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Latest market-sensitive news and views - Sept. 12

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(Editor's note: This daily digest of the latest news and perspective is a must read for those in business who need to keep abreast of the newest developments in the marketplace, yet do not have time to scour all the media outlets. In less than 10 minutes you will be caught up and in the know on the current events impacting the marketplace.—Jim Wyckoff)

Google vs Justice Dept.: Biggest antitrust trial of modern digital era lands in court today

Today's Digital Newspaper


  • Small Business Optimism Index declines in August due to hiring challenges, inflation

  • Federal budget deficit hits $1.5 trillion in first 11 months of fiscal year 2023

  • Biden administration's rosy economic data conceals quiet downward revisions

  • Pet owners opt for more affordable food options as inflation takes its toll

  • Brent crude futures near highest point in ten months

  • IEA: Peak in fossil fuel demand by 2030 as renewable energy gains momentum

  • UAW moderates wage increase demands in car contract negotiations

  • September USDA crop reports out today

  • Argentine decision on currency boosts domestic soybean sales

  • Ag trade update

  • Category 3 Hurricane Lee threat to U.S. Northeast, Bermuda, and Canada

  • NWS weather outlook


  • Kim Jong Un visits Russia amid concerns over weapons exchange

  • Kremlin: Grain deal ‘on hold,' no progress yet

  • Putin says cases against Trump amount to political "persecution"


  • China mostly mum on Premier Li Qiang's meeting with Biden at G20 Summit

  • Beijing warns against Renminbi depreciation and releases positive lending data

  • Ongoing U.S. concerns re: China

  • China raises corn, soybean import forecasts

  • Chinese buyers betting Aussie cotton ban will end soon


  • WTO warns against growing trade fragmentation, calls for "re-globalization"

  • Slowdown in global trade hits export-dependent economies harder

  • Bipartisan ag-trade caucus aims to boost U.S. agricultural exports

  • Mexico thrives amid U.S./China trade tensions, becoming top trade partner


  • Alaska sues to challenge reinstatement of Tongass National Forest protections


  • FDA approves updated Covid-19 vaccines targeting EG.5 variant


  • Report: McCarthy to endorse Biden impeachment inquiry, possible vote


  • White House says more companies pledge to make AI safe

  • Billionaires accused of exploiting H-2A visa program for low-wage ag workers

  • Today's calendar of events


Equities today: Asian and European stock markets were mixed overnight. U.S. Dow opened around 70 points lower. In Asia, Japan +1%. Hong Kong -0.4%. China -0.2%. India +0.1%. In Europe, at midday, London +0.6%. Paris -0.1%. Frankfurt -0.3%.

U.S. equities yesterday: All three major indices registered gains to start the week. The Dow closed up 87.13 points, 0.25%, at 34,663.72. The Nasdaq rose 156.37 points, 1.14%, at 13,917.89. The S&P 500 was up 29.97 points, 0.67%, at 4,487,46.

Google is facing a significant legal challenge this week as it goes on civil trial in Washington, accused of violating U.S. antitrust laws. The Justice Department's case focuses on Google's search practices and whether it has engaged in illegal agreements to undermine its competitors, potentially harming consumers and advertisers. With previous attempts to regulate technology giants in Congress failing to progress, the government is now turning to antitrust law to address competition in the online space and impose restrictions on internet gatekeepers. The upcoming trial will assess the U.S. government's ability to build a successful monopoly case against Big Tech companies. Past efforts with IBM (dismissed in 1982) and Microsoft (settled in 2002) had mixed outcomes. In the event of a favorable government verdict in this case, it is unlikely that a breakup or divestitures will be mandated. Instead, remedies may involve measures such as ending Google's exclusive search agreements.

WestRock and Smurfit Kappa join forces to create $20 billion packaging company. WestRock, a major containerboard producer, and Europe's Smurfit Kappa have entered into a definitive agreement to form a packaging company valued at $20 billion. Following the announcement of the deal, WestRock's stock rose by 8% in pre-market trading, while Smurfit Kappa's London-listed shares experienced a 9% decline.

