Inflation is Soaring but Biden Official Says Data Does Not ‘Reflect Today’s Reality’

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Report coming on impact of surging fertilizer prices
 


In Today’s Digital Newspaper


Market Focus:
• U.S. inflation hit a 39-year high in November
• November consumer prices rose 0.8%; up 6.8% from year earlier
• Biden spin: November inflation data will not ‘reflect today’s reality’
• Yellen in memo last night urged lawmakers not to worry too much about inflation data
• Stalled oil prices prompt some to dial down bets on rate of inflation ahead
WSJ: Port congestion easing, deliveries accelerating, shipping prices coming back down
WSJ: Driver and supply shortages continue 

• Amtrak won’t be able to operate all passenger trains after vaccine mandate begins
• Starbucks baristas in Buffalo, N.Y., voted to form the labor union
• U.S. household net worth climbed to fresh record in third quarter
• U.S. crude prices are down 16% from their late October high
• Lumber prices spike above $1,000 for the first time since mid-June
• Russian wheat export tax rises again
• Watch is on for Brazil weather
• Ag trade update

Modest rebound in wheat overnight
• China aggressively buying feed grains
• Report coming on surging fertilizer prices
• China must walk economic tightrope
• Russian wheat export tax rises again
• Cash cattle trade steady/weaker
• Cash hog index firms, pork cutout drops

Policy Focus:
• Senate to vote on debt limit next week, followed by House
• Update on BBB: Talks galore
• Report coming on impact of surging fertilizer prices 

Personnel:
• CFTC Commissioner Stump will not seek another term
• Senate Ag Committee vote on USDA nominees postponed 

China Update:
• Chinese leaders trying to reverse sharp growth slowdown
• China’s currency, the yuan, has soared to multiyear highs against the dollar
• China sets economic plan for 2022
• China aggressively buying feed grains
• France will not join the partial boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics
• Beijing says it has ruled out a bailout for Evergrande 

Trade Policy:
• Argentina tempers some beef export restrictions
• USTR Tai: No U.S./U.K. trade talks yet 

Energy & Climate Change:
• EPA outlines hearing on RFS proposals
• Biden executive order on zero emission vehicles for U.S. gov’t still faces hurdles

Livestock, Food & Beverage Industry Update:
• Tyson Foods to spend $1.3 billion on automation next three years

Coronavirus Update:
• Covid-19 hospitalizations in U.S. increased 40% vs month ago

Politics & Elections:
• Federal appeals court denies Trump’s effort to block his White House records release
• Wasserman: Preliminary Virginia map puts Spanberger in a bind
• NYC adopts measure allowing noncitizens to vote for mayor.

Other Items of Note:
• Cotton AWP eases, remains above 90 cents
• At least 650 people died attempting to cross the U.S./Mexico border this year
• Biden underscored U.S. support for Ukraine in its standoff with Russian
• U.K. court permits Assange extradition to U.S.


MARKET FOCUS


Equities today: Global stock markets were mostly weaker in overnight trading. The U.S. Dow and Nasdaq opened up over 100 points higher. Asian equities finished lower with a focus on US inflation data due out this morning. The Nikkei was down 287.70 points, 1.00% at 28,437.77. The Hang Seng Index shed 259.14 points, 1.07%, at 23,995.72. European equities were mostly lower in early trading ahead of U.S. CPI update. The Stoxx 600 was down 0.2% with most regional markets seeing losses of 0.1% to 0.4%. However, German and British shares were little changed.

     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow ended down 0.06 point, 0.00%, at 35,754.69. The Nasdaq fell 269.62 points, 1.71%, at 15,517.37. The S&P 500 declined 33.767 points, 0.72%, at 4,667.45. (The Nasdaq Composite has moved 100 points or more — in either direction — for nine consecutive trading days. It is the longest stretch of 100-point daily moves since the 15 trading days ending March 20, 2020.)

