Biden’s Cabinet Begins Roadshow to Help Sell Inflation Reduction Act

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China's central bank cuts rates after a raft of disappointing economic data

 

                                                In Today’s Digital Newspaper

 

China’s economy stumbled in July as a two-month boost from easing lockdowns faded, prompting the country’s central bank to unexpectedly cut two key interest rates to shore up faltering growth. A slew of bad data in July, from retail sales to industrial production, underlined the continued damage that Covid lockdowns are causing the economy. Gold reacted to the slowdown by dropping as much as 1.1%, after four straight weeks of gains.

A delegation of U.S. lawmakers has travelled to Taiwan less than two weeks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visited the island. The lawmakers sought to “reaffirm the United States’ support for Taiwan” and to “encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait.” the People’s Liberation Army is still sending fighter jets and warships close to Taiwan.

China’s army said it had organized military drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan, in response to a group of American politicians visiting the island.

Chinese president Xi Jinping is expected to visit Saudi Arabia this week for a meeting with crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in his first official visit to a foreign country since 2020. Energy, the centerpiece of Saudi Arabian diplomacy, is likely to top the agenda.

Ukraine said that Russia was unsuccessfully trying to advance on several towns in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. It reported heavy shelling and “fierce fighting” in the region, which has been a key focus of Russia’s invasion. Shelling was also reported in the Kherson region, where Ukraine is attempting a counter-offensive.

Saudi Aramco, the Saudi energy giant, notched record profits of $48.4 billion in the second quarter due to surging oil prices. That’s more than the combined profits of ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Shell last quarter, which themselves posted record income. Saudi Arabia’s economy is projected to grow more than 7.6% this year—the most of any country.

To help sell the Inflation Reduction Act, Cabinet members will be taking 35 trips to 23 states through the end of August, including at least three this week, from secretaries Tom Vilsack (to Colorado), Xavier Becerra (to New Mexico) and Deb Haaland (to California).

A severe drought is magnifying Europe's economic risks by disrupting crop yields, energy production and trade flows.

How dry is it in Mexico? Mexico’s president proposes ban on beer brewing as drought intensifies.

Two more ships carrying grain left from Ukraine's Black Sea ports on Saturday, Turkey’s defense ministry said, bringing the total number of vessels to depart the country since the grain export deal was signed to 16.

Vilsack, Tai to hold Iowa events Thursday re: Biden trade policy.

USDA adjusts poultry line speed policy. Details below. 

We take a look at Tuesday primaries in Alaska and Wyoming. Details in Politics & Elections section.

Russia for the first time expressed guarded optimism about talks with the U.S. on a prisoner exchange involving WNBA star Brittney Griner and another jailed American.

 

MARKET FOCUS

Equities today: Global stock markets were mixed overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward lower openings. World shares were mostly higher early Monday after China's central bank cut a key interest rate and Japan reported its economy picked up momentum in the last quarter. U.S. futures edged lower and oil prices fell more than $2. Housing and retail sales data and some big retailers’ earnings could be among the catalysts for stocks this week. Walmart and Home Depot report earnings Tuesday and Target releases results Wednesday. John Deere reports earnings on Friday. In Asia, Japan +1.14%. Hong Kong -0.67%. China -0.02%. India market closed. In Europe, at midday, London +0.07%. Paris +0.18%. Frankfurt +0.03%.

     U.S. equities Friday: The Dow rose 424.38 points, 1.27%, at 33,761.05. The Nasdaq gained 267.27 points, 2.09%, at 13,047.19. The S&P 500 advanced 72.88 points, 1.73%, at 4,280.15.

     The S&P 500 closed above the key 50% retracement level Friday. Going back to 1950, there are no instances of the S&P revisiting its lows after closing above that key level, according to BTIG, a global financial services firm.

     For the week, the Dow rose 2.9%, with the Nasdaq moving up 3.1% and the S&P 500 scoring a gain of 3.3%. Stocks clinched their fourth straight winning week with strong gains Friday after the monthly report from the University of Michigan showed a surge in consumer confidence, marking the second consecutive gain for the index since its June low. The upbeat data, coupled with a better-than-expected reading of the consumer price index earlier in the week, had some traders feeling upbeat that the worst inflation had passed and that the Federal Reserve might raise its main interest rate by just half a percentage point in September, after two consecutive three-quarter-point increases.

     The bond market continues to take a pessimistic view of the economic outlook, with the spread between the two-year and 10-year yields deeply inverted at negative 41 basis points.

