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Author: Don Obrien

First Thing: US Senate averts financial crisis with debt deal | US news


Good morning.

The Senate has, for now, averted a debt crisis that threatened to plunge the US economy into crisis after Democrats and Republicans approved a deal to increase the government’s borrowing limit.

Senators voted 50-48 in favour of raising the limit by $480bn, enough to stop the government from defaulting until 3 December. Although the temporary fix has prevented disaster just days before the 18 October deadline, it is unable to resolve larger disputes between the two parties.

  • What would a default mean? It could trigger a recession worse than the 2008 crisis, says the White House council of economic advisers, and employers worldwide would have to lay off workers.

  • Is it a partisan issue? Yes – but it wasn’t always. It has become politically divisive over the past decade or more, used largely by Republicans to criticize government spending and rising debt.

  • What next? The solution is short term and sets the stage for a repeat in December, when Congress may be in the same position.

Trump tried to use DoJ to reverse election defeat

Donald Trump and US flag
Donald Trump addressing supporters at a campaign rally in Jacksonville in September 2020.
Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters

Donald Trump wanted to oust the acting attorney general and replace him with a loyalist to overturn his election defeat, an official investigation has found. Detailed in a report by the Senate judiciary committee’s Democratic majority, Trump’s attempt to destroy democracy was prevented by an internal revolt.

The report describes how, at a White House meeting on 3 January, Trump tried to force out the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and replace him with the acting assistant attorney general, Jeffrey Clark, who was more open to investigating the president’s baseless claims of a stolen election.

  • How was the attempt thwarted? Several officials told Trump during the meeting that they would resign if Rosen was replaced with Clark, while Rosen’s deputy, Richard Donoghue, predicted there would be mass resignations across senior roles and other departments.

  • What else does the report say? A key takeaway is the fragility of the democratic system, which appears to depend heavily on the integrity of government workers. It calls for a clearer separation between the White House and justice department.

AT&T revealed as key funder of rightwing channel One America News

One America News, which promotes conspiracy theories, interviewing the chief executive of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, in Wellington, Ohio, in June.
One America News, which promotes conspiracy theories, interviewing the chief executive of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, in Wellington, Ohio, in June. Photograph: Gaelen Morse/Reuters

AT&T, the largest telecom provider in the US, has been revealed as the main financial backer of the rightwing channel One America News, which promotes conspiracy theories and the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

The provider has provided 90% of the channel’s revenue since it was created in 2013, a Reuters investigation found. AT&T provided millions of dollars in funds to OAN, with the company offering the founder $250m for the network, the report found.

  • What does AT&T say? It disputes the report, claiming the partnership with DirecTV merely “carried” the channel. “AT&T has never had a financial interest in OAN’s success,” Jim Greer, the provider’s assistant vice-president of corporate communications said.

  • … and OAN? Robert Herring Sr, founder and CEO of OAN, said in 2019 the channel was the idea of AT&T executives, who wanted another conservative network alongside Fox News.

In other news …

Soldiers being put through their paces at an annual military drill in Taichung, central Taiwan, in 2017.
Soldiers being put through their paces at an annual military drill in Taichung, central Taiwan, in 2017. Photograph: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images
  • A secret group of US military trainers has reportedly been in Taiwan for at least a year, amid rising US-China tensions. About two dozen US special forces soldiers and an unknown number of marines were sent by the Trump administration, according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • Rights groups have urged Netflix to pull Dave Chappelle’s latest special, in which he declared himself to be “team Terf”. Chappelle has previously been criticised for comments attacking trans people.

  • Government lawyers asked Chelsea Manning to travel to Canada so she could be deported. The request, which was denied by an adjudicator, was made before an immigration hearing the whistleblower attended virtually.

  • Two men from Solomon Islands have been rescued after 29 days lost at sea when their GPS tracker stopped working. They were found off the coast of Papua New Guinea, 400km from where their journey began.

Stat of the day: Libyan authorities arrested more than 5,000 refugees and migrants in the past week

Migrants sit aboard a Libyan coastguard vessel arriving at the capital Tripoli’s naval base on February 28, 2021.
Migrants aboard a Libyan coastguard vessel arriving at the capital, Tripoli, on 28 February. Photograph: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images

Libyan authorities have arrested more than 5,000 refugees and migrants in the past week, with allegations of severe physical and sexual violence. After being intercepted at sea trying to reach Europe, they are being held in “inhumane conditions” in Tripoli’s detention centres, where numbers have trebled since Monday, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). One young migrant was killed and at least five others sustained gunshot wounds, the UN said.

Don’t miss this: ‘You upgrade your phone, why not your marriage?’

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac star in the lead roles
Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac star in the remake of Scenes from a Marriage. Photograph: Jojo Whilden/HBO

Ingmar Bergman’s seminal Scenes from a Marriage was blamed for increasing divorce rates in Sweden and across Europe in the 1970s. Now, the Israeli director Hagai Levi, who has remade the influential series for HBO with Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac in the lead roles, tells Zoe Williams: “I want to speak about the price of separation. I don’t think we speak enough about how hard it is and traumatic it is to separate.”

Last Thing: China’s noisy ‘dancing grannies’ silenced

Square dancers in Guizhou province, China
Older women square dancing in Guizhou province, China. In some areas the practice is out of control, neighbours say. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Older women in China have a tradition of gathering in public squares in the early hours of the morning or late in the afternoon and dancing to loud Chinese music. State media describes square dancing positively, as a way for the women “to have a social life”. But neighbours and young people complain it is out of control, with competing groups blasting their music over one another, bullying, and even fights breaking out. Now, a device that disables speakers has gone viral. But perhaps one group of dancers in Lanzhou city has already found the solution: Bluetooth earphones.

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Oliver Bolt

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