De-escalation and Tension
Third Cultured vol 43
|Kyle Borland||Jan 10|
As detailed in last week’s special update, President Trump ordered the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around the Internet about everything that’s happened since, so I’ve compiled a sequence of events – rather than the usual “Three Things to Know” – to help get you up-to-speed.
(Pro-tip: open this email in your browser so you don’t miss anything.)
Thanks for reading,
PS – One fun thing first!
Okay, here’s what you need to know (ordered newest-to-oldest):
Iran will announce what happened to the airliner on Saturday.
Iraq’s acting Prime Minister asked the US for a troop withdrawal roadmap but the SS bluntly rejected the request, saying the two nations needed “recommit” to their partnership. (The US sounds like an abusive boyfriend…)
House voted (224-194) on an Iran War Powers resolution to limit President Trump's military action against Iran. Republican Senators even complained about the administration’s poor briefings to Congress. VP Mike Pence rebuffed Congressional leaders saying the intel was “too sensitive to share.”
“NATO, right, and then you have M-E, Middle East,” he told reporters excitedly, writing in the air with his fingers. “You call it NATO-ME. What a beautiful name. I'm good at names.”
Intelligence indicates that an Iranian missile shot down the Ukrainer airliner near Tehran’s airport, killing 176 on board. Kyiv has dispatched investigators to Iran and Tehran invited the US to send an official to oversee the investigation. Both Ukraine and Iran have invited France and Canada (who lost more than 60 citizens in the crash) to help, given their expertise with aviation accidents.
President Trump announced new sanctions against Iran but refrained from a continued military engagement as the Pentagon views the strike as calibrated to avoid escalation. It’s likely Fox News played a role in the president’s decision to not start a ground war.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House will vote soon on a war powers resolution to limit President Trump's military actions in Iran.
The Pentagon clarified there are no plans to leave Iraq after a letter to the Iraqi government was published saying troops were making preparations for an imminent withdrawal.
It was revealed Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper pushed the president for months to strike Soleimani. They finally got their wish.
Tehran announced it will enrich uranium ‘without restrictions,’ all but abandoning the international agreement made in 2015.
Lawmakers in Iraq voted to end the presence of American troops in the country, though it was unclear whether Iraq’s current caretaker administration has the authority to take that step. Trump threatened Iraq with economic sanctions if the nation went through with the move.
A funeral procession in Iran for the slain general drew huge crowds of mourners, potentially the largest funeral in history. A nation that was at its own throat a little over a week ago is now united against a common enemy. The White House couldn’t have played this worse if it tried.
President Trump, warning Iran not to attack, said that the U.S. had identified 52 targets in the country, including cultural sites. He also threatened Iraq with “very big sanctions” if it forced American troops to leave. After a backlash to both, Trump doubled down but Secretary of Defense Esper contradicted him, saying the US would not target such sites.
Dozens of Iranians and Iranian-Americans were held for hours at the U.S. border with Canada over the weekend as America increased security.
“As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.”
— President Donald Trump addressing the United States and the world after Iran’s attack on two US military bases in Iraq. The president deescalated military tensions after Iran purposely retaliated without inflicting any casualties.
41 – The US suffered 41 mass killings in 2019, more than any other year on record, killing 211 people. A mass killing is any incident where four or more people are killed.
Afghanistan: the Taliban Council agreed to a ceasefire in order to create a window of opportunity to sign a “peace deal” that would end the war. However, the ceasefire has not gone into effect as fighting continues throughout the country, including an US airstrike killed 60 civilians to target a Taliban commander.
Is “normalcy” over? Let’s be honest…did it ever really exist?
Apocalypse is not yet upon our world as the 2010s draw to an end, but there are portents of disorder. The hopes nourished during the opening years of the decade — hopes that America was on a progressive path toward growing equality and freedom, hopes that technology held answers to some of our most pressing problems — have given way, with what feels like head-swiveling speed, to a dark and divisive new era. Fear and distrust are ascendant now. At home, hate-crime violence reached a 16-year high in 2018, the F.B.I. reported. Abroad, there were big geopolitical shifts. With the rise of nationalist movements and a backlash against globalization on both sides of the Atlantic, the liberal post-World War II order — based on economic integration and international institutions — began to unravel, and since 2017, the United States has not only abdicated its role as a stabilizing leader on the global stage, but is also sowing unpredictability and chaos abroad.
Many of these troubling developments didn’t happen overnight. Even today’s poisonous political partisanship has been brewing for decades — dating back at least to Newt Gingrich’s insurgency — but President Trump has blown any idea of “normal” to smithereens, brazenly trampling constitutional rules, America’s founding ideals and virtually every norm of common decency and civil discourse.
John Bolton said he would testify in Senate trial if subpoenaed.
McConnell won’t budge and will not negotiate the Senate trial with the Speaker.
Pelosi announced she’ll send the Articles of Impeachment to Senate next week.
Are the Media treating 2020 just like 2016? The Guardian asked around.
Bernie raised $34.5 million in Q4 and reached 5 million individual donations. With that momentum, he’s begun targeting the man out-in-front: Joe Biden. Senator Sanders also snagged the endorsement of the Sunrise Movement.
The campaign raised more than $18 million in December alone, its best fundraising month to date, officials said.
The average donation in the fourth quarter was $18.53, they said.