     Stocks weekly 081222

Agriculture markets Friday:

  • Corn: December corn rose 14 1/2 cents to $6.42 1/4, up 32 1/4 cents for the week and the contract’s highest closing price since $6.53 3/4 on June 20.
  • Soy complex: November soybeans rose 5 3/4 cents to $14.54 1/4, up 45 1/2 cents for the week and the highest close since July 29. September soymeal rose $8.20 to $465.70, a lifetime-high close. September soyoil rose 23 points to 69.53 cents.
  • Wheat: September SRW wheat fell 4 3/4 cents to $8.06, up 30 1/4 cents for the week. September HRW wheat ended unchanged at $8.89 1/4, up 41 cents for the week. September spring wheat fell 2 1/4 cents to $9.19 1/2.
  • Cotton: December cotton rose the 400-point daily limit to 108.59 cents per pound, up 1,246 points, or 13% for the week and the highest closing price since June 21.
  • Cattle: October live cattle fell 60 cents to $144.50, up 62.5 cents for the week. September feeders fell $1.225 to $183.375. Cash cattle averaged $144.34 the first four days this week, up about $3.50 from last week’s average.
  • Hogs: October lean hogs fell $1.05 to $100.025, still up $1.625 for the week. Hog futures posted a strong weekly gain behind continued firm cash fundamentals and bullish technicals. The next CME lean hog index is expected to rise 7 cents to $121.93, near a 14-month high posted earlier last week.
     

Ag markets today: Soybeans led a round of heavy, broad-based selling across the grain and soy markets overnight amid favorable weather, heightened Chinese tensions and economic concerns, and pressure from outside markets. As of 7:30 a.m. ET, soybeans were trading 35 to 41 cents lower, corn was 15 to 16 cents lower and wheat futures were 17 to 24 cents lower. Front-month crude oil futures were around $4.50 lower and the U.S. dollar index was more than 550 points higher.

Technical viewpoints from Jim Wyckoff:

     Aug 15 Corn

     Aug 15 Soybeans

     Aug 15 Crude

     Aug 15 Bonds

     Aug 15 Euro

     Aug 15 Gold

On tap today:

     • New York Fed's Empire State manufacturing survey, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to fall to 5 in August from 11.1 one month earlier.
     • National Association of Home Builders housing market index, due at 10 a.m., is expected to tick down to 54 in August from 55 one month earlier.
     • USDA Grain Export Inspections report, 11:00 a.m. ET.
     • USDA Crop Progress report, 4:00 p.m. ET.
     • Turkish delegation to visit Washington, D.C., to discuss F-16 fighter jet deal.
     • The House and Senate are out of session. President Joe Biden is in Kiawah Island, S.C. And Vice President Kamala Harris is heading to Hawaii.

Between Sunday and the end of August, Cabinet members will travel to 23 states on over 35 trips touting the Inflation Reduction Act and the administration’s accomplishments. For example, on Aug. 17, USDA Secretary Vilsack will participate in a roundtable discussion with agricultural stakeholders on the Inflation Reduction Act in Grand Junction, Colo. with Sen. Bennet (D-Colo.). 

More easing of U.S. inflation ahead? Analysts note upstream energy and food commodity prices have come down in recent weeks, suggesting more easing to feed through to consumers ahead, particularly on the grocery front. Supply-chain pressures seem to be gradually improving and we are now mostly past the summer travel frenzy that helped stoke price increases for many services in June. Meanwhile, new and used car markets are getting closer to normal.

     What could derail the easing inflation situation? Another shock — a geopolitical conflict, a major natural disaster that takes out a refinery or two.

37% is the share of U.S. small-business owners who said inflation was their No. 1 concern, according to a July survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). That was the highest level since 1979. “The uncertainty in the small business sector is climbing again as owners continue to manage historic inflation, labor shortages and supply chain disruptions,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said.

     Inflation concern

Government programs to help people through the pandemic fueled inflation, Federal Reserve economists François de Soyres, Ana Maria Santacreu and Henry Young write in a discussion paper (link). "We show that generous fiscal support contributed to an increase in the demand for consumption goods during the pandemic, but industrial production did not adjust quickly enough to meet the sharp increase in demand. This imbalance between supply and demand across countries led to high inflation. ... [But] one should also recognize the positive role played by generous government support throughout this unprecedented crisis. The large spending supported a strong economic rebound, with both GDP and employment recovering at a remarkable pace, likely preventing worse outcomes despite the price pressures that may have resulted from the spending.”

