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The Weekly Arc: June 16, 2017

Welcome to Arc’s newsletter, sent out once per week, highlighting the best and most interesting stories from around the web. The Weekly Arc is curated by Berny Belvedere. Past editions can be accessed here.

Disgruntled Leftist Opens Fire At GOP Baseball Practice

A man angry with President Trump unleashed a barrage of gunfire Wednesday morning at Republican members of Congress as they held a baseball practice at a park in Alexandria, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others in a frenzied scene that included a long gun battle with police.

The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old unemployed home inspector from southern Illinois, died after the shootout. Two Capitol Police officers assigned to Scalise’s security detail were wounded.

Hodgkinson, who had been living in his van in Alexandria for the past few months, had posted anti-Trump rhetoric on his Facebook page and had written letters to his hometown newspaper blaming Republicans for what he considered an agenda favoring the wealthy.

The shooting, coming amid harsh political rancor and a divided country, reverberated through Washington and beyond, as Trump and members of Congress began talking about unity for the first time since the presidential election.

The targeted lawmakers were practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game, a charity competition against a team of Democrats.

Several congressmen at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria praised the officers who engaged Hodgkinson, including two Capitol Police officers who were injured. One lawmaker said the baseball team members would have been sitting ducks had the gunman been able to make it onto the field. — The Washington Post

Here’s an update on Congressman Scalise: the hospital tending to him is “encouraged” by his recent “improvements.” This is good news given that a doctor involved reported that Scalise showed up in “imminent risk of death.”

Jeff Sessions Testified In Front Of Congress

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified in front of his former colleagues in the Senate. The particular committee he appeared before is the Senate Intelligence Committee, which grilled him on Russia. Sessions refused to provide answers to some of the most important questions asked of him. The reality is that the Senate Intelligence Committee, in being a fact-finding operation with a political goal, is less important to persons of interest to the investigation than is Mueller’s probe, which is a legal inquiry.

The Weekly Standard’s Michael Warren has it right:

There may never be any hard evidence that any high-level Trump campaign or administration officials, wittingly or unwittingly, colluded with the Russians. Indeed, this is what both the Senate investigation and the special counsel investigation, headed by Robert Mueller, are supposed to suss out.

But the Trump administration has a problem as well, which is that there is evidence the president tried to impede or interfere in these investigations. And Sessions did little to dispel this evidence.

In his Tuesday testimony, Sessions was unable to provide any more context to this question: Did Trump fire Comey because of, or in response to, the FBI director’s refusal to “let go” of the investigation into Trump’s national security adviser, Mike Flynn? Because this question has gotten reasonably complicated.

Amazon To Buy Whole Foods

Amazon is buying upmarket grocer Whole Foods Market for $13.7bn, in the largest deal so far for Jeff Bezos as his ecommerce group seeks to exploit its online scale to challenge the likes of Walmart in food retailing.

Buying Whole Foods, the biggest premium grocer in the US, will radically accelerate Amazon’s ambitions in the $800bn US food and grocery sector, where the Seattle-based group has been trying to make inroads with grocery deliveries.

Having watched Amazon upend sectors from bookstores to cloud computing and film on its two-decade march to a $467bn market capitalisation, investors reacted by marking down the shares of bricks-and-mortar grocery rivals from the US to Europe.

Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, dropped as much as 5.4 per cent, shedding $12.9bn in market value. Wholesaler Costco lost $5.2bn, while discount store Target jettisoned $3.5bn. Kroger, one of the world’s biggest supermarket chains, had $3bn wiped from its market value.

Amazon will pay $42 a share for Texas-based Whole Foods in an all-cash deal that includes the group’s debt.

Whole Foods, which has been nicknamed “whole pay-cheque” for its high prices, has had same-store sales fall for almost two years. Its revenues rose 1.1 per cent to $3.7bn in its most recent quarter on profits down 30 per cent to $99m. …

Charlie O’Shea, analyst at Moody’s, said the deal was a “transformative transaction, not just for food retail, but for retail in general”.

The deal will give Amazon — a company that has built most of its businesses online — a much more significant bricks-and-mortar presence. The online retailer has been running its own grocery delivery programme, AmazonFresh, since 2007 and has been experimenting with grocery pick-up kiosks in Seattle. — Financial Times

What’s Up With The Senate’s Healthcare Secrecy?

As they draft legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Senate Republican leaders are aiming to transform large sections of the American health care system without a single hearing on their bill and without a formal, open drafting session.

That has created an air of distrust and concern — on and off Capitol Hill, with Democrats but also with Republicans.

“I’ve said from Day 1, and I’ll say it again,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee. “The process is better if you do it in public, and that people get buy-in along the way and understand what’s going on. Obviously, that’s not the route that is being taken.”

The secrecy surrounding the Senate measure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is remarkable — at least for a health care measure this consequential. …

At a Senate hearing on Thursday, Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, said that he also had not seen the Senate bill.

Senate Republican leaders say the bill is still a work in progress, and they have not said exactly how it will differ from the one approved last month in the House. President Trump raised the stakes when he told senators this week that the House version was “mean.”

The Senate bill is likely to phase out the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaidexpansion more slowly than the House version. It is also expected to include larger tax credits to help older Americans buy health insurance.

The legislation will be considered in the Senate under an expedited procedure that precludes a Democratic filibuster and allows passage by a simple majority. But, Republicans say, Democrats will still be able to offer numerous amendments once the bill is on the Senate floor. — The New York Times

A Golden Generation

The Golden State Warriors took care of the Cleveland Cavaliers rather easily in this year’s NBA Finals, getting revenge for last year’s embarrassing slip-up against their LeBron-led rivals from the East.

If the Warriors handle their contract negotiations deftly in the years to come, I see a very difficult road ahead for the rest of the league. The Warriors could win 2–4 titles in the next five years.

Remember, this team went 73–9 last year — the best regular season record of all time — and then they added Kevin Durant!

I not a Golden State fan, but I’m a fan of their brand of basketball. They are the heirs to the 2014 San Antonio Spurs, who displayed such a glorious form of basketball in that year’s Finals that I couldn’t help but (begrudgingly, of course, since I’m a Heat fan) admire it.

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This Week In History

June 16

  • 1723 — Adam Smith, the great classical economist, is born.
  • 1858 — Abraham Lincoln says “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” accepting the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination for the Senate.

June 18

June 20

  • 1895 — Caroline Willard Baldwin becomes the first female PhD from an American University, earned in Science at Cornell University.

June 21

  • 1527 — Niccolo Machiavelli (b. 1469), the Renaissance thinker whose name has come to be associated with political scheming in pursuit of power, passes away.
  • 1905 — Jean-Paul Sartre, the French intellectual and existentialist, is born.

June 22

  • 1941 — Germany, Italy, and Romania declare war on the Soviet Union.
  • 1962 — Clyde Drexler, one of the greatest basketball players ever, is born. You should watch this YouTube mix of his highlights.
  • 1987 — Fred Astaire (b. 1899), the consummate entertainer and legendary dancer, passes away. This scene is incredible.

Quote

No finite point has meaning without an infinite reference point.

— Jean-Paul Sartre

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