News Updates

America This Week: September 11-17

Vineyard madness, Railroad strike averted, a tepid and unconvincing 9/11 memorial, Newsom eaten in lifeboat, political quiz, three finance headlines and more

Clockwise from top left: Governor DeSantis demonstrates unique one-bite Blutwurst-eating method, Barack Obama waits for Vineyard migrants to clear his lie, Federer consoles McEnroe, Biden thinks about trains, Pelosi seethes over NANC ETF, Rudy tries to make the subpoena font bigger

To listen to this week’s edition of “America This Week” with Walter Kirn and Matt Taibbi, click here

America was crazy busy this week. The top stories:

Railroad Strike Averted In a dramatic resolution to one of the biggest labor stories in recent American history, at least dating to the early eighties, a strike of America’s 115,000 unionized railway employees was averted at the 12th hour, although union workers as of this writing have yet to formally approve the arrangement. The administration of President Joe Biden in conjunction with officials from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the Trainmen Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, among others, along with major freight companies like Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, forestalled what one Democratic congressman called a potential “nightmare” that could have cost the country $2 billion a day. The most celebratory tones came from the White House of a (probably germanely) beaming Biden, who said the deal meant “we can avert any significant damage,” calling it a win for the “dignity of all rail workers.” There were rumblings among some rank-and-file workers that the final agreement represented a surrender of sorts by the unions, as significant issues remain, particularly with the punishing hours for workers deemed essential during the Covid-19 emergency, as companies can still penalize employees for taking time off outside of holidays and planned vacations, even in the case of emergencies. Rail workers often operate in sleep-deprived skeleton crews on mile-long trains booming through populated areas at high speeds, thanks in large part to cost-cutting layoffs by firms like BNSF and Union Pacific, which both posted net incomes above $6 billion last year. Profits at both firms were up 16% from the year before, too, so naturally there was great hesitation to grant pay raises or more vacation time. But, crisis averted!

9/11 Miserably Commemorated Traditionally the anniversary of 9/11 is a time for politicians in America to gather together in rousing, libidinous demonstrations of fake unity. This year, American politicians mostly made somber statements remotely in a tepid, unconvincing, generally depressing expressions of undisguised pessimism. The usual suspects mouthed the usual words from the usual script, with Joe Biden departing from his recent vengeance-promising approach to national oratory to speak about the anniversary of the collapse of the Trade Center as “a day of renewal and resolve for each and every American,” perhaps really meaning all of them. Biden also referenced the killing of Al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, barbecued impressively in a balcony drone strike earlier this year, saying the United States “will not rest, we will never forget, we’ll never give up,” which does seem to be one true legacy of that awful day: we’ll probably still be firing Hellfire missiles at people connected to the event thirty years from now. The first lady Jill Biden said that images of 9/11 are “seared into our collective memory,” adding “we remember the details like a slide under a microscope” — a strange comment about an event involving something huge we witnessed exploding from a great distance, as opposed to something tiny one strains through an instrument to see moving slightly if at all. But, we knew what she meant. Former Secretary of State and “basket of deplorables” orator Hillary Clinton said of 9/11, “We put aside differences. I wish we could find ways of doing that again.” Which is very true. Would that we could all find more ways of expressing mutual love and admiration for one another, like for instance the next story:


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