Quotes of note:

  • Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., has once again voiced his criticism of the higher capital requirements that U.S. regulators proposed for the banking industry in July. Speaking at a conference hosted by Barclays Plc, Dimon expressed his concern about requiring US banks to hold more capital than their international competitors, stating that it's a "huge negative" over time. He called for regulators to provide more information about the "cost-benefit to society" and questioned whether they had learned the right lessons from the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic Bank earlier this year.

    Dimon also mentioned that central banks have communicated that interest rates won't rise significantly, suggesting they should approach such regulatory decisions with more humility. He has consistently referred to the proposed measures as "hugely disappointing" and warned that they could make activities like mortgages and small-business lending more challenging for banks. In the broader interview, Dimon mentioned the health of US consumers and businesses is still relatively good, although he noted that excess savings are normalizing and highlighted ongoing geopolitical tensions as significant headwinds to the economy.

  • Germany: "There's a triple-whammy: higher energy prices, a global environment that's not conducive to goods trade and the China shock." — Sander Tordoir of the Centre for European Reform, on Germany's embattled economy.

  • 14: Number of hours it will take to ship goods along a new 870-mile rail-freight corridor between Mumbai and New Delhi, down from the 14 days it currently takes, amid moves to improve infrastructure in India.

  • "The odds of the Fed achieving a soft-landing look much better today than they did six months ago. However, the battle against inflation is not yet won, so the Fed must remain vigilant." — Simona Mocuta, American Bankers Association's committee chair and chief economist at State Street Global Advisors, on the ABA's latest economic forecast, which sees real economic growth continuing to slow and near-term recession risks shrinking.

  • Pucker up, Smucker. "Sometimes we want peanut butter, sometimes we want a banana, sometimes we want something sweet." — J.M. Smucker CEO Mark Smucker said on the company's $4.6 billion Twinkies deal, adding that he ate Hostess Ho Hos Monday morning.

Small Business Optimism Index declines in August due to hiring challenges and inflation concerns. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported that the Small Business Optimism Index fell to 91.3 in August, down from 91.9 in July, marking the first drop in four months. This continued a streak of twenty consecutive months below the 49-year average of 98. Small businesses cited challenges in hiring skilled workers in a tight labor market and concerns about inflation as their primary obstacles. Despite these challenges, there were indications within the index that the labor market may be improving, with 40% of businesses reporting difficulty filling open positions, the lowest figure in two-and-a-half years. These trends suggest ongoing deterioration in business conditions, even as expectations of the U.S. avoiding a recession have been on the rise.

Federal budget deficit hits $1.5 trillion in first 11 months of fiscal year 2023. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the federal budget deficit reached $1.5 trillion in the first 11 months of fiscal year (FY) 2023, which is $0.6 trillion more than the same period in the previous year. This increase is primarily attributed to a 10% drop in revenues and a 3% rise in outlays during this period. It's noted that certain payments totaling $63 billion were shifted from October 2022 into fiscal year 2022 due to the weekend start of fiscal year 2023. Excluding this shift, the deficit would have been $1.6 trillion.

The deficit for fiscal year 2023 is also affected by the administration's planned cancellation of outstanding student loans. The Supreme Court's decision in June 2023 prohibited the cancellation, leading to a $330 billion reduction in outlays in August 2023. The savings recorded in August are less than the cost recorded in September 2022 because a new income-driven repayment plan finalized in June 2023 increased the cost of outstanding student loans.

Big boost in yearly deficit. CBO projects that, excluding the effects of the changing plans for student loans, the deficit is on track to double from $1.0 trillion in 2022 to $2.0 trillion in 2023.

Of note:

  • The deficit for the fiscal year that ends this month is officially projected to be $1.7 trillion, or about $13,500 for every U.S. household.

  • Payments on federal debt are soaring as interest rates rise. CBO says interest payments have climbed $149 billion in the first 11 months of the fiscal year to $644 billion, up 30% from last year. Debt payments are getting close to spending on national defense of $692 billion.

  • A third of the current deficit is going to pay interest on money borrowed for previous spending blowouts.

Biden administration's rosy economic data conceals quiet downward revisions. The Biden administration has presented positive economic data, but some analysts say a closer look reveals consistent downward revisions, painting a less optimistic picture of the economy. Notably, the August jobs report indicated the addition of 187,000 jobs, but revisions to previous months reduced the net gain to just 77,000 jobs. Moreover, every monthly employment report this year has been revised downward, with the semiannual benchmark revisions showing an overestimation of jobs by over 300,000. In total, almost 700,000 jobs have been revised down this year, making up 30% of the initially estimated job growth. Other labor market indicators and economic data have followed a similar pattern, casting doubt on the overly positive government reports.