Starbucks and inflation. Starbucks Interim Chief Executive Howard Schultz said: “While we are sensitive to the impact inflation and economic uncertainty are having on consumers, it’s critically important that you all understand we are not currently seeing any measurable reduction in customer spending or any evidence of customers trading down.”

Japan’s economy recovered its prepandemic size in the April-June quarter thanks to strong consumer spending and higher exports, but inflation may start to weigh on growth later this year. The world’s third-largest economy after the U.S. and China expanded 0.5% in the three months to June from the previous quarter and 2.2% on an annualized basis, which reflects what would happen if the pace continued for a full year. Adjusted for inflation and seasonal factors, Japan’s economy in the latest quarter was bigger than in the final quarter of 2019, the first time it has accomplished that since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.

     Japan GDP

Market perspectives:

     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is solidly higher in early U.S. trading. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note is fetching 2.831%. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 4.9% to $87.56 a barrel. Gold futures fell 1.2% to $1,793.40 an ounce and Bitcoin hovered above $24,000.

     • Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said on Sunday it is ready to raise crude oil production to its maximum capacity of 12 million bbl/day if asked to do so by the Saudi government. "We are confident of our ability to ramp up to 12 million bbl/day any time there is a need or a call from the government or from the ministry of energy to increase our production," Nasser reportedly said. The comments came as Aramco (ARMCO) reported a 90% surge in Q2 profit to a stronger than expected 181.64 billion riyals ($48.4 billion), the state oil company's highest quarterly net profit since it started trading shares on the Saudi stock exchange in 2019.

     • Drop in U.S. oil prices was partially caused by an unexpected increase in U.S. crude oil inventories. On Aug. 3, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that crude stocks had risen by 4.5 million barrels compared with the previous week — contrasting with industry analysts' forecast, which saw stocks declining by 600,000 barrels during the same time period. Analysts note this signals a softening in U.S. oil demand, which typically surges in July and August during the busy summer travel season. Downgrades in expected global economic growth have led the Paris-based International Energy Agency to cut its projection for global oil demand growth in 2022 by 100,000 bpd since its May forecast and in 2023 by 300,000 bpd since its June forecast.

        Outlook: Watch Europe where gas prices could surge much higher when demand increases this winter, which would send Europe into a recession. This could also result in an oil crisis as energy-starved European countries start substituting oil products for natural gas in certain applications.     

     • Quick review of Friday’s USDA Crop Production report:

        Corn: USDA lowered its forecast for the U.S. corn crop more than expected, indicating extreme heat and dryness in the Midwest this summer crimped yield potential. In its Crop Production report today, USDA pegged the 2022 crop at 14.359 billion bu., about 33 million bu. under expectations and down 146 million bu. from its July forecast.

        USDA 2021-22 price: $5.95, unchanged from last month; 2022-23: $6.65, unchanged.

        Soybeans: USDA unexpectedly hiked its U.S. crop estimate, but soybeans rebounded from an initial drop to end higher. USDA estimated the crop at a record 4.531 billion bu., up 26 million bu. from a July forecast. Analysts expected a cut of about 50 million bushels.

        USDA 2021-22 price: $13.30, down 5¢ from July; 2022-23: $14.35, down 5¢.

        Wheat: USDA report held no big surprises, with the U.S. all-wheat crop estimate increased 2 million bu. from last month to 1.783 billion bushels.

        USDA 2022-23 price: $9.25, down $1.25 from July.

        Cotton: USDA lowered its estimates for U.S. harvested acres, yield and production.

     • Ag trade: Saudi Arabia purchased 180,000 MT of wheat.

     • Baltic Dry Index drops to six-month low. The Baltic Dry Index measuring pricing in the global bulk commodities shipping market on Friday was 1,477, down 5.3% during the week to a six-month low.

     • A severe drought is magnifying Europe's economic risks by disrupting crop yields, energy production and trade flows at a time when the Continent is already facing soaring food and fuel prices, along with a possible energy crunch this winter. Several regions in Europe are facing severe droughts this summer, caused by the combination of a lack of precipitation and high temperatures since May. The European Commission estimated in July that nearly half of the European Union and large parts of the United Kingdom were experiencing ''warning'' levels of drought, with unusually dry conditions set to persist through September across most of Europe. Water shortages are particularly severe in the northern Italian lowlands, central Germany, eastern Hungary and northern Spain, as well as the southern, central and western regions of France, Portugal and the Netherlands. Scarce rain is affecting river discharge and depleting stored water volumes, impacting the energy sector for both hydropower generation and cooling systems of power plants. Low water supplies and high heat are also reducing crop yields, while dangerously low levels in river channels are hurting trade flows by forcing cargo vessels to sail with reduced loads. European sunflower production is down, compounding a global cooking oil shortage, and grain mills along the Rhine will likely close soon. Cows are producing less and lower-quality milk, and the impacts could get worse as the production of corn dips way below last year’s yield.

