The Backpedal Of The Century
October 4, 2022
Losing Truss In Conservatives
The United Kingdom continues to fumble its response to a growing economic crisis, reversing a key policy point in a delayed attempt to win back favor with financial markets. Prime Minister Liz Truss announced Monday that her month-old government will cancel its plans to abolish the top rate of income tax. The move seems to have temporarily restored confidence in the government’s plan, with markets quickly bouncing back and returning the pound to levels close to what they were before the tax cuts were announced.
While the announcement that Truss’ government would not be removing the 45% tax rate for people earning over £150,000 ($168,000) provided some relief for the British economy, experts say that the government’s wishy-washiness on the issue might hurt in the long run. Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst for political consultancy firm Eurasia Group, said that critics might “now scent weakness” in Truss’ government. Making things worse, critics have called out Truss for throwing Kwasi Kwarteng, her finance minister, under the bus after she made comments on Sunday saying that it was Kwarteng’s idea to abolish the top income tax rate, and that he had not informed the full cabinet about his plan.
The response to Truss’ economic plan was emphatic from both financial markets and the British populace. Besides record-setting market drops, recent YouGov polls have Truss’ Conservative Party 33 points behind the opposing Labour Party, marking a massive gap not seen since the 1990s. Backing this up, another survey had Labour leading by 25% in the polls. Even other Conservatives took aim at the policy, with Conservative lawmaker Maria Caulfield tweeting, “I can’t support the 45p tax removal when nurses are struggling to pay their bills.” Michael Gove, another Conservative, called the unfunded tax breaks “not Conservative.” (WaPo, $)
Some Good News
- You will soon be able to jaywalk ticket-free in California (CNN)
- Florida’s Strengthened Electric Grid Mostly Withstood Hurricane Ian (WSJ, $)
- This German company is making whirlpools to clean microplastics from water (CNN)
A Vast Western Conspiracy
- For the first time since the eruption of nationwide protests over the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of morality police, Iran’s supreme leader has spoken up on the issue. On Monday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the U.S. and Israel for the protests, which have been some of the largest uprisings the country has seen in recent years.
- “I say frankly that these incidents were designed by America, the fake Zionist regime, those who are on their payroll and some traitorous Iranians abroad who helped them. Their main problem is with a strong and independent Iran and the progress of the country,” said Khameini. He continued, stating that the death of Mahsa Amini in the hands of Iranian morality police “broke our hearts,” but that “If it wasn’t for this young girl, they [Israel and the U.S.] would have created another excuse to create insecurity and riots in the country.”
- He also touched on the U.S.’s easing of Iranian sanctions aimed at providing internet services to protestors, citing the move as proof that “there is a foreign hand behind these events.” (Axios)
Hacking Down Under
- On Monday, Australian telecommunications giant Optus announced that some personal information and at least one valid form of identification of roughly 1.2 million customers was compromised in one of the biggest data breaches Australia has ever seen. Last month, Optus suffered a security breach by an anonymous account that affected about 10 million customers, equivalent to 40% of Australia’s population.
- In Monday’s release, the company also noted that the leak involved the expired IDs and personal information of roughly 900,000 companies, but clarified that “the exposed information did not contain valid or current document ID numbers for some 7.7 million customers.”
- The Australian government is putting pressure on the company to speed up its response to the breach, especially focusing on getting the company to notify 10,200 of its customers that their information was made public. Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, Optus’ parent company, is still assessing the monetary cost of the breach. (Reuters)
Additional World News
- Ukrainian forces break through in the south as Putin’s problems mount (NBC)
- Brazil girds for tense runoff vote after Bolsonaro’s strong showing (Reuters)
- Palestinians ‘killed in cold blood’ by Israeli army near Ramallah (Al Jazeera)
- Cholera kills at least seven in Haiti as disease returns (Reuters)
- Russian woman behind on-air war protest reportedly escapes house arrest (Guardian)
- Indian jets scrambled after false bomb scare on flight from Iran (Al Jazeera)
- Lebanon to send remarks on U.S. draft on maritime border with Israel (Reuters)
“Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.” – Hesiod
The Clinic Caravan
- With Roe’s protections for abortion recently gutted, traveling to acquire the procedure has become commonplace. Planned Parenthood has found a solution – the organization will open the first mobile abortion clinic in the country in Southern Illinois.