Of note: Jobs data are normally revised, and occasionally, several months in a row will be revised in the same direction, sometimes heavily. But this year so many of the statistics have consistently turned out to be worse than initially estimated.

Wait… there's more on this topic. The data to measure price changes – including the Federal Reserve's preferred personal consumption expenditures price index – is subject to big revisions. "For example, over the period from 2001-18 the differences between year-over-year core PCE inflation based on the initial release versus the final series were large. The gap ranged from -1 to 1.6 percentage point and 90% of the time was between -0.5 and 0.5 percentage point. Taken plainly, these gaps would suggest a plausible range for the current year-over-year core PCE inflation rate of as high as about 4.7% and as low as around 3.7%. Our results show the significant uncertainty surrounding the measurement of inflation in real time, which adds to the challenges faced by policymakers, analysts and the general public in analyzing inflation," the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Richard Audoly, Martín Almuzara, Richard Crump, Davide Melcangi and Roshie Xing write (link).

Pet owners opt for more affordable food options as inflation takes its toll. As inflation puts a strain on household budgets, pet owners are feeling the pinch and making adjustments in their spending habits, the Wall Street Journal reports (link). One area where these cutbacks are evident is discretionary pet products, including toys. Moreover, with the cost of pet food having risen by nearly 11% compared to the previous year, as reported in the July consumer price index, pet parents are making changes. They are shifting from pricier gourmet pet food brands to more budget-friendly options and opting for smaller pack sizes to save money.

Market perspectives:

— Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index was firmer, with the euro and British pound weaker against the greenback. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note was slightly weaker, trading just under 4.29%, with a narrowly mixed tone in global government bond yields. Crude oil futures moved higher, with U.S. crude around $88.10 per barrel and Brent around $91.30 per barrel. Gold and silver futures were registering losses ahead of US trading, with gold around $1,9335 per troy ounce and silver around $23.19 per troy ounce.

— Brent crude futures remained steady at over $90 per barrel, hovering near their highest point in ten months. Investors are eagerly anticipating monthly market reports from both OPEC and the U.S. EIA (see next item), which could provide valuable insights into the oil market. Additionally, traders are looking to forthcoming macroeconomic data to gauge the possibility of interest rate increases in the U.S. and Europe. Oil prices continue to receive support from extended production cuts by OPEC+ leaders Saudi Arabia and Russia. Furthermore, an improved economic outlook in the U.S. and China, the two largest consumers of oil globally, contributes to the market's positive sentiment. A decline in the U.S. dollar before the release of significant inflation data also boosts investor confidence and makes dollar-denominated commodities more appealing to international buyers.

— IEA predicts peak in fossil fuel demand by 2030 as renewable energy gains momentum. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecasted that coal, natural gas, and oil demand will likely peak before 2030 due to the ongoing shift towards renewable energy and increased adoption of electric vehicles. IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol declared that "we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era" and emphasized the need for governments to implement stronger and faster policies to support this transition. Key factors contributing to this trend include renewables surpassing gas in electricity generation, the rise of heat pumps, and Europe's accelerated shift away from gas following the Ukraine conflict.

— UAW moderates wage increase demands in car manufacturer contract negotiations. The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has reportedly reduced its wage increase demands during contract negotiations with the Big Three U.S. automakers, the Wall Street Journal reports. Previously seeking a 40% raise, the union is now requesting an increase in the mid-30% range. This development comes as the UAW faces a Thursday evening deadline for reaching provisional agreements, with the union threatening a strike if deals are not reached by then.

— 2,196,268: Container imports, in 20-foot equivalent units, into the U.S. in August, down 13.2% from last year but 0.4% ahead of July volumes and up 2.5% from August 2019, according to Descartes.

