Still signing my checks with 2023. Doesn't feel right yet. - Jacob
ON THE SHOW TODAY
1/2: It's the first News Day Tuesday of 2024! The MR Crew is back to catch up on the biggest headlines of the last week.
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Today you'll read about Biden's continued polling slide, an attack on a South Korean politician, and a very old, very cool tortoise.
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THE BIG NEWS
Biden Losing Support Among Important Constituencies
"President Joe Biden heads into the election year showing alarming weakness among stalwarts of the Democratic base," USA Today intoned darkly, as another set of polls shows the president losing support among Black and Latino voters. Former president Donald Trump and third-party candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have both showed recent gains that seem to have come from past Democratic voters.
The latest polling comes as Muslim American leaders have called for a growing political protest campaign against Biden in response to his facilitation of Israel's devastating military campaign in Gaza. The so-called #AbandonBiden campaign has deliberately targeted swing states in an attempt to threaten his 2024 political prospects.
While this kind of scorched-earth activism tends to bring out the worst in vote-blue-no-matter-who liberals, who dismiss it as a tool of Trumpism, it reflects a very real disenchantment among groups whose political support the administration can't afford to assume as a given. Pundits continue to tout the good economic vibes emanating from this White House. But for many Americans, economic life remains defined by unaffordable housing, unchecked medical costs, rampant inequality, and the end of short-lived pandemic-era welfare benefits. Now, Biden's bloody foreign policy – and its willingness to cow to Republicans' barbaric border policies in exchange for more Ukraine and Israel funding – has wiped away whatever gains Biden might have earned from, for instance, pulling out of Afghanistan. The president's team better grok to this reality quickly – if nothing else, out of self-preservation.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Israeli Supreme Court Quashes Netanyahu's Judicial Coup
The Supreme Court of Israel struck down a judicial reform law supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In July, Netanyahu's government midwifed a new law that limited judges' ability to challenge existing laws – one of several planned pieces of legislation to limit the judiciary's power and reconfigure it in favor of Netanyahu's cronies and hard-right policies. The attempted judicial coup inspired months of protests, which have largely disappeared since Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks on Israeli border communities and Israel's subsequent overwhelming assault on Gaza.
- South Korean Politician Stabbed During Public Appearance Lee Jae-myung, the leader of South Korea's political opposition, was stabbed in the neck during a public appearance in Busan. He was rushed to the hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries. via The Guardian.
- US Blocked Key Dutch Company's China Exports The US government successfully pressured ASML, a Dutch company that sells powerful machines for high-end chip manufacturing, to limit its exports to China. Along with Taiwanese manufacturer TSMC, ASML is the most important company in the global semiconductor supply chain – and therefore a crucial node in Washington's chip war with Beijing. via Bloomberg.
- Japan Rocked by 7.6 Earthquake A large earthquake hit Japan yesterday, killing at least 6 people, damaging buildings, and triggering a tsunami alert. Despite fires and disruptions to rail and plane services, Japan's stringent building standards and earthquake-resilient infrastructure seemed to limit the potential damage. via New York Times.
- AI Likenesses Raise Legal Hackles A new crop of AI chatbots trained on the words of real people have raised novel concerns about impersonation, deception, and the legal rights to one's digital or AI likeness. Congress is racing to catch up. via Politico.
That's how many State Department employees remain banned from certain postings based on ethnic heritage and other ties for foreign countries. Numerous government employees, especially at US intelligence agencies, have been limited from various assignments, postings, and specialties because of what essentially amount to dual-loyalty concerns. The ban has most affected Asian-American government officials and, in the face of growing challenges, has shown signs of weakening.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
There's a difference between getting a raise and getting a bribe.
Author Diane Winston talks about her new book on President Ronald Reagan and his longstanding ties with evangelical Christianity.
“As a vet, I can tell you it’s only us humans who get hung up on gender distinctions. Animals are less picky.”
-- From a charming Washington Post article about Jonathan, a 191-year-old tortoise who is believed to be the world's oldest living land animal. Jonathan likes to eat pears and lettuce hearts, hump other tortoises, and serve as a 400-lb waddling exemplar of the profound mysteries of time, aging, and mortality.
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