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Crypto, Corruption, Cheating and 'Sportswashing'
What’s this?: The Stringer publishes every other week with a roundup of news items that you may have missed, often with a global bent.
Rumors of recession
One of the news items lining the digital promenade over the last couple of weeks is the recession and inflation anxieties racking the American economy. Inflation is high, prices are ballooning. But Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is denying that a recession is “inevitable.” The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has upped interest rates by 0.75 percent, more than it has in nearly three decades. Chair of the Reserve Jerome Powell, in announcing it, prevaricated as to how much sway the Fed can actually have at this point, according to reporting. The economy is influenced by global affairs, dontcha know… Well, someone should tell the White House, which has been saying that the Fed can handle it.
Another item shading the public sphere is the Jan. 6 Congressional Committee. News analysis of the hearings suggests that the committee is focused on building the case that former President Donald Trump broke two federal laws: (1) committing a “criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” and (2) “obstructing an official proceeding.” It’s unclear that the hearing will lead to charges: the committee would have to refer it to the Justice Department and there’s seemingly enough room for Trump to mount a viable defense should he need to. Here’s a tracker of the evidence raised at the hearings generally.
That’s not even to mention the push for more gun restrictions since the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Here are two handfuls of scattered items you may have missed:
FOOL’S GOLD: The global crypto market has fallen off, losing a trillion-plus dollars and triggering lawsuits. Whether this is a sign of the viability of crypto depends on where you sit, given the broader state of the economy. But 1,500 tech-perts (read: tech-experts) have suggestively advised legislators to be skeptical that crypto-assets are “an innovative technology that is unreservedly good.”
SHIP ‘EM TO AFRICA: The UK’s pricey scheme to ship asylum seekers to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, was put on hold, temporarily. With a Boeing 767 on the tarmac loaded up with refugees, the European Court of Human Rights stepped in on behalf of K.N., an Iraqi asylum seeker who may have been fleeing torture, inspiring more legal challenges. The flight was halted. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is defending the legality of the plan, and it seems like the government intends to proceed with it. Denmark’s program, though similar, has gotten less press.
THAT OLD WAR?: In case you forgot, the Russia-Ukraine war is still happening. Despite pledges to box out Russia and punish them economically, the country profited roughly $100 billion (£82.3 billion) in oil and gas exports during the first hundred days of the war, according to the Centre For Research on Energy and Clean Air. The fracas has also ignited a global food crisis.
SEMPER CORRUPTIS: Retired Marine General John Allen, the president of Brookings Institution—perhaps the most prominent center-left, Washington-based think tank—resigned this month. He’s the subject of an FBI probe into lobbying for the Qatari government, re-raising questions about the closeness between Brookings and Qatar. Allen was previously the former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Either the good character instilled by the military has a shelf-life, or it isn’t as rigid as advertised.
SAUDI INFLUENCE: Foreign influence is something of a theme at the moment. Legendary golfer Phil Mickelson’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s LIV Tour, a new competitor to the prosaic P.G.A., has aroused concerns over “sports-washing,” the use of sports to rinse a bad reputation, in this case for a repressive regime. Mickelson took the money but also criticized Saudi Arabia, calling them “scary mother-fuckers.” Loose lips didn't shield him from backlash, however.
SIGN OF THE TIMES: A man faces life in prison after he was picked up by police for planning to kill U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh (the would-be assassin reportedly called the police on himself). The event led to the passing of a bill that will provide 24/7 security to the families of Supreme Court justices. Speaking of planned violence: Thirty-one people, involved with the white nationalist group Patriot Front, were gaffled by police near a Pride event in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, for intending to riot.
BROADBAND’S CAPITAL INFUSION: Broadband infrastructure in the U.S. will get a bump of that sweet federal capital. The White House has committed billions more this month. Unequal access to broadband became a prime-time issue when the pandemic forced education to switch to digital. Federal officials hope that throwing money at the problem will close the pernicious “homework gap.”
A CHEATER BY ANY OTHER NAME: The Constitutional Court of Romania ruled to let plagiarists keep their doctoral degrees. They worked hard for them, after all.
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