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April 30, 2014

Senate Republicans on Wednesday filibustered a Democrat-sponsored bill that would have raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

By a 52-42 vote, the Senate failed to reach the 60-vote threshold necessary to cut off debate on the Minimum Wage Fairness Act. Every Republican save one, Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), voted against allowing the bill to proceed.

On the Democratic side, Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) voted "no," though only as a procedural tactic so he can bring the legislation up at a later time. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who is one of the most vulnerable Dems facing re-election this year, and who was expected to vote against the measure, missed the vote because of the deadly tornadoes in his home state.

Expect this vote to factor prominently into the midterm messaging war. Seven in ten Americans support hiking the minimum wage to $10.10, and now Democrats have a sharp attack line for their campaign pitch: We tried to do what 70 percent of Americans want to help the middle class, but an uncooperative minority in Congress stopped us. Jon Terbush

11:51 a.m. ET
Yasuyoshi Chiba/Getty Images

A new species of arapaima — a giant freshwater fish capable of breathing air with rudimentary lungs — has been found in the remote reaches of the Amazon River, and more distinct arapaima species may be discovered soon.

Capable of growing to 10 feet long and weighing upwards of 400 pounds, the heavily-armored fish lives in oxygen-poor waters and surfaces to breathe. The arapaima is difficult to catch and study and is also endangered, which is why species classification is so important: Only about 5,000 of the fish still live in the wild.

It is "hard to argue for conservation if you don't know it's there," explains Donald J. Stewart, a New York biology professor and National Geographic explorer whose team identified the new species. "The more of these we can recognize the more arguments we can make for getting the resources to protect them." Stewart expects "we'll have many more species before we're done" examining the arapaima's river climes. Bonnie Kristian

11:28 a.m. ET
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Ford Motor Company could be persuaded to halt outsourcing plans and keep manufacturing jobs here in the United States, executives indicated in interviews with Bloomberg and the Detroit Free Press on Friday. But if President-elect Donald Trump hopes to replicate his deal with Carrier, an air conditioning manufacturer that wanted to move some 2,100 jobs from Indiana to Mexico, he'll have to pony to Ford's demands.

"We will be very clear in the things we'd like to see," said Mark Fields, Ford's chief executive officer, to Bloomberg. High on his list are tax reform, free trade rules, and a relaxation of fuel economy regulations that have automakers producing more electric vehicles than they can sell. Fields argued Ford's position is not identical to Carrier's, as the automaker is repurposing its factories to build other models when it shifts some models' production abroad.

At the Detroit Free Press, Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks acknowledged that a call from the president-elect did influence Ford's recent decision to keep making a Lincoln SUV model in Kentucky. Shanks expressed hope that going forward, "there some adjustment that can be made to the present regulatory framework that recognizes the market realities."

For more on whether the Carrier deal — and the inevitable subsequent demands from companies like Ford — was a terrific or terrible idea, check out The Week's dueling analyses. Bonnie Kristian

10:54 a.m. ET

At least nine people were killed and 25 more are missing after a massive fire broke out in a warehouse hosting a dance party Friday night in Oakland, California. The fire started around 11:30 p.m. and may be the deadliest blaze in city history. The building had no sprinkler system and smoke detectors did not activate, firefighters said.

"It was too hot, too much smoke, I had to get out of there," said Bob Mule, a photographer who escaped the fire with minor burns. "I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke. I couldn't get the fire extinguisher to work."

More than 50 Oakland firefighters worked through the night to get the fire under control, and arson investigators have been called to the scene. Bonnie Kristian

10:32 a.m. ET

About 2,000 U.S. military veterans calling themselves Veterans Stand for Standing Rock have amassed at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, and hundreds more are expected to arrive this weekend. The veterans are building barracks for protesters to use as shelter from the frigid North Dakota winter and are volunteering to temporarily stand in for long-time protesters who need a break.

"We want to offer them a moment of peace and, if we can, take a little bit of pressure off," said Coast Guard veteran Ashleigh Jennifer Parker, labeling the militarized police response "unconstitutional." "People are being brutalized; concussion grenades are being thrown into crowds," she said. "They're spraying people, even old women, and other elders of the tribe with tear gas and pepper spray."

The veterans plan to stay at least through Dec. 7, though some may stick around longer. Bonnie Kristian

8:23 a.m. ET
Ty Wright/Getty Images

China on Saturday lodged its expected objections to President-elect Donald Trump's acceptance of a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in a sharp break with diplomatic habit. American and Taiwanese leaders are last known to have spoken directly in 1979 as the United States does not formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, separate from China.

"We have noticed relevant reports and lodged solemn representation with the relevant side in the United States," said a representative from China's Foreign Ministry. "The 'one China' principle is the political foundation of China-US relations." Earlier comments from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi place the blame squarely on "petty" Taiwan.

Trump on Twitter defended the call, noting that he did not initiate it and suggesting it is hypocritical to avoid normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan given American weapon sales to the island. "Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment," he said, "but I should not accept a congratulatory call." Bonnie Kristian

7:57 a.m. ET
Pool/Associated Press

President-elect Donald Trump endorsed the Philippines' controversial drug war tactics, claimed volatile Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday after a short phone call with Trump Friday night. "He was quite sensitive to our war on drugs and he wishes me well in my campaign and said that we are doing, as he so put it, 'the right way,'" Duterte said.

Since taking office, Duterte has launched a brutal attack on suspected drug dealers, encouraging extrajudicial killings by police and vigilantes alike. "My order is shoot to kill you," he infamously said of dealers. "I don't care about human rights, you'd better believe me." At least 2,400 people believed to be drug users and dealers were killed in the first two months of Duterte's administration.

Trump has yet to comment on Duterte's account of the conversation. Bonnie Kristian

December 2, 2016
Ty Wright/Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, in a move that critics say will surely infuriate the People's Republic of China. While the phone call between the U.S. president-elect and the Taiwanese president appeared to be mainly congratulatory, it broke over three decades of precedent; the last time leaders of the two countries spoke directly is believed to be 1979 and the U.S. doesn't formally recognize the Taiwanese government. China considers the island a breakaway province, and so the phone call is expected to create an uproar in Beijing.

"That's how wars start," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted. Nico Lauricella

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