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
Dictionary.com named ‘Existential’ the 2019 word of the year. Here’s why…
🦅 U.S. NEWS
Word Choice: The Republican’s Report
In a 123-page draft report that largely reiterates their previous defenses, Republican House members argue President Trump did not intend for his dealings with Ukraine to benefit him politically, but rather that the president made “entirely prudent” decisions driven by a “reasonable skepticism” about corruption in the country. Fox News called the report “a point-by-point rebuttal“. CNN choose the words, “full-throated defense“. What most outlets agreed on is that this report is a preview of the GOP’s defense strategy as Democrats’ drive to impeach President Donald Trump moves to its next phase. What’s next: here is the list of constitutional scholars set to testify in the committee’s first impeachment hearing tomorrow.
Chaos for the Catholic Church: New abuse suits could cost church over $4B
Since 2018, 15 states and the District of Columbia have extended or suspended the statute of limitations to allow child sex abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Church stretching back decades the AP writes. Eight states created lookback windows allowing people to sue no matter how long ago the alleged abuse took place. Why it matters: The church could now see a wave of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by clergy “with potentially more than 5,000 new cases and payouts topping $4 billion.” Zoom out: the #MeToo movement, the public shaming of accused celebrities and the explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report last year have created a “zeitgeist [that] is completely unfavorable to the Catholic Church” according to Los Angeles lawyer Paul Mones. Keep reading. – AP
SCOTUS Hears First Gun Case in a Decade
The Supreme Court heard its first Second Amendment case in a decade Monday, but there were indications that the justices may no longer think they have a case to decide The Washington Post writes. Background: the case was a challenge to New York City’s ban on transporting licensed handguns outside the city – including to shooting ranges and second homes, Amy Howe writes in the SCOTUS blog. Here’s the thing: the city has since ended the ban and then the state of New York passed a law that would keep it from being reenacted. The takeaway is that based on the day’s oral arguments, a majority of the Court may be inclined to dismiss the case. In the event they don’t, here’s how it’s playing courtesy of CNBC’s Tucker Higgins:
- “Gun-control advocates worry that a ruling could spell doom for measures that have been considered lawful by appeals courts in the past nine years, like assault weapon bans and restrictions on gun use outside the home.
- For gun-rights supporters, the case is a welcome return to the Second Amendment for a court that they see as having abandoned such cases for too long.”
Why it all matters: A decision is expected by July, in the midst of the 2020 presidential election.
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
After criticizing Brazil and Argentina for cheapening their currencies to the detriment of U.S. farmers, President Donald Trump reinstated tariffs (via Twitter) on steel and aluminum from the two countries. In a second tweet, the President also suggested the Federal Reserve should step in to help by “lowering rates” so that other countries don’t “take advantage of our strong dollar”. Predictably, responses were mixed.
- Right-leaning outlets covered the string of tweets favorably, noting that “Brazil has also been moving closer to China in recent months” (Breitbart).
- Left-leaning outlets pointed out that the “protectionist policies” [and] the president’s decision to ramp up his trade feud is somewhat unexpected” (Vox).
On Monday Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation requiring all smartphones, computers and smart TV sets sold in the country to come pre-installed with Russian software. Supporters claim the move is meant to help Russian tech firms compete with foreign competitors like America’s Apple, South Korea’s Samsung, and China’s Huawei which dominate the Russian mobile phone market. Detractors think the apps will be used for surveillance. Reuters also reported that Russia will set up a new online site for its national encyclopedia after Putin said Wikipedia was unreliable and should be replaced. Lastly, the Russian government now has the right to classify individual journalists, bloggers and even social media users as “foreign agents” with a new law signed by President Vladmir Putin on Monday according to NPR.
Iran: A Heavy Hand That Could Backfire
According to Amnesty International, the number of people believed to have been killed during demonstrations in Iran that broke out on November 15th has risen to at least 208, and the real figure could be much higher. David E. Sanger from the New York Times writes that “Sanctions May Have Fueled Iran Protests, but Have Yet to Further U.S. Goals” which are “renegotiating the nuclear deal or dialing back Iran’s malign behavior in the region.” The Times of Israel noted that “some [Iranian] families are being forced to make extortionate payments to have the bodies of their loved ones returned to them.” Thought Bubble: global protests like those in Hong Kong and Latin America seem to suggest that Iran’s heavy hand could backfire and end up energizing members of the younger generations. Time will tell. – NYT / Amnesty International / Times of Israel
A Cold December Open: Slinking Sentiment on the Street
Disappointing manufacturing data and four words from President Trump caused stocks to drop Monday, the first trading day of December. The Institute for Supply Management said manufacturing activity in the U.S. continued to contract last month and President Trump said “we’ll see what happens” in regards to the U.S., China trade deal. Chinese state media reported Sunday that Beijing wants a cancellation of tariffs in response to Trump signing two pro-democracy Hong Kong rights bills. Why it matters: Both sides need to reach a deal before Dec. 15. If not, additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods could take effect. The tariffs on Brazil and Argentina mentioned above also didn’t help sentiment on the street. – CNBC
Lionel Messi wins sixth Ballon d’Or award, overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi became the first men’s soccer player to win the Ballon d’Or award for a sixth time in the Paris gala on Monday. Why it matters: Messi also came out on top in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 and he is now one clear of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has five. United States star Megan Rapinoe won the Women’s Ballon d’Or award after being voted the tournament’s best player and joint top scorer as the USWNT won the 2019 World Cup in France. – ESPN
Zuckerberg Doubles Down: People should ‘make their own judgments’ on political ads
Mark Zuckerberg told, “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King yesterday that he doesn’t “think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news” (Watch the interview). In effect, Zuckerberg is doubling down on his company’s decision to not remove political ads that contain false information. Context: Twitter is axing political ads from its site and Google is banning microtargeting and “false claims”. Many thought Facebook would follow suit, but Zuckerberg is sticking to his guns. Why it matters: there are different rules for ads on TV versus online (full article on our website). TV is regulated by the FCC, while social networks are currently self-regulated. Case & Point: Yesterday Google removed 300 Donald Trump ads for ‘violating company policy’. The Longer Read from The Economist: Lawmakers, not tech bosses, should take the lead.
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1818: Illinois becomes the 21st state
Illinois achieves full statehood on this day. When Illinois was granted statehood in 1818, the population was only about 35,000.
🇺🇸 TOP TAGS
Yesterday’s Top Tag: The Daytona Turkey Run uploaded directly to our Flag-Bearers group on Facebook by subscriber, Ronald S.
President Trump heads to a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in London today to mark NATO’s 70th anniversary.
Why does the US pay so much for the defense of its allies? 5 questions answered.