Monday, June 5, 2023

On Our Weekly "Virtual Route 66" This Week: On the Week That Was in Our World

A new week is upon us.   Our team was on the prowl as we continued on our "Virtual Route 66" around the World as President Biden signed off on the Debt Ceiling, Turkey's new President began a new term, and as the war in Ukraine raged on--and as the US Presidential Election is gathering team.

We present the following courtesy the Economist, Counterpunch, Crooked Media and the Institute for Economics and Peace: 


Thursday, June 1, 2023

Disgraced former president Trump taking a shot at Meatball Ron’s favorite boogeyman

We’re all sick of the fucking debt limit. But we’re also less than four days away from a global economic meltdown courtesy of the GOP, so we gotta talk about it. I don’t make the rules.

  • The 300-mile pipeline would stretch between northwest West Virginia and southern Virginia, and the delegation of Virginia Democrats in Congress has vocally opposed it from the beginning. Kaine rightly pointed out that the pipeline has nothing to do with the debt limit and had already announced that he would file this amendment earlier in the week. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ed Markey (D-MA), our very good boys, both cited the provisions on the pipeline and fossil-fuel development in their statements announcing that they would vote against the bill.

It looks like Senate Republicans are gearing up to get amendment-happy as well. 

  • Under the Biden-McCarthy agreement, non-defense spending will remain mostly flat, while the military will, you guessed it, get a big fat increase. But that simply isn’t enough for the war hawks in the GOP who are very scared that China’s military will overpower America’s. Do they care that 11 million children in the United States live in poverty that could be alleviated by what would amount to a rounding error in the defense budget? They do not! Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went on Fox News Wednesday night to claim the deal (which again, will increase an already-staggering $886 billion defense budget by 3.3 percent) is “a disaster for the United States military.” 

  • A number of senators want to force votes on amendments to the bill that will retard the process. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) says he will agree to an expedited agreement but only if his amendment gets a vote, and he estimated that there would be between 10 and 12 amendments total. That’s…not great, given how ponderous our blubbering senators can be! Nevertheless, most of them seem confident that the bill will pass by Thursday night. Hard-right Senators like Lee, Graham, and Rand Paul (R-KY) have all but promised to gum up the works unless the bill adopts more aggressive spending cuts to all non-defense programs. 

It’s gonna be a long night. Next week should be fun, too!

In a frightening harbinger of the climate crisis to come, state lawmakers in Arizona have decided to halt housing construction that has already been approved in the Phoenix area, as well prohibit developers from building some new subdivisions, due to the dwindling water supply. Phoenix and its suburbs reside in Maricopa County, which receives more than half of its water supply from groundwater, while the rest comes from rivers, aqueducts, and recycled wastewater. But unlike some of the latter sources, groundwater is a finite resource, and can take thousands of years or longer to replenish. This halt in housing development will increase real-estate prices, and is likely to continue across the American southwest if climate change continues to go unaddressed and the 23-year drought in the region persists. But yeah, give another trillion dollars in federal funding to the military!

The Federal Trade Commission disclosed in a Wednesday court filing that a former employee of Amazon’s Ring doorbell-camera unit spied on female customers for months in 2017 using cameras placed in bedrooms and bathrooms. The company will pay a $5.8 million settlement for privacy violations.


The Supreme Court dealt another blow to organized labor on Thursday in a ruling that will make it easier for employers to sue over strikes that cause property destruction. The (yikes) 8-1 decision sided with a Washington state concrete business, which sued the union representing its truck drivers when they were on strike. 


President Biden tripped over a sandbag and fell onstage after delivering an address at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony (but he got right back up!). Surprisingly agile for an octogenarian. 


Speaking of the Air Force, a new report shows that it tested a drone enabled by artificial intelligence to destroy specific targets, but when a human operator tried to override the drone’s mission, the A.I. ordered the drone to attack the human operator so the mission could be completed. Hasta la vista, baby? 


House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is reportedly planning to give January 6 security footage to far-right conspiracy theorist and avowed election denier Julie Kelly. Man, this guy is a non-stop great-decision machine. 


Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) national security adviser has resigned after the Washington Post reported that he was behind the senator's, ahem, controversial strategy of stalling military nominations in an attempt to stop a new DOD policy that helps ensure abortion access for service members. 

The stock market ticked up on Thursday as the bill to avert a GOP-imposed global financial crisis advanced through Congress.

Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly threatened to retaliate against the United States if it crossed an ambiguous “red line” of excessive interference in defense of Ukraine. Nevertheless, the White House persisted. Last month, President Biden announced that the United States would help Ukraine obtain F-16 fighter jets, on top of the missiles, rocket launchers, advanced missile defense systems, drones, helicopters, and tanks it has already supplied or helped Kyiv obtain. So why are our national security officials ignoring Putin’s threats? Because of a general consensus since the war began that Putin’s threats have been all hot air. As Maxim Samorukov, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, observed, the Kremlin “has devalued its red lines so many times by saying certain things would be unacceptable and then doing nothing when they happen.” Russia’s demonstrated reluctance to retaliate has been the driving force behind Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s decision to encourage the White House and Western allies to do more. But Western officials know that Putin’s hesitancy is not fixed, and could easily change if the war persists. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley estimated in a recent interview with Foreign Affairs that Russia has suffered as many as 250,000 casualties since it invaded Ukraine.


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