Surpassed 5 million donations — a milestone Sanders did not reach in the 2016 campaign until after Super Tuesday.
40,000 new donors on the final day of the quarter, and nearly 300,000 new donors throughout the quarter.
Biden receives a key endorsement from an Iowa representative.
Bloomberg promised to keep his massive 500-person campaign operating until November, even if he doesn’t win the nomination, as a anti-Trump effort.
Marianne Williamson dropped out.
Mr. Buttigieg may have left office, but his mayoral tenure will hardly recede. Heading into Iowa and New Hampshire voting next month as a leading candidate, his record is drawing strafing fire from opponents who question his experience and results.
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said in November that a woman who was mayor of a city as small as South Bend would not have been taken seriously enough to make the debate stage. A Black Lives Matter group in South Bend has called a news conference for Saturday to highlight what it calls Mr. Buttigieg’s “tolerance for racism by police,” intending to keep alive an issue that has apparently dampened Mr. Buttigieg’s appeal to black voters nationally.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will not run for US Senator of Kansas.
Trump admin is attempting to block the release of the First Family’s travel expenses until after the 2020 election. It’s in the hundreds of millions.
Yang raised $16.5 million in Q4 of 2019. His largest haul yet.
“You don’t have the largest voter turnout unless you create energy and excitement. And you don’t create energy and excitement unless you are prepared to take on the people who own America and are prepared to speak to the people who are working in America.”
China, Europe, Russia, and Everyone Else
500 million – The number of animals that have died in Australia’s wildfires.
Africa’s richest woman may have stolen her fortune from Angolan taxpayers.
Bolivia expelled three diplomats – two Spanish and one Mexican – for aiding associates of former president Evo Morales. Spain responded by expelling three Bolivian diplomats. Mexico did not retaliate.
Colombia had a record year wiping out illegal coca plant production.
France’s former African colonies are ditching the CFA Franc, and the Euro.
Macron is following through with pension reforms despite nationwide protests.
Hong Kong continues to rage in 2020, with more than 1 million protesters turning out for the New Year’s Day demonstration. The largest one yet. In response, China has replaced its top Hong Kong representative with a senior official known for disciplining unruly provinces.
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrumpI will be signing our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China on January 15. The ceremony will take place at the White House. High level representatives of China will be present. At a later date I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two!
Israel, Cyprus, and Greece signed the EastMed Agreement to ship gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe via a 2,000km pipeline that will pump between nine and 12 billion cubic meters of gas a year. The gas is from Israel and Cyprus’ offshore reserves. Turkey has long opposed the deal, as it enjoys its historical role as the link between Asia and Europe, and Ankara believes the deal was purposely designed to isolate Turkey and Libya from the recently discovered resources in the Eastern Med.
Ankara authorizes Turkish troops in Libya for one year. If the government in Tripoli were to fall, Turkey would be reduced to one regional ally in Qatar in the Middle East and would be alone in the Eastern Med.
Russia is planning to send an economic advisory team to Venezuela upon National Assembly President Juan Guaido’s term ending this month to help with recovery.
Moscow cut off energy exports to Minsk.
Putin is hosting Germany’s Angela Merkel this weekend to discuss Iran, Ukraine, Syria, Libya, and other global emergencies.
Trump provided Putin with a tip from American intelligence agencies about a planned terrorist attack in St. Petersburg on New Year’s Eve.
There’s a secret Moscow medical clinic for Russia’s international mercenaries.
Spanish leftists formed a coalition government by teaming up with Catalonia’s independence movement.
Taiwan’s army chief died in a helicopter crash.
"Weighed against the standards of Western human rights groups, the U.A.E. can easily look like a hyper-capitalist slave colony whose leader wants to crush all dissent. When you compare it with Syria or Egypt, the U.A.E. is almost a model of enlightened liberalism. ... Surveys have shown that most young Arabs would rather live there than anywhere else."
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Cities, Climate, Culture & Corporations
100 – The greatest books ever written by Black American women.
Big Pharma raised the prices on 50 prescription drugs at the start of 2020.
Germany cut fares on long-distance train travel to help fight climate change.
Google took “Don’t Be Evil” out of their culture for a reason.
Zuck is Sauron, Facebook is Mordor, and ads are the One Ring. Don’t take it from me – a Facebook executive made this analogy himself.
French cities are trying to ban public advertising.
Is your husband cheating on you? Or is he a rockstar?
John Mulaney made an old-school kid’s special. It’s amazing.
“Legendary Night,” an Inuit myth about how Raven brings back the light.
Martin Scorsese gets real about death and Netflix.
Nuclear power is coming back into the conversation. Why? No climate change response has a chance of succeeding without it. But still…where to put the waste?
United Methodist Church announced a split amongst its membership over "fundamental differences" regarding its beliefs on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy. The traditional wing of the church will spin-off to start their own.
Y2K created “Millennial Anxiety.” It was early social media and fake news.
Looking back on Y2K, the derided nexus of anxiety for a derided, anxious generation, no other moment could have prepared us better. Later, the financial crisis would mean many of us had to live with our parents after college, and this was seen as a funny generational flaw (failure to launch). College debt would leave us putting off children, but it would be considered proof that we were selfish.
But planes did fall out of the sky a year later. The markets did crash. Computers did turn out to be agents of human destruction. The infrastructure that boomers built — from pensions to roads — certainly doesn’t seem like it was designed to last beyond them.