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Drought, D&D, farmer suicides, child care: Your weekly fix of nonpolitical political stories

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Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first American president to be inaugurated on Jan. 20 rather than March 4.

Your weekly fix of nonpolitical political stories

Texas trying to take on farmer suicide. Vermont struggling with child care. A fight over Dungeons & Dragons. And an Arizona town cut off from drinking water. These are your weekly nonpolitical yet political stories.

If you’re new here: The Daily 202 generally focuses on national politics and foreign policy. But as passionate believers in local news, and in redefining “politics” as something that hits closer to home than Beltway “Senator X Hates Senator Y” stories, we try to bring you a weekly mix of pieces with significant local, national or international import.

Please keep sending your links to news coverage of political stories that are getting overlooked. They don’t have to be from this week! The submission link is right under this column. Make sure to say whether I can use your first name, last initial and location. Anonymous is okay, too.

Texas takes on farmer suicide

If you don’t periodically pick up the Texas Tribune, fix that. Earlier this month, reporter Jayme Lozano wrote a detailed, moving piece about the Texas Department of Agriculture seeking $500,000 per year to maintain a toll free mental health and suicide prevention helpline.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that over the past two decades “suicide rates have increased 46% in rural America, compared to a 27.3% increase in metro areas. And rural residents go to the emergency room 1.5 times more to be treated for self-harm incidents,” Lozano reported.

“For farmers, the rate is higher — 3.5 times more than the general population, according to the National Rural Health Association.”

“Advocates suggest because farmers face multiple economic challenges that are out of their hands and are reluctant to share their problems, they are less likely to seek help. When they do, there can be very few options in reach because affordable care is limited in rural communities.”

The politics: This is government trying to tackle a quantifiable social ill.

Vermont’s child care struggle

Reader Amy R. in Kensington, Md., flagged a piece about how child care costs are going up even as inflation overall seems to be easing. It dovetails nicely with a piece I had found over at Seven Days Vermont about how my home state is struggling with providing accessible child care.

Reporter Alison Novak chronicles “a darker reality that is felt widely across Vermont’s childcare sector: difficulty attracting and retaining teachers, high tuition costs, long waiting lists for few slots, and the gnawing feeling that the system is failing just about everyone. The childcare crisis reverberates far beyond the 677 regulated, full-time childcare programs in the state. It threatens Vermont’s ability to build its workforce at a time of labor shortages, attract young people to an aging state and provide women greater opportunities for financial independence.”

The politics: Look at the last sentence. If you somehow got through the pandemic without learning about the cascading effects of a lack of child care, you really have to read this piece. 

A battle over Dungeons & Dragons

I’m going to shock you: I played D&D. It’s the game that taught me the difference between intelligence and wisdom. Not that I have a surplus of either.

Reader Faith O. from San Diego brought to my attention a battle over the role-playing game’s licensing. The fight appears to be postponed, but it’s worth taking a look at what Faith calls the “decidedly political question” of “who has the right to make money from what and how.”

At CNBC, Sarah Whitten catches us up: Hasbro had “attempted to rewrite its two-decade-old open game license in order to boost revenue,” notably from fees affecting third-party producers.

“On Friday, though, the Rhode Island-based toy maker postponed its update of its licensing terms in order to address mounting concern from the D&D community, which largely viewed the proposed changes as overreaching and unfair to third-party content creators.”

“Hasbro said it still intends to create a new open game license, or OGL, but that it will not include a royalty structure or give itself access to intellectual property made by third-party content creators.”

An Arizona water skirmish

My colleague Joshua Partlow tells the tale of Rio Verde foothills, where 2,000 homes are struggling to get water after the nearby city of Scottsdale, one of their two main providers, cut them off.

I need you to read the whole thing. So that’s a “gift” link up there. To whet (not wet) your appetite:

“The survival — or at least the basic sustenance — of hundreds in a desert community amid the horse ranches and golf courses outside Phoenix now rests on a 54-year-old man with a plastic bucket of quarters.”

The politics: Politics is in part defined as the way a society organizes itself to allocate finite resources.

See an important political story that doesn’t quite fit traditional politics coverage? Flag it for us here.

McCarthy silent on whether House will pursue additional abortion measures

“House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) praised the abortion protesters in Washington on Friday for their annual March for Life and touted a new House Republican majority that he said is ‘standing up for life,’” John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro report.

“As evidence of making good on that promise, McCarthy cited two relatively modest measures already passed by the House but made no mention of whether the GOP-led chamber plans to move forward with a national ban on abortion or other restrictions sought by antiabortion activists.”

Va. Sen. Tim Kaine says he will seek another term

“Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) announced Friday he plans to seek a third term, sending a wave of relief through the Democratic Party amid worries that he would retire and create a potential opening for Republicans,” Meagan Flynn and Laura Vozzella report.

Defense chiefs try to resolve dispute over tanks for Ukraine

It did not appear, at least early in the meeting, that the tank debate roiling the coalition was resolved, but Germany’s new defense minister suggested the issue was inching forward. Germany has so far resisted mounting pressure to quickly supply Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, or at least clear the way for other countries, such as Poland, to deliver the German-made Leopards from their own stocks,” the Associated Press’s Lolita C. Baldor and Tara Copp report.

