Yellen Seeks Economic Detente With China

Happy Monday! A Canadian court ruled last month that texting someone a 👍 emoji can, in certain circumstances, be construed as a legally binding contractual agreement. 

The court also held that using the 😗 emoji legally makes you a weirdo.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Bureau of Labor statistics reported Friday that U.S. employers added 209,000 jobs in June, fewer than expected and down from 306,000 in May. The unemployment rate fell slightly from 3.7 percent to 3.6 percent, with the labor force participation rate holding steady at 62.6 percent for the fourth consecutive month. Average hourly earnings—a measure the Federal Reserve is watching closely in its fight against inflation—rose 0.4 percent month-over-month in June, and 4.4 percent year-over-year. Those figures were 0.3 and 4.3 percent in May, respectively.
  • Defense Department officials announced Friday the Pentagon will send Ukraine dual-purpose improved conventional munitions, also known as cluster munitions, as part of a larger security assistance package that also includes Stinger anti-aircraft systems, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, HIMARS munitions, and more. More than 100 countries have banned cluster munitions—which break apart into dozens of “bomblets” in the air to cover more area—due to the threat they can pose to civilians, but President Joe Biden defended the “difficult decision” to provide them to Ukraine, arguing the move was necessary to get Ukraine through a “transition period” while the U.S. ramps up production of standard ammunition. Russia has allegedly used cluster munitions extensively during its invasion.
  • Five Ukrainian military commanders who were being held in Turkey after Russia released them in a prisoner exchange last year returned to Ukraine on Saturday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The development angered the Kremlin, which labeled the commanders’ homecoming a violation of a deal brokered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The men, who surrendered in Mariupol in May 2022, were originally meant to stay in Turkey until the end of the war.
  • A U.S. Central Command spokesman announced Sunday three MQ-9 Reaper drones had killed an Islamic State leader, Usamah al-Muhajir, in eastern Syria on Friday, just hours after the drones were harrassed by Russian fighter jets in Syrian airspace. The Pentagon said no civilians were killed in the attack, but they were assessing reports that a civilian was injured. 
  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition government collapsed Friday during negotiations over asylum policy, as months-long talks broke down over a move by Rutte’s conservative party to make it harder for refugee families to reunite in the Netherlands. Rutte, the longest serving prime minister in Dutch history, has held the role since 2010 and will remain on as part of a caretaker government until new elections can be held—likely in November. 
  • The Iowa Republican Party’s State Central Committee voted unanimously on Saturday to hold their first-in-the-nation presidential primary caucuses on January 15, 2024—Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the earliest start to the presidential nominating contest since 2012.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed last week he will attend the first Republican presidential primary debate in August regardless of whether former President Donald Trump shows up. “I hope everybody who is eligible comes,” DeSantis told Fox News. “I think it is an important part of the process.” Officials from DeSantis’ aligned super PAC had previously signaled the Florida governor would not participate in the Milwaukee debate if the frontrunner skipped out on it.
  • The shooter who killed 23 people, many of whom were Latino, at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was sentenced to 90 consecutive life terms in prison Friday after pleading guilty to almost 50 federal hate crimes charges. The gunman will also stand trial in Texas after pleading not guilty to charges of capital murder, for which he could face the death penalty.
  • Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted six businesspeople on Friday for allegedly using straw donors to contribute to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ campaign during the 2021 mayoral election as part of a conspiracy to take advantage of the city’s donation-matching scheme and curry favor with Adams. Neither Adams nor anyone on his campaign team is accused of wrongdoing. 
  • Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin​​ of Maryland announced Friday he will not run for Senate to succeed the retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, opting instead to run for reelection in the House. Several other Democrats have already announced their intention to run for Cardin’s seat, including Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and U.S. Rep. David Trone.

Rainbow Connection

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng in Beijing. (Photo by MARK SCHIEFELBEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng in Beijing. (Photo by MARK SCHIEFELBEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In the Bible, God sent a rainbow as a promise to never flood the earth again. In Beijing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen arrived under a rainbow with a call for the United States and China not to flood the earth with economic destruction. “A decoupling of the world’s two largest economies would be destabilizing for the global economy, and it would be virtually impossible to undertake,” she said Friday. “We seek to diversify, not to decouple.”

Chinese officials seemed receptive to that message. “There is more to China-U.S. relations than just wind and rain,” said Chinese Premier Li Qiang. “We will surely see more rainbows.”

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