Monday: Foggy Day ReadsPosted: December 18, 2017
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
I’ve talked to people from several places around Texas and they have the same eerie fog that we’ve got here in New Orleans. Foggy is also a good description for my brain activity today. It’s also foggy in Minnesota. Nothing seems clear at the moment.
Four US Senators are urging Senator Al Franken to reconsider his resignation over alleged sexual misconduct. It’s a rare day I’m in agreement with Joe Manchin.
“What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats,” said West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast to post on Tuesday.
Franken’s unusual timeline — in his departure announcement he said he’d go “in the coming weeks,” without setting a date — has fed the fleeting hopes that there’s still time to reverse course. However, Tina Smith, Minnesota’s Democratic lieutenant governor, was named last week as his appointed successor.
People familiar with Franken’s plans said he has not changed his mind and intends to formally resign in early January. He praised the selection of Smith and has begun working with her on the transition.
At least four senators are urging Al Franken to reconsider resigning, including two who issued statements calling for the resignation two weeks ago and said they now feel remorse over what they feel was a rush to judgment.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who urged Franken not to step down to begin with — at least not before he went through an Ethics Committee investigation — said the Minnesota senator was railroaded by fellow Democrats.
An Amtrack train derailed this morning outside of Seattle. It actually dropped from a raise overpass onto a section of I-5. It is also drizzly and foggy up there too. The cause, extent of damages, and the number of folks injured are unknown. There are eyewitness accounts indicating there are cars beneath the fallen cars.
The Amtrak train car fell from an overpass, landing on the I-5 highway outside Seattle. All lanes of traffic have been closed.
Authorities have not yet confirmed the extent of casualties. But witnesses say several people have been injured.
Local news stations report that this was the inaugural run of the new high-speed rail line.
The crash occurred around 07:30 (15:30 GMT), about 45 minutes into train 501’s journey between Portland and Seattle.
Before the crash, it was travelling at more than 80mph (130kmh), with at least 75 people aboard.
It is unclear if it landed on any cars below, but CNN reports that several cars are crushed below the train.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
David Leonhardt has a great Op Ed up in the NY Times about the Republican Tax Plan and how it will exacerbate income in equality. Here is one significant finding of three provided in the piece.
The great tax-cutting revolution of the last half-century hasn’t actually been a tax-cutting revolution for most Americans.
True, they have benefited from a series of cuts in income-tax rates, signed by Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. At the same time, though, another tax has been rising. It is the quiet giant of federal tax policy: the payroll tax.
It funds Social Security and Medicare, and it has been rising in response to the aging of society and rising medical costs. It increased from 2 percent just after World War II to 6 percent in 1960 to 12.4 percent in 1990, where it is today. It has risen so much that it’s now the largest tax that 62 percent of American households pay — larger than the income tax, which gets much more attention.
The increases in the payroll tax have more than offset the declines in the income tax for most middle-class and poor families. They now face higher total tax rates than a half-century ago.
Kremlin Caligula and his krazy krewe of kooks have developed a new Security Strategy that doesn’t include climate change. It also has weird language for traditionally hostile nations like China and Russia.
The White House will unveil a new national security strategy that, according to multiple reports, will break with the Obama administration by declining to recognize climate change as a threat to national security interests.
Why it matters: The report is the latest sign of how the Trump administration, in addition to unwinding domestic global warming rules, has made a sharp rhetorical break with its predecessor when it comes to the geo-politics of climate change.
Buzz: The New York Times points out that climate will surface in the report in a section on embracing U.S. “energy dominance.” The Federalist reported Friday that the strategy will note that “[c]limate policies will continue to shape the global energy system” but will also state:
“U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth, energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests. Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.”
It also underscores the mixed messages from the administration on how to assess climate change.
President Donald Trump will declare that China and Russia are competitors seeking to challenge U.S. power and erode its security and prosperity, in a national security strategy he will lay out in a speech on Monday.
“They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence,” according to excerpts of Trump’s strategy released by the White House.
Still no word about the cyber threat to our elections and the capture of the administration by our ‘competitor’ Mother Russia.’
Twitter has announced new rules designed to promote safety and reduce “hateful conduct and abusive behavior”. Will it ban Kremlin Caligula?
Today, we will start enforcing updates to the Twitter Rules announced last month to reduce hateful and abusive content on Twitter. Through our policy development process, we’ve taken a collaborative approach to develop and implement these changes, including working in close coordination with experts on our Trust and Safety Council.
New Rules on Violence and Physical Harm
Specific threats of violence or wishing for serious physical harm, death, or disease to an individual or group of people is in violation of our policies. Our new changes include more types of related content including:
- Accounts that affiliate with organizations that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes. Groups included in this policy will be those that identify as such or engage in activity — both on and off the platform — that promotes violence. This policy does not apply to military or government entities and we will consider exceptions for groups that are currently engaging in (or have engaged in) peaceful resolution.
- Content that glorifies violence or the perpetrators of a violent act. This includes celebrating any violent act in a manner that may inspire others to replicate it or any violence where people were targeted because of their membership in a protected group. We will require offending Tweets to be removed and repeated violations will result in permanent suspension
We shall see.
What’s on your reading and blogging list? How’s the weather and end of the year stuff going?