Welcome to The Free Press Report’s Monday Digest. This week a lot has happened – a Texas governor wasted a million dollars on a political stunt, Ken Griffin gave up on dysfunctional Chicago, and India exploited sanctions to buy cheap oil. Read on for more of the stories you might have missed.
Right to abortion struck down by Supreme Court [Reuters]
The U.S Supreme Court has overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which protected the right to abortion on grounds of personal privacy
26 states are now certain or likely to ban abortion
Biden described the decision as “a sad day … for the country”, but declined to mention that his own party had failed to use its majority in the House of Representatives to enshrine abortion rights in Congressional law
The conservative-majority court rejected the right to abortion, supposedly because the Constitution makes no mention of abortion
The court further upheld a law that banned abortion after 15 weeks
Justice Clarence Thomas urged the court to now reconsider past rulings that legalized gay marriage and protected the right to contraception
Dozens of companies including Citigroup, Disney, Microsoft and Meta pledged to cover costs of employees’ expenses for out-of-state abortions
Abbott’s immigration stunt may cost taxpayers over a million dollars. In April, the Texas governor schemed to send undocumented immigrants to Washington, D.C en masse, presumably to advocate for stricter border controls. State records now show that the feat cost over $1.6 million, with just 1,154 migrants being transported. This means the cost per head came to $1,400 – higher than the price of a first class plane ticket from Texas to D.C. Abbot claimed that his office was “overwhelmed” with offers of support, yet only $112,842 was raised by private donations, likely leaving Texas taxpayers on the hook for the rest of the bill – unless Abbott deigns to use some of his own estimated $23 million net worth to plug the gap. [Reason]
Federal state and local bailout cost $855,000 Per Job Saved according to a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. During the Covid pandemic, Biden’s $1 trillion plan to bailout state and local governments had only "a modest impact on government employment” and did not contribute to the economic recovery, the paper’s authors found. [Reason]
Department of Education forgives $6bn in for-profit college debt after colleges mislead students. 200,000 borrowers will be eligible for debt cancellation and refund of loan payments after for-profit colleges made false claims about job prospects of graduating students. Eileen Connor, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, said that students had been “cheated by their schools and ignored or even rejected by their government.” [BBG]
Boston city councilor blames “Zionists” for unfavorable court decision. Kendra Lara, a first-term councilor for Jamaica Plains, tweeted “y’all are letting the Zionists SHAKE YOU DOWN. phew!” later admitting that her phrasing “reinforces Anti-Semitic tropes”. Her outrage came after the 8th Circuit federal appeals court upheld an Arkansas law that prevented state contractors from boycotting Israel over its mistreatment of Palestinian citizens. [Boston]
Social and Business
Fed policy “the biggest risk” says Paul Krugman. The Nobel Laureate warned of the risk that “the Fed will overdo it and it will slam on the brakes too hard,” referring to the Fed’s recent series of rate hikes designed to tame inflation. [BBG]
Average U.S home costs more than $400,000 for first time ever as existing-home sales drop for fourth month in a row. In May, home sales were down 8.4% from the previous year, the National Association of Realtors announced. The median house sale price is now $407,600, up 14.8% from the previous year. [MW]
Chicago crime complaints spark Citadel’s flight to Miami. Billionaire Ken Griffin founded hedge fund Citadel in Chicago in 1990, but after months of complaints about Chicago crime rates and interference by Illinois politicians, Griffin confirmed that the company would relocate to Miami. Griffin has already moved his personal residence to Miami. Citadel’s departure is just the latest in a string of companies abandoning Illinois – in the past two months, Boeing and Caterpillar have moved operations to Virginia and Texas respectively. [WSJ]
Flight disruptions to continue into 2023 says Lufthansa CEO. Staff shortages have forced the German airline to cut over 3,000 flights this summer, including discontinuing 2,220 internal and European routes. Travel demand has rebounded rapidly since the end of pandemic restrictions, but staff absences and strikes have continued to plague airlines. [BBG]
Ohio State trademarks word “the” for use on branded products. The university estimates that merchandise with the insignia “THE” generates over $12.5 million in revenue every year, which is necessary to fund scholarships and student programs. In 2021, Ohio State struck a usage deal with fashion brand Marc Jacobs, which also uses “the” on its luxury bags. [NPR]
Indian government urges oil companies to buy Russian crude at steep discounts. Western sanctions on Russia have stymied the world’s second largest oil exporter, and some Eastern countries including India, China and Turkey have taken advantage by ramping up their purchases of Russian oil. In May, India imported 760,000 barrels of Russian oil per day, compared to just 60,000 in 2021. [WSJ]
Oslo gunman kills two, injures 21 in shooting at gay bar. The attacker was a Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent, who was known to intelligence services since 2015 and believed to be radicalized by Islamist extremists. Oslo’s Pride parade, scheduled for the day of the shooting, was called off by police, who will be armed whilst the country is in a state of high terror alert. [Reuters]
Mussolini’s honorary doctorate will not be revoked by Swiss university UNIL. Mussolini, Europe’s first fascist dictator and close ally of Adolf Hitler, received the academic award in 1937 in recognition of "having conceived and realized in his homeland a social organization … that will leave a deep mark on history." UNIL’s panel of experts did not recommend posthumously stripping Mussolini of his honorary doctorate. [Reuters]
Cristiano Ronaldo and Binance strike NFT deal. The Portuguese football star will create a collection of NFTs to be sold exclusively on Binance, citing his “relationship with the fans” as the motivation behind the collection. [FT]
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