Where There’s A Bill, There’s A Way
August 8, 2022
Some Good News
- Georgia just broke its state record for the number of sea turtle nests (CNN)
- His hometown didn’t have a veterans memorial, so this teen built one himself (NPR)
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams
Where There’s A Bill, There’s A Way
Senators finally passed the Democrat’s big climate, healthcare, and tax reconciliation bill on Sunday. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 came to fruition after a year of tumultuous in-fighting and a last-minute marathon debate lasting 16 hours. The vote was 51-50, with VP Kamala Harris having tie-breaking honors. The measure, while far from President Biden’s initial Build Back Better agenda, still represents a lot of money to be spent combating climate change, lowering health care costs, and reducing the federal deficit while also raising taxes on some billion-dollar corporations. The $370 billion for climate and energy programs is the most money ever allocated to tackle global warming and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below their 2005 levels by the end of this decade.
The bill is expected to raise enough money to cover its new spending, in part by tweaking federal tax laws to target tax cheats and some billion-dollar companies that pay nothing to the government. But without Republican support, every Democrat had to be on board to use the reconciliation process to pass the measure on a simple majority vote. That gave Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema power to demand some changes, which she used to protect wealthy private equity and hedge fund managers by knocking out what’s known as the “carried interest loophole.” Her colleagues appeased her by substituting a new tax on the money companies spend to purchase back their own stock.
The reconciliation process requires the approval of Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who decides whether a bill adheres to the requisite rules. Unfortunately, MacDonough ruled out a significant part of the bill’s prescription drug pricing reforms – a $35 cap on what insulin users on Medicare and private medical insurance pay for the medicine every month. Some 7 million Americans require insulin daily. A Yale University study found that 14% of those insulin users spend more than 40% of their income (after food and housing costs) on the medicine. The parliamentarian left the insulin cap for those on Medicare, but not those with private medical insurance. Despite the adverse ruling, Democrats opted to keep the full price cap provision in the bill anyway, but Republicans succeeded in blocking approval of the cap for those with private medical insurance. (NYT ($), CNN, Yale News, WaPo ($))
Prez Your Luck
- Colombia elected its first leftist president in June. Senator Gustavo Petro, a former member of Colombia’s M-19 guerrilla group, was sworn in Sunday and has an ambitious agenda. The 62-year-old has promised to tackle Colombia’s social and economic inequalities by boosting spending on anti-poverty programs and increasing investment in rural areas.
- Petro formed alliances with environmentalists during his presidential campaign and has promised to turn Colombia into a “global powerhouse for life” by slowing deforestation and taking steps to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. He says his government will stop granting new licenses for oil exploration and will ban fracking projects, even though the oil industry makes up almost 50% of Colombia’s legal exports.
- Petro plans to finance social spending with a $10 billion annual tax reform that would boost taxes on the rich and eliminate corporate tax breaks. A political scientist at Bogota’s Rosario University says Petro “will have to prioritize. The risk [he] faces is that he goes after too many reforms at once and gets nothing” through Colombia’s congress. (NPR)
Resign Of The Times
- Oksana Pokalchuk, who headed up Amnesty International in Ukraine, is stepping down after the human rights organization issued a report last week criticizing Ukraine’s military. The report said that “Ukrainian forces have put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals.”
- That sparked a backlash among Ukrainian officials who said it was unfairly blaming the victim in Russia’s war. “Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law,” the secretary general of Amnesty International said in a statement accompanying the report.
- Pokalchuk noted that the organization’s employees in Ukraine had pushed Amnesty International to allow the Ukrainian Defense Ministry to respond to the report’s findings before it was published, but the organization gave Ukrainian officials “very little time to respond.” “As a result of this, although unwillingly, the organization created material that sounded like support of Russian narratives,” Pokalchuk said. “Seeking to protect civilians, this study instead has become a tool of Russian propaganda.” (WaPo, $)
Additional World News
- Bomb blast in Kabul kills eight, injures more than 20 (Reuters)
- More than 300 Haitians found on sailboat grounded near Florida’s Key Largo (NBC)
- Uganda’s suspension of LGBT charity a ‘clear witch-hunt’, say campaigners (Guardian)
- Archie Battersbee, boy at heart of U.K. court battle, dies after life support ends (CBS)
- Warnings of destruction at 77th Hiroshima memorial amid Russia threat (Politico)
- Kosovo detains Russian journalist at the border (Reuters)
- Five more arrested in Brazil over murders of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira (Guardian)
Thank U, Text
- The small town of Vincent is located in central Alabama, southeast of Birmingham. The town has a population of just under 2,000 people, and used to have a police department with three people: Police Chief James Srygley, Assistant Chief John L. Goss, and Deputy Lee Carden.
