It’s Friday, so that means it's panel time.
"Taiwan votes in presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday, which will set the course for the democratic island’s ties with its giant and autocratic neighbor China, which claims Taiwan as its territory," Reuters reported Friday. Why does this matter, and how does it affect the US?
"A sharply divided House voted on Thursday to force President Trump to come to Congress for authorization before taking further military action against Iran," the New York Times reported. It has been called a sharp response by some and a sharp rebuke by others to Trump acting without consulting Congress to increase tension with Tehran. The resolution passed 224 to 194, almost entirely along party lines. I don’t know how sharp of a rebuke or response it was, since two weeks ago, 188 Democrats in the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and in doing so removed the bipartisan amendment that would have accomplished the same thing. So, they pass the NDAA without the amendment, Trump engages in an act of war against Iran, and now they want to strongly rebuke him?
A Ukrainian jetliner crashed Wednesday after taking off from an airport in Tehran, killing all 176 people onboard. "The jetliner, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, went down on the outskirts of Tehran during takeoff just hours after Iran launched a barrage of missiles at US forces. While the timing of the disaster led some aviation experts to wonder whether it was brought down by a missile, Iranian officials disputed any such suggestion and blamed mechanical trouble," AP reported Wednesday. Let me preface this discussion by saying that there is a lot of speculation around this crash. We don’t want to draw any conclusions just yet, and we really need to wait for the results of the investigation. But I think a discussion of this is warranted. One working theory, according to a Thursday Reuters report citing a US official: "U.S. satellites had detected the launch of two missiles shortly before the plane crashed, followed by evidence of an explosion. Two officials said Washington believed the downing of the plane was accidental."
Job growth in the US economy is falling below what economists expected. The Labor Department reported 145,000 jobs were added in December. That's about 20,000 below what economists were hoping for. Still, it was the 10th straight year the US economy has added jobs. Wages are also up but not meeting expectations, rising by only 2.9% last month.
Bob Schlehuber — Sputnik News analyst.
Caleb Maupin — Journalist and political analyst who focuses his coverage on US foreign policy and the global system of monopoly capitalism and imperialism.
Jim Kavanagh — Political analyst and commentator and editor of The Polemicist.
Dave Lindorff — Investigative reporter and founder of the news collective This Can't Be Happening!
Daniel Lazare — Journalist and author of three books: "The Frozen Republic," "The Velvet Coup" and "America's Undeclared War."
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