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
Happy Friday Everyone: Let’s kick the weekend off with some good news out of Tallahassee, Florida where at one school, students received American Flags flown over combat zones signed by overseas troops.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
Solid U.S. Growth Caps a Robust Year
The U.S. economy completed one of the best years of a nearly decade long expansion, growing at a modest pace in the fourth quarter despite slowdowns elsewhere in the world, turbulent financial markets, trade disputes with China and a partial government shutdown late in the year. Big Picture: Consumer spending was robust thanks to a strong job market, tax cuts and household income gains, while business investment, after faltering in the third quarter, bounced back in the final three months of the year. – WSJ (subscription)
Prominent New Yorkers ask Amazon to reconsider
Some New Yorkers are asking Amazon to reconsider its abandonment of the Big Apple. In an open letter ad published in the New York Times today, 40 CEOs (including the heads of Goldman Sachs, Hearst, and Citi Group), politicians (including three New York members of Congress) and the president of New York University will ask Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to change his mind about pulling out of the city. “A clear majority of New Yorkers support this project and were disappointed by your decision not to proceed,” the letter states. Read the full thing. – USA Today
FTC Aims New Task Force at Big Tech
The Federal Trade Commission says it’s setting up a task force that will examine the antitrust implications of tech deals — including mergers that have already been approved — meaning the commission could unwind previous deals that have led to allegedly anti-competitive outcomes. Deals that come to mind are Facebook by acquiring companies such as Instagram and WhatsApp and Alphabet through Google’s acquisitions of DoubleClick and AdMob. Big Picture: the FTC’s tougher line comes during a time of growing scrutiny over the power of tech firms to stifle competition and buy up would-be rivals. – WSJ / The Verge
Imran Khan Says Pakistan Will Release Indian Pilot, Seizing Publicity in Showdown
Pakistan said it will release the Indian pilot captured by its forcesduring skirmishes on Wednesday. Onlookers hope that what Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, termed a “peace gesture” will de-escalate tensions between the two nuclear powers, which have been running high since each deployed fighter jets over the other’s territory. How to Read This: Khan’s decision is him seeking to position Pakistan as the cooler head in a confrontation that has put the world on edge. – New York Times
Bin Laden: US offers reward for Osama’s son Hamza
America is offering a reward of up to $1m for information about Hamza bin Laden, the son of the late former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The younger bin Laden has become a key figure in the terrorist group since special forces killed his father in 2011, and has issued messages calling for attacks on America and other Western nations. – The Economist
Somalia: Cause & Effect
Early this morning heavy gunfire rang out across central Mogadishu as Somali troops battled to dislodge Islamist insurgents holed up next to a hotel they bombed the previous evening, and as the death toll stemming from that attack neared 30. Impact: Insecurity and conflict, exactly like what’s mentioned above, caused some 320,000 Somalis to become displaced in 2018. Moreover, 50 percent more Somalis were forced to leave their homes last year than in 2017. Why it matters: this is a worrying trend that could become catastrophic for one of the world’s worst humanitarian situations. – UPI / Reuters
Gap to spin off Old Navy as stand-alone company, stock skyrockets more than 25%
The Gap Inc. shares skyrocketed more than 20% in after-hours trading Thursday after the retailer said it would split into two publicly traded companies, turning Old Navy into an independent entity. Context: Old Navy is one of Gap Inc.’s strongest businesses and accounted for 47% of its sales in 2018. On Thursday, Gap Inc. reported its fourth-quarter earnings. Same-store sales at Old Navy were up 9% during the quarter and 3% for the year overall. – Market Watch
Bryce is Right: Harper, Phillies agree to record $330M deal
Bryce Harper and the Phillies agreed Thursday to a $330 million, 13-year deal that is the largest contract in baseball history. The Details: Harper receives a $20 million signing bonus and a $10 million salary for this season. He will be paid $26 million annually from 2020 to 2028 and $22 million per season from 2029 to 2031. Best Contract Ever? Maybe. Although the deal will give Harper a whole lot of stability, it’s got nothing on Bobby Bonilla’s status. The two-time Mets outfielder (1992-95; 1999) will be getting paid $1.19 million a year through 2035because of deferred payments on a $5.9 million buyout in 2000 that will be worth $29.8 million when it comes to an end — when Bonilla will be 72 years old. – ESPN / NY Post
Tesla is closing all its stores so you can have a $35K Model 3
Tesla is finally launching that long-promised $35,000 Model 3, but to meet its target price, the company is closing all of its 378 stores worldwide, laying off thousands of retail employees and shifting all sales online. Why it matters: That $35,000 price tag enables CEO Elon Musk to fulfill his 2006 secret master plan to deliver a mass-market electric vehicle, but he told reporters today “there’s no other way” to produce it than by closing all its stores and eliminating jobs. Even so, he says the company won’t be profitable this quarter. – Axios
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ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1961: Peace Corps established
On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order #10924, establishing the Peace Corps as a new agency within the Department of State. Fun Fact: if you’ve ever worked for the CIA you are forbidden from ever working for the Peace Corps.
There was something insanely captivating about yesterday’s top tag. Take a look and see if you agree.