What’s At Stake In 2024, Air Quality, & Calls For AI Regulation
June 8, 2023
Over the weekend, President Joe Biden signed into law a measure to suspend the national debt limit until January 1, 2025 – meaning the winner of the 2024 presidential election will likely be forced to deal with another debt ceiling crisis soon after taking office. Don’t worry, though, next president – whoever you are – the new debt limit law allows the Treasury Department to pay the nation’s bills for a few months after January 1 using “extraordinary measures,” so you can slowly ease into the negotiations. Thanks, Biden!
When debt limit talks come around in 2025, the party controlling Congress at the time will likely be able to shape budget discussions to their liking, greatly impacting government programs over the next decade. The new law’s budget agreement also expires in 2025, and both Obamacare subsidies and Trump-era tax cuts are set to expire in 2025 – placing even more importance on the winners of the 2024 Congressional elections.
“The stakes of the 2024 election are enormous, not just for our democracy, but for domestic policy. So many major pieces of legislation over the last several years expire in 2025,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa), who’s set to become chairman of the House Budget Committee if Democrats win control of the House in the next election. “So the winners of the next election will have the ability to shape policy for the rest of the decade.”
While it’s unclear what exactly will happen in 2025 without knowing the outcomes of the 2024 election, some experts hope that the unusual number of trading pieces might make politicians more likely to come to a compromise. “Paradoxically, the amount of policies requiring attention — expiring tax cuts, spending caps, and health policies — may actually ease the negotiations by giving each side a stake in the outcome, and a broad field of policies to trade-off against each other,” said one fellow at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute.
Some Good News
- Young, wild and free: Wolverine spotted in California for only second time in last 100 years (AP)
- Hundreds of White women gather at Colorado Capitol after plea from women of color to use their ‘privilege’ to demand action on gun violence (CNN)
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Dam, This Conflict Is Getting Messy
- On Tuesday, a critical dam under the control of Moscow in a Russian-held portion of southern Ukraine burst, sending water flooding across local floodplains and displacing thousands of people living nearby. It wiped away swathes of agricultural land, flooded dozens of communities, and contaminated the Dnieper River with over 150 tons of industrial lubricant. Both Russian and Ukrainian officials used language like “ecological disaster” and “terrorist act” to describe the event.
- The Kakhovka dam originally held back a reservoir that powered a hydroelectric power station, helped cool the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and supplied water to Russian-held Crimea. The flooding affected both Russian and Ukrainian military positions, adding confusion to the incident. Ukraine claims that Russia had mined the dam sometime last year and pulled the trigger on blowing it all up on Tuesday in order to stall a coming Ukrainian counteroffensive (which has been promised since early this spring). Russia says that Ukrainian HIMARS rocket attacks took it out, citing previous Ukrainian rocket attacks on the dam last December.
- Either way, the dam’s destruction has thrown Russia’s frontlines into chaos. Floods have forced Moscow to help evacuate citizens in the Russian-held Kherson region of Ukraine, and Russian troops have had to abandon some towns within Russia’s own borders following cross-border raids by Ukrainian irregular military groups and heavy shelling.
- On top of environmental damage and chaos within Russian territory, efforts to establish even the most harmless dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow have stumbled recently. Russia has accused Ukraine of sabotaging a pipeline on Monday carrying Russian ammonia fertilizer, a key point in the renewal of a deal allowing Ukrainian ships to export grain through the Black Sea. Currently, Russia says it will not be coming to the negotiating table regarding the grain deal until the pipeline is repaired, which could take months. Ukraine’s pre-war grain exports had propped up a large number of countries worldwide, so the holdup here has global implications.
Additional World News
- I’m not worried about Covid inquiry messages, says Rishi Sunak (BBC)
- Polish government wants top court to rule on its own composition (Reuters)
- Japan supports Sweden’s NATO membership as defense ministers strengthen ties (ABC)
- France opposed to opening of Nato liaison office in Japan, official says (Guardian)
- Air India plane flying to San Francisco lands in Russia’s Siberia after engine problem (AP)
- Pope Francis to have intestinal surgery in Rome on Wednesday (ABC)
- Saudi crown prince, Blinken had ‘candid’ talks in Jeddah, US official says (Reuters)
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Trying To Breathe In The Tri-State Area
- Wildfire smoke from Canada has invaded the East Coast, prompting both countries to encourage residents to stay inside amid bad air quality. More than 55 million people in the eastern U.S. are under air quality alerts due to the smoke, which could last through today in some places. Airlines were experiencing delays due to visibility problems.
- Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut now have air quality indexes (AQIs) above 150, and Philadelphia had an AQI of 205 as of Wednesday morning, which is classified as “very unhealthy.” Residents are urged to avoid “strenuous” activities outside, like jogging, and to wear a mask – or, to just stay indoors.
Pulling No Punches For Pride Month
- Several hundred people gathered in the parking lot of the Glendale Unified School District headquarters in Southern California on Tuesday to voice their opinions on whether or not the district should recognize June as Pride Month. The arguments turned heated, with small scuffles and a few physical altercations breaking out throughout the evening.
- No injuries were reported. Most of the people who took the microphone to address the school board focused more on how LGBTQ+ conversations are handled in schools. Late that evening, the school board approved a resolution designating June as Pride Month. This marks the fifth year that the school has officially recognized the designation.
Additional USA News
- Mike Pence officially enters 2024 Republican presidential race (Guardian)
- Opening statements begin in the trial of Parkland school resource officer who stayed outside during shooting (CNN)
- Virginia shooting: Two killed, five injured after high school graduation ceremony (BBC)
- CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht is out after a brief and tumultuous tenure (CNN)
- Former Trump aide, MAGA Inc founder Taylor Budowich, goes before grand jury in classified docs probe (ABC)
- North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announces 2024 bid for president (CNN)
- GOP donor arrested for attacking police with wasp spray on Jan. 6 (Politico)
The Calls For Regulation Are Coming From Inside The House
- The AI doomsayers don’t stop coming. This time, though, the warnings are coming from someone a little higher up – OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is the latest voice to join in the chorus of caution. At an event in Abu Dhabi, Altman trotted out an idea for the future regulation of AI: an international agency, similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which will create international standards in regulating a technology with catastrophic power.
- “Let’s make sure we come together as a globe — and I hope this place can play a real role in this,” Altman said. “We talk about the IAEA as a model where the world has said ‘OK, very dangerous technology, let’s all put some guard rails.’ And I think we can do both. I think in this case, it’s a nuanced message ’cause it’s saying it’s not that dangerous today but it can get dangerous fast. But we can thread that needle.”
- Some international bodies are already taking action on AI following its massive growth last year. The European Union has begun pursuing its own AI laws, regulating what materials companies can feed large language models like ChatGPT while also banning the use of AI-powered facial recognition technology and “scraping” techniques used to gather mass amounts of biometric data from online images.
- Columbia University Drops Out of U.S. News Rankings for Undergraduate Schools (NYT, $)
- Authorities raise alert level as Kilauea volcano erupts (CNN)
- Qatar Airways CEO says aviation industry will miss 2050 net zero target (CNN)
- Indonesia to deport Australian surfer jailed for drunken rampage in conservative province (AP)
- Too late now to save Arctic summer ice, climate scientists find (Guardian)
- Molecular fossils open window on ‘lost world’ of primordial life (Reuters)
- First mission to ‘touch’ the sun catches the solar wind (CNN)
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