Tuesday Edition



Republicans are divided over the Senate’s bipartisan $118 billion emergency spending package, which contains border policy changes and foreign aid. (ABC News)

What does the bill do on immigration:

  • Provides $20 billion to beef up deportation processes, shelters, hiring 4,000+ officers/agents and fighting drug trafficking.

  • Tightens criteria for asylum seekers and keeps them detained or tracked until their case is reviewed.

  • Allows for the immediate return of illegal border crossers to Mexico when daily crossings exceed 4,000, with stricter measures at 5,000+.

  • Increases work and family visas by 250,000 and protects H-1B visa holders' children from deportation.

The more “MAGA” wing of the GOP, including Donald Trump and Speaker Mike Johnson, don’t like it. They say the threshold for shutting down the border is too high. Some of them oppose Ukraine aid or expansion of work permits.

Johnson’s joint statement yesterday with other top House Republicans: “Among its many flaws, the bill expands work authorizations for illegal aliens while failing to include critical asylum reforms. … The so-called ‘shutdown’ authority in the bill is anything but, riddled with loopholes that grant far too much discretionary authority to [Homeland Security Secretary] Alejandro Mayorkas … It is DEAD on arrival in the House. We encourage the U.S. Senate to reject it.”

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the lead negotiator on the bill, in a call with reporters: “[It] builds border wall, expands deportation flights, expands ICE officers, border patrol officers, detention beds, how it creates a faster process for deportations, clears up a lot of the long-term issues and loopholes that have existed in the asylum law and then gets us an emergency authority that stops the chaos right now on the border.”

What Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen wrote before the text of the Senate bill was released: “There’s no excuse for a weak deal. The border crisis could cost Democrats this year’s election and put Donald Trump in the White House — and Democrats know it. That means Republicans have all the leverage in these negotiations. And it explains why so many GOP skeptics are unwilling to go along with major concessions.”

Will this thing get passed? With House GOP leadership firmly against it and opposition growing among Senate Republicans, it’s not looking likely.

Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are coming under fire for their potential health risks, yet they remain highly profitable for food companies. (WSJ)

  • UPFs, which are generally thought of as foods containing ingredients not commonly found in home kitchens, make up 58% of diets in the U.S., with even higher consumption among children.

  • A drop in ultra-processed food consumption to 47% could lead to a 7% sales decrease for major food companies by 2027.

  • Companies like Kraft Heinz and Nestlé currently enjoy a 17% profit margin on UPFs, significantly higher than the 6% for basic food producers.

  • Using highly processed ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup (33% cheaper than sugar from 2000 to 2023) and cheaper vegetable oils like palm oil instead of animal fats, significantly cuts costs and boosts profits for food companies.

What does the research say? Evidence for the harmful effects of UPFs is controversial, but some studies have linked high consumption of ultra-processed foods to increased risks of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and depression. One NIH study found people eat about 500 more calories daily on an ultra-processed diet compared to a minimally processed diet, leading to an average weight gain of 2 pounds in two weeks.

America’s been getting fatter for decades. More than 40% of U.S. adults are obese, and severe obesity rates have been climbing as well. According to the CDC, obesity costs the U.S. healthcare system $173 billion each year.


Last week, Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek declared a 90-day state of emergency in downtown Portland to combat the fentanyl crisis, which has raged across the U.S. (CNN)

Oregon voters in 2020 approved Measure 110, which decriminalized possession of small quantities of all drugs:

  • Fentanyl overdoses in Multnomah County, which includes most of Portland, increased fivefold from 2018 to 2022, leading to 209 deaths in 2022.

  • Oregon's annual overdose deaths rose by 61% after Measure 110 took effect, compared to 13% nationwide.

  • Arrests for drug offenses in Oregon dropped from 11,000 in 2020 to 4,000 in 2022.

  • An Emerson College poll released in August found 56% of voters support a full repeal of Measure 110.

The politics: Republicans have accused Democrats of supporting lax drug and border policies that contributed to the overdose crisis. In recent election cycles, a number of GOP politicians have run ads criticizing Democrats on the drug issue.

A wave of Americans are fleeing crowded and high-priced cities for the suburbs. (National Review)

  • In 1950, nearly 24% of the U.S. population lived in core cities; this percentage has decreased to under 15% today.

  • Over the last decade, suburbs and exurbs have attracted 2 million more residents, while urban core areas lost 2.7 million people.

  • Since 2020, the trend towards suburban living has grown even stronger, with big cities losing another 2 million residents.

  • 92% of the U.S. population lives in areas with suburban density levels.

Chapman University Center for Demographics and Policy director Joel Kotkin: These trends horrify many academics, city planners, big-city developers, and environmentalists. … For many environmental advocates, reducing greenhouse gases means increasing urban density. … Suburbs are even blamed in media outlets such as the New York Times for the decline of cities, with the new enemy being suburban ‘NIMBYs’ [Not In My Backyard] who want to preserve their way of life.”

A growing body of research suggests open-office plans, which became all the rage in the early aughts, might not be all they’re cracked up to be. (Business Insider)

Business Insider reporter Maria Karducki: “While the open-office layouts favored by Silicon Valley in the 2000s initially promised freedom from the prison of the cube farm, they were largely the result of how work was changing. With the spread of the internet and cloud storage, people needed even less room for binders and filing cabinets full of documents, which freed up space for furniture that reflected companies' newfound emphasis on collaboration and creativity. Desks and office partitions were replaced by communal worktables, couches, and even amenities such as ping-pong and foosball tables — all calibrated to keep workers together in the office for as many uninterrupted hours as possible.”

The research:

  • A 2018 study by Harvard Business school researchers showed showed a 70% drop in face-to-face interaction when companies switched to open-office layouts.

  • A 2020 study found employees in cubicles performed 14% better than their open-office counterparts.

  • One 2022 survey, which echoed other polls, found 41% of workers said it was harder to concentrate in open-office layouts post-pandemic.

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