Government Shutdown, SAG Reaches A Deal, & ETs In Mexico
November 9, 2023
A Government Shutdown Looms Once Again
While House Republicans were able to resolve their leadership crisis in late October, and newly-selected House Speaker Mike Johnson is already having his political skills put to the test. Congress was able to pass a bipartisan continuing resolution – a short-term spending bill – in October, though it cost Kevin McCarthy his speakership to keep the government funded. That continuing resolution is set to expire on November 17, leaving Congress with another spending crisis looming overhead. Johnson now has the unenviable job of wrangling his splintered party together to decide on a path of action – just weeks after House Republicans held a literal screaming match as they tried to select a new Speaker.
Republicans, you might remember, hold a slim 221-212 in the House, while Democrats have a similarly small hold over the Senate. This means that any spending bill will require bipartisan support to reach President Biden’s desk. Currently, House Republicans are privately considering a variety of spending options, with some telling the press that they expect Johnson to unveil another stopgap spending measure sometime next week. The bill would keep the government temporarily funded over another short period, as both parties work on longer-term measures to keep the lights on until next November.
To fully fund the federal government for another year, legislators will need to pass a total of 12 appropriation bills. House Republicans are currently focused on passing four of those bills, specifically regarding transportation, housing, urban development, and financial services. The House has already passed seven partisan appropriation bills (which the Senate is unlikely to approve), while the Senate has passed three bipartisan spending bills. The Senate has refrained from proposing a shorter-term spending measure, instead opting to watch House Republicans squirm as the November 17 deadline approaches. Honestly, McCarthy is probably happy to be a normal Representative right about now.
Some Good News
- Parkinson’s patient able to walk 6km without problems after spinal implant (Guardian)
- Biden to announce $16 billion for Amtrak rail improvements in Northeast Corridor (CNN)
“OK, We Can Be Friends Again”
- According to Chinese Vice-President Han Zheng, Beijing is looking to improve ties with Washington after a recent spate of high-level (and positive!) meetings between Chinese and U.S. officials. The statement comes days before a highly-anticipated meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden, which is expected to take place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
- APEC will begin on November 11 in San Francisco, running until November 17. According to billboards around the city, “APEC is going to be EPIC!” The event will draw top-level officials from countries across the Pacific Rim, with big names including Biden, Xi, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida all expected to attend.
- While Xi and Biden met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali last November, China is still playing hard to get this year – at least to the media. U.S. officials say there’s an “agreement in principle” for the two leaders to meet this year, but Beijing has yet to fully confirm Xi’s attendance. Either way, it appears that China is heading into the forum with cooperation on its mind. “We are ready to strengthen the communication and dialogue with the United States at all levels, promote mutually beneficial cooperation, properly manage differences, and jointly address global challenges,” said Vice-President Han Zheng in his statement on Wednesday.
Biden’s Take On Belt And Road
- While some Chinese and American diplomats are paying each other lip service ahead of APEC, it appears that other diplomats have been busy. On Wednesday, the White House announced the establishment of a $553 million project to build a new deep-water shipping container terminal in Sri Lanka’s Port of Colombo.
- According to the U.S. International Development Finance Corp (DFC), the new port will “transform Colombo into a world-class logistics hub at the intersection of major shipping routes and emerging markets.” Interestingly enough, the Port of Colombo was built with billions of dollars that Sri Lanka borrowed from China. The new U.S.-funded terminal is part of a larger U.S. effort, spearheaded by the DFC, to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative global spending initiative, which has brought Beijing closer to many developing countries.
Additional World News
- Ukraine says it killed Kremlin-backed politician in car bombing in occupied Luhansk (CNN)
- Russian artist who staged anti-war supermarket protest faces eight years in jail (Reuters)
- Chile’s right wing presents draft conservative constitution (Guardian)
- Canadian man chooses to stay in Gaza to document the war (BBC)
- G7 calls for humanitarian pauses in Gaza, hostages’ release (Reuters)
- 2 demonstrators die in Panama during latest protests over company’s mining contract (ABC)
- UN chief says Gaza deaths show something ‘wrong’ with Israel tactics (Reuters)
“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.” – J.P. Morgan
A New Deal For Actors
- After a 118-day strike, SAG-AFTRA reached an agreement with the AMPTP on Wednesday evening in a unanimous vote. The tentative deal will head to the union’s national board Friday for “review and consideration,” with more details to be released after that meeting.
- Late last week, the studios had delivered their (allegedly) “last, best, and final offer,” but there were still concerns about protections against AI. After talks throughout this week, the AMPTP told SAG-AFTRA it needed to know if a deal was possible or not by last night, saying it was running out of time to save the broadcast season and the 2024 summer movies.
The Algorithm Doesn’t Care If It Hurts You (And Neither Does Meta)
- Former Meta engineer Arturo Bejar testified in front of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee this week about Instagram and Facebook’s algorithms – specifically, how they push harmful content to teens. Bejar said Meta has a culture of “see no evil, hear no evil,” and that when he raised concerns about the negative effects of the social media platforms, Meta’s top executives failed to do anything.
- Bejar is just the latest to provide proof and testimony that Meta knows, but seemingly does not care, about the harm its content on drug use, eating disorders, and bullying can cause to a young person. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said during the testimony, “My hope is that we will move forward so that, in fact, we can make Big Tech the next Big Tobacco in terms of a concerted effort to reduce its harm and inform the public.”
Additional USA Reads
- California officials ask for the public’s help as they investigate the death of a Jewish man during Israel-Hamas war protests (CNN)
- 4 current, former LASD employees dead by suicide in last two days (CBS)
- Another ‘superfog’ event hits Louisiana, resulting in accidents and one death (NBC)
- Biden adviser-turned-ambassador opens up on ‘scary’ 2024 polling (Politico)
- 5.3-magnitude earthquake hits western Texas (NBC)
- Capitol Police arrest armed individual near US Capitol (CNN)
- Librarians turn to civil rights agency to oppose book bans and their firings (NBC)
Can We Get More Of That Alien Stuff, Please?
- Mexico just can’t resist holding more hearings about aliens. On Tuesday, the country’s lower legislative house devoted over three hours to journalist José Jaime Maussan and his group of Peruvian doctors, who claimed to have found evidence of “non-human beings that are not part of our terrestrial evolution” in Peru.
- Maussan had already shown his findings to Mexican lawmakers in September, but apparently, the Chamber of Deputies decided that his claims were worth listening to a second time. In this hearing, a doctor accompanying the journalist showed legislators pictures and x-rays of what he said were “non-human beings,” and Maussan claimed that the life forms were a “new species” without lungs or ribs.
- This isn’t the first time that Maussan has made alien-related claims. In 2017, he told the Peruvian government that he’d found alien remains in their country. Unfortunately for any alien-believers out there, the Peruvian prosecutor’s office said that the “bodies” he’d presented the government were actually just “recently manufactured dolls, which have been covered with a mixture of paper and synthetic glue to simulate the presence of skin.”
- Rare video shows world’s largest species of fish slurping up anchovies in Hawaii (CBS)
- The 420-year-search for Shakespeare’s lost play (BBC)
- Australian court considers overturning mother’s convictions for killing 4 children (AP)
- The National Zoo’s panda program is ending after more than 50 years as China looks elsewhere (CNN)
- Picasso masterpiece kicks off auction season forecast to sell $2.5bn in art (Guardian)
- Tentative deal reached to avert walkouts at half of Vegas casinos set to strike (CNN)
- Most researchers behind superconductor claim now want their paper pulled (Ars Technica)