A Bird In The Hand Can’t Get Into Your Bins
September 14, 2022
According to the New York Times, there are some fishy financial dealings going down in Congress. The Times’ latest report on the issue shows that 97 U.S. lawmakers or their family members made financial trades possibly influenced by the lawmakers’ positions on congressional committees. That means that almost one-fifth of the country’s 535 legislators were involved in financial deals with possible conflicts of interest.
Here are a few examples of questionable trades that went down in the period examined by the Times, ranging from 2019 to 2021. First, Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, a member of the Senate agriculture committee, reported making multiple trades buying and selling contracts tied to cattle prices as the committee had “been talking about the cattle markets,” in the man’s own words. Republican Representative Bob Gibbs of Ohio bought shares of pharmaceutical company AbbVie multiple times as the House Oversight Committee investigated the company and its rivals over high drug prices. Lastly, the wife of Democratic Representative Alan Lowenthal of California sold her Boeing shares on March 5, 2020, just one day before her husband’s committee released findings about the company’s 737 Max jet, tanking the aerospace giant’s stock price.
The three-year analysis demonstrates the scale of Congressional insider trading, with 3,700 trades marked by the Times as potential conflicts between legislators’ public responsibilities and private finances. Some trades might be performed with no input from legislators, but the scale of Congressional trading poses an ethical issue for Americans. Stopping insider trading in Congress has become a bipartisan issue in both legislative houses. Representative Chip Roy of Texas has co-sponsored one House bill requiring lawmakers to put their assets into a blind trust managed by a third party, and Senator Chuck Schumer has expressed support for measures to reduce insider trading, but any bill on insider trading has yet to pass. (NYT, $)
“Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.” – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Nationalist In Naples
- Italy’s next prime minister might just be its first female leader ever. She also might be one of the first far-right politicians to become prime minister of a Western European country. Giorgia Meloni, head of the nationalist Brothers of Italy party, is poised to sweep the nation in the upcoming September 25 elections, marking a new era for both Italy and Europe as a whole.
- Meloni and the Brothers of Italy are the country’s most popular party heading into the elections, with support from roughly a quarter of all Italian voters. They head a coalition with other right-wing parties, giving Meloni overwhelming odds to take advantage of a crippled Italian left. The right-wing coalition has agreed to elect the leader of the party with the most votes, which at the moment seems to be Meloni.
- Meloni pulls from the far-right playbook to assuage concerns like rising costs of energy and materials to a pandemic and a mountain of debt with her main talking points including curbing immigration, reducing government spending, and promising to put “Italians first.” She has also flirted with more extreme views, decrying the “LGBT lobby” and the “globalist” left, as well as complaining about “planned and deliberate” illegal immigration into her country, which she called “ethnic substitution.” (WaPo, $)
- As the warm seasons hit the southern hemisphere, Australia is predicted to face yet another La Niña weather event, making this the third year in a row that the land down under is drowned under unusually heavy rains. According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, the La Niña event is among factors that will “push Australia’s climate towards a wetter phase and … have shaped our outlook for the coming months that shows more than 80% chance of above average rainfall for many parts of the eastern half of Australia.”
- The event comes after years of natural disasters have battered Australia, including record-breaking wildfires in 2019 and three years in a row of increased rainfall and flooding. Early research shows that climate change might increase the effects of El Niño and La Niña weather events, putting more pressure on human populations due to extreme weather. (CNN)
Additional World News
- Exclusive: Biden to hit China with broader curbs on U.S. chip and tool exports (Reuters)
- Pressure builds on Japan to return to unrestricted tourism by end of month (Guardian)
- Afghanistan tipping ‘towards authoritarianism’, says U.N. rights expert (Reuters)
- US, Mexico to cooperate on semiconductors, electric vehicles (AP)
- Russia claims ceasefire reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan after fighting erupts along border (CNN)
- China declines to say if Xi will meet Putin and Modi at summit (Reuters)
- World heading into ‘uncharted territory of destruction’, says climate report (Guardian)
Last week, we asked our Daily Pnut readers how they are feeling as we head into the midterm elections. You can view the results of that survey here.