     • How dry is it in Mexico? Mexico’s president proposes ban on beer brewing as drought intensifies. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador demanded a halt to brewing in the country’s drought-stricken north, blasting the business model of making alcoholic drinks with water drawn from dwindling aquifers to slake thirsts on the other side of the U.S./Mexico border. He called on brewers to produce their beer in the water-rich south and offered “total support” for those doing so. “This is not to say we’ll not produce any more beer, it’s to say that beer will not be produced in the north,” López Obrador said. Mexico has become one of the world’s biggest beer exporters over the past decade thanks to the popularity of brands such as Corona, Modelo and Dos Equis. The country exported almost $5 billion worth of beer in 2019, according to state statistics agency INEGI, about 94% of it to U.S. The National Water Commission (Conagua) said 41% of Mexico was now in drought, up from less than a quarter this time last year. Around the northern industrial city of Monterrey, reservoirs have evaporated, and taps run dry, forcing some residents to wait in line with buckets for the tanker trucks that deliver fresh supplies.

     • More than 100 million Americans could live in an “extreme heat belt” in 30 years’ time. A new model forecasts longer periods of temperatures reaching 125°F (50°C) in an area stretching from Texas and Louisiana as far north as Chicago.

     • NWS weather: There is a Slight Risk of excessive rainfall over parts of the Central/Southern Rockies, Great Basin, and Southwest through Wednesday morning... ...There is a Slight Risk of excessive rainfall over parts of southern Texas through Tuesday morning and over parts of the Middle Mississippi Valley from Tuesday into Wednesday morning... ...There is a Slight Risk of severe thunderstorms over parts of the southern Mid-Atlantic through Tuesday morning... ...There is a Heat Advisory over parts of the Southern Plains/Lower Mississippi Valley on Monday and an Excessive Heat Watch over parts of the West Coast on Tuesday.

        NWS 081522

Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include:

     • Hefty price pressure to open the week
     • Rains, cooler temps for the next two weeks
     • Strong rebound expected in NOPA August crush
     • Indonesia to raise crude palm oil reference price
     • Firmer cash cattle expectations again this week
     • Cash hog market remains well supported

 

RUSSIA/UKRAINE

— Summary: U.S.-provided anti-radiation missiles have helped take out some of Russia’s most dangerous weapons systems in Ukraine in recent days. But the missiles, only recently confirmed to be in the hands of Ukraine’s air force, are just one part of a complicated strategy to expel Kremlin forces completely from the country, a Ukrainian fighter pilot told The Hill. The pilot, who identifies himself by his call sign “Juice,” said the country’s air force has recently used the anti-radiation missiles to suppress Russian air defense systems. Meanwhile, the two road bridges into Kherson, a city in southern Ukraine occupied by Russian forces, are out of use for military supplies, according to British intelligence.

  • Russia GDP contracts, but less than expected. Russia’s GDP contracted 4% in the second quarter of this year, the first full quarter since Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, the country's statistics agency said Friday. The Russian economy was hit by a wide array of western sanctions, which have targeted its energy and financial sectors, following its military assault on Ukraine. However, the 4% decline between April and June was much less than what analysts expected. Rosstat did not provide any further details on the reasons behind the contraction, but experts said it was caused by weakness in consumer demand and the aftermath of sanctions. There was a 15.3% drop in wholesale trade and a 9.8% contraction in Russia's retail trade, which has seen hundreds of big western brands, such as Addidas and McDonalds, pull out of the country. Analysts polled by Reuters had on average forecasted GDP would shrink 7% year-on-year in the second quarter, after expanding 3.5% in the first three months of the year.  

    Bottom line: As with anything from Russia, especially during the ongoing war with Ukraine, one has to question the accuracy of its economic reports.
  • Ukrainian grain exports continue. Two more ships carrying grain left from Ukraine's Black Sea ports on Saturday, Turkey’s defense ministry said, bringing the total number of vessels to depart the country since the grain export deal was signed to 16. The first ship carrying Ukrainian wheat to be exported under the deal arrived in Istanbul for inspection on Sunday. The priority is “to free up space in the Ukrainian ports and get all those vessels frozen there the last few months to leave Ukraine with cargo, so [they] can get new ships in”, said a U.N. official. Link to Financial Times account of the complexities involved in exporting Ukrainian grain.
  • Germany’s energy-network regulator said the country must cut gas use by 20% to avoid shortages this winter. The government, meanwhile, said public buildings will turn down thermostats in winter to 19°C (66°F). The looming crisis stems from curtailed flows of Russian gas to Germany, in retaliation for European sanctions on Russia.