On tap today:

     • U.S. consumer-price index for November is expected to increase 0.7% from one month earlier and 6.7% from one year earlier. Excluding food and energy, the CPI is forecast to rise 0.5% and 4.9%. (8:30 a.m. ET) UPDATE: U.S. inflation reached a nearly four-decade high in November, as strong consumer demand collided with pandemic-related supply constraints. The Labor Department said the consumer-price index — which measures what consumers pay for goods and services — rose 6.8% in November from the same month a year ago. That was the fastest pace since 1982 and the sixth straight month in which inflation topped 5%. The core price index, which excludes the often-volatile categories of food and energy, climbed 4.9% in November from a year earlier. That was a sharper increase than October’s 4.6% rise, and the highest rate since 1991.
      Inflation 40
     Impact: The data will be the last major release for policy makers to digest before next week’s Fed meeting. The worsening price environment is likely to prompt FOMC officials to accelerate stimulus withdrawal or deliver swifter policy tightening. It also signals a big pivot for the central bank, which until now had been more worried about the "maximum employment" side of its dual mandate, compared to "stable prices." Current market pricing is for the Fed to announce its first 25-basis point rate hike in May or June of 2022, while a high inflation reading could hasten the taper of its $120 billion monthly bond-buying program, possibly ending it in March.
     Paychecks and inflation. While paychecks are on track to rise another 5% this year, real wages — a way to measure what people can actually buy with their earnings — fell 2%. And companies aren’t necessarily planning to help employees cope: Google executives recently told workers that they won’t broadly adjust compensation to keep up with inflation, CNBC reports.
    Inflation and wages
     • University of Michigan consumer sentiment index is expected to rise to a preliminary reading of 68 in December from a final reading of 67.4 in November. (10 a.m. ET)
     • Baker Hughes rig count is out at 1 p.m. ET.
     • U.S. federal budget deficit is expected to widen to $195 billion in November from $145 billion one year earlier. (2 p.m. ET)
     • CFTC Commitments of Traders report, 3:30 p.m. ET

Biden administration tried to manage expectations ahead of today’s consumer prices report, cautioning that the November data won’t reflect the latest shifts. White House economic adviser Brian Deese said November’s inflation report won’t account for recent declines in the cost of energy and commodities, an effort by the administration to downplay data that is sure to show a surge in consumer prices. Deese said that the Consumer Price Index report to be released today is “backward looking” and won’t capture “recent price movements” in gasoline and natural gas prices, as well as declines in shipping costs and commodities. “These declines are delivering most importantly some benefit to consumers on a go-forward basis that won’t be reflected in that data,” Deese told reporters at the White House yesterday. His comments ahead of the report underscored concern within the administration that consumer costs are weighing heavily on the president’s approval rating and pose a significant political risk for Democrats in next year’s midterm elections.

     Inflation fade

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a memo last night urged lawmakers not to worry too much about the inflation data and the separate Congressional Budget Office scoring of Biden’s tax and spending bill, which is also set for a release today, Politico reports (link). In the memo, titled “Fiscal Responsibility and the Build Back Better Act,” Yellen said that because Biden has promised to pay for any prospective extension of programs under the current version of the tax and spending bill, “it is inappropriate to judge this legislation based on an assumption that future acts of Congress won’t be paid for.” Republicans have requested that specific CBO score as a means of producing an alternate, higher cost associated with the social spending plan, which would extend the enhanced child tax credit but only for a year, in addition to expanding health care coverage and combating climate change.

