Friday, December 24, 2021

On this #ChristmasEve2021


Please enjoy this curated selection from our co-founders' Spotify collection as we wish all a joyous holiday season:

Monday, December 20, 2021

Notations On Our World (Final #ChristmasEve2021 Edition): On this Christmas Week...On the Week That Was.....

 On this Christmas Eve Week here in the United States, we present our final Christmas Eve Edition of Notations on the Week that Was:

The Economist Christmas 2021 covers

Our end-of-year double issue is the one time our cover stands apart from our first leader. Instead, it highlights some of the feature articles we have laid on for the holiday season and which this year are spread across our pages, app and website in glorious style. The inspiration for the trains careering across our cover triptych is “Murder of the Orient Express”, an elegy to the severed railway lines that once connected the Middle East. Our writers have ranged far and wide, from an essay on why Vladimir Putin and his compatriots cannot tolerate the idea of a free and independent Ukraine, to the charms of corrugated iron. We delve into the economic history of the restaurant and the ancient origins of meatless meat. We ask why so many people look down on whoever lives south of them and why humans have always envied birds—how they long to fly and sing and see with the eyes of a hawk. We report on NASA’s quest to find funnier, kinder astronauts and on the mathematical formula that could save democracy. Julius Caesar’s account of the Gallic Wars turns out to be self-serving, misleading and one of the ancient world’s literary treasures. Parents in Hong Kong have started to wonder if bringing up children there means teaching them to submit to the Communist Party. A Zimbabwean archaeologist reimagines the story of a great and vanished African civilisation. And much more..

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, speaks as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice-chair, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) listen during a committee meeting on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, speaks as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice-chair, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) listen during a committee meeting on Capitol Hill. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

AND WHAT MCCARTHY DIDN’T LEARN — It’s an immutable law on Capitol Hill: If you have power, wield it. If you don’t, do whatever it takes to be in the room with those who do.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy violated that principle on July 21 when he boycotted the Jan. 6 select committee. It turns out, that was the most important development of the entire investigation.

Since then, the members of the panel have operated with a harmony — and secrecy — rarely seen in modern Washington. They’ve interviewed 300 witnesses, only about 50 of whom have been publicly identified. They’ve blanketed Donald Trump’s allies with subpoenas, referred three key witnesses for contempt of Congress prosecution and exerted pressure like few committees ever have. By all accounts, they’re making inroads into the depths of the Trump White House and unearthing evidence that will make that dark day look even darker.

All, we might add, without fear of a hostile minority raising procedural objections or acting as spies and defenders for Trump-world.

“We will tell this story to the American people. But we won’t do it piecemeal,” Chair Bennie Thompson said this week. “We’ll do it when we can tell the story all at once, from start to finish.”

Thompson wouldn’t have that luxury if the committee had an opposition building a counternarrative from within.

McCarthy’s decision was understandable at the time. He was reacting to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to veto two of his five picks — the Jims: Jordan and Banks. Both men, Pelosi determined, were too intertwined with Trump to be credible investigators, justifying what she described as an “unprecedented” decision to block them from the committee. The revelation this week that Jordan forwarded a legal strategy for overturning the election to Trump’s chief of staff in the run-up to Jan. 6 has bolstered Democrats’ confidence in Pelosi’s decision.

In deciding to boycott, McCarthy rejected the lessons of the 2019 Trump impeachment, when Republicans used their access to evidence and witnesses to push back on the probe and build a defense.

Welcome to POLITICO Nightly. Reach out with news, tips and ideas at Or contact tonight’s author at, or on Twitter at @kyledcheney.

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Why Facebook supports updated internet regulations, including Section 230

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Hear from Aaron on why Facebook supports updating regulations on the internet’s most pressing challenges, including reforming Section 230 to set clear guidelines for all large tech companies.


U.S. Capitol Police officers Sgt. Aquilino Gonell and Harry Dunn listen as Rep. Adam Kinzinger speaks remotely during a business meeting with the select committee on Capitol Hill.

U.S. Capitol Police officers Sgt. Aquilino Gonell and Harry Dunn listen as Rep. Adam Kinzinger speaks remotely during a business meeting with the select committee on Capitol Hill. | Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

THE IMPEACHMENT LESSONS — Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who led the first impeachment, sits on the Jan. 6 panel and has clearly applied that experience to the new, even weightier probe. A slew of factors — beginning with the absence of any real pushback — have given the Jan. 6 panel an edge that Democrats didn’t have in the impeachment years. Here’s a look at some of them:

A friendly executive branch: During Trump’s first impeachment, Democrats peppered his administration with documents requests and subpoenas. They got a sum total of zero pages. Trump so thoroughly stonewalled the committee, that investigators were left making inferences and educated assertions where documents might have told the full story. Trump’s second impeachment, for “incitement of insurrection” came just days before he left office.

