Nel's New Day

March 24, 2023

News of the Past Week – March 24, 2023

Like religious predictions that the world would come to an end, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was wrong about his being indicted last Tuesday. He wants top booking so here it is. With the hiatus of the grand jury until next week, he’s safe until next week so that he can rant at his Saturday rally in Waco, Texas. More on Sunday.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is heading to jail tomorrow. Don’t get excited: she’s going to the Washington, D.C. jails to show the abuse of insurrectionists, who she calls “prisoners of war.” For the first time, Republicans are concerned about prison conditions. Her nemesis, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) said she’ll be part of the entourage, and a couple of Democrats plan to go along—Reps. Summer Lee (D-PA) and Jasmine Crockett (D-TX).

Of the 1,000 arrested insurrectionists, 20 are being held by the Washington Correction Department; nine of them have been convicted or pled guilty. Rioters who drove a stun gun into a police officer or used a bullhorn to encourage rioters to steal law enforcement guns were held before trial. Of the three being held who aren’t charged with physically assaulting police officers are one considered a flight risk, another convicted for invading the Capitol in military gear, and a third holding an hour-long standoff with law enforcement who went to arrest him. Outside the Capitol, he had a hammer hanging from his belt and gripping a baseball another rioter stole from former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office. A judge determined he should be held for public safety after he told law enforcement, “Better come in here shooting.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has gotten sloppy—or he just doesn’t care. The Senate Select Committee on Ethics formally admonished him for soliciting campaign contributions for the 2022 Senate runoff race in Georgia during an interview with Fox network in the Russell Senate Office Building. The panel found that Graham “directly solicited campaign contributions” on behalf of GOP Senate candidate Hershel Walker “five separate times” during the nine-minute interview with Fox and concluded he “impermissibly conducted campaign activity in a federal building.” It’s not the first time: he violated Senate standards of conduct in October 2020 when he “directly solicited campaign contributions” for his own campaign committee” during a media interview in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

After his “constant contact” with DirecTV and Newsmax, Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) succeeded in his interference with private business to force a deal between the two companies. Justifying his willingness to investigate the dispute, he said, “We’ll all huge fans of Newsmax.” That’s understandable for the ultra-conservatives who search for a worse alternative to the Fox network. DDT had condemned the possibility of DirecTV not carrying Newsmax as “a big blow to the Republican Party,” erasing any notion that Newsmax exhibited any independent journalism. He concluded with the “REPUBLICAN PARTY DEMANDS” Newsmax’s return to DirecTV’s lineup.

Legislators are now concerned if a Chinese-owned social media company endangers the mental health of youth. About U.S.-owned social media? Meh. TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled by congressional members in a House Energy and Commerce Committee five-hour hearing with the possibility of banning the social network to the 150 million people using it in the U.S. The questioning began with asking about Chinese control over TikTok through ByteDance that lawmakers claim has ties to the country’s Communist Party. Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal reported that China would oppose a forced sale of TikTok, a U.S. solution. Chew said the company would move all U.S. data to domestic servers in Project Texas and delete all U.S. user data backed up to servers outside the country.

In the U.S., 67 percent of teens 13 to 17 say they have used the app, and 16 percent use it “almost constantly.” Tech critics say that other big tech firms raise the same concerns as TikTok. Chew said TikTok’s privacy practices are in line with those of other social media platforms, that the app collects less data than the others. He also pointed out the U.S. bad track record with data, referring to Cambridge Analytica harvesting Facebook users’ personal information for DDT’s campaign. Members seemed to stick with their negative opinion of TikTok throughout the hearing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has gone home after spending three days with Russian President Vladimir Putin and left one message: China owns Russia. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has left his country so weak that he needs Xi; White House member of the National Security Council John Kirby called Putin a “junior partner.” Russia has lost its European energy market and must now rely on China and other Asia customers. In addition, Russia no longer has the ability to lead in space, cyber, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Xi wants a peace plan; he proposes a cease-fire agreement, freezing Russia’s gains in Ukraine. Ukraine and its allies know that this arrangement would just give Russia an opportunity to regroup before resuming its invasion. U.S. has had a foreign policy goal to separate China and Russia, but Xi is emerging as the leader of a Eurasian bloc.