Port congestion is easing, deliveries are accelerating, and shipping prices are coming back down. But glitches continue as driver and supply shortages linger. Also, the Wall Street Journal reports (link) the line to unload cargo at Southern California’s port complex is moving further offshore. Maritime officials are spacing vessels waiting for berths at the logjammed ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach further apart, sending some boxships hundreds or even thousands of miles out in the Pacific to guard against hazards from crowding too close in rough winter weather. Moving part of the queue out of sight hasn’t trimmed the overall backlog, the WSJ notes. This week some 30 vessels were waiting within 40 miles of the port complex, with another 66 anchored further off or approaching at reduced speeds. The new system reduces crowding, which can be dangerous during high winds. It’s also aimed at reducing pollution. Ships burn less fuel when they slow down and moving vessels offshore limits exposure to coastal neighborhoods that have complained about emissions from ships and trucks.

Amtrak said it expects it won’t be able to operate all its scheduled passenger trains when its vaccine mandate goes into effect in January. Amtrak President Stephen Gardner said the mandate would exacerbate current staffing shortages, which are a result of workers leaving the company during the pandemic, funding uncertainty and limitations around hiring and training. The rail company reported that 94% of its employees have been fully vaccinated, which doesn’t include employees who are on leave or have an approved accommodation.

Starbucks baristas in Buffalo, N.Y., voted to form the first labor union at one of the coffee giant’s own U.S. cafes in its 50-year history, as workers across the country push companies for better pay and benefits in a tight labor market. The result is a blow to Starbucks, which spent months appealing to Buffalo-area baristas to vote down a labor body.

     Labor unions

U.S. household net worth climbed to a fresh record in the third quarter. Household net worth — the difference between assets and liabilities — ended the period at almost $145 trillion, up 1.7% from the prior quarter. Soaring prices for stocks, real estate and other assets have buoyed household balance sheets since markets suffered a sharp drop in the opening months of 2020. While the gains have not been evenly distributed, the overall wealth effect is expected to boost the economy. Economists at Evercore ISI estimate rising consumer net worth this year will lift gross domestic product by about 2% year over year in two quarters time.

      Net Worth

Market perspectives:

     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index was slightly higher ahead of U.S. economic data, with weakness noted in the euro and British pound against the greenback. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was higher, trading around 1.51% with a higher tone in global government bond yields. Gold and silver futures were weaker ahead of the US inflation update, with gold around $1,774 per troy ounce and silver around $21.90 per troy ounce.

     • Crude oil futures were higher ahead of U.S. trading, with U.S. crude around $71.75 per barrel and Brent around $75.20 per barrel. Futures were little changed in Asian action after losses Thursday, as U.S. crude was up seven cents at $71.01 per barrel and Brent was up eight cents at $74.50 per barrel.

     • U.S. crude prices are down 16% from their late October high at about $71 a barrel, even after recovering some lost ground this week. Drivers are feeling the benefit: Average national gasoline prices have fallen to $3.34 a gallon from $3.42 a month ago, according to AAA. Heating bills could get some respite, too, after mild weather sent natural-gas prices down by one-third this quarter.

     • Lumber prices spike above $1,000 for the first time since mid-June. The hot housing market is driving renewed demand after a summer lull — and the commodity is up 127% from its recent low.

     • Russian wheat export tax rises again. The sliding tax on Russian wheat exports will rise to $91.00 per metric ton for Dec. 15-21, up from the current $84.90 rate. The wheat export tax has surged $62.90 (224%) from the initial level of $28.10 at the beginning of June when Russia’s government launched its formula-based duty.

     • Watch is on for Brazil weather. The South American weather remains the same.  A building ridge could reduce moisture and bring higher temps. U.S. corn futures have a seasonal trend of steady to higher into 2022. Some analysts note a bullish event is needed to exceed the $6 resistance area… and that could be weather in Brazil.

     • Ag demand: Japan purchased 260,312 MT of wheat in its weekly tender, including 160,802 MT from the U.S. and 99,510 MT from Japan. South Korea purchased 60,000 MT of feed wheat, likely to be sourced from India. The Philippines passed on a tender to buy up to 300,000 MT of wheat and 125,000 MT of feed barley.