The Biden White House has taken its own unprecedented steps to aid the Jan. 6 committee. Most significantly, Biden has waived any executive privilege over key tranches of documents sought by the panel. Trump is fighting that decision in court but has so far lost at every stage. And the panel has already accessed a subset of White House records that Trump did not contest.

The committee has also benefited from a supportive Justice Department. DOJ, which is prosecuting hundreds of people who breached the Capitol, supported the panel’s call to prosecute Trump ally Steve Bannon for refusing to comply with a subpoena. The criminal charges put Trump world in a pincer grip, sending a stark warning to other witnesses that they could face jail for stonewalling.

Message discipline: During the first impeachment, three full committees of the House — Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs — directed the initial investigation. The inquiry later went to the Judiciary Committee to craft impeachment articles. The panels included dozens of members, which led to an often chaotic (and unsuccessful) scramble to keep evidence contained and confidential. And those members didn’t always see eye to eye about the nature of the case against Trump, with that fractiousness sometimes spilling into public view.

Pelosi’s decision to keep the Jan. 6 panel small has enabled her to populate it with members who stay relentlessly on message. Schiff and Rep. Zoe Lofgren are former prosecutors. Rep. Jamie Raskin is a constitutional law professor, and Rep. Liz Cheney – one of two Republicans Pelosi placed on the panel — has become a singular, and singularly disciplined, force. Cheney’s allies regularly indicate she doesn’t say anything without intention — and so her recent comments suggesting Trump may have violated criminal obstruction law were of particular note.

Transcripts: The 2019 impeachment committees released periodic transcripts of witness interviews and depositions. Those transcripts kept the public apprised of the progress of the investigation — and the types of questions Democrats and Republicans were asking — but also clued in other witnesses about the substance of the case the House was building in real time. In that case, there were only a few dozen witnesses who ultimately testified, a fraction of those appearing before the Jan. 6 panel.

The Jan. 6 committee has released just one witness transcript: the deposition of former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, who appeared but refused to answer any substantive questions about his role in Trump’s quest to overturn the election. Thompson’s promise to keep the evidence close is double edged: It keeps the public relatively in the dark — but it also will maximize the impact of the voluminous new evidence when they do decide to go public.

Public hearings: The impeachment hearings in 2019 were high-drama but were often bogged down by procedural infighting with Republicans, who used the forum to kick as much sand into the gears as possible. The case Democrats were making at the time was complicated — providing evidence that Trump withheld security funds from Ukraine to pressure the European ally to launch an investigation into Joe Biden. The testimony centered on Trump’s involvement in directing budget officials to withhold the funding and State Department officials’ interactions with a cast of senior Ukrainian leaders.

The Jan. 6 hearings, in contrast, will be free of the on-screen bickering and delay tactics that marked the 2019 hearings. Panel members will be free to choreograph the exact presentation they want without fear of interruption, selecting only the witnesses who will most clearly underscore the case they end up making. Cheney has indicated that the panel intends to hold “multiple weeks” of public hearings in the spring.

197.8 million

The number of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 was inching toward 198 million as of December 2. Compare that to January 19, when 2 million people were fully vaccinated. Vermont has vaccinated the highest percentage of its population: 75%. Idaho and Wyoming have vaccinated the lowest percentages, both at 45%.



Inflation rose by 6.8% between November 2020 and November 2021. The Federal Reserve typically tries to keep inflation at around 2%.

$3.1 trillion

The nation spent 91% more than it collected in revenue, creating a $3.1 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2020. The federal debt grew to $26.9 trillion, $21 trillion of which is owed to the public.



Approximately half of the United States faced abnormal drought (or worse) this summer. 2021 was one of the worst years on record for exceptional drought. These conditions primarily affected the Northern and Western US.


The US birthrate fell in the 2020 census — the lowest since 1979. It was the sixth annual decline in births nationwide. This drop is one of several factors affecting the nation’s population growth, which is at its lowest since 1918.



How much the price of an average home increased between April 2020 and April 2021, the largest single-year increase since 1992. Before the Great Recession, the ratio of new population to new home construction was about 2:1. Since 2007, it’s been 5:1.

Click here to see the other 15 facts, from population growth to abortion to the median annual wage and much more. And stay tuned next week for our the most-read articles of the year. 

One last fact

The share of energy consumption from nuclear and renewable sources doubled from 1980 to 2020, up to 21%. Fossil fuels account for 79% of the nation's energy consumption.


How Biden Blew It

Joe Biden is president because the Democrats didn’t want Bernie and the country didn’t want Trump. His presidency has failed because, ...   READ MORE


In climate news today...

