A little good news up top, though it was a foregone conclusion once the House and Senate passed it: President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act yesterday, saying "this law and the love it defends strike a blow against hate in all its forms." - Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
World News Roundup: Africa, South America, and Back Again
We're taking a whirlwind world tour in today's newsletter, folks. There's much to cover even though the U.S. news cycle is slowing down for the holidays.
- Sources Claim German Far-Right Coup Plotter Met with Russian Diplomats Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss, who the plotters hoped to install as leader following "Day X," at least twice visited with diplomats at the the Russian consulate in Leipzig, according to sources familiar with the German government's investigation. via the New York Times.
- Chinese Space Officials Describe Plans for Manned Missions to Mars "I think it's entirely possible they could catch up and surpass us, absolutely," a U.S. Space Force official says. via the NY Times.
- Aid Groups Slam United Nations for Failing to Declare a Famine in Somalia A lack of data "because of insecurity in some of the worst-affected areas" prevented the UN from making a formal declaration of famine yesterday, which could have real consequences for millions of Somalis without ready access to food. via the Associated Press.
- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Survives Impeachment Vote Ramaphosa's African National Congress closed ranks to defend him yesterday from an impeachment inquiry stemming from the claim he had "between $4 million and $8 million hidden in a sofa" on his property. via the NY Times.
- Six Dead in Peru Protests as Judge Denies Appeal for Pedro Castillo The ousted president's lawyers say his attempt to dissolve Congress doesn't justify a charge of rebellion, while newly sworn in president Dina Boluarte appealed for calm and said she ordered police to refrain from using lethal weapons, "not even rubber bullets," when confronting protesters. via the AP.
- Brazil: Bolsonaro Supporters Try, Fail to Storm Federal Police Headquarters Yellow-shirted fascists loyal to the outgoing president set fire to cars and tried to storm a government building in a botched insurrection said to be modeled on Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021 coup attempt. via the Guardian.
- Chile Will Try Again to Replace Dictator Pinochet's Constitution On Monday night, a spectrum of parties from left to right agreed on a new process to redraft the constitution, after voters rejected the first attempt at a new constitution in a September referendum. via the AP.
- Joe Biden Is Planning an Asylum Policy that Looks Like Donald Trump's The administration may cut the number of asylum seekers allowed into the U.S. and reject them outright if they can't prove they face torture in their home countries. via NBC News.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Sustainable Fusion Power Now a 'Few Decades' Away
The U.S. government revealed more details yesterday about the successful fusion energy experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility in California. "This milestone moves us one significant step closer to the possibility of zero-carbon abundant fusion energy powering our society," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters. Livermore Lab director Kim Budil "said there are 'very significant hurdles' to commercial use of fusion technology, but advances in recent years mean the technology is likely to be widely used in 'a few decades' rather than 50 or 60 years as previously expected." Paul Dabbar, a Columbia University policy expert who was undersecretary of energy for science until 2021, told NBC News that with additional government investment, the technology could be developed and commercialized in as few as 10 to 15 years. Let's go then! This is genuinely exciting and hopeful news! And it serves as another reminder that real innovation in science and technology comes from the public sector far more often than from Silicon Valley capitalists.
FTX Charge Sheet Includes Campaign Finance Violations
Crypto conman Sam Bankman-Fried appeared in a Bahamas courtroom yesterday and said he would not waive his right to fight extradition to the U.S., while federal prosecutors in Manhattan unsealed an indictment charging him with eight criminal counts including wire fraud, money laundering, and violating campaign finance laws. The latter charge has many in Washington, D.C. who took his money worried. Bankman-Fried's parents, Stanford Law professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, were also in the courtroom; according to CoinDesk, "Bankman-Fried's mother audibly laughed several times when her son was referred to as a 'fugitive' and his father occasionally put his fingers in his ears as if to drown out the sound of the proceedings." The new CEO of FTX, John Ray III, scapegoated the company's founder for all of its criminal conduct at a House Financial Services Committee hearing yesterday, describing the brazen crypto scam as "plain, old fashion embezzlement" carried out by "a small group of grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals." The Securities and Exchange Commission also unveiled a civil complaint against Bankman-Fried and FTX yesterday, calling the company "a house of cards [built] on a foundation of deception." Here's hoping this marks the beginning of the end for a rotten industry.
- Report on Warming Arctic Details Disruption for Human, Animal Life The last seven years have been the seven hottest since 1900, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Arctic Report Card says. via the Washington Post.
- Ron DeSantis Once Again Courts the Antivax Vote Florida's Republican governor wants a grand jury to investigate "any and all wrongdoing" related to Covid vaccines. via NBC News and CNBC.
- Bureau of Prisons Staff Routinely Sexually Abuse Women Inmates A bipartisan Senate investigation says the perpetrators have included male wardens, pastors, and guards at every level of the prison system. via the New York Times.
- Mask Up to Fight Fast-Spreading Covid, Flu, and RSV 'Tripledemic' "Nationwide, Covid-19 case rates and hospitalizations have spiked by 56 percent and 24 percent, respectively, over the past two weeks." via the NY Times.
- Famous Hollywood Mountain Lion P-22 in Stable Condition After Capture California wildlife officials decided to tranquilize the aging cougar after it attacked two pet Chihuahuas, killing one. via the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.
That's how many votes Colorado crackpot Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert won reelection by over conservative Democratic challenger Adam Frisch, per the results of a recount released Monday night.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
12/14: Emma hosts Jamie McCallum, associate professor of sociology at Middlebury College, to discuss his recent book Essential: How the Pandemic Transformed the Long Fight for Worker Justice. Then, Emma is joined by Gerrit Bruhaug, Ph.D candidate at the University of Rochester and research assistant for the Laboratory of Laser Energetics, to discuss the recent groundbreaking development in fusion energy that could pose a threat to fossil fuel production.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
This is what it means to be a Republican today.
Mark, in seeing what's happening so quickly...we are at a point of � no return � in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! [sic] PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!
-- GOP Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, in a text message to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sent on January 17, 2021, and obtained by Talking Points Memo. In a statement to Vice News yesterday, Norman, who once brandished a loaded gun during a constituent meeting, said "that text message came from a source of frustration" and "Martial Law was never warranted."
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