— September USDA crop reports out today. Analysts expect USDA to cut its corn and soybean crop estimates in the Crop Production Report at noon ET. The September crop estimates will include USDA's first objective yield (field) samples for corn and soybeans. NASS will also adjust acreage if needed. Based on FSA data, Pro Farmer expects an increase in corn acres and little change for soybeans. FSA data suggests NASS will cut cotton acreage and abandonment is also expected to rise. That could produce a cotton crop estimate well below the initial forecast in August. Given the expectations for smaller crop estimates, traders anticipate USDA will also cut its new-crop ending stocks forecasts.

— Argentine decision on currency boosts domestic soybean sales. The decision by the Argentine gov't to allow exporters in September to use 25% of their foreign income to restock on soybeans rather than converting it to Argentine pesos has boosted domestic soybean sales to nearly 1 million metric tons (MMT) over the past week, according to Reuters. The report said the sales of more than 950,000 metric tons far surprised the 240,000 metric tons sold the last week of August, according to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange. Domestic soybean prices have reached 155,000 pesos ($443) per metric ton in the wake of the new effort, up more than 25,000 pesos.

— Ag trade: South Korea purchased 40,000 MT of Canadian milling wheat and 55,000 MT of optional origin feed wheat. Japan is seeking 118,490 MT of milling wheat in its weekly tender.

— Category 3 Hurricane Lee poses growing threat to U.S. Northeast, Bermuda, and Canada. Hurricane Lee, currently a Category 3 storm in the Atlantic, is expected to intensify as it shifts northward. The extent of its impact on the U.S. Northeast, Bermuda, and Canada will be determined by its growth. Lee is forecasted to pass near Bermuda, bringing strong winds, rain, and high surf to the island later in the week. Additionally, it is likely to generate significant waves along the East Coast, leading to coastal erosion, hazardous surf, and life-threatening rip currents at beaches.


— Kim Jong Un visits Russia amid concerns over weapons exchange. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia, raising concerns over potential arms negotiations between the two nations. The U.S. has urged Pyongyang not to supply weapons for Russia's war in Ukraine, as it closely monitors the technology exchange between North Korea and Russia. North Korea is seeking advanced technology that could enhance its satellite and nuclear-powered submarine capabilities, potentially expanding its capabilities in areas it has not fully developed.

— Kremlin: Grain deal ‘on hold,' no progress yet. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Black Sea grain deal was on hold, and there had been no progress in restarting it, Russian state news agency TASS reported. Turkey and the United Nations have been trying to get Russia to restart the deal after Moscow ended the initiative in mid-July.

— Russian leader Vladimir Putin said the cases against Trump amount to political "persecution" and expose U.S. weakness. Putin said at the Eastern Economic Forum that the cases throw light on domestic tensions that make the U.S. weaker in its standoff with Russia, adding that he didn't expect any changes in relations between Russia and the U.S., regardless of who is president in 2024.


— USDA extends comment period on crop insurance prevented planting provisions. USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) decided to reopen the comment period for the prevented planting provisions under the crop insurance program. This move comes after the agency initially issued a request for information in May and conducted approximately 15 listening sessions on the topic. The comment period was initially set to end on Sept. 1 but has now been extended for an additional 30 days, allowing the public to provide input on various aspects of prevented planting provisions. Specific areas of focus include prevented coverage based on harvest prices for revenue protection insurance, the "1-in-4" requirement, 10% additional coverage, and prevented planting on contracted crops. Comments will be accepted until Oct. 12.

— EPA hosts webinars on updated WOTUS rule amidst legal uncertainty. EPA is conducting a series of webinars to discuss the updated Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which recently went into effect on Sep. 8. This rule modifies the previous WOTUS rule established by the Biden administration earlier this year. The webinars aim to provide information about the changes and their implications. Three sessions have been scheduled, but they have reached capacity for registration. However, EPA will make recordings of the webinars available on their website.

Of note: The updated WOTUS definition is expected to face legal challenges in the future. Farm groups have expressed concerns with issues left unaddressed in the revisions and the lack of a public comment option before finalizing the rule. Due to ongoing litigation, the underlying January 2023 rule is currently subject to injunction and prohibited from taking effect in 27 states, including: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

As for the updated rule, it removes all references to significant nexus, which was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court under Sackett. It strikes from the definition references to interstate wetlands. And it revises definitions of "adjacent" waters to mean "having a continuous surface connection," as opposed to the previous definition of "bordering, contiguous, or neighboring."