 

POLICY UPDATE

— IRS funding update. Natasha Sarin, Treasury’s counselor for tax policy and implementation, said the IRS would lay out its plans for hiring and expanding the agency in the coming months. The IRS gets the $80 billion lump sum via the IRA/reconciliation measure this fiscal year, with 10 years to use it. The money is in addition to Congress’s annual budget appropriation, which was $12.6 billion this year. A Treasury Department official said many of the 87,000 new IRS staffers will replace more than 50,000 employees set to retire over the next decade and will serve in a variety of different roles, not just tax collection.

 

CHINA UPDATE

— China cuts interest rate to shore up sagging economy. The People's Bank of China cut its rate on a one-year loan to 2.75% from 2.85% and injected an extra 400 billion yuan ($60 billion) into lending markets after growth in factory output and retail sales weakened in July and home sales fell by double digits. Growth in factory output in July slowed to 3.8% over a year ago, down 0.1 percentage point from the previous month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Growth in consumer spending fell to 2.7%, down 0.4 percentage points from June. Sales of housing and other commercial real estate fell 28.8% from a year earlier.

— Taiwan today will end Covid-19 PCR test requirements for citizens, permanent residents and travelers transiting through Taiwan.

— A delegation of five American lawmakers — led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) — is visiting Taiwan just 12 days after the stop by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Others joining the delegation: Reps. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa). Taiwan’s government welcomed the U.S. lawmakers’ visit and said the delegation would meet President Tsai Ing-wen, foreign minister Joseph Wu and members of the foreign affairs and defence committee of the Taiwanese legislature.

      The People’s Liberation Army is still sending fighter jets and warships close to Taiwan. According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, 22 PLA aircraft and 6 PLA warships operated in the Taiwan Strait area on Sunday. It said 11 of the aircraft were active on Taiwan’s side of the Strait median line, an unofficial buffer which Beijing says it “obliterated” during the latest crisis.

     Kurt Campbell, the White House National Security Council’s coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, on Friday said the U.S. expected China’s “intensified pressure campaign” against Taiwan “to continue to unfold in the coming weeks and months” with an intent “to intimidate and coerce Taiwan and undermine its resilience.”

     Campbell confirmed that President Joe Biden had discussed a possible bilateral meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping during a recent call between the two leaders, and asked their teams to sort out the specifics, but there was nothing new on timing or locations.

— Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to make his first trip outside Chinese territory since the coronavirus pandemic began when he visits Saudi Arabia this week, the Guardian reports, with oil supplies likely to top the agenda. Link for details.

 

TRADE POLICY

— Vilsack, Tai to hold Iowa events Thursday re: Biden trade policy. U.S. Trade Representative Katharine Tai and USDA Secretary Vilsack will travel to Des Moines on Thursday to hold events “to highlight the Biden administration’s work to expand market access for U.S. farmers, producers, and exporters, and help bring American goods to customers around the world,” Tai’s office announced Sunday.

 

ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE

— Is there a way to make electric vehicles without rare earth metals? A 17-year-old has created a motor that might just make EV manufacturing more sustainable. Link for details.

 

LIVESTOCK, FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY

— Labeling practices that help drive food supply chains may be in for an overhaul. Some grocery stores are reducing their use of labels such as “best by” and “sell by,” the Wall Street Journal reports (link), as they try to reduce food waste and leave it to consumers to determine which products are the freshest. Retail executives say the labels cause confusion and lead to consumers tossing food that may still be good to eat. Several supermarket chains in the U.K. have abandoned various date labels on certain foods. That may help grocers keep products on shelves longer, buying them additional time for goods like produce to travel to stores and to consumers, and cutting their costs. The U.S. has no federal law on date labels for food other than baby formula, making for a hodgepodge of state laws and guidance while prompting calls for national standards.

     Bottom line; U.S. food-safety regulators plan to phase in over two years new transportation and tracing requirements that take effect in January.