Nathaniel Bullard's Sparklines

At the end of every year, I like to look back on my work and see which themes and findings are as striking now as they were months ago. I’ve chosen ten ideas – and the ten charts to go with them – that I believe capture where we are right now in our efforts to deeply decarbonize the global economy. The ten range from capital formation to corporate boardroom composition to back-testing electricity demand outlooks from seven decades ago. This week we’ve got the first five; tune in next Thursday, December 23, for the 2nd half of the list.

$1.1 Trillion of Sustainable Debt in Nine Months

Sustainable debt products – loans and bonds with proceeds targeted to positive environmental investment or to furthering company social goals – only emerged as an instrument class eight years ago. Since then, issuance has skyrocketed, exceeding $750 million in 2020. At that time, BloombergNEF expected that another year of similar growth would get the world to its first year of $1 trillion of sustainable debt issuance. That did indeed happen in 2021, but it did not take the full year, or even a full three financial quarters. By the end of September, companies, banks, and government entities had issued more than $1.1 trillion of sustainable debt.

Climate Tech Investment

Early-stage investment in climate tech companies has skyrocketed. A decade ago, climate-focused companies were able to raise a few billion dollars, max, across asset classes, deal stages, and technologies. Now, climate tech companies are raising that much in a month, and at every stage, from pre-seed funding to billion-dollar pre-IPO rounds. Through November, climate tech companies have raised more than $49 billion for early-stage activity. Seems likely that the last few weeks of investing activity will tip that over $50 billion for 2021.

Heady valuations and investor FOMO combined with the very real need to fund planetary-scale innovation provide quite a tailwind for climate tech. As readers can well imagine, 2020 was a dynamic year for the global electricity sector. Despite massive and in many cases near-immediate changes in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic, global power generation fell only two-tenths of a percent for all of 2020. Coal- and gas-fired power, and nuclear power, all declined year on year. Renewables, meanwhile, grew. More than just growing, though – renewables were the only growth in power generation last year.

Late-stage fundraising also is on fire. What might investors do with all that capital? I suggested that they come for the tool, and stay for the network. Some of those investors who raised multi-billion dollar private equity funds are doing exactly that, starting with electric vehicles in India.

All these numbers are a sign of enthusiasm, but they’re also an implicit promise from founders to investors that their companies will grow to match expectations. Here’s hoping, for the climate’s sake, that a healthy number of highly-valued climate tech startups succeed in that.

Renewables — The Only Growing Power Generation Source 

Wind generation has a 16.6% compound growth rate in the past decade; solar, a 38.8% rate. That means that generation from each technology doubles in less than five years and less than two years, respectively. If wind generation were to grow at its current 10-year rate for just one more year, it would become the single biggest source of new power generation since 2010. If solar were to grow in the same fashion, it would be the biggest contributor to power generation growth by 2023.

Renewables > Nuclear

In 1965, nuclear power generated 24 terawatt-hours a year. All wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass power plants generated 15 terawatt-hours. For four decades, the gap between nuclear and renewable generation widened. Starting in the 2000s, though, nuclear generation plateaued, and renewables kept right on increasing in a smooth, steep curve. The result: renewable power generation exceeded nuclear generation in 2020.

From a climate perspective, nuclear and renewables are not in competition. There will be enough growth in electricity demand to support significant expansion of every zero-carbon power generation technology. Some of that expansion could even come from fusion, as the investors who recently placed $1.8 billion into Commonwealth Fusion Systems hope.

Electric vehicles are now 10% of passenger car sales

In the first quarter of 2010, 395 electric vehicles total were sold worldwide. Last quarter, 1.7 million were sold, of which more than half were in Asia. That sales growth has taken EVs from 0.002% of passenger car sales to 10.8% of sales globally, and more than that in both Europe and Asia.

China’s electric vehicle sales growth in particular is extraordinary. The world’s largest car market is now nearly 20% EV sales on a monthly basis. To put its sales in perspective: U.S. buyers have picked up 2.2 million EVs to date. China’s vehicle buyers have bought more than that many EVs from February through October of this year.

Nathaniel Bullard is BloombergNEF's Chief Content Officer.

Congress will hike debt limit by $2.5 trillion to extend borrowing past midterm elections

Congress will hike debt limit by $2.5 trillion to extend borrowing past midterm elections

Senate Democrats will vote later Tuesday to lift the nation’s debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion, which should provide federal borrowing authority “into 2023,” well beyond the midterm elections.

Fed signals three rate hikes next year to limit inflation

Fed signals three rate hikes next year to limit inflation

The Federal Reserve is positioning to raise interest rates at least three times next year in response to high inflation.

Read the full story here.

Read the full story here.