World in Brief
Welcome to the Bulletin,
- A federal judge has ruled against a border policy that enables immigration officials to turn away asylum seekers who don't apply for asylum in the U.S. or request refuge elsewhere before arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Justice Department plans to appeal the ruling, which is set to take effect in two weeks.
- The U.S. Department of Education is investigating legacy admissions at Harvard University weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the use of affirmative action in college admissions decisions, according to The Associated Press.
- A salmonella outbreak linked to ground beef has sickened at least 16 people in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to determine the source of the outbreak.
- UPS has reached a tentative deal with Teamsters, avoiding a nationwide strike of 340,000 union members.
- Bronny James, the son of NBA star LeBron James, suffered a cardiac arrest during USC basketball practice and was rushed to the hospital. He is reportedly in stable condition.
- A jury found six men guilty of terrorist murder for the 2016 extremist attacks at the Brussels airport and a subway station that left 32 people dead.
- Trevor Reed, the former U.S. Marine who was wrongfully detained in Russia before a prisoner swap freed him last year, has been hurt while fighting in Ukraine. Reed "was not engaged in any activities on behalf of the U.S. government," a State Department spokesperson said.
- Bryan Kohberger, the man accused of murdering four University of Idaho students in an off-campus home last November, plans to provide evidence showing he was not there at the time of the killings, according to a new court filing.
- In the ongoing war in Ukraine, British and Romanian officials said a Monday Russian drone strike approached NATO territory, with the attack occurring about 600 feet from Ukraine's border with Romania. Meanwhile, inspectors with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency said they found mines near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.
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Abbott Vows to Take Border Fight to Supreme Court
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to "aggressively defend" his controversial floating barrier to block migrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The Justice Department sued Texas, accusing Abbott of violating federal law by establishing a barrier — spanning about 1,000 feet — made up of buoys near the border town of Eagle Pass without the required authorization. Texas has time until Monday to voluntarily remove the barriers.
The barriers are the latest in Abbott's Operation Lone Star operation to secure the southern border, which also includes razor-wire fences and busing migrants to blue states. Critics called the methods "the definition of evil." As reported yesterday in The Bulletin, the tactics have also been criticized by some fellow Texas Republicans. The lawsuit marks yet another feud between Abbott and the Biden Administration over immigration. In 2021, Texas was sued after stopping vehicles carrying migrants over claims that it would increase the spread of COVID-19. An investigation has also been launched following reports that migrants, including children, were cut by razor wires.
TL/DR: "Texas will see you in court, Mr. President," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a letter to the president. Joe "Biden's open border policies created this humanitarian disaster."
What happens now? Abbott has promised to litigate the lawsuit "all the way to the United States Supreme Court" if necessary. He accused President Biden of failing to enforce immigration policies that led to a "record-breaking level of illegal immigration." However, the latest data shows that migrant encounters at the border dropped 30% in June from the previous month following the implementation of Biden's new asylum-seeking process. Migrant crossings were also at the lowest level since Biden's first full month in office. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said Abbott’s border actions “pose threats to navigation and public safety and presents humanitarian concerns" and "has prompted diplomatic protests by Mexico and risks damaging U.S. foreign policy."
Unrest Grows in Israel Over Judicial Overhaul
Protests intensified in Israel after the government passed a controversial bill aimed at curbing the Supreme Court's ability to overturn "unreasonable" government decisions. The bill would allow a simple majority in the parliament to overturn court decisions and would give lawmakers the final say in appointing judges. Despite monthslong protests and criticism that the bill threatens democracy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was "fulfilling the will" of voters and blamed the opposition for refusing to compromise.
The vote came despite repeated pleas from President Joe Biden not to do so without a "consensus." The White House expressed displeasure with Netanyahu's "unfortunate" actions at a time when the U.S. seeks to mend fraught ties with its longtime ally. American Jewish groups condemned the unfolding in Israel, with the American Jewish Committee saying it is "gravely concerned" that it will deepen fissures in Israeli society. Critics of Biden and Donald Trump used it as an opportunity to advance arguments about why the White House hopefuls should not be re-elected in 2024.
