— The 2024 Met Gala theme. Who knew Anna Wintour was a Disney adult.
And Then There Were Five (and Trump)
The GOP candidates' stances on the issues are the same, same but different.
Last night’s GOP debate?
Yup, the third of four, this one moderated by NBC in Florida. Here’s what GOP candidates(other than former President Trump) had to say about:
Foreign policy: took center stage. The Israel-Hamas war is entering its second month. The Russia-Ukraine war is coming up on two years. Security concerns around China and Iran are top of mind. Most of the candidates said the answer is obvious: the US needs to bolster its military presence. Then there’s entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. He criticized “war hawks” and Ukraine aid. He also appeared to call Ukraine’s president “a Nazi,” something his team is now walking back. However, he did hop on the latest GOP TikTok trend — indicating he’d ban it. Former SC Gov. Nikki Haley said Russia and China would be “salivating” at having someone like Ramaswamy as president. She also said, “America can never be so arrogant to think we don’t need friends.”
Abortion: After a string of electoral losses for Republicans on abortion, candidates were asked to share their approach to abortion policy. Haley, who described herself as pro-life, would support “anything that would pass” but said she doesn’t “judge” or want to divide Americans. Sen. Tim Scott (SC) wants a national 15-week limit on abortion, an approach that didn’t seem to win voters in Virginia. Former NJ Gov. Chris Christie is for states’ rights, even if he finds late-term abortion “morally reprehensible.” Meanwhile, Ramaswamy pointed to paternity tests and “sexual responsibility” for men as a solution for preventing abortion.
Other domestic issues: Gov. Ron DeSantis (FL) wants to rip up Bidenomics and put it in the trash. Haley and Christie said they’d be open to raising the retirement age for Social Security — but didn’t give a number. Scott wants to close the southern border. Ramaswamy suggested a wall along the northern border with Canada, adding he’d “smoke the terrorists” on the southern border. Meanwhile, the candidates decried antisemitism with DeSantis and Scott calling for some students to have their visas revoked. DeSantis dismissed Islamophobia, calling it “so-called.” Haley said DeSantis is a “liberal” when it comes to the environment because of his stance against fracking in the Florida Everglades.
Ramaswamy wished he had different moderators and different GOP leadership and generally wanted to stand out. Haley told Ramaswamy to keep her daughter’s social media life “out of your voice,” telling him: “you’re just scum.” They also went head-to-head on foreign policy, with Ramaswamy seeming to describe DeSantis and Haley as “Dick Cheney in three-inch heels.” To that, Haley responded that she wears five-inch heels. But not “unless you can run in them.” As for former President Trump, he skipped again, held a rally, and reportedly called the debate “unwatchable.”
The Iowa caucuses are two months away, as the GOP’s frontrunner faces both civil and criminal trials. Now, as Haley gains in the polls and DeSantis falls behind, the pressure is on any candidate to show they can earn voters’ trust and mount a serious challenge to Trump.
Hollywood actors. Yesterday, SAG-AFTRA reached a tentative three-year agreement with Hollywood studios to end the longest actors' strike against film and TV studios. Today, actors can return to work after spending nearly four months advocating for higher pay and limits on how artificial intelligence is used. The union’s negotiating committee gave the agreement a stamp of approval with a unanimous vote. The agreement includes new rules for the use of AI and reportedly a minimum pay increase of 7% for actors’ first year. Now, union members will have to vote to ratify the agreement in the coming weeks.
What may not be so black and white…
Panda diplomacy. Yesterday, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo bid farewell to three giant pandas returning to China — a move some see as “sending a signal” about US-China tensions. China’s pandas made their debut in the US in the ‘70s after former President Nixon brokered a deal for two. The duo spent their life in the National Zoo and after dying of old age, were replaced by today’s duo, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, in 2000. In 2020, Mei gave birth to Xiao Qi Ji, who is also going to China. China said the panda partnership has led to “mutual understanding and friendship” with the US. Still, experts view the pandas' move as a reflection of the fallout between the US and China. See: the spy balloon, sanctions on Chinese officials, restricted imports of semiconductors, and the TikTok national security debacle. Zookeepers chalked it up to old age, since pandas are typically returned when they’re older or when cubs abroad turn three or four years old. The National Zoo remains hopeful that pandas will return. Maybe President Biden can do some convincing when he meets up with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week in San Francisco.
What’s the new kid on the block…
Eli Lilly’s weight-loss drug. Yesterday, the FDA approved Eli Lilly’s diabetes treatment to be sold as a weight-loss drug, under the name Zepbound. At least 100 million adults in the US are considered obese and that can come with health conditions like heart and liver disease. However, many, including celebrities, are turning to weight loss drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic to shed a few extra pounds. The hype has led to a shortage of the drugs for patients who need it to treat diabetes. Eli Lilly said it expects tight supplies until the end of the year for its diabetes treatment. As Zepbound joins the weight-loss market in the coming months, manufacturers could face more pressure to keep up as they’re already struggling to meet the demand.
...Oh and speaking of new treatments, Sage Therapeutics says the first postpartum depression pill will cost $15,900 for a two-week treatment. It's unclear how insurance will help with the price tag.
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