Good Morning. Here’s what you need to know to start the day, along with perspective from both sides for calmer coffee conversations with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers. Plus, a bit of good news: He’s renowned for his bad dad jokes. Now he’s hunting for the worst dad jokes of all — for a good cause.
📰 TOP STORY
The 51st State Debate: There are so many headlines that fly under the radar given the fact that we are dealing with a global pandemic and the largest collective protests since the 1960s—both of which are made exponentially more “threatening” by the media. While these two topics, how they relate to each other, and what the future looks like after they’ve passed deserve a majority of our attention, we’re going to switch gears slightly today and take a look at something else: Washington D.C. statehood. Next week the House is preparing to pass a bill granting the District full representation and voting rights in Congress. It matters because it would be the first time in U.S. history either chamber will approve legislation on the topic. Here’s what each side is saying:
On the Left: As Heather Caygle writes for POLITICO, “In announcing the historic vote Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer cheered the move as a victory for black residents in particular, as the nation undergoes a racial justice reckoning following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police on May 25.” Although gentrification has shifted demographics and more white residents are moving into the city, the District has long been predominantly black. Therefore, as Hoyer (D-Md.) sees it, “This is not just an issue of local governance and fairness, it is a major civil rights issue as well… This was an appropriate time to bring a bill forward to show respect for the citizens of the District of Columbia of whatever color, but also to show respect to a city that has a very large African American population.” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser adds that, “For the first time, statehood will put an end to our oldest slogan — ‘taxation without representation,’” pointing out that the city’s residents pay the highest federal taxes per capita and yet don’t have voting representatives in Congress.
On the Right: in an interview last year Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed staunch opposition to D.C. statehood comparing it to “full bore socialism.” For what it’s worth, McConnell also said there is no chance for Puerto Rico either: “[Democrats] plan to make the District of Columbia a state — that would give them two new Democratic senators — Puerto Rico a state, that would give them two more new Democratic senators, and … they plan to expand the Supreme Court.” President Donald Trump also dismissed the idea, saying Republicans would be “very, very stupid” to grant D.C. statehood because of the District’s Democratic demographics. In an interview with the New York Post last month, Trump said, “So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen.” It should be noted that if it were granted statehood, D.C.’s citizens would be represented by two senators and one representative in the House, not five as Trump stated.
Flag This: This isn’t the first time the topic of D.C. statehood has made its way to the halls of Congress. In 1993, statehood for The District failed in a floor vote, and since then there have been sporadic grumblings about making D.C. the 51st state. That said, until Democrats took back the house there had been no hearings on the issue in more than 25 years before last September. The bill, appropriately numbered HR51, calls for Washington, D.C., to be known as the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who lived there in the late 19th century. Of course, this should not be confused with Washington state in the Pacific Northwest. For what it’s worth, additional tid-bits surrounding the topic include the fact in 2016, Trump took just 4.09 percent of the vote against Democrat Hillary Clinton. The same year, 86 percent of city voters endorsed statehood. Washington, D.C., also currently has a larger population than both Wyoming and Vermont.
🦅 US NEWS
Nine States Hit Record Highs For COVID-19 Cases
“Nine states — Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas — reported either new single-day highs or set a record for seven-day new coronavirus case averages on Tuesday,” according to a Washington Post analysis. Why it matters: What’s causing the spike and whether or not Americans should worry about a “second wave” is helping fuel the partisan fire.
- Vice President Pence said Tuesday that fears of a second wave of infections were “overblown.” In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, claimed that “the media has tried to scare the American people.”
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, on the other hand, warned that the country hasn’t yet finished with its first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak and definitively swore off personally attending a massive indoor rally like the upcoming Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Limiting Internet Companies’ Protections
On Wednesday the Justice Department announced a proposal to “rollback legal protections that online platforms have enjoyed for more than two decades, in an effort to make tech companies more responsible in how they police their content,” Brent Kendall and John D. McKinnon write for the Wall Street Journal. The changes “are designed to spur online platforms to be more aggressive in addressing illicit and harmful conduct on their sites, and to be fairer and more consistent in their decisions to take down content they find objectionable.”
- Flag This: “The move represents an escalation in the continuing clash between the Trump administration and big tech firms such as Twitter, Google, and Facebook.”
🌎 WORLD NEWS
“Police in China are collecting blood samples from men and boys from across the country to build a genetic map of its roughly 700 million males, giving the authorities a powerful new tool for their emerging high-tech surveillance state,” NYT’s Sui-Lee Wee reports.
- Flag This: “An American company, Thermo Fisher, is helping: The Massachusetts company has sold testing kits to the Chinese police tailored to their specifications. American lawmakers have criticized Thermo Fisher for selling equipment to the Chinese authorities, but the company has defended its business.”
U.S. Hits Syria’s Elite With New Sanctions
“The Trump administration on Wednesday ramped up pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad and his inner circle with a raft of new economic and travel sanctions for human rights abuses and blocking a settlement of the country’s conflict,” Matthew Lee writes for the Associated Press. “The State Department and the Treasury said 39 Syrian individuals, including Assad and his wife, had been designated for the new sanctions… Others include members of the extended Assad family, senior military leaders and business executives. Many of those on the list were already subject to U.S. sanctions, but the penalties also target non-Syrians who do business with them.”
- Flag This: “One newcomer to the U.S. blacklist is Assad’s wife, Asma, who had not been previously targeted but was hit for becoming what the State Department said is ‘one of Syria’s most notorious war profiteers.’”
🗞️ BIZ, SPORTS, & TECH
Target Increased Minimum Wage
Target announced its raising its minimum wage to $15 per hour starting July 5th. The retail giant will also award a one-time bonus of $200 to all hourly workers for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
The End of Aunt Jemima
Quaker Oats announced Wednesday that it will rename its Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix. PepsiCo’s packaged-foods unit said the company recognizes that “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype.”
Facebook Ad-Boycott In Motion
The Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP are calling on advertisers to boycott ad spending on Facebook. The groups claim the tech giant is failing to remove hostile content from its platform.
📢 PRESENTED BY KENNY FLOWERS
🗳️ FLAG POLLS
Results From Last Week’s Flag Poll
President Trump said he would overrule any governor who disagreed with him that places of worship should be allowed to reopen in accordance with new CDC guidelines. Do you think congregations should be allowed to reopen? 86% said Yes, 14% said No. Full results and comments.
This Week’s Flag Poll
Do you support President Trump’s Executive Order against social media companies? Click here to vote.
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