     • NWS weather: There is an Enhanced Risk of severe thunderstorms over parts of the Middle/Lower Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Valleys through Saturday morning... ...There will be heavy snow across the Upper Midwest... ...There is a Marginal Risk of excessive rainfall over parts of the Lower Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Valleys through Saturday morning.

        NWS

Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include:

     • Modest rebound in wheat overnight
     • China aggressively buying feed grains
     • Report coming on surging fertilizer prices
     • China must walk economic tightrope
     • Russian wheat export tax rises again
     • Cash cattle trade steady/weaker
     • Cash hog index firms, pork cutout drops


POLICY FOCUS


— Senate to vote on debt limit next week, followed by House. The Senate cleared away the last major hurdle to raising the debt ceiling, approving legislation that virtually guarantees that Congress will be able to move next week to steer the government away from a first-ever federal default. Some 14 Republicans joined every Democrat to effectively end their party’s monthslong blockade of debt-limit legislation, allowing the bill to advance in the 50-50 Senate. The legislation later passed by a similar margin, 59 to 35, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats for final passage. The measure does not actually raise the debt limit. Instead, it makes a one-time tweak to the Senate’s rules, allowing Democrats in the narrowly divided chamber to lift the borrowing cap without the risk of a Republican filibuster. The House and the Senate will complete the process next week, raising the debt ceiling by trillions of dollars, in a move that could defuse the conflict into late next year. Still to come is a disclosure of the actual dollar amount for the new cap on Treasury’s borrowing, which is expected to cover Washington’s expenses through the 2022 midterm elections that will determine control of Congress.

— Update on BBB: Talks galore. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) met separately with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). He also conferred with Finance Committee Democrats, and then talked with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) regarding a potential deal on the state and local tax deduction (SALT), a key issue.

     Senate Finance Committee hopes to release its portion of BBB today. And the Senate parliamentarian continues to review the legislation for Byrd Rule-related issues, notably immigration language.

     Senate Republicans will release a CBO analysis of the BBB today that assumes none of the programs ever expire.

— Report coming on impact of surging fertilizer prices. At least one state commodity group and one lawmaker have asked Texas A&M University economists to issue a report on the impact of rising fertilizer prices on the U.S. ag sector. The report may be used to urge Congress to come up with a related payment program to cushion the impact on some crops. Some sources say the gov’t could mandate railroads to prioritize shipment of fertilizer versus other products like coal. We talked with one of the economists involved with the report and was told it would be completed “very soon.”

     Some other issues regarding fertilizer prices and the ag sector:

  • Corn prices historically correlate to fertilizer prices which means some of the impact on corn (and some other crops) has been tempered with the runup in commodity prices.
  • Rice growers have not seen the price runup experienced by many other commodities and are feeling more impact from surging fertilizer prices.
  • California’s ag sector is one of the states hit hardest by input price surges. Coupled with water issues, California is seeing Mexico cut into the margin of some key California ag export markets.
  • Some large corn acreage producers inform they are holding off their corn/soybean planting decision until early next year to see if fertilizer prices come down (most analysts see fertilizer values holding firm into 2022). But this could cause a fertilizer delivery glitch if many producers hold off.

     Comments: It will be interesting to see if the coming fertilizer price impact report will discuss how U.S. regulations and other policy issues forced the closure of many U.S. fertilizer plants in the 1980s.


PERSONNEL


— CFTC Commissioner Stump will not seek another term. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Dawn Stump Thursday (Dec. 9) announced she will not seek another term on the futures regulator when her term expires in April 2022. “Like the markets we oversee, the composition of the Commission is, by design, constantly evolving to gain the benefit of fresh perspectives,” Stump said in announcing her coming exit. President Donald Trump named Stump to the CFTC in 2017. 

— Senate Agriculture Committee vote on USDA nominees postponed. The Senate Agriculture Committee postponed a business meeting Thursday (Dec. 9) to vote on the nominations of Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young to be USDA undersecretary for research, education, and economics and Margo Schlanger to be a USDA assistant secretary. No reason was given for the postponement of the session that been announced Wednesday.