Google parent to lay off 12,000 workers as AI focus intensifies

Google’s parent Alphabet Inc is cutting about 12,000 jobs, or 6% of its workforce, it said in a staff memo Friday, as the technology sector reels from layoffs and companies stake their futures on artificial intelligence (AI),” Reuters’s Jeffrey Dastin reports.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

March for Life returns to D.C. with a question: Now what?

“For a half-century, the March for Life has been the closest thing there is to a global symbol of the antiabortion movement. With its mix of policy wonks in suits, garbed priests and monks, and activists blasting images of fetal remains on giant screens atop flatbed trucks, the event has been a carnival, bazaar, religious crusade and professional conference rolled in one. While its changes over the years reflected changes in the movement, its laser focus on overturning Roe gave it a center,” Michelle Boorstein, Justine McDaniel and Caroline Kitchener report.

Its next changes are unpredictable. What does it mean to be ‘pro-life’ now? Will different views about prioritizing public aid for pregnant people and for child care become divisive?”

Inside the urgent push to arm Ukraine for a spring offensive

“The United States — along with France, Germany and the United Kingdom — have committed to the transfer of armored vehicles, their most advanced air defenses, and large-scale troop training programs. These decisions reflect a new urgency, and a belief that if Ukrainian forces are not equipped to make significant new gains in the coming months, they may face an endless war of attrition or worse,” Karen DeYoung, Dan Lamothe and Loveday Morris report.

As panicked states and colleges ban TikTok, students roll their eyes

“Some tech experts argue that the sudden explosion of the bans, coupled with doubts over TikTok’s actual harm, is more a reflection of government groupthink — and an overreaction to an app they don’t entirely understand,” Drew Harwell reports.

“The rush by states, counties, and cities to get in on the semiconductor gold mine has resurfaced old fights about how best to create jobs and exacerbated local battles over housing, public schools, and business development. While revitalizing parts of the country that are struggling economically is an admirable goal, the frenzied pace of the chip war is resulting in billions of dollars getting funneled to corporations, while locals are left with vague promises and underfunded public institutions. In the scramble to seize the future of technology, governments are ignoring the problems of today — and leaving many of their constituents out to dry,” Insider’s Taylor Dorrell writes.

NCAA to Congress: Stop us before we NIL again

“The NCAA needs a reality check. This week the vanishingly relevant college athletics institution has once again asked Congress to help it stabilize the college sports system, but unless Hunter Biden is suiting up at linebacker for LSU next season, it’ll be hard to motivate the people in charge to fall in love with this cause,” Jane McManus writes for Deadspin.

Biden says he has ‘no regrets’ on disclosure of documents case

“President Biden said Thursday he had ‘no regrets’ on White House handling of the disclosure that classified documents were found at a private office in Washington and at his Delaware home, pledging cooperation with the Justice Department and expressing confidence that the matter would be resolved,” Matt Viser and Mariana Alfaro report.

  • I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there,” he said in his fullest comments since last week amid new developments including the appointment of a special counsel in the matter.

Biden border plan expands use of 1950s-era immigration parole powers

The Biden administration has greenlit an expanded use of a 1950s-era program to allow tens of thousands of migrants temporary residency in the United States for humanitarian or other urgent reasons, deepening its use of executive authority to shape border policy,” Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti report.

By the numbers: President Biden at the two-year mark

The story of the first half of Biden’s term, at least by the numbers, is a mixed bag. It includes a long-sought $1 trillion bill to shore up the nation’s bridges, roads and other infrastructure, but also the unwelcome milestone of historic inflation. There’s been a huge number of COVID-19 vaccinations, but nearly 680,000 people have died of the disease. Biden has visited three dozen states and spent all or part of nearly 200 days in his home state of Delaware,” the AP’s Aamer Madhani reports.

Your early Democratic primary state lineup, visualized

For the first time in 16 years, Democrats are poised to change which states vote early in the presidential primaries. The full Democratic National Committee is expected to approve President Biden’s proposed early states for 2024 at the start of February after a years-long rethink of how to prioritize racial and ethnic, geographic and income diversity, among other criteria,” Kati Perry, Nick Mourtoupalas and Dara Gold report.

What would you prioritize? Click through to build your personalized “first five” state combination for the primaries.

Democrat Ruben Gallego to challenge Kyrsten Sinema for Senate seat

“Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego on Monday plans to launch a challenge against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema,” CBS News’s Fin Gómez and Ed O’Keefe report.

Gallego, an outspoken liberal Democrat, has long been critical of Sinema, who dropped her party identification as a Democrat to be an independent just after the party won the Senate last year. The Arizona senator still aligns herself with the Senate Democratic caucus, though.”

Christian leaders start to break from Trump — with an eye on DeSantis

Many conservative Christian leaders who once rallied behind Trump and reveled in his policy victories now say they are interested in new standard-bearers for 2024, citing similar concerns as well as worries about Trump’s political weaknesses after November’s midterm elections in which he was blamed for elevating polarizing candidates who ended up losing. Some have raised alarms as would-be rivals make strong competing appeals to the religious right,” Hannah Knowles reports.

At 2 p.m., Biden will host mayors at the White House.

Biden will leave for Rehoboth Beach, Del., at 5:25 p.m. He will arrive around 6:20 p.m.

Something to keep in mind …

Thanks for reading. See you next week.


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