The Game Of The Name
July 29, 2022
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“A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.” – William Arthur Ward
The Game Of The Name
Two weeks ago, conservative Democratic senator Joe Manchin (W.Va) could only bring himself to support two narrowed health care proposals from President Biden’s giant Build Back Better legislation. Manchin said he just couldn’t agree to any funding for climate or energy programs, or raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans, because inflation was “wreaking havoc on everybody’s life.” So what’s in a name? Perhaps a lot if it pays homage to Manchin’s main talking point. The intractable lawmaker abruptly announced Wednesday he had reached an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on health care costs, energy, and climate issues. The new legislation is called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, and will be paid for by closing tax loopholes on wealthy individuals and large corporations.
The 700-plus page bill would offer the most funding in history – $369 billion – to curb carbon emissions and protect energy security. Key components include $60 billion for companies to bring clean energy manufacturing into the U.S. from overseas; 10 years of tax credits for consumers to invest in clean energy to make homes more energy efficient; tax credits up to $7,500 for low-income car buyers; $60 billion for environmental justice, to address issues like pollution in low-income communities and communities of color. The package must be reviewed by the Senate parliamentarian to pass through the budget reconciliation process, which allows Democrats to approve the measure with just 50 votes. Republicans immediately criticized the agreement. Texas senator John Cornyn called it “Manchin’s New Build Back Broke Bill” and said, “Senate Democrats can change the name of Build Back Broke as many times as they want, it won’t be any less devastating to American families and small businesses.”
Wednesday’s surprise announcement came just hours after the Senate passed the Chips and Science Act, a bill to subsidize investments in domestic semiconductor chip production. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had threatened to obstruct the semiconductor bill if Democrats continued to pursue party-line reconciliation legislation. After passage in the Senate, the chip legislation went to the House, where Republicans called it a “corporate welfare” bill and were urged to vote against it. Nevertheless, 24 Republicans joined Democrats to pass the measure on Thursday 243 to 187. It now goes to President Biden for signing. (WaPo ($), CBS News)
A Nuclear Reaction
- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been increasingly threatening rivals with his advancing nuclear program. In his speech to war veterans Wednesday on the 69th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, Kim unleashed fiery rhetoric against the U.S. and South Korea, which he says are pushing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war.
- Kim warned he is ready to use his nuclear weapons in any potential military conflicts. He accused the U.S. of “demonizing” North Korea to justify its hostile policies, and said U.S.-South Korea military drills show the U.S.’s “double standards” and “gangster-like” aspects because it brands North Korea’s routine military activities – an apparent reference to its missile tests – as provocations or threats.
- Kim called new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol “a confrontation maniac.” Since taking office in May, the Yoon government has moved to strengthen Seoul’s military alliance with the U.S. and bolster its capacity to neutralize North Korean nuclear threats, including a preemptive strike capability. (NBC News)
The Elephant In The Room
- Kenya is battling its worst drought in four decades. Its rivers, soil, and grassland are drying up, resulting in a barren and deadly environment. It is being caused by climate change, and it’s killing 20 times more elephants than poaching.
- Elephants, giants of the animal kingdom, require vast landscapes for foraging, and adults can consume 300 pounds of food and more than 50 gallons of water daily. According to Kenya’s tourism and wildlife secretary, in the last year at least 179 elephants have died of thirst, whereas poaching has claimed the lives of less than 10.
- He called the crisis “a red alarm,” explaining that so much time and effort had been spent tackling the issue of illegal ivory poaching that environmental issues have been neglected. “We have forgotten to invest into biodiversity management and ecosystems,” he said. More than four million people in Kenya are facing acute food shortages, and farmers say they’ve lost up to 70% of their crops and livestock. Since last fall, seven million livestock have died in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. (WaPo, $)
Additional World News
- Canada says pope’s apology to Indigenous not enough (ABC)
- Russia steps up strikes in Ukraine amid counterattacks (NPR)
- Explosive mines among risks slowing efforts to export grains out of Ukraine (CBS)
- Czech police seized a high-powered Ferrari. Now it’s in their fleet. (WaPo, $)
- Iraq’s political chaos: Why did protesters storm the parliament? (Al Jazeera)
- Germany accuses Russia of ‘power play’ as gas pipeline supply drops by half (Guardian)
- Greece rolls out red carpet for crown prince, as Khashoggi killing falls off agenda (Guardian)
An Unusually Cruel Vote
- In a shocking turn of events Thursday morning, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to help veterans exposed to hazardous waste incineration, like that from burn pits in recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill would remove the burden of proof from injured veterans and compel the VA to presume that certain illnesses are linked to exposure to those toxic substances.
