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, even after that effort contributed to deadly rioting by a mob of Trump-supporting seditionists.
Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel chain, announced it was “pausing political giving … to those who voted against certification of the election.” Marriott was joined by Blue Cross Blue Shield and Commerce Bancshares. Dozens of other major corporations are either considering the matter, or reviewing their policies around political giving, including AT&T, Bank of America, Bayer, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Ford, Amgen, CVS Health, ExxonMobil, FedEx, and Target.
Facebook, Google, and Microsoft said they will halt all political donations while they review their giving. Four of the country’s biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley — simply said they’re suspending all political giving. Candi Wolff, leader of Citi’s global government affairs team, emailed the firm’s employees Sunday saying: “We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law.” Wolff noted that the bank’s political action committee had contributed $1,000 to the campaign of Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo), who helped organize opposition to certifying Biden’s electoral college win.
Hallmark Cards, the Kansas City-based greeting card maker, went so far as to say its PAC was asking Hawley and Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan) to return its donations following the Capitol attack. Hawley’s campaign had received $7,000 and Marshall’s $5,000 over the last two years.
In coming days, the influential anti-Trump group, Lincoln Project, will launch a multimillion-dollar ad campaign targeting companies that bankroll Republicans who voted against certifying the election results, urging them to cease donations to these and other Republicans. Steve Schmidt, a former GOP star who left the party in disgust and co-founded the Lincoln Project, said the aim was to “destabilize the companies’ operations by fomenting employee rebellions.”
Not One To Settle, Bibi Races To Beat Biden
(Thomas Coex via Getty Images)
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to beat the clock in the waning hours of the Trump presidency. He’s ordered construction to proceed on some 800 new homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, Palestinian territory under Israeli occupation since the 1967 Six-Day War.
- The settlements are considered illegal under international law. Incoming President Joe Biden opposes settlement expansion in the occupied territories, which Palestinians see as part of a future independent state. Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has made a number of moves favoring his staunch ally, Netanyahu, that have been criticized as racist and discriminatory against the Palestinian people.
- In December 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced the installation of the US Embassy there. In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that Washington no longer viewed settlements as violating international law.
- The Israeli settler population in the West Bank grew substantially in 2020 and now approaches 500,000. Following Netanyahu’s announcement Monday, the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt, Germany, and France jointly called for Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities, including in [occupied] East Jerusalem.” (Al Jazeera)
World Leaders Try to HAC Together Climate Change Solution
- Scientists have said human activities are driving the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth and are threatening the healthy functioning of ecosystems crucial to human civilization. In response, a coalition of more than 50 countries across six continents formed, with the goal of halting destruction of the natural world and slowing extinctions of wildlife.
- Members of the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People pledged to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030. The HAC announcement was made Monday at the One Planet summit in Paris, which also saw pledges to invest billions of pounds in the Great Green Wall in Africa, and the launch of a new sustainable finance charter called the Terra Carta by Prince Charles.
- But the announcement also brought mocking skepticism from some campaigners who doubted its delivery. Greta Thunberg tweeted: “… Bla bla nature Bla bla important Bla bla ambitious Bla bla green investments….” (Guardian)
Additional World News
- The dark side of Israel’s vaccine success story (Al Jazeera)
- Amid rain and bitter cold, India’s protesting farmers vow not to back down (WaPo, $)
- Kazakh ruling party sweeps election; OSCE says vote uncompetitive (Al Jazeera)
- Pope, in new decree, allows more roles for women in Church (Reuters). A crucial expansion of the number of ways women can… continue to serve male priests.
- Facebook takes down Ugandan pro-Museveni accounts ahead of election (Reuters). Zuckerberg settling debate over whether he knows the word “proactive.”