CHINA UPDATE


— Chinese leaders are trying to reverse a sharp growth slowdown without abandoning policies that triggered much of the weakness to begin with — a tricky task that could test Beijing’s ability to engineer a soft landing for the world’s No. 2 economy, the Wall Street Journal reports (link). In recent weeks, China has unveiled several policy-easing measures to prevent a downward spiral in the housing market and rekindle overall growth, which slowed significantly in the third quarter. The latest steps include making mortgages more easily obtainable and an unexpected cut this week in the amount of cash banks are required to hold, which could lower financing costs for businesses. Economists expect more in the weeks ahead. The dilemma: Officials are also committed to policies imposed during the past year, backed by leader Xi Jinping, to achieve longer-term goals such as reducing debt and purging speculative behavior, especially in the property sector.

     Stair step

— China’s currency, the yuan, has soared to multiyear highs against the dollar and other major currencies, reflecting strong demand for China’s exports and its financial assets, and prompting some pushback from the country’s central bank. The Chinese currency has soared more than 8% in 2021, according to an index that tracks the yuan's performance against 24 other currencies. Based on that gauge, it's just 0.3% short of its previous record high set in November 2015. The main reason for the yuan's surge is the amount of money flowing into China, largely thanks to surging exports, said Larry Hu, head of China economics at Macquarie Group. Another reason for the yuan's rally, according to analysts, is international enthusiasm for Chinese bonds as investors chase higher returns.

     Yuan buy

     Yuan dollar

— China sets economic plan for 2022. China will focus on stabilizing its economy and keep growth within a reasonable range in 2022, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday following the country’s annual economic planning session. China will continue to implement a prudent monetary policy and implement a proactive fiscal policy, according to a statement issued after the annual Central Economic Work Conference, though targets for GDP, inflation and other key economic barometers were not specified. China will implement new tax and fee cuts and appropriately front-load infrastructure investment next year, the report said. “We must see that China's economic development is facing the triple pressure of shrinking demand, supply shock and weakening expectations,” Xinhua reported. As for China’s housing market, Xinhua said the conference was taking the stance that “housing is for living in, not for speculation,’ the country would seek to establish new modes of development, increase home renting and “promote the construction of government-subsidized housing projects.” The country will also pursue efforts meet the “reasonable demand of home buyers and adopt city-specific policies to boost the virtuous cycle and healthy development of the sector,” Xinhua said.    

— China aggressively buying feed grains. Chinese buyers have been making large purchases of French wheat and barley along with Ukrainian corn and barley over the past week. Trade sources told Reuters Chinese importers secured at least several hundred thousand metric tons of grain from the two countries, taking advantage of a pause in surging prices to cover some of their feed grain needs. Chinese buyers also reportedly made major purchases of Australian feed wheat that again represented at least several hundred thousand metric tons.

— France will not join the partial boycott that America, Australia, Britain and Canada are calling against the Beijing Winter Olympics in protest at China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority and of Peng Shuai, a tennis star. President Emmanuel Macron complained that the Anglophone countries’ merely withholding diplomatic representation — while their athletes compete — is not an effective way to alter China’s objectionable policies.

— Beijing says it has ruled out a bailout for Evergrande. Statements from Chinese regulators were meant to suggest that they would not rescue the embattled real estate developer from default but would aim to limit the damage to China’s broader financial system. Still, Chinese stocks fell as investors awaited Evergrande’s restructuring plans. Link for more details via Bloomberg.


