Welcome to Third Cultured – a foreign policy and LGBTQIA+ politics newsletter – published by yours truly, Kyle Borland. My goal is to highlight the unique role Queer people play in the politics of the United States and the world-at-large.
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Mother Russia finally congratulated Biden, so now we know it’s real.
In true Putin fashion, since he was forced to smile and shake Joe’s for formality’s sake, the Kremlin made sure they fisted us at the same time with the most aggressive (and successful) cyber attack in more than five years. The list of branches of government affected by the apparently months-long digital espionage operation include the Treasury, the Commerce Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, and the State Department.
The list is expected to grow to include more federal agencies and private companies, as the Russian government infiltrated the clients of SolarWinds, a network-management software used by more than 300,000 organizations worldwide. According to a federal securities filing, “fewer than 18,000” of those customers may have been affected.
Speaking of butt play, Mayo Pete finally learned what melding into the mecha-mod in the primaries earned him. After all the drama about Ambassador to the UN, or China, or the VA, Buttigieg will be Secretary of Transportation…
I’m happy he’s not Garcetti, but the choice makes no sense. Clearly, he wants to make a name for himself managing Biden’s supposed infrastructure program. In a best case scenario, he’ll be a good little foot soldier and do as Amtrak Joe says as they spend $1 trillion alone on high-speed rail over the next 5-10 years to modernize North America.
My biggest pet peeve of all the proposed HSR maps is they ignore I-65, which is leaving a key corridor at the mercy of 20th century technology and Trumpism.
Speaking of Donny, it’s heartening that his tantrum failed, but if there’s one thing to be learned from his failed “coup” it’s this: the time between Election Day to when the Electoral College votes is a no man’s land where anything goes, and this perspective was validated by one of the two primary American political parties.
That’s nothing to write home about. It means we’ve only bought ourselves a little time.
Stay safe and healthy, beautiful people. And, thanks for reading.
PS – Here are some great reads worth your time.
With the election over, the Democratic leadership in the space of a few weeks somehow negotiated against themselves, working with Republicans to push the total amount of a Covid-19 relief deal further and further downward, to the point where previous plans offered by the likes of Mitch McConnell and Steve Mnuchin now look like LBJ’s Great Society.
Democrats ultimately settled for less than a third of what they had set as a baseline for state and local aid, accepted a package without any $1,200 direct payments, and signed off on a plan that, after offsets, includes less than $350 billion in new money, well below a slew of pre-election proposals rejected by Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as being too low.
“They totally caved,” the aide says.
How Sci-Fi Shaped Socialism (Tribune)
Return of the city-state (Aeon)
The Rust Belt is Indigenous Land(Belt Magazine)
The White House will release a 30-year shipbuilding plan that devotes the resources necessary to making a 355-ship fleet a reality.
The plan will provide a battle force of 355 vessels within 10 years and nearly 400 within 20 years. It will end the decadeslong decline in attack submarines by building three a year beginning in 2025, with a goal of 80. It will more than double the number of small multimission ships to nearly 70. The backbone of this ship class will be the new Constellation-class frigates, and the Navy will need a second shipyard to increase the pace of construction. The workhorses of the fleet, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, will be modernized.
“Cause you're a chump. A political chump! ... Any time you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two-thirds of the government, and that party can't keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you are dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that party…”
– Malcolm X
Big Tech: China is going after its giants Alibaba and Tencent for monopolistic business practices just like the FTC and 48 states are aiming to break Instagram and WhatsApp away from Facebook.
COVID Evictions: Mapping the Risk of Eviction and Foreclosure in U.S. States
Israel: Despite an Israeli full-court press, the UAE got the F-35s they signed the Abraham Accords to gain the right to purchase! Not to miss the opportunity with “dealmaker in chief,” Morocco normalized relations with Jerusalem, becoming the sixth Arab nation to do so (Egypt in 1978 and Jordan in 1994) and the fourth in only a few months (UAE, Bahrain, Sudan). Like the other nations – UAE got its planes, Bahrain was an appetizer to ease Saudi Arabia into it, and Sudan was removed from the state sponsors of terror list – Morocco traded normalization for a long-wanted wish list item: US acknowledgment of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.