June 17, 2024

InfoTrace

The value of truth

Law-school freedom of speech rules? Your weekly non-Beltway political stories.

9 min read

Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1974, former president Richard M. Nixon received a “full, free, and absolute pardon” from President Gerald Ford. It covered “for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed.”

Law-school freedom of speech rules? Your weekly non-Beltway political stories.

Law schools might be required to adopt written policies protecting free speech. Nevada’s medical debt protections don’t apply to medical credit cards. Minnesota driver records will include caregiver information. California takes aim at data brokers. 

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.

Speak up for the First Amendment

An anonymous reader in Yates County, N.Y., sent along this piece by Kathryn Palmer at Inside Higher Ed, detailing how the American Bar Association may require law schools to adopt written free-speech policies.

“The potential changes come after, but are not a direct consequence of, multiple high-profile incidents of student disruptions of speakers at law schools prompted widespread debates about free speech, academic freedom and students’ right to protest,” Palmer reported.

Law schools would have to protect the right of faculty, students and staff to say controversial/unpopular things, as well as protest, and limit disruptions that interfere with free expression by impeding official functions or approved activities (classes, ceremonies, et al.)

The politics: Pretty obvious. But we wonder about the tension between enshrining a right to protest and limiting disruptions.

Can’t cancel that medical credit card?

At the Nevada Current, Camalot Todd reports that the state’s consumer protections against medical debt collectors “don’t apply to debt amassed through one of the fastest growing forms of medical debt, that incurred through medical credit cards.

“In the last decade three financial institutions — CareCredit, Wells Fargo, and Comenity — have dominated the medical credit card industry with their soaring presence and profits, according to a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report,” Todd reported.

“Unlike typical credit cards that accrue interest on the unpaid portion of the debt, many medical credit cards instead retroactively charge interest on the entirety of the debt if it is not paid off at the end of the promotional period, according to the CFPB.” 

The politics: How much protection does a state government owe its citizens from something like this? And what kind?

An anonymous reader in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area shared this Tim Harlow joint in the Star Tribune, and honestly we’re just impressed at how sensible it seems to enable drivers to add caregiver information to driver records.

“Under the law, which went into effect Aug. 1, first responders will be alerted if crash victims have others with special needs with them in the vehicle, or at home alone, who may need someone to look after them,” Harlow reported.

The politics: Gosh, we said wholesomely, this seems like a great idea for, say, people caring for elderly parents or folks with disabilities.

In the opinion section of the Los Angeles Times, writer Roger McNamee lauds legislation that would let citizens easily opt out of having their personal information sold or transferred by data brokers, who get it from all the different apps and devices Americans trust far too much.

“Senate Bill 362, the Delete Act, would create a one-step mechanism for consumers to get every data broker to delete their personal information. The bill, drafted by Sen. Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park), is not a complete answer, but it is an essential start and a serious threat to the data industry’s business,” McNamee wrote.

The politics: We’re not going to endorse a specific piece of legislation, but a real debate over data brokers and what they can acquire and sell (or provide to law enforcement, without a warrant) is overdue. And thank you to the anonymous reader who shared this.

See an important political story that doesn’t quite fit traditional politics coverage? Flag it for us here.

Georgia special grand jury recommended charging Lindsey Graham in Trump case

“An Atlanta-area special grand jury that spent months investigating alleged 2020 election interference in Georgia by Donald Trump and his allies agreed the former president should be indicted in the case and also recommended charging one of Trump’s closest associates, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) — though a prosecutor ultimately declined to seek an indictment for him in the case,” Holly Bailey reports.

Kroger grocery chain to pay $1.2 billion to settle opioid lawsuits

“Kroger, one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains, has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle lawsuits alleging it failed to monitor sales of addictive pain pills that fueled the nation’s opioid crisis. The company announced Friday it will pay up to $1.2 billion to states and local governments, and $36 million to Native American tribes over 11 years,” David Ovalle reports.

Florida Supreme Court set to weigh fate of strict abortion law

“The Florida Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Friday in a case that could trigger one of the country’s strictest and most far-reaching abortion bans, with justices weighing whether Republican-backed efforts to restrict the procedure violate the state’s constitution,” Caroline Kitchener, Beth Reinhard and Rachel Roubein report.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

China’s military seeks to exploit U.S. troops, veterans, general warns

China’s military is conducting a sophisticated exploitation campaign designed to ‘fill gaps’ in its capabilities by targeting current and former U.S. service members and harvesting specialized knowledge they’ve gained, a top general warned in a message obtained by The Washington Post,” Dan Lamothe reports.

