News you need to know.

A brief Tangle for today's national holiday.

I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, ad-free, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum — then “my take.” You can read Tangle for free or subscribe for Friday editions, and you can reach me anytime by replying to this email. If someone sent you this email, they’re asking you to sign up. You can do that by clicking here.


Today’s read: 5 minutes.

Hey everyone,

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday marking the birth of America’s most famous civil rights activist (you can read Martin Luther King III writing about his father in The New York Times today). For the last few weeks, I’ve been covertly working and writing from West Texas, in a quiet little border town that is one of my favorite places to escape to in the world. 

I’m actually down here seeing some cousins, doing some research on a book I hope to finish sometime before I die, and getting out of the cramped apartment I’ve been stuck inside in New York for the last 10 months. I decided this weekend that I was going to take advantage of the day off to do some horseback riding, drink some mezcal, sit around a fire and soak up the fresh air before making the three-day drive back to New York City later in the week. 

All that’s to say: today’s Tangle is going to be an abbreviated newsletter of quick hits — just nine things you need to know from the weekend. If you’re not yet a subscriber and missed Friday’s edition, we did a deep dive on socialism: the actual definition, the origins and history, the arguments for and against, and how it’s framed in U.S. politics today. If you want, you can subscribe to get access to that edition by clicking below:

Read about socialism

We’ll be back tomorrow with a standard Tangle edition about Joe Biden’s COVID-19 plan that he unveiled last week (unless some other big news breaks between now and then).

If you have a day off today, I hope you enjoy some downtime. If you don’t, I hope you enjoy a little extra break from politics and get a chance to take a breath.

All the best,

Isaac and the Tangle team


Quick hits. 

  1. The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline is planning a series of overhauls, including a transition to fully renewable energy, in an effort to win over President-elect Joe Biden’s support. Biden has previously said he plans to revoke the permit for the project. (Wall Street Journal, subscription)

  2. President-elect Joe Biden has released a detailed plan of executive orders to end President Trump’s restriction on immigration from Muslim-majority countries, to rejoin the Paris climate accords, and to mandate mask-wearing on federal property or during interstate travel. He will also extend a pause on student loan payments. (Associated Press, free

  3. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned to Moscow on Sunday and was promptly detained by Russian authorities. Navalny, a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin, was poisoned last summer during a flight to Moscow. The United Nations called on Navalny to be released immediately, but Russian authorities said they plan to hold him for at least 30 days. (Reuters, free)

  4. Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer have been silent on the contours or timing of a potential impeachment hearing as Washington D.C. prepares for Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. (Fox News, free)

  5. The FBI has been given the extraordinary task of screening nearly 25,000 U.S. troops for any “insider threats” during the inauguration. Plans to vet all of the troops coming to Washington D.C. reflect the heightened security concerns following discovery of the presence of active duty and former military personnel amongst the rioters who hit the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th. (Associated Press, free)

  6. President Trump is preparing to pardon or commute the sentences of more than 100 people in his final hours in office. The president met on Sunday with his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner to review the list. Close allies of the president have made a lucrative market out of the pardon process, collecting fees in exchange for opportunities to make a case for clemency. (The New York Times, subscription)

  7. The census bureau says President Trump’s effort to exclude undocumented immigrants from the counts used to apportion congressional seats “is officially dead.” (Politico, free)

  8. Joe Biden has chosen Elizabeth Warren ally Rohit Chopra to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren’s brainchild regulatory agency that works to protect Americans from practices like fraud and predatory payday lending. (Politico, free)

  9. Over the last week, there has been an average of 218,971 new coronavirus cases a day in the U.S., up three percent from the averages of the previous two weeks. More than 23.9 million Americans have now contracted the virus, and nearly 400,000 have died. (New York Times, free)

  10. BONUS: War reporter Luke Mogelson followed Trump supporters as they forced their way into the Capitol building on January 6th. This weekend, he released video footage that provides a front-row view of the moments things spun out of control. (The New Yorker, free)


Thank you.

In the last week, I’ve gotten more interesting, compelling and thoughtful feedback than at any time since I started writing this newsletter. I just wanted to thank you all for writing in. 

As always, my pledge to readers isn’t just to be honest and transparent, but it’s also to be accessible — right now I am going through and responding to nearly every email that comes in. During the week, my response times usually max out at around 48 hours — if it’s any longer that just means I’m underwater (or you emailed right before the weekend, or somehow I missed your email). If you haven’t heard back from me yet, hang tight. I’m getting there!

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