This weekend we get to call Minnesota’s junior senator — and former Saturday Night Live writer and performer — our guest curator. Sen. Al Franken first hit the big time as one of the original writers for SNL in the 1970s, specializing in political satire (which ultimately led to five Emmy wins). Before being elected to the Senate in 2008, Franken also wrote two movie screenplays and several books (with another debuting this spring). Today he joins the ranks of past curators like Satya Nadella, Von Miller, Karl Rove, and Ken Burns to share his take on today’s must-know news and trends, in the briefs below.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Because of the Affordable Care Act, 20 million people in the U.S. have gained health insurance, and delivery of care has been transformed in a positive way. By gearing up to repeal the ACA — with no realistic plan to replace it — Republican lawmakers are playing politics with people’s health. We shouldn’t be gutting the law. Instead, we should be amending, building on, and improving it to help more people and reduce costs for families. And that’s what I plan to fight for.
The president of the United States must always put the interests of the American people ahead of his own financial interests. And when it comes to Donald Trump, his lack of transparency during the campaign and even now, days from inauguration, means we don’t know who or what will come first to him. He has simply not done enough to eliminate his potential conflicts of interest. Now, he must assure the country by fully divesting his financial holdings. Not doing so would jeopardize our national interests and break with the long-standing practice of past presidents.
I have three grandchildren — Joe, Jacob and Avery. And you know, when they’re older, I don’t want to have to explain to them that we blew our chance to tackle climate change. Last year, I went to Paris to support the historic climate change accord that nearly 200 countries signed. But now that unprecedented agreement could be in jeopardy, and I think it’s important for people to know that climate change isn’t just a problem to worry about in 100 or 200 years. It’s threatening the livelihoods of families across the globe at this very moment, and it’s a problem that requires sustained international action.
Know This: Iran’s ex-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at age 82. Vehicular attack in Jerusalem kills 4, injures 13. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, held talks with a Chinese tycoon about a real-estate deal, causing new questions about his conflicts of interest. Beijing is releasing a new police force to battle its smog problem. And the suspect in the Fort Lauderdale shooting has been charged, and could be executed if convicted.
Remember This Number: 181. That’s how many people (of 7.5 billion estimated on the planet) would survive the first 100 days of a zombie apocalypse, according to a paper by a team of physics students at the University of Leicester.
Talk to Us: We want your feedback on the Presidential Daily Brief — what you think we’re doing right and what we should be doing differently. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every child deserves the education and tools to reach his or her potential. We too often fall short of that goal when it comes to Indian Country — which is why I was so proud last year to take part in the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School. We worked for many years to secure federal support to rebuild the formerly dilapidated Native American school. I also strongly believe that Native culture should be preserved, which is why I’m really glad to see that public schools in St. Paul, Minnesota, are making indigenous history part of their curriculum and taking students to tour sacred sites around the Twin Cities.
I first met Tammy over a decade ago when she was recovering from wounds she sustained while serving in Iraq. Since she was elected to Congress, I’ve had the privilege of working with her during her terms in the House of Representatives — and we actually have a bill together to link community colleges with businesses to train millions of workers for open, good-paying, high-skilled jobs. So I’m really glad that the people of Illinois elected her as the state’s newest senator, and I’m excited to work with her in the new Congress to try to create jobs and help American families.
The North Star State has a vibrant Somali-American community, but until now, there’s never been a legislator at the state or federal level who’s a member of that community. But that just changed. Ilhan Omar is the first Somali-American legislator in the United States. The 34-year-old mother of three spent part of her childhood in a refugee camp and is a prime example of the kinds of people I have the privilege of representing in Minnesota.
I’ve been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings since I was a kid (for better or worse, with a lot of worse in there), and every summer my son, Joe, and I try to get down to training camp in beautiful Mankato, Minnesota. We talk with the players, throw a couple of passes and talk about how “this is the year.” Well, 2016 wasn’t the year, unfortunately. But I’m already looking ahead to next season and the chance to catch up with some of the fans, players and coaches at the next training camp. Oh, and not to mention, we’re hosting next season’s Super Bowl at our beautiful new stadium. Fingers crossed.
Forty years ago, Prince signed his record deal with Warner Bros. and changed Minnesota music history. He went from performing in North Minneapolis with his group, Grand Central, to putting Minneapolis music venue First Avenue on the map with the film Purple Rain. His artistry, innovation and unparalleled presence inspired millions around the world. And many of the Minnesota icon’s possessions — including handwritten song lyrics — are now housed in a permanent collection at the Minnesota Historical Society. The late singer’s Paisley Park home is also now open for public tours.