A Coup New Leader
September 8, 2021
As promised, here are the results of the Daily Pnut section survey we sent out last week. Thank you to all who answered the questions, we are thrilled to see the variation in all of your answers!
“My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.” — Bryan Stevenson
We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Net
Not since the war on poverty in the 1960s has the United States made such an ambitious attempt at expanding the social safety net, until now, when Democrats will meet this week to begin drafting a $3.5 trillion bill. Whether or not the bill passes is still largely up in the air, but President Biden has made a big show of pushing for the bill, but it will require the vote of every Democrat in the Senate, and almost all Democrats in the House as well, given the narrow majority the left has in both chambers right now. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have both already proclaimed their hesitance to support the plan.
The pandemic put both parties in the position to support more federal spending, and Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the success of pandemic aid as proof that the changes should be made permanent. Democrats hope to support the expanded aid by increasing taxes on corporations, as well as unprecedented new taxes on the wealthy. Republicans and big businesses are uniting to kill the bill, with many on the Right considering it socialism and saying it is unsustainable and would create a generation of people reliant on the government for basic needs.
The bill in question hopes to provide a safety net for Americans essentially from birth to death. Paid family leave would allow parents to take time off during pregnancy and after giving birth, and funding for child care would kick in once the parent returns to work. Universal pre-kindergarten will open up once a child turns three, and the expanded child tax credit currently in effect would continue throughout much of childhood. School nutrition programs would also be expanded. Two years of higher education would then lead into expanded workforce training and other income supplements until old age makes you eligible for an expansion of Medicare and tax credits to offset elder care costs.
The passage of the bill will be a nail-biter, but Democrats are ready to shift towards equity and equality, taking the economic risks that come along with it. (NYT, $)
Brazilians Brazenly Brawl
- Supporters of Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, skirmished with police when they tried to force their way toward Congress before a major political rally. Footage of the early morning events shows officers pepper-spraying angry crowds as Bolsonaro supporters vow to storm the country’s supreme court. Some citizens fear a military self-coup led by Bolsonaro — something his supporters have publicly called for.
- Bolsonaro has faced declining public ratings as a result of numerous corruption scandals and his botched handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, which left nearly 600,000 people in the country dead. Notorious for his admiration of authoritarian leaders and Brazil’s 1964-85 dictatorship, Bolsonaro announced that a political “rupture” may be imminent on Saturday.
- Some people, such as Ruth de Aquino, a columnist for the newspaper “O Globo,” believe that Bolsonaro’s tactics are meant to spark violence and distract from his poor leadership in troubled times. “Many presidents resort to overseas conflicts to boost their popularity. In the absence of external enemies, Bolsonaro is inciting an internal war so Brazil forgets his utter incompetence.” (Guardian)
A Coup New Leader
- One day after the military takeover of Guinea, Col. Mamady Doumbouya announced that there would be no witch-hunt against former government officials, and ordered ministers from the ousted government to not depart the country and hand over their official vehicles. In a meeting Monday, with the ministers, Doumbouya also requested that companies that conduct mining in Guinea continue their work, exempting them from a nationwide curfew.
- The coup began Sunday, with reports of heavy gunfire near the presidential palace in Guinea’s capital, Conakry. Despite initial reports that the insurgency had been crushed, photos emerged of 83-year-old President Alpha Conde in captivity. Col. Doumbouya, a 41-year-old former member of the French legionary, appeared on state television following the capture of the president to announce that the country’s government and constitution had been dissolved and a new government would be formed soon. “We will no longer entrust politics to one man. We will entrust it to the people,” Doumbouya said.
- On Sunday, many took to the streets to celebrate Conde’s removal from power, running and cheering alongside passing military vehicles. Alpha Conde was voted into his role as the country’s leader in 2010 as Guinea’s first democratically elected president. His government helped boost mining and exports of its vast quantities of the mineral bauxite, used in the manufacturing of aluminum. However, frustration has increased in the past few years, as the wealth gained from bauxite was not trickling down to most of the country, even as operations disrupted the lives and livelihoods of those in rural Guinea. (NPR)
Additional World News
- Curtains separate male and female Afghan students as new term begins under Taliban rule (CNN)
- German election: Merkel attacks left as polls point to defeat (BBC)
- Vietnam: Man gets five years in jail for spreading Covid (BBC)
- Authorities race to contain deadly Nipah virus outbreak in India (CBS)
- Boris Johnson to hike taxes to tackle Covid and social care crises (CNBC)
- 4 Americans depart Afghanistan as Blinken arrives in Qatar (CBS)
- Myanmar opposition calls for national uprising against army (AP)
Wake Me Up When September Ends
- Democratic legislators are set to face down a jam-packed September full of deadlines, with many different issues jockeying for attention. The Senate returns to session next Monday after its Labor Day recess, and the House is set to return on the 20th, meaning both houses of the legislative branch have less time to push through a significant number of issues.
