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The DC: 🏛 Kavanaugh confirmed, and... 💵 Federal disaster funds favor rich white towns - should the process be revised?

by Countable | 10.8.18

Welcome to Columbus Day / Indigenous Peoples' Day / Indignant Peoples' Day...

This past weekend you were either hi-fiving or donating $5 to Sen. Susan Collins' (R-ME) Democratic challenger.

On Saturday, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as the 114th Supreme Court justice, just hours after the Senate voted to confirm President Donald Trump's nominee to the high court.

The Senate confirmed Kavanaugh to SCOTUS with a 50-48-1 vote. The lone Democrat to support the nomination was Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). All Republicans voted for confirmation except for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who voted present in order to “pair” her no vote with the vote of Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), a Kavanaugh supporter and the only absentee. 

To relive a play-by-play, click here.

On the Radar

  • The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General has issued a scathing report on conditions at a privately run detention facility in Southern California—outlining poor medical conditions, misuse of solitary confinement, and unsafe practices. Inspectors found nooses in 15 of 20 cells they visited at the center operated by the GEO Group for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They also found that a disabled detainee was “'inappropriately held” in solitary confinement for nine days. Do we need more government oversight of private ICE prisons? Tell your reps here.
  • Congress has passed legislation to reauthorize – and restructure – the Federal Aviation Administration. The bill is being celebrated by Delta, United, and American airlines as Congress dropped plans to mandate “reasonable and proportional” baggage and change fees. But passengers are celebrating, too, as the new bill requires the FAA to set minimum requirements for airline seat sizes. Click here to read more.

Under the Radar

  • A research arm of the Pentagon is studying whether virus-carrying insects can be deployed to combat crop loss during agricultural emergencies. But some scientists are worried the technology could be used as a biological weapon. The idea behind DARPA’s “Insect Allies” program: a swarm of virus-carrying insects are released upon threatened crops, infecting them with a virus that genetically modifies the agriculture to withstand drought, disease, frost, or “threats introduced by state or non-state actors.” Click here to read why some scientists are skeptical of the project.
  • As Texans continue to recuperate from Hurricane Harvey, small, rich, white towns in southeast Texas are receiving a disproportionate amount of federal disaster recovery funds. A new report by CityLab found that Harvey aid is shortchanging cities with black, working-class residents hurt by the storm, leading to racial disparities in recovery funding. While the wealthy, nearly all-white town of Taylor Landing got about $60,000 per affected person, nearby Port Arthur – with its high poverty rate and significant black population – saw $84 per affected person. Read the full story here.
  • Research has revealed that microplastics – pieces of plastic debris under five millimeters – can be found in 1 of every 2 insects. "Every year, between eight and twelve million tons of plastics are thought to be entering the world's oceans, but around four million tons of it passes along rivers," said Fred Windsor, a doctoral student at Cardiff University in Wales, and lead author of the study. Once microplastics are incorporated into insects, they can be passed up the food chain to fish, birds, and the animals that feed on them. Time to revisit the Microbead-Free Waters Act? Click here.

Your Gov at a Glance 👀

The White House: President Trump in D.C. & FL

  • At 1:35pm, the president will deliver remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention in Orlando, FL.
  • At 7:00pm, the president will participate in the formal swearing-in ceremony of Brett Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

The House of Representatives: Out

  • The House will return Tuesday, November 13th.

The Senate: Out

What You're Saying

Here's how you're answering Should the U.S. Admit At Least 110,000 Refugees Per Year?

(Follow Audrey's comment here.)

(Follow Tonymendeezee's comment here.)

But wait, there's more!

And, in the End…

Inside of 10 years, the federal government could be paying more in interest on its debt than it spends on the military.

This is caused by America's rapidly growing budget deficit, which has been exacerbated by tax cuts and rising interest rates. The White House’s midyear budget estimates that the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion in 2019.

According to our partners at USAFacts (a non-partisan civic initiative aimed at making government data accessible and understandable), that would be a substantial increase over the $584.6 billion deficit in 2016.

We know talk of the debt can be dense, but it does matter. Why? Click here.

Hope you're having a nice day, no matter what holiday you're celebrating,

—Josh Herman

Talk to Managing Editor Andrea Seabrook via email, andrea [at] countable.us, or on twitter, @RadioBabe. And don’t forget to keep in touch @Countable.

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