Comment on this story
Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1997, President Bill Clinton became the first (and only) president to use the line-item veto, striking sections of legislation. The Supreme Court later declared that power unconstitutional.
Georgia GOP eyes social media limits for teens. In Vermont, a prison program cuts opioid overdoses. Your weekly non-Beltway politics stories.
Georgia Republicans want to require parental permission for kids to join social media. A Vermont prisons program cuts opioid overdoses. Heat kills hundreds of cows in Iowa. North Dakota turns to student teachers as a “Band-Aid” solution to a shortage of instructors.
These are your weekly non-Beltway political stories.
The Daily 202 generally focuses on national politics and foreign policy. But as passionate believers in local news, and in redefining “politics” as something that hits closer to home than strictly inside-the-Beltway stories, we try to bring you a weekly mix of pieces with significant local, national or international importance.
But we need your help to know what we’re missing! Please keep sending your links to news coverage of political stories that are getting overlooked. (They don’t have to be from this week, and the submission link is right under this column.) Make sure to say whether we can use your first name, last initial and location. Anonymous is okay, too, as long as you give a location.
Georgia GOP takes aim at social media
From Jeff Amy of the Associated Press: Two senior Georgia Republicans — Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Sen. Jason Anavitarte — are pushing legislation that would require children to get their parents’ explicit permission to create social media accounts.
“Anavitarte said Georgia’s rules would be modeled on a law Louisiana passed this year. That measure, which takes effect in 2024, says social media services must verify an account holder’s age and can’t let someone younger than 18 join without parental consent,” Amy reported.
The politics: Back in May, Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy warned of harmful effects of social media on young people, notably on their mental health. Murthy called for urgent action from policymakers. It’s not a slam dunk: Do you want your 14-year-old to upload a photo ID with details like their age to a Big Tech platform? With what safeguards?
In Vermont, a prison program cuts opioid overdoses
A few years back, Vermont prisons implemented medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioids — addicts were no longer cut off from such care when incarcerated.
Now, the state has looked at the situation before it implemented its MAT program, after implementation but before covid, and after the pandemic’s onset, Ethan Weinstein reported for VTDigger.
“Perhaps most striking, researchers found that fatal overdoses within a year of release fell from 27 before the program was implemented to fewer than 10 afterward, with the decrease continuing during Covid-19,” Weinstein wrote.
The politics: It’s not a huge population, but opioids are one of the most deadly crises in America, and policymakers have been largely at a loss for how to tackle it. Any good news is welcome.
North Dakota grapples with a teacher shortage
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum — yes, the Republican presidential candidate — has approved an emergency plan to allow more student teachers to work unsupervised in response to the state’s struggles with a shortage of instructors, according to Jacob Fulton of the Bismarck Tribune.
“Burgum’s announcement comes amid an uncertain academic landscape where districts aren’t impacted equally: At least 75 of the state’s 167 public districts have filled all teaching positions for the upcoming academic year,” according to the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board. (So more districts have vacancies than are full up.)
Burgum — who has called the emergency fix a “Band-Aid” — says he plans to create a statewide task force to look at hiring and retention issues.
The politics: North Dakota isn’t the only state struggling with a teacher shortage. Governors are grappling with the problem, which became acutely worse after the pandemic.
Add dead cows to this summer’s heat problems
Via Tom Polansek of Reuters: “Hundreds of cattle died in Iowa from extreme heat and humidity in late July, the state and livestock producers said, as the world recorded its hottest month ever.”
“The deaths show the toll of severe weather on farm animals and food production. The losses further trim the U.S. cattle herd, which is already the smallest in decades after drought drove ranchers to slaughter more cows due to a lack of pasture to feed them,” Polansek wrote.
“While not massive in number, producers said the recent deaths were unusual. Cattle also died from heat in Kansas and Nebraska, state officials said,” Polansek reported.
The politics: Climate scientists have been alarmed by this summer’s heat waves, droughts and wildfires. One interesting policy response here is that Kansas State University modified an online mechanism to forecast “comfort levels for cattle a week ahead of time” to help farmers prepare.
See an important political story that doesn’t quite fit traditional politics coverage? Flag it for us here.
Judge Chutkan holds first hearing in Trump election subversion case
“The U.S. judge overseeing Donald Trump’s prosecution for allegedly criminally conspiring to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory said while the former president has First Amendment rights to free speech, those rights are not absolute and must be weighed against protecting the integrity of the court process, regardless of his status as a political candidate,” Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman report.
At least 55 dead as fires ravage Maui; Hawaii governor warns ‘climate change is here’
“The wildfires ripping through Maui have killed at least 55 people, razed the historic town of Lahaina and caused extensive damage that is likely to take years and cost billions of dollars to repair, officials said Thursday,” our colleagues report.
- “Maui County Police Chief John Pelletier said the death toll is expected to rise and urged residents to refrain from returning to Lahaina until the deceased are recovered. Speaking at the news conference, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) connected the fires to global warming: ‘Climate change is here, and it’s affecting the islands.’”
Lunchtime reads from The Post
U.S. pushes for Saudi-Israel normalization, but major hurdles remain
“The establishment of formal ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel could radically alter Middle Eastern geopolitics and would be a major foreign policy win for President Biden as he prepares for his 2024 reelection campaign. Though the two countries have historically been bitter foes, they have in recent years quietly cooperated on security and commercial matters in a shared effort to counter Iran,” Shira Rubin and Karen DeYoung report.
F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots faces delays and uncertainty
“A first group of six Ukrainian pilots is not expected to complete training on the U.S.-made F-16 before next summer, senior Ukrainian government and military officials said, following a series of delays by Western partners in implementing an instruction program for the sophisticated fighter jet,” Isabelle Khurshudyan, Emily Rauhala and Missy Ryan report.