Before backing down following bad publicity, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested that the U.S. was out of line in supporting Ukraine because it was only a “territory dispute” and opposing Russia is not a “vital national interest.” Conservatives’ attempt to be isolationist mirrors their attitude in the 1930s in a relationship with Nazi Germany. The “America First” group, represented by Republicans such as Sen. Robert Taft, a presidential candidate in 1952, opposed joining NATO or sending U.S. troops to Europe but later supported Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s desire to wage war on “Red China.” The pre-Eisenhower GOP has returned under DDT’s leadership and his love for Putin.

It’s natural that Xi and Putin would develop a relationship: they both run autocratic countries and are both isolated. While world leaders, even President Joe Biden, visit war-torn Ukraine, they avoid Putin except for Xi’s recent visit. Biden has orchestrated multiple China-countering geopolitical groups—the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal, and rejuvenation of the Quad.

The former Florida legislator who sponsored the “don’t say gay” law faces up to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to fraudulently obtaining Covid relief funds. Sentencing is scheduled for July 25. Several other states have copied his bill under the pretense of “protecting our kids.” The legislator obtained over $150,000 from the government by lying on applications to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.  

This week, Biden created national monuments in Nevada and Texas, both areas of religious significance to native Americans. The California site is home to a wealth of bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, and Joshua trees, some over 900 years old. He also initiated a marine sanctuary of over 777,000 square miles southwest of Hawaii in the Pacific.

In contrast, Arkansas will have an anti-abortion monument near the state Capitol after Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a bill permitting it to be built from private funds. The state will oversee the selection of the artist, the monument design, and its location near the Ten Commandments monument installed in 2018. Also in 2018, Tennessee legislators approved a similar monument which has not yet been constructed.

Idaho’s anti-abortion law has led to the closure of birthing services at a healthcare facility in Sandpoint because of a doctor shortage and politicized healthcare environment. The closest facility will now be an hour away. Idaho is one of six states to prosecute doctors performing abortions, even if they might be necessary to provide appropriate healthcare for the pregnant woman.

The financial world has calmed down a bit:

Union Bank of Switzerland has bought Credit Suisse (CS) for $3.23 billion and assume up to $5.4 billion losses. CS wrote down $17 billion of bonds to zero, and shareholders receive 1 UBS share for every 22.48 Credit Suisse shares held.

New York Community Bank will buy 40 branches of Signature Bank for $2.7 billion, including $38.4 billion in Signature’s assets, about one-third of its total when the bank failed. Another $60 billion remains in receivership to be sold off.

S&P Global lowered First Republic Bank’s credit rating although several large banks deposited $30 billion into the bank.

The FDIC plans to relaunch the sale of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).

The stock market has slightly increased despite the Fed increase of 0.25 percent and guarantee of one more.

U.S. intelligence have found proof that Russia interfered in elections for at least the past seven years to elect Republicans. Now Russia is spreading anti-U.S. propaganda about the train derailing at East Palestine (OH) on February, 2023. Pro-Russian accounts have used Elon Musk’s new Twitter verification system to lie about the impact of the chemical spill and the falsehood of Democrats’ indifference to the plight of the people in the small town. Reset, a London-based nonprofit studying social media’s impact on democracy, notified the Associated Press. The report shows that Twitter permits Russia to use its platform like a bullhorn. Twitter boosted the lies with a blue check mark, supposedly indicated verified users for authenticity, but actually sold by the company for $8 per month with no vetting. One account, Truth Puke, belongs to a website of the same name that regularly reposts Russian state media.

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