DeSantis voiced complaints about top super PAC strategist, people familiar with comments say

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has privately complained about a powerful operative at the center of his 2024 presidential effort, according to three people familiar with the comments, a sign of the internal drama that has complicated his struggling White House bid,” Hannah Knowles reports.

  • DeSantis has expressed regrets over Jeff Roe’s hiring as a lead strategist at the super PAC Never Back Down, an outside group that has assumed many responsibilities in the race traditionally handled by campaigns, two of the people said. One, a DeSantis donor, heard the comments directly from the governor, this person said.”

Alaska firefighters experiment with targeting blazes to save carbon

“Firefighters are embarking on an ambitious experiment to stamp out blazes deep in the Alaskan wilderness as a way to avert carbon emissions in what experts say is a seismic shift in thinking in modern wildfire management that has traditionally focused only on fires that threaten human life, property or commercial interests,” Alexandra Heal reports.

‘Bidenomics’ is going global. The world is skeptical.

Biden’s trip to the G-20 meetings in New Delhi marks the most concerted effort by the United States in decades to win the favor of so-called developing nations — more than 70 countries, concentrated in the Southern Hemisphere, with high debt burdens and poverty levels,” Politico’s Gavin Bade reports.

  • “Those nations, long neglected by Washington, are critical to Biden’s economic agenda. He’ll need to increase trade with many of them — from Bolivia to Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — to secure the raw materials and components needed for his domestic manufacturing renaissance. And he will need their buy-in for his campaign to rewrite the rules of the global economy to encourage fair trade between democracies, and penalize China’s state-led industries.

The fall in home prices may already be over

“Home prices aren’t falling anymore. After declining on a year-over-year basis for five consecutive months—the longest run of declines in 11 years—U.S. home prices rose in July.  The surprisingly quick recovery suggests that the residential real-estate downturn is turning out to be shorter and shallower than many housing economists expected after mortgage rates soared last year,” the Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Friedman reports.

U.S.-funded hunt for rare viruses halted amid risk concerns

“The Biden administration has halted funding for a research program that sought to discover and catalogue thousands of exotic pathogens from around the world, officials confirmed Thursday, effectively ending a controversial virus-hunting endeavor that opponents say raised the risk of an accidental outbreak,” Joby Warrick reports.

Biden’s Cabinet members told the White House they plan to stay for his full term

While some of Cabinet members were tempted to leave, they all opted to stay, the officials said. Their decisions solidify the lineup of top Biden administration surrogates who will be selling Biden’s agenda, particularly for the economy, across the country as he campaigns for re-election,” NBC News’s Monica Alba reports.

The pickleball economy, visualized

The pickleball craze overtaking recreation centers and repurposed tennis courts across the country is ushering in major shifts in the retail landscape. Running stores are stocking up on pickleball shoes. Walmart has tripled its shelf space for paddles, balls and other merchandise. Start-ups like Picklemall are turning ailing malls into indoor courts,” Jaclyn Peiser reports.

In defense of drug decriminalization—yes, in Oregon

“If you recently took a look at the pages of The New York Times or The Atlantic, it would be easy to conclude that Oregon’s experiment with decriminalization has failed,” Abdullah Shihipar, Alexandria Macmadu and Brandon D.L. Marshall write for the Nation.

  • “The reality is far more complex, of course … The implementation of Oregon’s decriminalization measure coincided with both the emergence of fentanyl in local drug supplies and the height of the Covid-19 pandemic—a combination that has led to over 100,000 deaths annually nationwide. With such a challenging backdrop, the appearance of failure provides a convenient narrative for those who wish to return to the status quo. But the data tells a different story.”

Republicans are trying to find a new term for ‘pro-life’ to stave off more electoral losses

“At a closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans this week, the head of a super PAC closely aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., presented poll results that suggested voters are reacting differently to commonly used terms like ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, said several senators who were in the room,” NBC News’s Julie Tsirkin, Kate Santaliz, Brennan Leach and Liz Brown-Kaiser report.

  • “The polling, which NBC News has not independently reviewed, was made available to senators Wednesday by former McConnell aide Steven Law and showed that ‘pro-life’ no longer resonated with voters.

Biden is in India today for the G-20. There’s nothing on his public schedule this afternoon.

New Situation Room just dropped

The White House Situation Room — a space of great mystique and even greater secrecy — just got a $50 million facelift. Actually, ‘room’ is a misnomer. It’s a 5,500-square-foot (511-square-meter), highly secure complex of conference rooms and offices on the ground floor of the West Wing,” the Associated Press’s Colleen Long reports.

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

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