— USDA adjusts poultry line speed policy. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will sunset current poultry line-speed waivers and launch a new study on line speeds and worker safety. Plants currently having line-speed waivers will be able to participate in the study but must apply for the program. If approved, they can maintain line speeds of up to 175 birds per minute. Those participating will have to submit worker-safety related information monthly and agree to on-site visits. Establishments have until Sept. 1 to apply and have until Sept. 30 to submit initial worker safety information. Those not participating will see their line speed waiver terminated and will have 60 days to return to the maximum line speed of 140 birds per minute.

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Summary:

  • Global Covid-19 cases at at 590,355,410 with 6,435,672 deaths.
  • U.S. case count is at 92,927,104 with 1,037,021 deaths.
  • Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center says there have been 606,162,842 doses administered, 223,457,170 have been fully vaccinated, or 67.82% of the U.S. population.

 

POLITICS & ELECTIONS

— Tuesday primary elections take place in Alaska and Wyoming, and the results again will be a measure of former President Donald Trump's hold on the Republican Party.

     In Alaska, former Gov. Sarah Palin is vying to fill the House seat of the late Rep. Don Young in a special election. Palin is backed by Trump, who participated in a tele-rally for her on the day the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago residence. The Republican candidates for Young’s seat are Palin and Nicholas Begich, a lifelong Republican and the founder and chairman of FarShore Partners, an international software development firm. He is the grandson of Nick Begich Sr., a Democrat who represented Alaska in the U.S. House from 1971 until his death in Oct. 1972 in a plane crash on the way from Anchorage to Juneau. The Democrats include former Senate candidate Al Gross and Mary Peltola. Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will face off against Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate, after she voted to convict the former president over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Polls have showed his pick in the race, Kelly Tshibaka, leading the primary pack. But Alaska’s new electoral system that features an all-party primary followed by a ranked-choice vote in the general election means the moderate senator is all but guaranteed to advance on Tuesday, even if she isn’t the top vote-getter. Murkowski only needs to finish in the top four on Tuesday to advance to a general election. And other Republicans are not convinced that Tshibaka will be able to oust Murkowski, who is well-known in the state and has a significant fundraising advantage. Murkowski raised $1.7 million in the second quarter of the year to Tshibaka’s $587,000. 

     In Wyoming, it will likely be a day of political reckoning for Rep. Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Trump's chosen candidate, Harriet Hageman, is considerably ahead of Cheney in the polls but it’s unclear how many Democrats will cross over and vote for Cheney. A survey released by the University of Wyoming’s Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center on Thursday showed 57% of the state’s residents identified as likely voters in the primary backing Hageman, compared to 28% supporting Cheney.

— More Americans hold negative views of both major parties, a new Pew Research Center poll finds that, and a record high in the survey's history. Over a quarter of respondents (27%) say they view both the Republican and Democratic parties unfavorably. That's up from just 6% who disliked both parties in 1994, and up from 18% in 2018.

 

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Iran nuclear talks. The European Union is asking Iran and other countries involved in the Iran nuclear talks to respond by Aug. 15 to its recently proposed draft text to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Iran will likely miss the deadline, but the new draft text proposes a concession to Iran that could result in the International Atomic Energy Agency ending its probe into nuclear material found at three undeclared nuclear sites, one of Tehran's key demands.

— Polio is circulating in NYC. New York City health officials said that the virus was detected in the city’s sewage system, which implies that it’s circulating in the local area. They urged people who aren’t yet vaccinated against the virus — which can cause permanent paralysis of the limbs and in some cases, death — to get their shots. The discovery of polio in NYC comes after the first identified polio case in the U.S. in years: an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County, N.Y., last month.

— Salman Rushdie, the Booker-prizewinning novelist, was stabbed several times when he was about to deliver a lecture in Chautauqua, in upstate New York. Salman was airlifted to a hospital. Rushdie remains in critical condition but is talking and showing signs of improvement two days after he was stabbed during a lecture in upstate New York, his family said. Rushdie was taken off a ventilator over the weekend and is breathing on his own, his son Zafar Rushdie said in a statement. The attacker has been taken into police custody. The Satanic Verses, the author’s fourth novel, inspired condemnation upon its release in 1988. Some Muslims judged it blasphemous, and Iran called for his death.

— Russia for the first time expressed guarded optimism about talks with the U.S. on a prisoner exchange involving WNBA star Brittney Griner and another jailed American. “‘Quiet diplomacy’ is continuing, and it should bear fruit, if of course, Washington strictly follows it without slipping into propaganda,” Alexander Darchiyev, head of the North American department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with the state Tass news service published on Saturday.


 

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