TL/DR: "Fulfilling the will of the voter is by no means the end of democracy, it is the essence of democracy," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a nightly address to the nation, arguing that the law was "a necessary democratic move."
What happens now? The new law is expected to be challenged in the Supreme Court. Netanyahu offered to return to negotiations with the opposition for judiciary overhauls. The unrest is expected to grow in intensity as thousands of Israeli Defense Forces officials, pilots, intelligence officials, special operations units, and more have said they will not work if the bill is passed. The Israeli Medical Association (representing 97% of the country's doctors) said it will go on strike today. The U.S. worries the unrest could negatively impact Israel’s security and encourage Iran/Hezbollah to launch provocations, a U.S. official told Axios. Biden’s plans to meet Netanyahu later this year remain intact, the White House said, adding that the U.S. will continue to “support the efforts of President [Isaac] Herzog and other Israeli leaders as they seek to build a broader consensus through political dialogue.”
Deeper reading Video Shows Car Plow Through Crowd of Protesters in Israel
Exclusive: U.S. General Says China Reaching ‘Red Zone to Our Homeland’
As American politicians warn of an increasingly influential China, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) chief Army General Laura Richardson said China is already establishing a "regional footprint" in the Western Hemisphere. More than half of the South and Central American nations in SOUTHCOM's region are partnering with China on key infrastructure projects, including telecommunications development. Richardson told Newsweek the U.S. is most nations' preferred regional partner, but China is making deals faster.
The U.S.-China battle for influence is escalating. China brokered a Saudi Arabia-Iran diplomatic deal in March and proposed a Russia-Ukraine peace plan, the latter of which the U.S. disavowed. Taiwan remains a source of military tension, while spy balloons spotted floating above the U.S. earlier this year revived Chinese espionage concerns that are echoed in SOUTHCOM-area telecommunications projects. Richardson's "biggest concern" is China's grip on the region's critical infrastructure, but a spokesperson for China's embassy to the U.S. said China "has no geopolitical agenda in Latin America."
TL/DR: China is “on the 20-yard line, in the red zone to our homeland," U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) chief Army General Laura Richardson said in an exclusive interview with Newsweek.
What happens now? There needs to be a push within SOUTHCOM-area nations to encourage democratic objectives and help the U.S. compete for major economic opportunities in the region, Richardson said. Meanwhile, Chinese Embassy to the U.S. spokesperson Liu Pengyu told Newsweek the U.S. should “abandon the outdated Monroe Doctrine and Cold War mentality, stop spreading disinformation about China, stop coercing Latin American countries to choose sides and stop sowing discord between China and Latin America.”
Deeper reading Exclusive: China Influence Reaches U.S. 'Red Zone'
A UPS Strike Could Be Coming Soon
One of the largest strikes in U.S. history, involving 340,000 workers, could be on the horizon as shipping company UPS and its unionized workforce rapidly approach the July 31 deadline for finalizing a new contract. Talks between the two parties stalled around a month ago, with the Teamsters union, which represents UPS workers, calling for better pay and improved health and safety conditions.
What's still on the table? A salary increase for part-time workers who make an average of $20 an hour. While UPS say they get "the exact same industry-leading health and medical benefits as full-time employees and receive a pension," the pandemic and rise of e-commerce have pushed workers to the limit. They're now sorting and delivering millions more packages and argue that the company can afford to do better. One recent victory: A tentative deal to add air conditioning in its fleet for the first time ever as record heat waves persist. However, that won't come until next year. So far, more than 100 workers were hospitalized due to heat-related illnesses in recent years, according to NBC News.
TL/DR: “People want their packages yesterday with the emergence of e-commerce. So it’s a very demanding job,” said Teamsters leader Sam O’Brien. “Everybody doesn’t realize what it takes to get these packages on the truck. And a lot of our part-timers work for poverty wages.”
What happens now? UPS handles around a quarter of all packages in the U.S., more than FedEx, Amazon and the United States Postal Service (USPS). No deal means UPS workers will walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. ET on Aug. 1. If there is a strike, UPS could lose up to $170 million a day, reversing the enormous profits the company has made since the pandemic and allowing both USPS and FedEx to pounce on its clients, according to Bloomberg.
