Cover: American Dream
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
☎️ The United States is the eighth-most-spammed nation in the world. Americans received 7% more spam calls in 2019 compared to last year. Click here to see the full list including which country was number one.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
Impeachment: Pelosi Proceeds
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she has asked key chairmen to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Why it matters: we already knew this would happen, but the timing was always debatable. Pelosi’s decision to proceed indicates the House is increasingly likely to vote to impeach Trump before the end of this year. Here’s how it’s playing across the spectrum:
- On the right, Eddy Scarry writes in the Washington Examiner, “now that impeachment is about to move to the Senate, Republicans and the White House have the perfect chance to lay out all the evidence against Ukraine and Joe Biden for everyone to see for themselves what the media have been refusing to show them.”
- On the left, Andrew Prokop writes for Vox that “the real purpose behind this haste appears to be political. Democratic leaders seem to think that staying on impeachment too long would be bad for them politically — or at least that it would be bad for the Democrats in swing districts on whom Pelosi’s majority depends.”
- Plus, two made for TV moments: ‘Don’t mess with me’ — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who ripped a reporter after he asked her if she hates Trump. And in the midwest, Biden challenged an Iowa man to a push-up contest after a testy exchange: ‘You’re a damn liar.’
Suing Over Social Media
A pair of documentary film organizations sued the Trump administration on Thursday over its requirement that foreigners disclose their social media accounts — including pseudonymous ones — when they apply for visas.
- On the left, Charlie Savage of the New York Times points out that “the lawsuit argues, forcing people from authoritarian countries to disclose the pseudonyms they use to discuss politically sensitive matters could endanger them by creating a risk that the information gets back to their own governments.”
- On the right, Kristin Fisher of Fox News reports that in the past the inability to review social media accounts has left open a “gaping hole in our national security. The San Bernadino shooters used Facebook messages to discuss jihad all the way back to 2012.” Former Special Assistant to the President, Frank Cilluffo said “it would be like going back to the 80s and saying the government can’t watch TV because that’s the equivalent for ISIS and social media and how it spreads its message.”
Uber Issues First Saftey Report Ever: Spoiler Alert, It’s Not Good
Uber said on Thursday that it had reports of 3,045 sexual assaults during its rides in the United States in 2018, with nine people murdered and 58 killed in crashes, in its first study detailing unsafe incidents on the ride-hailing platform. Although Uber said the number of incidents represented a fraction — just 0.0002 percent — of the company’s 1.3 billion rides, outlets like CNET are leading with eye-catching statistics like this: “Uber’s first safety report notes nearly 500 rapes in 2 years.”
- From the CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi: I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common. Some people will appreciate how much we’ve done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right.” – NYT / CNET
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
Protestors took to the streets in Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, and other French cities Thursday over President Emmanuel Macron’s plans for pension reform. What’s happening: read more here, but in a nutshell, France wants to increase the retirement age from 62-64 impacting when people will receive pension and retirement benefits.
- Supporters argue pension reforms would save money. Currently, authorities face a total pension deficit slated to reach between €8bn and €17bn by 2025.
- Opponents claim, however, that the only reason France has a greater life expectancy than the UK or Germany is that the country has one of the best retirement systems in the world. In fact, only 7% of older people are at risk of poverty.
- Why it matters from NPR: “People are living longer, and there are fewer workers supporting each retiree. [The system] needs reforming. People know this, but they say his reform is bad and unfair. [Macron] wants people to work longer — people do not want to have to work longer.” – NPR / The Guardian
Federal prosecutors have filed charges against two Russian nationals accused of carrying out one of the largest cybercrime sprees in history, orchestrating a string of attacks on computer systems in the United States and targeting victims in at least 11 states NBC writes. BBC adds that “US authorities allege that the group stole at least $100 million using malware”. The State Department and the FBI are offering a $5 million reward for information leading to one of the hacker’s arrests and conviction. This would be the largest reward ever offered for an accused cybercriminal. – NBC / BBC / Fox News
Is Brazil Next in Line for Protests?
Tumultuous street protests have shaken governments across Latin America, most recently in Colombia, but so far one country has stayed relatively immune as of late: Brazil. That could change, however, Ryan Berg of Real Clear World writes because of one man: Lula. In early November the ex-President and principal rival on the left of President Jair Bolsonaro was released from prison. Since then he has embarked on a national speaking tour sounding off on his opposition to the current administration. The same kindling that took fire in Bolivia and Chile pervades Brazil – anger at elites, persistent inequality, weak employment prospects, and endemic corruption – and now some are worried Lula could be fuel to the fire. Bolsonaro recently achieved his prized legislative victory, a critical overhaul of the nation’s pension system, but has pressed pause on his tax reform. How come? read the story above. Sometimes change can’t all be done at once, especially when you have someone like Lula fanning the flames. Keep reading.
Saudi Sells Its Soul: Aramco
Saudi Aramco, a Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company, raised $25.6 billion from the world’s biggest initial public offering, closing a deal that became synonymous with the kingdom’s controversial crown prince and his plans to reshape the nation Bloomberg writes. At 32 riyals per share ($8.53), which was top of the range, the offering’s size gives the company a $1.7 trillion market valuation which is well short of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s initial valuation of $2 trillion. The shortfall comes in light of the listing being oversubscribed by nearly three times. Keep reading: Could the Aramco IPO Kill OPEC? Plus, Saudis Face Serious Risks From Climate Change. – Bloomberg / CNBC
Forget the Catskills: Skiing in New Jersey
If you live in the New York tri-state region and want to hit the slopes this weekend forget the Catskills, there’s a new mountain in town. “An indoor ski slope that has been the most visible feature of the long-delayed American Dream megamall in New Jersey for more than a decade has finally opened, ” the AP writes. Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn took the first official run down the 1,000-foot slope on Thursday. Why it matters: this project has been in the works since 2003. Originally it ran into some financing problems, but now the 180,000 square feet artificial alpine attraction is up and running. Get this: It is equipped to make more than four tons of snow per hour. – AP
The Apollo 11 Disaster Speech That Was Never Given
Imagine a past in which the crew of Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969 — but then became stranded there, leading then-President Nixon to give a speech memorializing the astronauts, Bob Shaffer of WBUR writes. Thanks to deepfakes and artificial intelligence, you don’t have to. In fact, MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality created a video of Nixon giving a speech that was actually written for him in case the astronauts were never able to make it back. Why it matters: not only can doctored videos impact current affairs and exacerbate political divisions, they can also create alternative history. Click here to watch the video. – WBUR
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1884: Washington Monument completed
On December 6, 1884, in Washington, D.C., workers place a nine-inch aluminum pyramid atop a tower of white marble, completing the construction of an impressive monument to the city’s namesake and the nation’s first president, George Washington.
Get this: the Washington Monument halted construction from 1854 to 1877 due to lack of funds and the outbreak of the American Civil War. There’s a visible difference in the marble approximately 150 feet (46 m) up which shows where construction stopped.