☕ Cover Shot: President Donald J. Trump delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
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📌 BULLETIN BOARD
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🦅 U.S. NEWS
After initially being hit with impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his dealings with Ukraine, the Senate on Wednesday voted to acquit President Trump marking the end of the months-long saga that has dominated Washington. By the numbers: Senators voted 48-52 on abuse of power and 47-53 on obstruction, falling well short of the two-thirds requirement for convicting and removing him from office. Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) made headlines by announcing less than two hours before the vote that he would vote to convict Trump on the abuse of power charge while acquitting him on the second article involving obstruction of Congress. Why it matters: Trump is the third president to be impeached in the country’s history, but the first to be targeted during an election year. The battle also marked the first that occurred while the chambers of Congress weren’t controlled by the same party, setting up the most sectarian and acrimonious of the three presidential impeachments. How it’s playing:
- From the Left: It’s not over. Congress must continue to hold Trump accountable, The Washington Post Editorial Board.
- From the right: Nancy Pelosi should resign, Jonathan Turley, The Hill
The Pentagon has added a new warhead to its nuclear arsenal, the first in decades, to counter what it says is the threat posed by Russia, Gordon Lubold of the Wall Street Journal reports. For comparison: The warhead, known as the W76-2, carries less than one-third of the destructive power of other U.S. nuclear weapons.
- Supporters such as Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, say the new warhead “clearly creates a deterrent message and a deterrent capability for the Russians, which is the whole purpose of deterrence, to make sure they never get used.”
- Critics have countered that the low-yield weapon may lower the threshold for nuclear war because they are less powerful and therefore seem more usable.
The hotly debated Trump administration partial ban on flavored e-cigarettes takes effect today, impacting most e-cigarettes that use pre-filled pods. The goal of the restrictions is to reduce youth vaping. Federal data released last fall showed that almost 28 percent of high school students had vaped in the previous 30 days, up from less than 12 percent in 2017. Interestingly enough, e-cigarette market leader, Juul Labs, will not be affected by today’s action because it has already stopped selling flavored pods except for menthol and tobacco. Flashbacks:
- Banning E-Cigarettes Could Do More Harm Than Good, The New York Times Editorial Board
- Trump’s nanny-state ban on flavored vapes will only undermine public health, Brad Polumbo, The Washington Examiner
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
Thousands of passengers and crew on two cruise ships in Asian waters were placed in quarantine for China’s coronavirus on Wednesday as airlines, carmakers and other global companies counted the cost of the fast-spreading outbreak. China said another 65 people had died in the previous 24 hours, in the highest daily total yet, taking the overall toll on the mainland to 490. Nearly $700 billion was wiped off mainland Chinese stocks on Monday with many factories shut, cities cut off and travel links constricted, fuelling worries about global supply chains. Asian stocks steadied on Wednesday.
- Opinion from the Left: The Subtle Muckrakers of the Coronavirus Epidemic, Maria Repnikova, The New York Times
- Opinion From the Right: Coronavirus and China – Beijing’s behavior confirms how bad the brand truly is. James Jay Carafano, Fox News
It’s been a tough week for Turkey. To start, a Pegasus Airlines plane flying into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport skidded off the end of the wet runway and broke into three pieces after landing on Wednesday, killing one person and injuring 157 others. All eyes were on what type of plane it was. It was a Boeing. It was not a 737 Max, which has gone down twice since October 2018. Instead, it was a Boeing 737-86J according to Reuters. Elsewhere, two avalanches in eastern Turkey have killed 38 people, most of them buried by the second downslide while working to rescue victims of the first. Rescue efforts will resume this morning. – Reuters
UK government, at odds with media, eyes BBC funding change
Britain’s government announced Wednesday it is considering a change in the way the BBC is funded, Jill Lawless writes for the AP. What’s going on: Currently the BBC makes money from a license fee paid by every television-owning household in the country (roughly $200). Failing to pay can result in a fine or, in rare cases, a prison sentence. In 2018, more than 121,000 people were convicted and fined for license fee evasion. Five people were imprisoned for not paying their fines. Fast forward to today: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government said it would hold a “public consultation” on whether to stop charging people with a criminal offense if they don’t pay the annual levy that funds the BBC. Flashback: “Boris Johnson accused of mimicking Trump as he bans journalists from press briefings and targets the BBC” (Business Insider).
Casper Spooks Investors
Mattress company, Casper, lowered the price range for its shares to between $12 and $13 on Wednesday. The high-profile startup originally set a share price range of $17 to $19. The new range now values the company at just over $500 million, which is well below its last known private market valuation of $1.1 billion. Elsewhere, Merck announced Wednesday that it will spin a selection of its products into a separate publicly-traded entity. Those assets include women’s-health products and cholesterol treatments that have lost patent protection. The goal is to focus on cancer treatments and vaccines which are key drivers of growth for the company. – MarketWatch
Nike Reveals official Team USA Uniforms for Tokyo Olympics
Hot on the heels of controversy surrounding its Vaporfly shoe, Nike has unveiled Olympic apparel and footwear for 2020, in what company officials say is the most high-tech and sustainable product line to-date, Bethany Biron of Business Insider writes. The jackets are made from 100% reengineered polyester, the pants are constructed using 100% recycled nylon, and the accompanying shoes use recycled rubber from other Nike shoe products. Take a look. – Business Insider
Ring, Ring, it’s Spotify
As originally reported by the Wall Street Journal, Spotify agreed to buy sports and pop-culture outlet “The Ringer” for an undisclosed amount. Founded by former ESPN commentator Bill Simmons in 2016, The Ringer has more than 30 podcasts and “furthers Spotify’s move beyond music into broader audio and digital media.” Big picture: The company said people who listen to both music and podcasts are more likely to become paying subscribers than people who listen only to music, thanks to higher engagement and retention among those listeners. More than 16% of Spotify users now listen to podcasts, the company said, and consumption hours nearly tripled in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. – WSJ (subscription)
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1911: Ronald Reagan born
Before his years of Hollywood stardom, and long before Washington, Ronald Reagan was born on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, a small town in northwestern Illinois. On the same day 74 years later in 1985 in his State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan defines some of the key concepts of his foreign policy, establishing what comes to be known as the “Reagan Doctrine.”
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