Tuesday, November 14th, 2023


Over the Hill

America is facing several international crises, ongoing wars, rising authoritarianism abroad and at home, and serious threats to democracy from Europe to Mar-a-Lago. Congress is meeting these serious times, to put it in as nice a way possible, unseriously. In just the past couple of days, we've seen Sen. Markwayne Mullin use a Senate hearing to challenge Teamsters leader Sean O'Brien to a fistfight. Rep James Comer who is attempting to impeach the president (the one who didn't try to overthrow the government) over some $200K loan to his brother didn't appreciate being called out over his $200K loan his own brother. (Viewer warning: The word Smurf was used.) Kevin McCarthy elbowed his way back in the news when he shoved one of the House members who voted to oust him. "McCarthy shoved past Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., as he was speaking with NPR's Claudia Grisales in a hallway. Burchett stumbled forward and yelled after McCarthy, 'Why'd you elbow me in the back, Kevin?! Hey Kevin, you got any guts?!' Burchett then called McCarthy a 'jerk' and chased him down the hallway. When he caught up to him, he said, 'What kind of chicken move is that? You're pathetic, man. You are so pathetic.'" House Speaker Mike Johnson isn't sitting around letting the world's problems fester. With Democratic support, he's closing in on a deal to ... wait for it ... keep the US government from completely shutting down. Inspiring stuff! Meanwhile, the Senate has announced that it will punt on Ukraine and Israel aid until after the Thanksgiving holiday (a period during which Americans will mostly be thankful that Congress is not in session). At this point, Capitol Hill should just use the same theme song as Benny Hill.


Factory Reset

"China has been 'the world's factory' for decades, with made-in-China goods reaching global consumers through foreign brands, shops, or sites like Amazon. And the country has had a vibrant domestic e-commerce sector, with companies like Alibaba and JD.com growing into juggernauts. But recently, Chinese-owned shopping platforms have begun looking beyond China's borders. Temu joins ultrafast-fashion platform Shein and TikTok's shopping feature TikTok Shop to herald a new, global era for Chinese e-commerce." Ahead of the APEC conference, RestofWorld provides an interesting look how China took over the world's online shopping carts. (Although Amazon still seems to have a few shopping carts in play.)


Running and Gunning

"To hold the support of the Jewish supremacists in his cabinet — some of whom want Israel to erect settlements in Gaza as soon as possible — Netanyahu has to declare now that the Palestinians will have no legitimate, independent representation in Gaza or the West Bank. Yes, I know it is hard to believe, but Netanyahu is campaigning in the middle of this war. It is time for President Biden to create a moment of truth for everyone — for Netanyahu, for the Palestinians and their supporters, for Israel and its supporters and for AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby. Biden needs to make clear that America will not be Netanyahu's useful idiot. We are going to lay down the principles of a fair peace plan for the morning after this war — one that reflects our interests and that will also enable us to support Israel and moderate Palestinians and win the support of moderate Arabs for an economic reconstruction of Gaza after the war." In the NYT (Gift Article), Tom Friedman argues the US has to be more demanding about a postwar (and post-Bibi) peace plan. The Most Revealing Moment From My Trip to Israel. (It all sounds good but seems impossible...)

+ In other news that sounds better than good but at this point seems hard to believe, there are increasing reports of a potential deal to free some of the Israeli hostages. David Ignatius in WaPo (Gift Article) with an outline of the terms being discussed. Israel and Hamas close in on a deal to free dozens of hostages. "A temporary cease-fire of perhaps five days would accompany the exchange of hostages and prisoners, the Israeli official said. This truce would allow safe travel for the Israeli captives. It could also permit more international assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and should ease the humanitarian crisis there."

+ "My decades of experience in the region taught me that Palestinian and Israeli parents may say different prayers at worship but they share the same hopes for their kids—just like Americans, just like parents everywhere. That is why I am convinced Hamas must go. On October 7, these terrorists killed babies, raped women, and kidnapped innocent civilians. They continue to hold more than 200 hostages. They have proved again and again that they will not abide by cease-fires, will sabotage any efforts to forge a lasting peace, and will never stop attacking Israel." Hillary Clinton: Hamas Must Go.

+ US intel confirms Hamas has bases and tunnels under hospitals, rains making life even more miserable for displaced Palestinians. Here's the latest from CNN, BBC, and Times of Israel.



"Canadians know Ottawa as the home of government, where roughly a quarter of the metropolitan area's 1.5 million residents work in the public sector. They also know Ottawa, fairly or not, as "the city that fun forgot," a moniker penned over four decades ago by the late Canadian political commentator and satirist Allan Fotheringham. The label has stuck. YouTube celebrities have traveled here to document whether Ottawa is as drab as advertised. Municipal leaders want to turn that image around. Ottawa is looking to hire someone to preside over the city's nightlife. The job title is still to be determined, with officials tossing around ideas such as night mayor, nightlife commissioner or night czar." WSJ (Gift Article): The ‘City That Fun Forgot' Is Hiring a Nightlife Czar. (Nothing says fun like appointing a Czar.)


Extra, Extra

Monster Mash: "The non-opioid drugs include those relatively new to the street, like the animal tranquilizer xylazine, which can char human flesh, anti-anxiety medications like Valium and Klonopin and older recreational stimulants like cocaine and meth. Dealers sell these drugs, plus counterfeit Percocet and Xanax pills, often mixed with fentanyl." The latest challenge to those fighting drug addiction is that people are increasingly addicted to too many different substances. NYT (Gift Article): 'A Monster': Super Meth and Other Drugs Push Crisis Beyond Opioids. Meanwhile, in a good (and better late than never) sign of cooperation, Biden and Xi to announce deal cracking down on fentanyl export.

+ Leak Soup: "A leak of discovery materials in the Georgia election subversion case against former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants prompted the Fulton County district attorney's office Tuesday to file an emergency motion for a protective order in an attempt to prevent other material from becoming public."

+ Brexit Ramp: "As political comebacks go, former British Prime Minister David Cameron's return to government as foreign secretary is more dramatic and unexpected than most." Why David Cameron is a surprising choice as new UK foreign policy chief after fateful Brexit vote. (Remember when things like Brexit seemed as crazy as it would get?)

Cold Case: A couple weeks ago, an ice hockey player named Adam Johnson was killed during a match after a neck injury caused by what was described as a freak accident. But now, there's been an arrest for manslaughter.

Gritty in Pink: Pink: Singer to give away 2,000 'banned' books at Florida concerts. (I still can't believe that some school districts ban Toni Morrison's Beloved. We live in an age of runaway stupidity.)

Never Off Color: "Even the CEO of the biggest corporation, you're helping him with a color for a product that's going to sell 5 billion units. And his last question is, 'What color should I paint my living room?'" Meet the woman who chooses the world's Color of the Year.


Bottom of the News

"You've probably seen them on social media: they travel abroad on planes, camp, scurry up technical trails, don ski goggles and hit the slopes, and even hang out at the local crag and climb with humans. Way more awesome." Outside: Man's Best Friend Can't Compare to These 9 Adventure Cats.

+ The 2023 Nature Conservancy photo contest winners.