5/2/17 - "Make Good Neighbors"

A rousing digest of the day's biggest news, set to a soundtrack worth waking up for.

"A rousing digest of the day's biggest news, set to a soundtrack worth waking up for."

I'm only a casual hockey fan, mostly due to the Washington Capitals' propensity for dashing an entire city's hopes each and every year. Nevertheless, this video of Edmonton Oilers fans making up for a faulty microphone with a crowdsourced version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the team's playoff game against the Anaheim Ducks is the kind of uncontrived act of diplomatic goodwill one can only find in the wide world of sport.

It almost makes me want to learn more than just the first two lines of "O Canada."

Good morning and good luck,
Bryce T. Rudow
(@brycetrudow)

THE DAILY DONALD: Surreal interviews, omnibus deals, and "the good of the nation"

FILED IN: PRESIDENT TRUMP, ARCHAIC RULES, "A CONFUSED MENTAL STATE"

Welcome to the next 100 Days.

Here's what you have to look forward to...

The Interviews:
President Trump celebrated his 100th day in office by giving interviews to the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Politico, CBS News, and the Washington Examiner, in which he: floated the idea of breaking up the big banks (a GOP no-no), suggested a possible raise in the gas tax (another GOP no-no), claimed China may have been the ones meddling with the 2016 election (a bipartisan no-no), and questioned why the Civil War couldn't have "been worked out" (a historical no-no).

Famed political historian Douglas Brinkley described the series of interviews as "among the most bizarre recent 24 hours in American presidential history," calling it "just surreal disarray and a confused mental state from the president." Nevertheless, there is one headline-grabbing quote regarding the legislative filibuster that's worth being genuinely concerned about as we enter The Next 100 Days: "The rules of the Senate and some of the things you have to go through — it's really a bad thing for the country, in my opinion. They're archaic rules. And maybe at some point we're going to have to take those rules on, because, for the good of the nation, things are going to have to be different."

 * President Trump abruptly ended his interview with Face the Nation's John Dickerson after being pressed about his continued assertions that President Obama had him illegally surveilled.

The (Since-Delayed) Looming Government Shutdown:
Late Sunday night, Congress agreed to an omnibus spending deal, which is expected to be voted on and signed by the end of the week, that will keep the federal government funded through the end of the fiscal year. However, while the new $1.07 trillion spending package does increase defense spending by $12.5 billion (less than half of the White House's $30 billion request), it also notably doesn't include a cut to Planned Parenthood funding, or President Trump's proposed $18 billion cuts to non-defense spending. Moreover, the new spending bill actually increases spending for the National Institute of Health, and cuts the EPA budget by only 1% (as opposed to the 35% Trump requested).

Democratic lawmakers are rightfully exuberant over how much they were able to shape the bill, with the Los Angeles Times even describing the 1,665-page agreement as "something of an embarrassment to the White House," which not only didn't get funding for its much-touted border wall, but was also forced into continuing to fund Obamacare's subsidies for low-income Americans.

The North Korea Quandary:
The controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile shield the U.S. has been deploying in South Korea — much to the chagrin of both China and the presumed next president of South Korea — is reportedly now "operational and has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles" according to Col. Rob Manning, a spokesman for U.S. Forces Korea.

Oh, and:

  • "U.S. President Donald Trump will speak by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. EDT, the White House said on Monday night. A senior Trump administration official said the two leaders would likely discuss the civil war in Syria, where Moscow backs the government of Bashar al-Assad and the United States supports rebels trying to overthrow him."

  • "Republican Maine Governor Paul LePage on Monday sued the state's Democratic attorney general, contending she had abused her power by joining legal opposition to early moves by President Donald Trump that LePage's office supported."

  • "Thousands of protesters hit the streets in Puerto Rico today to protest austerity measures aimed at tackling its years-long economic crisis and $70 billion public debt — measures that include benefit cuts for public employees, hikes to water rates, higher taxes, and some privatization measures."

  • "The first ad of the 2020 cycle is here. The Trump campaign is up with a $1.5 million television and internet buy for an ad promoting Trump's first 100 days. The ad highlights Neil Gorsuch's confirmation to the Supreme Court and slams the media."

  • "Senator Mark Warner, of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, privately told friends that he puts the odds at two to one against Trump completing a full term. (Warner’s spokesperson said that the Senator was 'not referring specifically to the Russia investigation, but rather the totality of challenges the President is currently facing.')

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Twitter partners with Bloomberg for 24/7 streaming news channel; teases additional programs from Buzzfeed, Live Nation, MLB

FILED IN: SOCIAL NETWORKS, LIVE VIDEO, "AN INTELLIGENT AUDIENCE"

Yesterday, at The NewFronts (an annual event where digital media companies pitch content makers and advertisers), Twitter announced that it was quadrupling down on live content, unveiling 16 different streaming video partnerships with such high-profile names as Buzzfeed, Vox Media, Live Nation, and the MLB. Additionally, and most intriguingly, it also announced that it would be pairing with Bloomberg to produce a 24/7 news 'network' featuring original reporting from Bloomberg's global news offices.

The two companies have dabbled with the concept before, most notably during the 2016 election, when Twitter hosted live debate coverage from Bloomberg, though this new venture looks to be the boldest step yet for the plateauing social network. "It is going to be focused on the most important news for an intelligent audience around the globe," said Bloomberg Media’s chief executive officer, Justin Smith. "And it’s going to be broader in focus than our existing network."

 * Last month, Amazon outbid Twitter for the rights to stream Thursday Night Football.

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Venezuela's President Maduro calls for citizens assembly to rewrite constitution amid protests demanding his ousting

FILED IN: VENEZUELA, CONSTITUTIONS, "A DOOR TO FORMAL DICTATORSHIP"

With hundreds of thousands having taken to the streets in protest and his country's economic stability looking more unstable than it has in years, Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro announced during yesterday's May Day festivities that he was calling for a citizen's assembly to rewrite Venezuela's constitution (presumably as an excuse to put off the regional elections scheduled for later this year, as well as next year's presidential election, which Maduro's socialists are projected to lose). "I have absolute trust in the people of Venezuela," said the would-be authoritarian during a televised appearance, in which he also repeatedly called for the jailing of Julia Borges, the president of opposition-controlled congress.

In response, anti-government leaders have called for Venezuelans to rebel against the proposed assembly, with Borges himself telling reporters that "what happened today is a fraud" and calling Maduro's announcement "the biggest coup d’etat in the history of the country." Pedro Afonso del Pino, a Venezuelan constitutional expert, attempted to add a little more legislative contextualization to Maduro's desperate move: "It’s a door to a formal dictatorship."

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