TRADE POLICY


— Argentina tempers some beef export restrictions. Argentina will adjust its restrictions on beef exports, removing restrictions on exports to emerging markets and will let premium cuts of beef to be exported to Europe, the U.S. and other countries. There will still be restrictions on the export of most of the cuts consumed in Argentina, a bid to continue to temper inflation that is running at a 50% annual pace. This may slow a push from the Argentine cattle industry for heavier slaughter weights. Currently, animals have to be at least 300 kilograms (661 pounds) to be slaughtered. The industry wanted that to be increased every six months until it hit 400 kilograms, something the industry said would put 600,000 tonnes more of beef on the market in two-and-one-half years.

— USTR Tai says no U.S./U.K. trade talks yet. The Biden administration is continuing its trade policy that seeks to address specific issues with individual trading partners or trading blocs, but it not pursuing any new free trade agreements. In remarks to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that there was still a “pause” in talks between the U.S. and U.K. on a free trade agreement, talks that were started under the Trump administration. She touted agreements with the European Union (EU) and U.K. on commercial aircraft and actions on digital service taxes (DSTs) and with EU on steel and aluminum tariffs deployed by the Trump administration as examples of trade gains. However, the administration has not yet come to terms on dealing with the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on the U.K. despite U.K. officials pushing the matter with several U.S. officials this week — including Tai. The Biden administration has made clear they are pursuing efforts with several countries/regions that do not constitute free trade deals which would have to be approved by Congress. Without Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), another item the Biden administration has not pursued, that would subject any free trade deal brough to Congress to be amended.


ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE


— EPA outlines hearing on RFS proposals. EPA has detailed its virtual hearing that will take place Jan. 4 (and Jan. 5 if needed) relative to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) proposed levels for 2020, 2021 and 2022 that were released Dec. 7. In the Dec. 10 Federal Register notice (link), EPA said that it will also accept comments on the remand of the 2016 rulemaking, the extension of attest engagement reporting deadlines for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 compliance years and on several regulatory changes to the RFS program. Those presenting will be limited to three minutes and EPA may ask questions about the testimony but will not respond to questions. Those wishing to present or attend need to register by Dec. 20.

— Biden executive order on zero emission vehicles for U.S. gov’t still faces hurdles. President Joe Biden issued an executive order this week that aims to make the federal gov’t carbon neutral by 2050 by purchasing only U.S.-made electric vehicles (EVs), starting with passenger cards starting in 2027 and other vehicles by 2035. The order could have broad impacts as annual federal purchases amount to over $650 million, though it could be scaled back or reversed by a future administration.

     But there are headwinds to the effort as Bloomberg reports there are currently few options for agencies like the Department of Interior which uses medium-duty trucks to haul equipment in remote areas where there are few charging stations. Data indicate that EVs accounted for just over 1% of purchases by the federal gov’t in FY 2021.


LIVESTOCK, FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY


— Tyson Foods to spend $1.3 billion on automation the next three years. Tyson Foods aims to spend more than $1.3 billion over the next three years, including $500 million in its 2022 fiscal year, on automation in its processing plants as the industry struggles with finding enough workers to perform various jobs in the plants. The automation push will increase output and cut labor costs and produce cumulative savings of more than $4560 million by their fiscal year 2024, according to CEO Donnie King in a webinar for investors. That includes using machines versus humans to debone chicken, he noted. "Automation will help us increase volumes, improve reliability and reduce cost over the mid- to long term," King said. "We plan to use automation to reduce the number of hard-to-fill roles." Those who are replaced by automation will be moved into other roles, he noted, adding, “We have front-line roles, many of which are harder to fill.” The firm also said it plans to open 12 new plants over the next two years that will raise its overall production capacity by about 1.3 billion pounds.


CORONAVIRUS UPDATE


Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are at 268,663,978 with 5,289.900 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. case count is at 49,664,506 with 794,648 deaths. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center said that there have been 477,433,765 doses administered, 200,717,387 have been fully vaccinated, or 61.14% of the U.S. population.

— Covid-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. have increased 40% compared to a month ago. In some places it’s even worse, like Michigan, where hospitalizations jumped 88% in the past month. Meanwhile, about 50 million people —26.9% of fully vaccinated adults — have received an additional vaccine dose.

