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
A Spicy Start to the Week: Did you know that most of the wasabi found in Japanese restaurants in the United States and even often in Japan is fake? Wasabi is so expensive and difficult to grow, that almost all of it on the market is actually just dyed horseradish. On to the topics making us tick.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
Impeachment Updates: Reviewing Reports
As we noted last week the House Judiciary Committee is slated to hold its first impeachment hearing this Wednesday. The hearing will consist of a panel of constitutional experts articulating their ideas about what is considered an impeachable offense. This includes defining the vague term of “high crime and misdemeanor” called out in the Constitution. Before hump day, however, members of the House Intelligence Committee will begin reviewing a report today and then vote on the findings tomorrow. Politico notes that a party-line vote will tee it up for consideration by the Judiciary Committee, which is in turn expected to draft and consider articles of impeachment in the coming weeks. Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has indicated that a report will be coming soon, but also kept the door open for new witnesses or testimony. Speaking of new witnesses, while on Fox News Sunday, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee called for Schiff himself to testify. It’s unlikely that Schiff will hop in the hot seat, and it’s also now confirmed that President Trump will not send a lawyer to participate in the Judiciary hearings. Context courtesy of the New York Times: “In 1998, President Bill Clinton’s lawyers delivered a 30-page rebuttal report to the Judiciary Committee as it began consideration of whether to impeach Mr. Clinton.”
Eurotrip: Americans in Europe – COP25 and NATO
Multiple packs of American politicians start off the week overseas. In Madrid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi leads a bicameral congressional delegation to the COP25 climate summit, which is an annual meeting designed to keep countries on track in order to complete key aspects of the Paris Climate change agreement. How it’s playing:
- On the left: “It is a privilege to accompany a high-level Congressional delegation to Spain to combat the existential threat of our time: the climate crisis,” Pelosi said in a statement on Saturday.
- On the right: “Pelosi is jetting off to sunny Spain this week to talk about climate change — leaving looming issues like impeachment, federal budget appropriations and the USMCA trade treaty behind” the New York Post writes.
Another pandemonium of politicians will be parroting their policies in London (side note: the word “pandemonium” is used to describe a group of parrots). President Trump meets with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. How it’s playing:
- From the Center per the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Trump, who as a candidate labeled the alliance obsolete, has upended past gatherings with his complaints that members must spend more on defense. But his White House struck a more conciliatory tone ahead of the Dec. 3-4 meeting to mark NATO’s 70th anniversary, taking credit for increased military spending by member countries and declaring that the ‘trans-Atlantic relationship is in a very, very healthy place.’”
Are America’s Rich Getting Richer? Yes and No.
According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal income increased in 3,019 counties across the US in 2018, the largest number of counties since 1981 Bloomberg reports. While, in general, this paints a positive picture of the American worker, in the same article, the question of inequality arises. In fact, some of the country’s richest counties are seeing outsized gains.
- The Rich Are Getting Richer: Take, for example, Teton County, Wyoming, which tops the list at almost $252,000 on average and Pitkin country which ranks third at $149,207. These two locations are home to the wealthy enclaves of Jackson Hole and Aspen, respectively and sandwiched in between is New York, New York.
No, They’re Not: While rising inequality is being discussed more frequently, especially on the Democratic campaign trail, the lead article from The Economist this weekend notes that new research is chipping away at the idea that “inequality has risen in the rich world”.
- “Consider, first, the claim that the top 1% of earners have become detached from everyone else in recent decades, which took hold after the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement in 2011…some economists have re-crunched the numbers and concluded that the income share of the top 1% in America may have been little changed since as long ago as 1960.”
Mishandled tax-return data, incorrect accounting for falling marriage rates among the poor, and a bigger chunk of corporate profits flowing to the middle-class than previously realized through pension funds are shaking the widely held belief that the rich are getting richer.