Deeper reading What a UPS Strike Would Mean For Customers and Employees
Why Europe Is Still Skeptical of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act
Almost a year later, the European Union is still skeptical of President Joe Biden's signature Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), with many nations believing the America-centric approach to climate policy weakens their diplomatic power and ability to attract investment. One big source of friction: how European companies could share in billions in U.S. tax incentives for electric vehicles. Talks have been ongoing for months, but there's been little action.
Biden's administration's decision to herald a "New Washington Consensus"— has also riled European nations, which fall more in line with the old way of doing things; keeping government spending and deficits at a reasonable level, letting the market set interest rates and limiting taxpayer-funded subsidization of private business. The IRA's eschewing of market orthodoxy in favor of large-scale investment and enormous tax credits to bring about a green revolution, as well as Washington's insistence on controlling the conversation, has left the E.U. accusing Washington of "mutually assured sanctimoniousness" as macroeconomics commentator Karthik Sankaran puts it.
TL/DR: Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act looked to set a new benchmark for climate policy worldwide, but Europe has been left reeling as it struggles to keep up.
What happens now? A realignment of both priorities and diplomacy will be required from Washington and Europe. Europe is aware that Washington is unlikely to blink first and has instead sought safeguards against what they see as “protectionist” policies within the bill, namely its provision for $369 billion toward green technology which they believe would draw investment and jobs away from Europe, particularly as current E.U. law prevents member states from enacting state aid policies that could compete with Washington. Italy was the first to act, requesting billions of euros of E.U. funds to shield domestic companies from the impact of Biden’s clean energy subsidies, and the European Commission has attempted to loosen state aid rules within the E.U., but there is still much dust left to settle.
Airlines Crackdown on ‘Skiplagging’
A rise in a controversial practice that has helped travelers save a quick buck on airplane tickets, has also brought on severe punishments from airlines. "Skiplagging" is where travelers purchase a cheaper multi-leg flight, but instead of going the distance, their ideal destination is getting off at a layover stop. Savings could range anywhere from hundreds off a travel purchase, which has previously sparked a United Airlines lawsuit.
While legal, the practice is hated by airlines. A teenager was detained at a Florida airport earlier this month after his North Carolina ID raised suspicion of him getting off at his Charlotte layover, which ended in a forced cancellation of his flight. Skiplagging crackdowns come as it reduces airline revenue and impedes a cost-effective "hub-and-spoke" model used by major airlines where flights fill their capacity through a central point before heading to smaller airports. Skiplagging can also delay flights leaving staff searching for connecting passengers that will never arrive.
TL/DR: “Skiplagging,” or purchasing a multi-leg ticket while getting off at a layover stop, could land passengers in serious trouble.
What happens now? American Airlines, Southwest, United, and Delta all openly prohibit skiplagging for a cheaper fare. If caught, travelers could face flight or mile cancellations or even a lifetime ban from the airline. Passengers who plan on using this money-saving loophole cannot check a bag and could easily come across major complications, such as an unexpected rerouted flight.
My Student Loan Costs Me $700 a Month. I Need Forgiveness
A few years ago while fighting down the knot in my stomach, I spoke to a student loan representative about a better plan for paying off my student loans before I was on a walker or dead.
My original $88,000 loan total had ballooned to an inescapable $300,000. Interest had continuously capitalized while in deferment during graduate school and a short period of unemployment, despite years of working while making monthly payments of over $500 on the Income-Based Repayment Plan.
I didn't yet meet the 120 on-time consecutive payments that might qualify me for loan forgiveness. In the meantime, the service agent explained the 8.125 percent fixed rate set by the department when I had consolidated my student loans as advised by a school financial aid representative.
What to Watch in the Day Ahead
- President Joe Biden is expected to sign a proclamation creating a national monument in Illinois and Mississippi that will honor Civil Rights Movement icon Emmett Till.
- First Lady Jill Biden will speak at a UNESCO flag-raising ceremony in Paris. The event is taking place to recognize the U.S. for rejoining the United Nations agency after withdrawing under former President Donald Trump.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on artificial intelligence oversight this afternoon.
- Civil rights attorney Ben Crump will be holding a press conference at 11:30 a.m. ET to address "bombshell developments" in the death of Malcolm X.