- But after racist text messages between officers surfaced on social media, city officials disbanded the department and fired the chiefs. The deputy later resigned. “This has torn this community apart,” City Councilman Corey Abrams said during Thursday’s council meeting. “It doesn’t matter what color we are as long as we do right by people.” (NPR)
A Long Time Coming
- For 246 years, the U.S. Marine Corps’ most senior leadership consisted entirely of white men, but on Saturday, General Michael E. Langley, 60, became the first Black Marine to receive a fourth star on his shoulder, making him one of only three four-star generals serving in the Corps’ senior leadership. In an emotional ceremony at the Marine Barracks in Washington, General Langley referenced President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s order that desegregated the Marine Corps during World War II, and listed a slew of Black Marines who went before him.
- The Marine Corps was the last military service to admit African Americans, and since 1942 less than 30 have obtained the rank of general in any form. Prior to General Langley, 73 white men had become four-star generals. Seven African Americans reached lieutenant general, or three stars. The rest received one or two stars, mostly in areas like logistics, aviation, and transport.
- General Langley, who oversaw Marine forces on the East Coast in his last posting, has commanded at every level, from platoon to regiment, during his 37-year career. He served overseas in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Okinawa, and he’s had several senior staff jobs at the Pentagon and at the military’s Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East. General Langley’s next assignment is in Stuttgart, Germany, where he will lead the U.S. Africa Command. (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- One of four Muslim men slain in potentially linked Albuquerque killings remembered as ‘brilliant public servant’ (CNN)
- Abortion law in Indiana leads to fallout for state, politics (WaPo, $)
- Police arrest 4 teens after chase ends in crash on I-35E (CBS)
- Democrats Eye a Major Shift in How Corporations Are Taxed (NYT, $)
- California’s McKinney fire has destroyed nearly 90 homes and is only 40% contained (CNN)
- Viktor Orbán turns Texas conference into transatlantic far-right love-in (Guardian)
- Alex Jones’ huge verdict and the future of misinformation (LAT, $)
Anywhere You Can Fly, I Can Fly Better
- In January, 19-year-old Zara Rutherford became the youngest woman to ever fly solo around the world. Her younger brother Mack, 17, is now trying to make history by becoming the youngest person to ever fly around the world solo. He says it has nothing to do with sibling rivalry bragging rights. Mack got his pilot license at 15 and has been flying with his dad since he was 10.
- He began his journey in Bulgaria in March, choosing to fly south through the Mediterranean Sea. He’s been to India, China, South Korea, Japan, and Alaska. Last weekend, he made a quick pit stop in the Pacific Northwest, where he spoke to a Seattle TV station newsperson at the Museum of Flight’s annual Seafair’s Jet Blast Festival. Rutherford said besides becoming the youngest person to ever fly around the world solo, he wants to show that anyone can accomplish their goals, no matter their age. “It’s so often when we’re put into the system where we go to school, then go to high school, then go to university. And after that, you can really do what you want to do,” he said. “But that’s not how it has to be. You can follow what you want to do and do it well.”
- Rutherford left first thing Sunday morning, flying down to San Francisco. From there he’ll go to Los Angeles, Mexico, and back up America to Canada. Then he’ll make his way back across the north Atlantic to Bulgaria, where it all started. He hopes to finish within a month, which would be faster than his sister’s journey. But just as a reminder, it has nothing to do with sibling rivalry. (NYT ($), KIRO7, Seafair)
- Beluga whale caught in France’s Seine not accepting food (ABC)
- Pink Floyd co-founder explains meaning behind warning at the top of his show (CNN)
- We Went on a Lanternfly-Killing Rampage. They’re Still Here. (NYT, $)
- New Pompeii finds highlight middle-class life in doomed city (AP)
- New study finds nature affects our lives in more ways than you think (WaPo, $)
- Tiny African kingdom has skiing as Europe sweats summer heat (AP)
- Sanya Covid lockdown: thousands of tourists stranded in ‘China’s Hawaii’ (CNN)
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