- One major speed bump for the legislature is the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion spending plan, which includes the recent bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. The larger bill provides funds for health care, education, and fighting climate change, but Democrats are at odds over its size. Moderate Democrats, like Senator Joe Manchin, say the bill is too big, but progressives refuse to shrink it. With the Senate split 50-50 between both parties, Democrats need all hands on deck to get their legislation passed.
- On top of the massive spending bill, legislators are also set to clash over voting rights, abortion, and U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. The cherry on top of this contentious September is the fact that the government must also confront the looming issue of the debt ceiling, which requires 10 Republican votes to be raised. (The Hill)
On The Trail Again
- It appears that former President Donald Trump is interested in hitting the campaign trail again in 2024. Trump’s main political committee recently made a large push setting up for a campaign, with increased fundraising activity, new media interviews and press activity, and a new flush of attack ads online.
- This recent push comes as President Biden’s image has declined in the face of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the resurgence of COVID-19. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is still under investigation for sex trafficking and other charges said, “Trump sees Biden is on the ropes. He wants to throw punches as a combatant, not a heckler from the stands.”
- According to Gaetz, if Republicans are able to win majorities in the Senate or House during the 2022 midterms, Trump is likely to run in 2024. While Trump himself has remained silent on whether or not he will run, many of his faithful remain, well, faithful: one anonymous source stated, “he really hasn’t decided, but we all think he’ll run … he wants to get in a position to where it’s a turnkey operation once he says yes.” (Politico)
Additional USA News
- State GOP leaders push new 2020 election reviews as Arizona report looms (Politico)
- Former Trump adviser Jason Miller briefly detained in Brazil as political tumult grips country (WaPo, $)
- Things must change with nursing home storm plans, Louisiana’s lieutenant governor says after deadly hurricane (CNN)
- Alphonso David, Who Advised Cuomo, Fired as Human Rights Campaign President (NYT, $)
- US coronavirus: Country reaches 40 million recorded Covid-19 cases (CNN)
- Ohio Judge Reverses Order Requiring Covid Patient to Be Given Ivermectin (NYT, $)
- According to research published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, ducks have joined the ranks of birds that can speak (if you can call it that). One specific duck even knows how to call people “bloody fools” thanks to his Australian upbringing. The paper, published Monday, included the story of a male musk duck, known as Ripper, who was hand-raised near Canberra, Australia.
- Ripper was able to mimic sounds produced by humans and their activities, including doors slamming and human words. Other ducks of the same species were also able to “talk”. One friend of Ripper’s was able to mimic the sounds of a different species of duck, while a musk duck in the UK learned to mimic coughs, turnstiles, and pony noises from his neighbors.
- This ability to mimic sounds in musk ducks is also shown in other birds. Many songbirds and parrots famously show the same abilities, but we usually wouldn’t associate a trip to the local pond with being sworn at by waterfowl. Researchers attribute Ripper’s ability to mimic sounds both to musk ducks’ brain structures, which are similar to those of songbirds and parrots, and his human upbringing, as musk ducks imprint heavily on their caretakers. (CNET)
- The Space Force is starting to lean into innovative launch concepts (Ars Technica)
- How the Cat Gets Its Stripes: It’s Genetics, Not a Folk Tale (NYT, $)
- Astronomers are still looking for the elusive ‘Planet 9’ (NBC)
- Wiggling twin panda cubs are born at the Madrid Zoo (AP)
- Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Tiffany advert criticised by friends of Basquiat (Guardian)
- Pigeons, Curves, and the Traveling Salesperson Problem (Wired)
- ‘It didn’t adhere to any of the rules’: the fascinating history of free jazz (Guardian)
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