What the rule does not do, according to the American Soybean Assn. (ASA): While the revisions concentrate on some of the matters raised in the Sackett ruling, ASA says the agencies leave many issues that continue to make WOTUS challenging and unworkable for farmers unaddressed. For example, the agencies do not provide clarity on what "relatively permanent" waters are or address how the regulators would approach seasonal or ephemeral waters. This leaves great uncertainty as to whether a landowner can reasonably determine whether their property is subject to regulation, a significant concern raised by the court in Sackett.


— President Joe Biden tapped former Virginia Ag Secretary Basil Gooden to serve as the agency's next undersecretary for rural development. Gooden will fill the position formerly held by Xochitl Torres Small, whom Biden recently elevated to deputy secretary of Agriculture. Gooden, who became Virginia's first Black agriculture secretary in 2016, is currently director of state operations for rural development at USDA. The moves come after Jewel Bronaugh announced she was stepping down from her role as Vilsack's No. 2 in January.


— China is mostly mum on Premier Li Qiang's meeting with President Biden at G20 Summit. During the G20 Summit in India, President Joe Biden had a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, marking the highest-level face-to-face interaction between the two nations since Biden's meeting with Xi Jinping at the previous G20 Summit in Bali. This was also Li's first meeting with Biden. The foreign ministry released a short statement on the meeting, highlighting that Li had brief exchanges with various leaders, including Biden, during the summit. Li emphasized to Biden that China's development is an opportunity, not a challenge, for the United States. Biden mentioned topics discussed in the meeting, such as stability and ensuring access to change in the Southern Hemisphere. Both sides have been relatively tight-lipped about the meeting, suggesting there were no significant breakthroughs or expected deliverables. The question remains whether Li hinted at Xi's attendance at the November APEC summit in San Francisco, and more details are expected to emerge in the coming days.

— Beijing warns against Renminbi depreciation and releases positive lending data. China's central bank, the People's Bank of China, issued a strong warning against bets on the depreciation of the renminbi and released positive lending data ahead of schedule. The central bank stated that they have the capability to maintain the renminbi exchange rate at a reasonably stable level, causing the renminbi to rise by as much as 1% against the dollar. The move was seen as an effort to counteract mounting bets against the currency's dollar exchange rate, driven by disappointing economic data. State-run banks were reported to be actively buying renminbi in exchange for dollars.

Meanwhile, China released better-than-expected lending figures, with Chinese banks extending RMB 1.36 trillion ($186 billion) of new renminbi loans in August, surpassing market expectations and spurring buying activity in the markets.

— Ongoing U.S. concerns re: China. Marshall Miller, principal associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, said the U.S. could increase its emphasis on trade secret issues involving China, citing the formation of the Disruptive Technology Strike Force, a partnership between the Justice Department and Commerce Department that focuses on areas where technology is being illegally obtained by foreign adversaries.

— China raises corn, soybean import forecasts. China's ag ministry raised its 2022-23 corn import forecast by 500,000 MT to 18.5 MMT, though that would still be down 3.39 MMT (15.5%) from the previous year. The 2023 corn crop estimate was raised 2.6 MMT to 284.84 MMT. The ministry increased its 2022-23 soybean import forecast 4.66 MMT to 99.86 MMT, which would be up 8.26 MMT (9.0%) from last year. The 2023-24 soybean import forecast was raised 3.03 MMT to 97.25 MMT.

— Chinese buyers betting Aussie cotton ban will end soon. Buyers including a state-owned Cotton Group Corp are stockpiling Australian cotton in Chinese warehouses, betting that a three-year ban on imports will soon be lifted, Reuters reported. Chinese customs data shows that 43,364 MT of Australian cotton entered bonded warehouses in China in the first seven months of this year, more than double all of 2022. An additional 1.148 MMT cleared customs.


— WTO warns against growing trade fragmentation, calls for "re-globalization." The World Trade Organization (WTO) released its 2023 World Trade Report, warning of growing trade fragmentation and advocating for "re-globalization." The report highlights that trade relationships are fragmenting, away from decades of greater globalization, which poses a threat to economic growth and sustainability. Factors contributing to this trend include the Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions. The report challenges the view that globalization is a weakness, stating that international trade has shown remarkable resilience during the pandemic and other supply chain disruptions. The WTO calls for embracing "re-globalization" with less concentration and more diversified global supply chains to boost trade cooperation and lower trade costs.