- ‘Your move, Mr President’: North Korea sets the stage for Biden (BBC)
- Pinduoduo employee commits suicide, provoking outcry (WaPo, $)
- UK ‘to ban’ China imports linked to Uighur camps (Al Jazeera)
- U.S. plans to designate Yemen’s Houthi movement as foreign terrorist group (Reuters)
- What the Houthi ‘terrorist’ designation means in 500 words (Al Jazeera)
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For Places Lacking Profits, PPP Payments Possible
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Friday that a third round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) would be coming, with $284 billion in new funds and revamped rules that aim to get cash to the neediest businesses first while stamping out fraud. Starting Monday, small community financial institutions will begin receiving funds, as will larger lenders in coming days.
- Lawmakers criticized the SBA for not ensuring that lenders wouldn’t favor large businesses over smaller minority and women-owned ones during 2020’s first two PPP rounds. Congress authorized the new funds last month as part of another pandemic stimulus package which also loosened PPP rules on who can get cash and what it can be spent on.
- But a key change this time is that companies who took cash the first two rounds must show a 25% hit to their revenues before getting another PPP loan. The SBA is also introducing new due diligence checks to address concerns over fraud. (Reuters)
Additional USA News
- Trump impeachment move: Democrats start push to oust US president (BBC)
- Biden’s policies on social and criminal justice (WaPo, $)
- Ex-Capitol Police Chief Says Requests For National Guard Denied 6 Times In Riots (NPR). Wouldn’t want all those Guardsmen getting in the way of the “rule of law.”
- GOP attorney generals condemn robocalls that urged protesters to DC before Capitol riot (WaPo, $)
- Columbia Settles a Complicated Sexual Assault Case (NYT, $)
- The 51st State? Washington Revisits an Uphill Cause With New Fervor (NYT, $) Do I have to buy a new flag, or can I just tape another star to my current one?
- Nuclear stand-off: can Joe Biden avert a new arms race? (Guardian)
- Amazon employees want Oath Keepers, Three Percenters merch taken down (Vox)
- Cuba placed back on US terrorism sponsor list (BBC)
Careful, These Clams Are NSFW
- It’s probably not the dream of most small children to study the mating habits of nature’s weirdest clam, but researching fertilization and reproduction are pretty important scientific endeavors. And so it was that the form of direct fertilization called pseudocopulation was first reported in shipworms in the 1960s.
- Shipworms are giant, feathery, wood-eating creatures that live and love underneath and inside the hulls of yachts and wooden fishing vessels in boatyards everywhere. Despite a worm-like appearance, these animals are highly adapted clams with long, naked and eerily smooth bodies, who spend their entire adult life burrowed into wood. The only part of a shipworm that extends beyond the wood are two siphons the animal uses to breathe and expel waste. Since they don’t have sex organs, shipworms jettison sperm and eggs into the open water.
- On the unluckiest boats, whose hulls are honeycombed with clam-made holes, shipworms take reproduction one step further by hoisting up gobs of sperm with one of their siphons and inserting them into the siphons of neighboring shipworms. We’ll call these shipworms swingers.
- It hadn’t been possible to capture this frenzied pseudopornography of pseudocopulation by giant feathery shipworms until 2017, when Dr. Reuben Shipway, a research and teaching fellow at England’s University of Portsmouth, accomplished the feat with a GoPro. The results were reported in December in Biology Letters. Parents of small children be advised. (NYT, $)
- New York City Proposes Regulating Algorithms Used in Hiring (ArsTechnica)
- The Burundian refugee soap maker who is fighting coronavirus in Kenya (BBC)
- How Parler, a Chosen App of Trump Fans, Became a Test of Free Speech (NYT, $)
- How Online Sleuths Identified Rioters At The Capitol (NPR)
- A “no math” (but seven-part) guide to modern quantum mechanics (ArsTechnica)
- Jon Ossoff’s love of Imagine Dragons became a Twitter punchline. Welcome to politics as a millennial. (WaPo, $) Let’s hope his AOL DMs never become public.
- Organisms are not passive recipients of evolutionary forces (Aeon)
- The Plan to Build a Global Network of Floating Power Stations (Wired)
- Why It’s Important To Have POC And Women Scientists On Wikipedia (NPR)
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