☕ Cover Shot: Happy Valentines Day from the Marines (Public Domain)
Welcome to America’s Newsletter from Tag The Flag, the best morning newsletter on the internet, bringing you nonpartisan news and every view of the Red, White, and Blue. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
📌 BULLETIN BOARD
According to Forbes, $20 billion will be spent on Valentine’s Day today. Of that $20 billion, roughly 35 percent will be spent on flowers, 20 percent will be spent on dinner and movie dates, and 18 percent will be spent on jewelry. One in five people will also buy a Valentine’s Day treat for their pet.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
The Senate voted on Thursday to require that President Trump seek congressional authorization before taking further military action against Iran, as Democrats joined forces with eight Republicans to try to rein in the president’s war-making powers weeks after he escalated hostilities with Tehran. That being said, it was a mostly symbolic rebuke of the president, as support for the measure fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a promised veto by Mr. Trump. The House passed a similar measure last month on a nearly party-line vote that also fell well short of that margin. – New York Times
- From the left: “Congress is right to try to check Trump’s war-making power“, Jeremi Suri, CNN: Democrats like “Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues are shining a bright light on abuses of presidential military power. In use of force and other areas, Trump is exploiting traditions of presidential deference that are undemocratic, and must finally change.”
- From the right: “War Powers Resolution vote against Trump is pointless – He has right to strike bad guys” Andrew McCarthy, Fox News: “Rather than engaging in the partisan preening of pointless War Powers Act bickering, Democrats should be joining with Republicans to present a unified American front, in support of a president who is trying to prevent all-out war with Tehran, not provoke it.
On Thursday, McClatchy, a newspaper chain that owns publications ranging from The Miami Herald to the Kansas City Star, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to the Washington Post, the company was more than $700 million in debt. The filing also means that the McClatchy family will likely lose control of the company after 160 years of ownership. Remember: even Warren Buffett, famous for his upbeat attitude towards print publishers and newspapers (he started out as a successful paperboy), has finally given up on the slumping industry. Berkshire Hathaway announced recently that its selling its remaining 31 papers—including Buffett’s hometown paper, the Omaha World-Herald—to Lee Enterprises for just $140 million in cash, a steep discount to the original purchase price. About a decade ago, Buffett purchased The Buffalo News and 28 other local papers for a combined $380 million. That’s generally not how Buffett bets go. Big Picture: social media companies like Facebook and Google have stolen valuable advertising revenue from print publishers. This has led to widespread job cuts with newsroom employment dropping 25 percent between 2008 and 2018. – USA Today / CNBC
Student Debt Forgiveness in U.S. to Total $207 Billion in Next Decade, CBO Says
The U.S. government will forgive $207.4 billion in student debt for Americans who take out loans over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said this week. The biggest benefits will go to borrowers who attend graduate or professional school. Big picture: The U.S. government is the nation’s primary lender for college and graduate students. About 43 million Americans owe $1.51 trillion in federal student loans. – WSJ (subscription)
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
We SARS This Coming: China’s Miscalculation
On Thursday, China reported a surge in deaths and infections from a new virus after changing the way the count is tallied, further clouding an epidemic that has stirred fear as it spread to more than two dozen countries. We included this in our header yesterday, but this is important because this is just classic China. Now, nobody really knows what to believe, and it looks like the government is hiding information, which is exactly what happened during the SARS outbreak. According to Forbes, previously, the illness was identified using “RNA tests”, also known as ribonucleic acid. These tests would take days to process. Now, officials are using CT scans to identify lung infections, which is one symptom of the coronavirus, and hope that this will mean people can be treated faster. If you’re looking for something to scroll through at work on a Friday morning, the plague.com is pretty interesting. – Forbes
75 Years Since Dresden
Germans on Thursday marked 75 years since Allied bombs destroyed the eastern city of Dresden. The city was a major industrial and transportation hub. Scores of factories provided munitions, aircraft parts, and other supplies for the Nazi war effort. On February 14, 1945, British planes dropped more than 1,800 tons of bombs in the space of just 25 minutes. Nazi Germany immediately used the bombing to attack the Allies. The Propaganda Ministry claimed Dresden had no war industry and was only a city of culture. Though local officials said about 25,000 people had died – a figure historians agree with now – the Nazis claimed 200,000 civilians were killed. BBC has a super fascinating before and after montage. – NYT / BBC
Sudan reaches settlement with families of USS Cole victims
Sudan’s justice ministry said Thursday that a settlement was reached for the families of U.S. Navy sailors killed and injured in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. Background: The Al Qaeda attack killed 17 sailors and wounded 39 others. It was the deadliest attack against a navy vessel since 1987. Sudan was accused of providing the terror group with support. Why it matters: The country is making an effort to be taken off the U.S. terrorism list. – Fox News
New Methodology Messes With the Markets
Thanks to “new methodology”, Chinese officials reported a major spike in coronavirus cases on Thursday. The unsettling news caused markets to stumble out of the gate, as investors tried to get a sense of just how disruptive the outbreak will be to the global economy. Through Wednesday, the number of cases appeared to be slowing, but Wall Street was mixed yesterday thanks to the surprising announcement. Ultimately all three major US indexes ended the day in the red. Elsewhere, Alibaba, posted better-than-expected earnings in the final months of 2019, but shares fell on Thursday after the company warned it could be negatively impacted by the coronavirus. According to Market Watch, “packages aren’t getting delivered on time” leading CEO Daniel Zhang to warn the outbreak could have a “significant impact” on the company’s commerce business. – MarketWatch
Houston Astros players Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve on Thursday apologized in brief statements for their roles in the team’s sign-stealing scheme in 2017. Why it matters: The apologies are a change from their responses at the team’s fan fest last month, when neither player showed remorse for his actions. Quoted: Asked whether the Astros cheated when they used video to steal signs in 2017, Astros owner Jim Crane replied: “We broke the rules. You can phrase that any way you want.” – ESPN
Google’s Big Data Buyout
After initially being stalled by UK regulators, Alphabet-owned Google announced that it has officially completed its $2.6 billion acquisition of Looker Data Sciences. Google hopes Looker, a privately held big-data analytics firm, will help strengthen its cloud computing business to compete against services offered by Microsoft, Tableau, and Domo. Why it matters: While Google’s Looker acquisition surely helped some executives exhale a sigh of relief, the company’s antitrust issues are far from over. Along with concerns from the EU, US regulators also announced an investigation this week into Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. Federal authorities want more information on any acquisitions these companies made over the past 10 years to assess whether or not they bought rivals to decrease competition. Don’t look now, but the battle over big tech appears to just be heating up. – Venture Beat
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
270: St. Valentine beheaded
On February 14, around the year 270 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed. Here’s how the martyr’s name became connected with romance.
🇺🇸 TOP TAGS
Throwback to this kid giving the most patriotic Shirley Temple review of all time…
When presidential campaigns end, what happens to the leftover money?