"The WTO is not perfect — far from it," wrote WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. "But the case for strengthening the trading system is far stronger than the case for walking away from it… "The alternative to rules-based integration is power-based fragmentation and a world of greater uncertainty, increased socioeconomic exclusion and heightened environmental decline," she said.

Of note: The WTO estimates that the cost of splitting the world trade system into separate blocs would be about 5% of real income at the global level, with some developing economies withstanding double-digit losses.

— Slowdown in global trade hits export-dependent economies harder. A deceleration in global trade is affecting some of the world's largest economies differently, the Wall Street Journal reports. Economies that traditionally relied heavily on exports are experiencing slower growth compared to countries like the United States and India, which have leaned more on domestic demand for economic expansion.

Global goods trade saw a decline in the first quarter of the year compared to the previous quarter, extending a downturn that commenced last year and is expected to persist throughout this year, according to economists. This trade slowdown can be attributed to various factors, including rising interest rates and a rebound in business inventories as global goods shortages ease. However, it also signifies longer-term shifts in the global economic landscape.

Holger Schmieding of Berenberg Bank suggests that this trend signals a reduction in "global trade's global nature," with exchanges occurring more within regional blocs. This transformation could prompt changes in transportation networks, which have historically been instrumental in expanding global trade.

— Bipartisan ag-trade caucus aims to boost U.S. agricultural exports. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Reps. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), is working to establish a new agriculture trade caucus. The caucus aims to encourage the Biden administration to pursue additional trade deals and enhance U.S. agricultural exports as demand for American corn and other commodities decreases from countries like China. The caucus's launch date is yet to be determined.

Rep. Smith complained in a statement that the Biden administration's "lack of proactive engagement to increase market access and level the playing field" was causing the U.S. agricultural sector to fall behind its competitors. "Through a bipartisan commitment to work together on common sense trade policy, Congress can reassert its constitutional role over trade and speak with a unified voice on behalf of the Americans who raise, cultivate, and reap enough to feed and fuel the world," Smith said.

— Mexico thrives amid U.S./China trade tensions, attracting investment and becoming top trade partner. Mexico is experiencing significant economic gains because of the ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China. The country has emerged as a winner in this geopolitical standoff, attracting increased investment from prominent companies like Tesla. The United States, in its efforts to reduce its dependence on China, has redirected investment towards Mexico. This redirection of capital has resulted in a notable economic boom in Mexico.

July marked a historic moment when Mexico surpassed China as the U.S.' largest trade partner. This shift in trade dynamics is indicative of the growing importance of Mexico in North American trade, as it establishes itself as a reliable and strategic partner for the United States.


— Alaska sues to challenge reinstatement of Tongass National Forest protections. The state claims that these protections hinder its ability to develop renewable energy resources and will adversely affect its economy. The lawsuit specifically addresses USDA's decision to repeal the Trump administration's 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule and reinstate the 2001 Roadless Rule. The state argues that the agency's failure to update environmental analyses and consider economic impacts in Southeast Alaska constitutes a violation of various federal and state laws, including the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Inside Passage Electric Cooperative Inc. has also filed a lawsuit, stating that the reinstated rule prevents the construction of roads needed for serving isolated communities in Tongass.


FDA approves updated Covid-19 vaccines targeting EG.5 variant. FDA gave its approval for updated Covid-19 vaccines designed to target the EG.5 variant, currently the dominant strain in the U.S. Drug manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have reported the effectiveness of these new vaccines against the variant. Independent experts advising the CDC will now evaluate the safety and efficacy of these updated vaccines and provide recommendations for their use. Pending CDC approval, the vaccines could be distributed within days at select pharmacies and medical facilities.


Report: McCarthy to endorse Biden impeachment inquiry, setting up possible vote. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will endorse an impeachment inquiry into President Biden this week, a source familiar confirmed to The Hill, setting the scene for a formal vote in the chamber — even though it remains unclear that there is enough support to launch a formal investigation. 

Of note: House Republican leaders are skeptical they can even get the Defense bill to the floor at this point, Punchbowl News reports. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a McCarthy skeptic on the Rules Committee, told the news outlet Monday night that he believes the rule that would allow for debate and a vote on the Defense bill is bound to fail, possibly in the Rules Committee. Norman is one of three conservatives that McCarthy appointed to the panel this year.