- Abortion is still legal in Illinois, but the mobile clinic can get closer to the borders of surrounding states that outlaw the procedure. The mobile clinic will begin offering consultations and dispensing abortion pills later this year.
- The clinic is set up inside an RV with a small waiting area, a laboratory, and two exam rooms. To start, it will only offer medication abortions up to 11 weeks, but sometime next year they hope to offer surgical abortions as well. (NPR)
A Gulf State Grifter?
- Trump’s former Secretary of State and former Exxon Mobil chief Rex Tillerson testified Monday in the case of Thomas J. Barrack Jr. Barrack was a private-equity investor accused of acting as an illegal agent of the United Arab Emirates while seeking to influence the Trump campaign and administration.
- Barrack was also the chairman of his inaugural committee and helped guide his transition into office. Tillerson was notably fired by Trump via Twitter in 2018. Prosecutors have said that Barrack sought to advance the Gulf nation’s interests in the United States at the direction of Emirati officials, while Barrack’s lawyers say he was acting on his own and not influenced by outsiders.
- Tillerson told jurors he was unaware of any back-channel dealings. He also claimed that he tried to keep the nation’s foreign policy above board by, in part, pushing for checks on outside influence. (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Biden visits Puerto Rico as tensions simmer over Hurricane Ian response (Guardian)
- Central Florida floodwaters rising after Ian unleashed “unprecedented rainfall” (Axios)
- Supreme Court rejects gun rights challenge to bump stocks ban (NBC)
- Woman who allegedly helped arrange migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard identified by CNN as former Army counterintelligence agent Perla Huerta (CNN)
- Supreme Court rejects Trump ally Mike Lindell’s appeal in 2020 election lawsuit (NBC)
- Haberman book: Trump wanted to wear Superman shirt after COVID hospital stay (Axios)
- In one Fort Myers neighborhood, Black residents feel forsaken in Ian’s aftermath (NPR)
Automated Advil Administrator
- Walgreens is looking to implement a little bit of automation behind the pharmacy counter, announcing that the pharmacy chain will be developing a network of robot-powered drug-filling centers nationwide. According to the company, the automated drug-fulfillment system will reduce pharmacist workloads by at least 25% and save the pharmacy giant over $1 billion a year.
- Theoretically, reducing the time that pharmacists spend acting as a pair of hands filling up pill bottles will give them more time to use their expertise to help patients. “This frees up the capacity of our most skilled professionals,” said Rina Shah, a vice president at Walgreens. “We looked at our system and said, ‘Why are we filling prescriptions the way we did in 1995?’” Freeing up pharmacists’ time will let them provide more patient-centered services, including administering vaccines and providing more comprehensive medication consultations.
- The move to automate pharmacies comes after the Covid-19 pandemic put stress on the pharmaceutical industry, with pharmacies becoming sites for testing and large vaccine campaigns. At the moment, Walgreens is offering signing bonuses of up to $75,000 at some locations to entice pharmacists to work an increasingly stressful job. (WSJ, $)
- Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Is Awarded to Svante Pääbo (NYT, $)
- John Oliver Reveals ‘Super F**ked Up’ History Museums Hope You Never Learn (HuffPost)
- A Classic Novel of the Nazis’ Rise That Holds Lessons for Today (NYT, $)
- Experts’ judgment on the much-hyped Tesla Bot: Elon Musk speedruns robotics 101 (The Verge)
- Peloton will put bikes in every Hilton-branded hotel in the U.S. (CNBC)
- Sacheen Littlefeather, Activist Who Rejected Brando’s Oscar, Dies at 75 (NYT, $)
- Lake Erie fishing tournament rocked by cheating scandal after contestants allegedly caught stuffing fish with weights (CBS)
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