Cover: The North Portico of the White House is seen during a snow flurry Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 7, 2020, in a mix of snow and rainy weather in the Washington, D.C. area. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)
Welcome to America’s Newsletter from Tag The Flag, the best morning newsletter on the internet, bringing you nonpartisan news and every view of the Red, White, and Blue. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
📌 BULLETIN BOARD
Last night: Reigniting a debate over who has the power to declare war, “the Democratic-controlled House approved a resolution asserting that President Donald Trump must seek approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran.” (AP) What’s next: Senate Democrats need four Republicans to get 51 votes to pass a war powers resolution from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). If the resolution passes both chambers it would go to President Trump’s desk for a signature, where it would likely be vetoed. Democrats are far from the votes needed to override a presidential veto. (The Hill).
Plus: This week’s Flag Poll results are in. Here’s what you said about states vs. the federal government in regards to the current refugee resettlement program and here are your thoughts on the President’s decision to strike Iran’s commander. Big thanks to the over 2,500 (!) of you who weighed-in. We have one more in our sports section today.
And lastly, keeping it light on a Friday: Is this the greatest (most confusing) airport reunion ever?
🦅 U.S. NEWS
Impeachment: Pelosi Preaches Patience, but McConnell Warns of Complacence
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday during a press conference that she’s not budging on the impeachment articles and that she’ll “send them over when [she’s] ready” according to POLITICO. Meanwhile, during a closed-door lunch with Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told them to expect President Trump’s impeachment trial to start next week. Know This: By far and away the most contentious issue is whether or not to call additional witnesses, particularly John Bolton.
- On the Left: The Editorial Board of USA TODAY says that “anyone who has been to court, or even watched a courtroom drama on television, knows that trials all have witnesses… but President Donald Trump and his defenders in the Senate are pushing for an impeachment trial with” none.
- On the right: McConnell’s argument is that it’s the House’s “duty to investigate” and that the Senate will not volunteer its time for a “fishing expedition.”
- On the left: As Greg Wallance points out in The Hill, “the Republican fear evidently is that Bolton will testify that Trump admitted in a meeting that he ordered the hold on military aid to Ukraine to pressure Ukraine President Zelensky into investigating the Bidens and the 2016 election. But without Bolton’s testimony, Democrats can plausibly claim that the Senate trial is only an exercise in covering up Trump’s Ukraine conduct.
- On the right: Yes, but the partisan claims can cut both ways Betsy McCaughey writes on Real Clear Politics. “Imagine if a district attorney charged you with wrongdoing, and then let the charges hang over you indefinitely? That’s the stunt Nancy Pelosi has been pulling, sitting on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump since Dec. 18.” McCaughey says Democrats “impeached a president for partisan gain, and then tried to delay the trial in a desperate search for evidence to make the charges stick. Voters will judge them harshly in November.”
The American Stream: U.S. Music Streams Topped a Trillion in 2019
U.S. music streams on services like Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube rose 30% last year topping one trillion for the first time, according to Nielsen Music’s annual report. The rise was fueled by big releases from artists like Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Post Malone. Why it matters: Streaming services have upended how people listen to and pay for music, and now account for 82% of music consumption in the U.S. the Wall Street Journal writes. Sales of physical albums, meanwhile, dropped off 19% in 2019 and now make up just 9% of overall music consumption. What Else: TikTok helped songs like Lil Nas X’s country-rap hit “Old Town Road” go viral even though the app is on the chopping block. And lastly, Hip-hop, in general, is the biggest genre, with a 28% share of total listening. – WSJ (subscription)
The High Cost of Having a Baby in America
For women in many developed countries, having the baby—not paying for it—is the hard part, The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan writes. What’s happening: in the U.S., the average new mother with insurance will pay more than $4,500 for her labor and delivery. Giving birth in Finland, by contrast, will set you back a little less than $60. So What’s Driving the High Prices? Deductibles. More Americans are on plans with high deductibles in recent years as employers have sought to shift health-care costs onto employees. Why it matters: high costs may explain why the U.S. has one of the highest maternal-mortality rates in the developed world. It also helps explain why American women are having babies at record low rates. There are of course, multiple factors related to the “baby bust” but “it certainly doesn’t help that having a baby costs more than the median American woman earns in a month“. Keep reading…
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
Evidence indicates it is “highly likely” that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed a Ukrainian jetliner near Tehran late Tuesday, U.S., Canadian and British officials said Thursday. They said the strike, which killed all 176 people on board, could well have been a mistake amid missile launches and high tensions throughout the region. What Else: Axios noted that when a reporter asked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if the U.S. is partly responsible for the crash due to the escalation of tensions with Iran, Trudeau stressed the need for a full investigation and said, “I think that’s one of the many questions that people will be thinking about and trying to find answers to.” The New York Times said it has obtained a video that shows the moment the airliner was hit.