— White House says more companies pledge to make AI safe. Eight businesses, including Nvidia, Palantir and Salesforce, said they would join Google and Microsoft in voluntarily abiding by standards for safety, security and trust. The news comes as prominent tech executives meet with lawmakers in Washington this week to discuss the fast-evolving technology.

— Billionaires, Including Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch, accused of exploiting H-2A visa program for low-wage agricultural workers. A recent investigation by Lever has shed light on the alleged exploitation of the H-2A visa program by billionaires, including Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch. While the H-2A program has traditionally been associated with helping family farms find temporary foreign labor, this report suggests that affluent individuals are using the program to hire low-wage workers for their extensive agricultural operations. This revelation comes amidst growing concerns about human trafficking cases connected to the H-2A program, adding another layer of complexity to the issue.

— Calendar of events today:

Tuesday, Sept. 12

  • Consumer Federation of America holds 46th annual Food Policy Conference, Washington.

  • CropLife America holds annual meeting, through Wednesday, Nashville.

  • International Fresh Produce Association holds its Washington Conference, through Friday, Washington.

  • SEC oversight. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on "Oversight of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission." SEC Commissioner Gary Gensler testifies.

  • Dietary guidelines. Health and Human Services Department holds a virtual meeting of the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee; runs through Wednesday.

  • Agriculture issues. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture holds their annual meeting in Wyoming, including remarks from FDA official Acting Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Donald Prater, sessions on conservation and sustainable futures, and meetings of several committees.

  • Climate research for farms of the future. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute virtual discussion on "Climate-Smart Research for the Farms of the Future."

  • Supply chain issues. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "America's Supply Chain Security: Understanding & Mitigating Threats."

  • China threat to financial stability. House (Select) Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party Committee field hearing on "Systemic Risk: The Chinese Communist Party's Threat to US Financial Stability."

  • Trade issues. Final day of the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America Government Affairs Conference with keynote remarks from Diane Sabatino, executive assistant commissioner in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Field Operations.

  • Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Middle East Institute virtual discussion on "Defense and Deterrence on NATO's Front Line: The Cases of Romania and Poland."

  • Post-9/11 threats. House Homeland Security Emergency Management and Technology Subcommittee field hearing on "Evolving Threats: Security and Safety in a Post-9/11 World."

  • Infrastructure and weather/disaster events. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) holds a discussion on "Making Our Infrastructure Future-Ready: Modern building standards to support resilient communities," focusing on preparations for flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes, and wind events.

  • War in Ukraine. The Wilson Center Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies virtual discussion on "How Does the Kremlin Man the War in Ukraine?"

  • Retail and customer landscape. The National Association for Business Economics holds a virtual discussion on "Reshaping the Retail and Customer Landscapes Through Location Intelligence."

  • Energy transition. The United States Energy Association virtual media briefing on "The Transformative Future for Utilities: Turbulent and Exciting."

  • Water issues. The Center for Strategic and International Studies Project on Prosperity and Development discussion on "Water: Access, Livelihoods, and Security."

  • Younger voters. The Brookings Institution virtual discussion on "How younger voters will affect the future of American politics."

  • Indo-Pacific issues. Georgetown University discussion on "Transforming the Indo-Pacific Order: The AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) Wager."

  • AI oversight. Senate Judiciary Privacy, Technology, and the Law Subcommittee hearing on "Oversight of AI: Legislating on Artificial Intelligence."

  • AI transparency. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security Subcommittee hearing on "The Need for Transparency in Artificial Intelligence."

  • Brazil and climate issues. The Business Council for International Understanding virtual discussion on Brazil's commitment to making climate change and the protection of nature a priority and the Brazilian Ministry of Environment and Climate Change's new initiatives and opportunities for collaboration with the private sector across industries including agriculture, information and communications technology and life sciences.

  • Homeland security issues. David Pekoske, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration; and Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, participate in a media availability to announce their partnership and combined efforts during National Preparedness Month, including a new Public Service Announcement.

  • Energy reports. OPEC monthly Oil Market Report | ICE Gasoil September futures expire | EIA monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook | API US inventory report.
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