     Hospital

— USDA vaccination rate slowly rises. Seven of every eight USDA employees are partially or fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and there are few holdouts against President Biden's order to get vaccinated or seek a waiver, according to the White House. Just more than 2,000 of the USDA's 92,000 employees have not responded to the presidential directive, according to White House data. USDA’s vaccination rate rose to 88.1%, an increase of 2 percentage points, since the Nov. 22 deadline for employees to receive at least one dose of vaccine or to request a medical or religious exemption. OMB put USDA’s compliance rate at 97.8%, meaning that 2.2% of its employees, or slightly more than 2,000 staffers, were not vaccinated or had not requested a waiver. In late November, the compliance rate was 95.6%. Some 9.7% of USDA employees have requested or received a waiver. Employees granted a waiver are required to follow USDA protocols on wearing masks, social distancing and testing for Covid-19.


POLITICS & ELECTIONS


— A federal appeals court has denied former President Donald Trump’s effort to block his White House records from being released to the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot. Trump will likely now take the issue to the Supreme Court.

— Wasserman: Preliminary Virginia map puts Spanberger in a bind. According to David Wasserman, House editor of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, a new Virginia congressional map released by court-appointed special masters on Wednesday “isn't bad for Democrats overall: it creates a new safe Democratic seat in Northern Virginia at the expense of a competitive one. But on an individual level, it's bad news for Virginia's trio of Democratic women: it obliterates Rep. Abigail Spanberger's suburban Richmond 7th CD and slightly weakens Reps. Elaine Luria (VA-02) and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) too.”

— NYC adopts measure allowing noncitizens to vote for mayor. New York City approved a measure to allow noncitizen immigrants to vote for mayor and other municipal offices. The city council approved the measure extending voting eligibility to New York City residents who are not U.S. citizens with a 33 to 14 vote. The measure could affect approximately 1 million adult noncitizens living in New York City, who will need to prove that they have lived in the city for 30 days or longer — the same time required for citizens — and that they have a work permit to register. U.S. citizenship will still be required for voting in state and federal elections. Additionally, undocumented immigrants will remain barred from voting in any election.


OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE     


— Cotton AWP eases, remains above 90 cents. The Adjusted World Price (AWP) for cotton moved down to 93.55 cents per pound, effective today (Dec. 10), a second weekly decline that still means the AWP has been at 90 cents per pound or more for 10 straight weeks, including four weeks above $1 per pound. Meanwhile, USDA said that Special Import Quota #8 would be established Dec. 16 allowing the import of 43,330 bales of Upland Cotton, applying to cotton purchased not later than March 15 and entered into the U.S. not later than June 13.

— At least 650 people died attempting to cross the U.S./Mexico border this year, according to data from the International Organization for Migration. That’s the highest number since the agency began recording such data in 2014. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has previously said most migrant border deaths are related to heat exposure.

— Biden underscored U.S. support for Ukraine in its standoff with Russian during a call with the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, yesterday, the White House press secretary said. Biden spoke with Zelenskiy and NATO allies in eastern Europe in separate calls yesterday afternoon, after his two-hour virtual meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. Biden was set to “discuss his deep concerns with Russia’s buildup on Ukraine’s borders” with Zelenskiy, his press secretary Jen Psaki said.

— U.K. court permits Assange extradition to U.S. A British appellate court opened the door Friday for Julian Assange to be extradited to the U.S. by overturning a lower court ruling that found the WikiLeaks founder's mental health was too fragile to withstand the American criminal justice system, the Associated Press reports (link). The High Court in London ruled that U.S. assurances were enough to guarantee Assange would be treated humanely and directed a lower court judge to send the extradition request to the home secretary for review. The home secretary, who oversees law enforcement in the U.K., will make the final decision on whether to extradite Assange.


 

 

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