- The measure initially sailed through the Senate weeks ago with 84 votes, and many veterans came to the nation’s capital to witness what they thought would be the bill’s final passage. After it was blocked, angry Democrats, including Montana Senator and chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Jon Tester and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) were joined by comedian Jon Stewart, a leading proponent of the bill.
- The politicians and Stewart joined veterans outside the Capitol to assail the GOP. Democrats accused Republicans of voting against the bill in retaliation for the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the surprise agreement announced earlier by Senators Schumer and Manchin. Republicans claimed it was simply a budgetary policy dispute between the parties. (WaPo, $)
That’s Not The Spirit
- Spirit Airlines CEO Ted Christie spent months arguing vehemently against a merger between his airline and JetBlue Airways, even insisting antitrust regulators would never allow it. Christie had hoped to merge with fellow budget carrier Frontier Airlines instead.
- But a day after the deal with Frontier fell through, JetBlue revealed it could become the nation’s fifth-largest airline if antitrust regulators approve its bid to buy Spirit for $3.8 billion. Christie now finds himself in the awkward position of defending a sale to JetBlue. “A lot has been said over the last few months obviously, always with our stakeholders in mind,” Christie said. “We have been listening to the folks at JetBlue, and they have a lot of good thoughts on their plans for that.”
- Spirit and similar rivals Frontier and Allegiant charge rock-bottom fares that appeal to the most budget-conscious leisure travelers. A spokesperson for an anti-merger organization said “Spirit is going to disappear, and with it, its low cost structure. Once Spirit is absorbed (into JetBlue), there is no question that fares are going to go up.” (ABC News)
Additional USA News
- Streets, houses underwater in Eastern Kentucky after heavy overnight rains (USA Today)
- Exclusive: Cassava Sciences faces U.S. criminal probe tied to Alzheimer’s drug, sources say (Reuters)
- Highland Park mass shooting suspect charged with 117 felony crimes (Guardian)
- Rejected by courts, retirees take last shot to save pensions (AP)
- Senate Bill Takes Aim at Visa, Mastercard Credit-Card Fees (WSJ, $)
- An Indiana Doctor Speaks Out on Abortion, and Pays a Price (NYT, $)
- ‘Hunted’: one in three people killed by US police were fleeing, data reveals (Guardian)
What’s The (Doughnut) Holed Up?
- On Saturday night, a thief broke into Johnny Doughnuts’ office in the San Francisco Bay Area, stole some cash, and grabbed keys to a bakery vehicle. Police said the burglar used an unknown tool to “manipulate” the office doorknob and get inside at around 10 p.m. Surveillance video shows the as yet unidentified man moving between the office and the back storage area, where he pried open a filing cabinet and took out a bank bag with cash in it. The burglar left the office with the cash, but had to return later – because he’d forgotten to take his keys.
- The crime was reported to the San Rafael police on Monday and they’re seeking the public’s help to identify the man. Police lieutenant Dan Fink said, “Part of the investigating is finding out why this particular business was targeted.” Craig Blum, founder of Johnny Doughnuts, said his company plans to deliver a dozen doughnuts to the San Rafael police officers “who came to our aid to ensure that we can continue serving our community hand-crafted doughnuts without interruption.”
- It could have been worse. While the burglary was an “unfortunate incident,” Blum was “just glad no doughnuts or team members were harmed.” He’s quite understanding, all things considered. “Sometimes even the thought of a doughnut makes you do crazy things.” (AP News)
- 4,000 Mistreated Beagles Need Homes. These Folks Are Stepping Up. (NYT, $)
- Scientists reanimate dead spiders as robot gripping claws (The Verge)
- Whale sharks are world’s biggest omnivores, study finds (Guardian)
- Big pink diamond discovered in Angola, largest in 300 years (NBC)
- Human bones, stolen art: Smithsonian tackles its ‘problem’ collections (WaPo, $)
- Why do some cats seem to get along with other cats? Their hormones offer a clue. (NBC)
- Turkmenistan restricts export of its local Alabay dog breed (AP)