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
On Sunday, thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong, shouting slogans such as “revolution of our time” and “liberate Hong Kong” according to Japan Today. Police fired tear gas into the crowds breaking what had been a relative lull in demonstrations. Euronews notes that the aim of the continued protests is to “keep the pressure on city leader Carrie Lam after pro-democracy candidates won district council elections a week earlier.” Hong Kong Free Press published these pictures in which crowds can be seen chanting, “Five demands, not one less”. – Japan Today / Euronews / Hong Kong Free Press
London Attack: Tracking Terrorists and How to Handle Detainees
On Friday a convicted terrorist killed two people on the London Bridge before being shot dead by armed police. Most of the coverage focused on the early release of the assailant who had been freed halfway through a 16-year prison sentence.
- According to the BBC, the two victims were former Cambridge University students who were attending an event meant to connect students with prisoners.
- Quoting an ex-top prosecutor, the UK’s Independent says that, “Boris Johnson was personally warned about [the] risks of freeing terrorists but said there was ‘no money’ to deradicalize them” thrusting how best to track terrorists into a chaotic December 12 general election.
Zoom out: Americans and Europeans are already in disagreement over how to “to prosecute and detain about 2,000 foreign Islamic State fighters being held in Syria” the WSJ writes, amplifying contradictory rhetoric about homegrown attacks like what unfolded last week. – WSJ / BBC / Independent / Yahoo News
Today a 1,800-mile pipeline dubbed the “Power of Siberia” is due to start pumping Russian natural gas into China. The 30-year, $400 billion deal signed in 2014 will drastically change not only China’s energy landscape, but will also bring Russia and China – the United States’ top two economic and military competitors – even closer together. Why it matters: At a time when Beijing is locked into a trade war with the US, the pipeline is a physical manifestation of the increasingly warmer ties Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to establish with China. The bond will have far-reaching and long-lasting ramifications on not only trade and energy but geopolitics in an increasingly unpredictable world. – Retuers / RAND
Markets Move Higher & More Internet Buyers
Twenty-Six. That’s the number of all-time highs the stock market has hit this past year, and we still have a month to go before the end of the decade. Increased optimism surrounding “Phase 1” of the US, China trade deal has continued to push indices higher. Better than expected corporate earnings reports have also added fuel to the fire. Last but not least, strong economic data is helping investors sleep well at night heading into what should be a robust holiday shopping season. Although Black Friday shopping at brick-and-mortar stores dropped by 6%, online shopping hit $7.4 billion, an all-time record for the day, according to Adobe Analytics. Here’s the kicker: Eight of the 10 busiest shopping days are still to come in 2019, according to ShopperTrak. Case & Point: Today is Cyber Monday. The Adobe Analytics report notes that consumers are expected to spend a record $9.4 billion today, on their way to more than $140 billion in predicted online holiday sales.
Note: This excerpt was taken from our business and finance newsletter, The Street Sheet which is published every Sunday. Sign up here to get a jump start on the week.
Alabama drops out of top 5 in AP poll for first time in 4 years
Alabama dropped to No. 9 in The Associated Press college football poll, snapping the Crimson Tide’s record streak of 68 appearances in the top five. LSU remains at No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia. Big picture: The last time the Crimson Tide finished a season outside the top five was 2013 ESPN notes, when it lost the Iron Bowl on the famous Kick-Six and then dropped the Sugar Bowl to Oklahoma. – ESPN
Singapore tells Facebook to correct user’s post in test of ‘fake news’ laws
This past Friday, Singapore told Facebook that the company needs to publish a correction on one of its users posts under the country’s new “fake news” law. At question is content from Alex Tan, who runs the States Times Review blog, which posted “accusations about the arrest of a supposed whistleblower and election rigging” according to Reuters. Tan, an Australian citizen who refused to issue a correction himself is now under investigation. Why this matters: this is the first time that Facebook has been ordered to publish corrections by a government and precedent-setting case for the law which is two years in the making. Zoom out: American free speech standards have been exported to countries all over the world by way of technology products like Facebook. Not only is Facebook under fire from certain voices at home, but now the country is facing an unprecedented grey area abroad as well.
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
2001: Enron files for bankruptcy
On December 2, 2001, the Enron Corporation files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a New York court, sparking one of the largest corporate scandals in U.S. history.
Today I Learned that Blockbuster had the chance to buy Netflix for 50 million in 2000 but turned it down to go into business with Enron.
🇺🇸 TOP TAGS
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong wave the American flag and sing the National Anthem…
Are Political hashtags like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter more or less likely to make people believe the news?