- “The timeline reflects the disconnect between Ukraine’s supporters, who envision F-16s as a key tool in the country’s long-term defense, and Kyiv, which has desperately requested that the jets reach the battle space as soon as possible, viewing them as critical for the current fight against occupying Russian forces.”
D.C. aides get wined and dined at Stanford AI event
“Stanford’s boot camp for legislators began in 2014 with a focus on cybersecurity. As the race to build generative AI sped up, the camp pivoted exclusively to AI last year. The curriculum covered AI’s potential to reshape education and health care, a primer on deepfakes, as well as a crisis simulation where participants had to use AI to respond to a national security threat in Taiwan,” Nitasha Tiku reports.
A prison guard says she was forced to stay at her post during labor pains. Texas is fighting compensation for her stillbirth.
“[Salia Issa] and her husband, Fiston Rukengeza, on behalf of themselves and their unborn child, sued [the Texas Department of Criminal Justice] and three of Issa’s supervisors — Brandy Hooper, Desmond Thompson and Alonzo Hammond. They argue the state caused the death of their child by violating state and federal laws as well as the U.S. Constitution, and they are seeking money to cover medical costs and funeral expenses and to compensate for pain and suffering,” the Texas Tribune’s Jolie McCullough reports.
- “But the prison agency and the Texas attorney general’s office, which has staked its reputation on ‘defending the unborn’ all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, are arguing the agency shouldn’t be held responsible for the stillbirth because staff didn’t break the law. Plus, they said, it’s not clear that Issa’s fetus had rights as a person.”
AI mania triggers dot-com bubble flashbacks
“The dot-com bubble taught investors to be wary of stock-market rallies powered by a technological boom—that is, until generative artificial intelligence sent tech stocks soaring this year. Shares of Nvidia, the graphics-chip maker at the heart of the frenzy, have nearly tripled in 2023, while the Nasdaq-100 has climbed 38% and the S&P 500 has gained 16%,” the Wall Street Journal’s Eric Wallerstein reports.
Extreme heat could impact the effectiveness of birth control and pregnancy tests
“Extreme heat has already made pregnancy more dangerous. Now, it is also complicating efforts to control when and how someone becomes pregnant: Record heat waves across the country could threaten access to effective pregnancy tests, condoms and emergency contraception pills,” the 19th’s Shefali Luthra reports.
Can vacuums slow global warming? Administration bets $1.2 billion on it.
“The Biden administration is betting big on giant carbon-sucking vacuums as a climate solution, announcing that it will help jump-start two mammoth projects in Texas and Louisiana that will be a global testing ground for the new technology,” Evan Halper reports.
- “The move positions the United States as a leader in trying to mitigate emissions by installing hulking, costly machinery that aims to pull greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere and bury them underground. The Texas project, led by the Occidental Petroleum Corp., also known as Oxy, already ranks as one of the world’s largest experiments in ‘direct air capture.’”
Biden fears China economy is ‘ticking time bomb’
“In comments that included several major inaccuracies about the world’s second-largest economy, Biden said at a political fundraiser Thursday that China was in ‘trouble’ because its growth has slowed and it had the ‘highest unemployment rate going.’ He also blasted Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative as the ‘debt and noose,’ because of the high levels of lending to developing economies associated with the global investment program,” Bloomberg’s Justin Sink reports.
How the Hawaii fires spread so fast, visualized
“Months of drought set the stage for the fires by drying out vegetation, which has become more flammable in recent decades because of the spread of nonnative grasses. But it’s been unusually strong winds that have caused the fires to spread out of control so quickly. Gusts as high as 67 mph were reported in Maui County, and up to 82 mph in Hawaii and Honolulu counties,” Dan Stillman reports.
Joe Manchin III says he’s thinking ‘seriously’ about becoming an independent
“Sen. Joe Manchin III, a centrist West Virginia Democrat who has at times sparred with his party, said Thursday that he has ‘seriously’ considered leaving the Democratic Party ahead of the 2024 election,” Mariana Alfaro reports.
- “In a Thursday interview with West Virginia MetroNews host Hoppy Kercheval, Manchin said he would ‘think very seriously’ about leaving his party to become an independent. His comments come amid speculation that he could mount an independent bid for president in the 2024 election, challenging President Biden.”
DeSantis is resetting his campaign again. Some Republicans worry his message is getting in the way.
“Less than five months before the first votes are cast in Iowa’s opening presidential contest, a growing chorus of would-be supporters within his own party is questioning DeSantis’ core message and political instincts amid a prolonged effort to stabilize his campaign that has involved three significant personnel decisions so far — the two rounds of cuts and replacement of the campaign manager. At the same time, new signs of tension have emerged between DeSantis’ formal campaign and an allied super PAC that’s now planning to dramatically increase spending on paid advertising to help make up for DeSantis’ financial challenges,” the AP’s Steve Peoples, Thomas Beaumont and Michelle L. Price report.
At 6 p.m., Biden will depart the White House for Rehoboth Beach, Del.
How to see the Perseid meteor shower this weekend, 2023’s best
“What’s that light soaring across the night sky? Is it a satellite? Is it a plane? All of these are possibilities, but if you’re looking out at the night sky this Saturday and Sunday, there’s a good chance you’ll be looking at ‘shooting stars’ from the annual Perseid meteor shower,” Amudalat Ajasa reports.
- “The show, which reliably begins in mid-July and concludes at the end of August, will peak Saturday night. Skywatchers, under clear dark skies, can expect to see anywhere from dozens up to 100 meteors an hour, zipping by at 37 miles per second.”
Thanks for reading. See you next week.