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Buying Out The Bird
- Early votes predict that Twitter’s shareholders are overwhelmingly going to vote in favor of Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover of the social media company. Musk is the biggest shareholder with a 10% stake. With Musk trying to back out of the deal, it will be up to a judge in Delaware to decide if he has to carry through with it.
- Back in April, Musk agreed to pay $54.20 a share for the company, but the shares dropped when he tweeted in May that he was getting cold feet, and they are sitting at about $40 a share this week. That means shareholders will earn a pretty penny if Musk is forced to go through with the deal.
- Musk and Twitter will face off in court next month. Musk tried to back out because he claimed Twitter misrepresented the number of spam accounts, while Twitter argues Musk only decided to back out when the market took a downturn. The social media platform sued Musk to make him stick to his word. (WSJ, $)
- On Tuesday, Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that would ban abortion nationally after 15 weeks. Graham has introduced similar bills in the past that would ban abortion after 20 weeks. “If we take back the House and Senate, I can assure you we’ll have a vote” on the bill, Graham said confidently.
- Abortion is expected to be a major deciding factor in battleground states in the midterm elections. Abortion rights activists have noted that while many Republicans supported overturning Roe v. Wade by claiming it would give the states power to decide, it took less than three months for a right-wing lawmaker to suggest banning it nationally. (Axios)
Additional USA News
- Doctor in Texas suspended after a tainted IV bag led to a colleague’s death (NBC)
- GOP governors urge Biden to withdraw his student loan forgiveness plan (Axios)
- Chick-fil-A says tweet that seemed to refer to the Black community was a ‘poor choice of words’ (NBC)
- Alabama could use nitrogen hypoxia for executions in death sentences. What is it? (NPR)
- Michigan man fatally shot by police after he killed his wife; his daughter blames incident on QAnon conspiracy theory (NBC)
- Biden makes a passionate plea: ‘Beating cancer is something we can do together’ (CNN)
- ‘Sleazy backroom deal’: Progressives tangle one more time with Manchin (Politico)
A Bird In The Hand Can’t Get Into Your Bins
- Step aside, raccoons, there’s a new trash tycoon in town. In Sydney, Australia, residents are grappling with a wave of trash-can crime caused by an unlikely suspect – the sulfur-crested cockatoo. Native to Australia and frequently found around humans, the white and yellow parrots have recently started waging a trash-stealing war with Sydney’s populace.
- The garbage-bin (they call them bins down under) conflict has led to an innovation arms race between bird and man. The cockatoos love rooting through trash cans in search of carbs to snack on, prying open the bins with their beak before skirting around the rim to flip over the lid, scattering trash in the process. Their littering is then made even worse by Sydney’s windy environment.
- To combat the litterbirds, humans have come up with a variety of methods to protect their precious garbage. Some put bricks on their bin lids, while others jam their hinges shut with pool noodles to keep them from opening. Others even use rope to tie the bins closed while keeping them accessible to garbage men. In response, the cockatoos have been seen pushing bricks off lids or pulling pool noodles out of hinges to get to their dinners.
- Scientists have been studying these interactions, using them to learn about cultural transmission in both man and bird. It’s “evidence that people socially learn from other people which protection methods to use, and that they are geographically clustered,” said Barbara C. Klump, a behavioral ecologist who recently published a paper on the phenomenon. (NYT, $)
- The superbugs are coming — oh wait, they’re here. (Politico)
- Australian man killed by wild kangaroo he was believed to have kept as pet, police say (NBC)
- The Mystery of Why Some People Don’t Get Covid (Wired)
- Sweet spot: bear crashes Connecticut birthday party to steal cupcakes (Guardian)
- Bezos rocket crashes after liftoff, only experiments aboard (AP)
- Twitter users want Britain to return the Kohinoor diamond. Here’s what to know about its turbulent history. (NBC)