- More reading from the left: Iran plane crash: A pilot’s perspective via CNN.
- More reading from the right: US says Iran shot down the Ukrainian jetliner. Was it intentional? via the Washington Examiner.
British lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill approving the U.K.’s departure from the European Union at the end of the month, signaling a possible end to three and a half tumultuous years of Brexit negotiations, Fox News writes. What’s next: The Jan. 31 departure will only mark the start of the first stage of the country’s EU exit. Britain and the EU will then launch into negotiations over trade, security and a host of other areas by the end of 2020. Why it matters: “Britain and the EU will have to strike deals on everything from trade in goods and services to fishing, aviation, medicine, and security. The EU insists there is no way to deal with all these issues in less than a year.” Public opinion is likely to pose an additional constraint to Boris Johnson’s attempts to strike post-Brexit trade deals.
Taiwanese voters will head to the polls tomorrow as the island’s future and its relationship with mainland China reach a critical juncture, DW’s William Yang reports. Background: Beijing has long claimed Taiwan as part of its territory, and it has repeatedly threatened military action if leaders in Tapei move towards independence from the mainland. Why This election is different: the ongoing protests in Hong Kong have made the sovereignty question even more salient than in past elections. One Misinformation Thing: As the election draws near, there have been many reports of Beijing-based online disinformation campaigns targeting Taiwanese voters. It wouldn’t be the first time. During local elections in November 2018, Taiwan saw a surge of online disinformation and fake news.
Ending the Week on a High: U.S. Stocks Close at Fresh Records, Aided by Trade Optimism
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 200 points, pushing the blue-chip index closer to 29000, as signs of geopolitical calm pulled investors back into highflying stocks the Wall Street Journal writes. Another driver was an announcement from China, saying its top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, will travel to Washington next week to sign a phase-one accord. In regards to the story above: President Trump also gave the Dow industrials an additional boost after saying he didn’t believe a Boeing passenger jet crash in Iran was due to a mechanical malfunction, sending shares of the airplane maker higher. On our radar: Taco Bell will test a 6-figure salary for managers and roll out paid sick leave as fast food’s war for talent continues to rage. WSJ / Business Insider
IOC details rules on political protests at Olympics
No taking a knee at the Olympics. No hand gestures with political meaning. No disrespect at medal ceremonies. The International Olympic Committee published guidelines Thursday specifying which types of athlete protests will not be allowed at the 2020 Tokyo Games, the AP writes. Here’s what supporters and opponents of the guidelines say along with what sparked the IOC’s decision. Flag Poll: Do you think athletes should be allowed to express their political opinions during sporting events? “Weigh-in” with your thoughts (No Pun Intended).
Quibbling About Quibi: The Billion Dollar Argument
If you Google “Quibi”, the somewhat mysterious company’s homepage describes itself as “Quick bites of captivating entertainment, created for mobile by the best talent, designed to fit perfectly into any moment of your day.” And while those buzzwords sound exciting, the startup has people wondering, what exactly is it? To start, much of the buzz is being driven by its massive fundraising rounds and well-known founders. The online-video service led by Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, has raised $1.4 billion and may look to raise even more as it nears an April launch date. As a sidenote, founder-led companies occupy an interesting space in American investors’ psyche at the present moment. Here’s why the product is being thrown into the “streaming wars” conversation, why the founders think that’s not a fair comparison, and how much it’ll cost. As Gizmodo’s Alex Cranz says, “Quibi Is Either a Clever Gimmick or the Future of Entertainment“. Keep reading…
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1901: Gusher signals start of U.S. oil industry
On January 10, 1901, a drilling derrick at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas, produces an enormous gusher of crude oil, coating the landscape for hundreds of feet and signaling the advent of the American oil industry.
🇺🇸 TOP TAGS
What is a “protecting power”, who is the United States’ “protecting power” in Iran, and how do countries in conflict (like Iran and the US) still talk to each other?