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Morning Wire: Publishing Company Censors Conservative Books, Lawmakers Debate Cryptocurrency, Activists Protest Obama’s Presidential Center

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It’s Saturday, August 14th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast here.

Publishing Company Censors Conservative Books

The Topline: After the American Booksellers Association found itself in hot water for featuring two conservative books in a promotional mailer to stores, the group released details on how it plans to prevent sending out similar books in the future.

Daily Wire Buzz: One of those books was the bestseller “Blackout” by Daily Wire personality, author, and commentator Candace Owens.

The Background 

Every month, the ABA sends out promotional boxes which include featured book lists and review copies of upcoming titles for retailers to consider stocking.

Last month, an ABA staffer sent out Owens’ “Blackout: How Black America Can Make Its Second Escape from the Democrat Plantation” — mistaking it for a social-justice-themed teen romance titled “Blackout” — along with promotional copies of Abigail Shrier’s bestseller “Irreversible Damage,” which is critical of the increase in transgender cases among teen girls.

Some shop owners were upset by the inclusion of the two books and aired their grievances on social media, where a growing number of online activists joined them.

Jason Davis/Getty Images

ABA Apologizes 

In response, the ABA sent out two separate apologies and promised to take steps to make sure similar books weren’t included in the future.

The group said including these “racist,” “transphobic” books in the mailing did “horrific harm” that caused “violence and pain” to members who received it. 

They also apologized for how the books “traumatized and endangered members of the trans community…erased Black authors…and put the [other] authors in [that month’s box] in danger through a forced association.”

What’s Happening Now?

Going forward, the ABA said there will be a review process to screen out titles which don’t adhere to their “diversity, equity, and inclusion” policy.

They’ll also be instituting training sessions and forums on queer and black issues, as well as donating money to a host of groups. 

The pushback: Critics of the ABA’s decision to remove conservative books in the future pointed out the group’s stated commitment to free speech.

Every year, the ABA hosts “Banned Books Week” to celebrate the freedom to read. The theme for this year’s event, which is coming up in September, is “Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us.” 

INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

2) Lawmakers Debate Cryptocurrency

The Topline: This week, a debate over cryptocurrency regulation stalled the passage of the Senate’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

What Does Crypto Have To Do With Infrastructure?  

As the Senate debates how to pay for their infrastructure plans, which will cost over $1 trillion, some are looking to the relatively-unregulated world of cryptocurrency as a potential source of tax revenue.

One proposed solution included in the bill would be to force crypto brokers to provide tax reporting, in the same way that stockbrokers report their customers’ sales to the IRS, a strategy that plays into the broader goal of the Biden administration to crack down on unregulated cryptocurrency. 

The Debate

Senators struggled to agree on what exactly constitutes a “broker” in a cryptocurrency transaction. Critics were concerned that the definition of “broker” was so broad that it could include anyone involved in any kind of crypto transaction.

A group of crypto-friendly lawmakers proposed an edit to this language which was supported by the cryptocurrency “lobby,” but was quickly countered. A compromise amendment was put forward and rejected, meaning that the infrastructure bill was passed with its original language, putting the cryptocurrency industry back where it started.

The New Frontier: Taxes And Crypto

Some cryptocurrency brokers already report transactions to the IRS, but most don’t, according to some experts.

Lawmakers are reportedly unlikely to view cryptocurrency as an issue significant enough to derail the infrastructure bill, even though a new “Blockchain Caucus” is pushing for improvements. There is still time for updates, however, since the new laws won’t go into effect until 2023. 

Some experts say that this “tax reporting” language is a sign that Washington, D.C., is accepting cryptocurrency as a “permanent part of the financial ecosystem,” worthy of government attention. 

Scott Olson/Staff/Getty Images

3) Activists Protest Obama’s Presidential Center 

The Topline: The Obama Foundation breaks ground this month on a new presidential complex inside a park in Chicago, but local activists are fighting to stop it.

Quote Of The Day: “Is the Obama Foundation largely exempt from all the environmental regulations that apply to everybody else and…is this a breach of the city’s fiduciary duties?”

— Law professor Richard Epstein, representing neighbors opposed to the project.

The Details 

Former presidents often create presidential libraries, but President Barack Obama has his sights set higher, with a planned August 16th groundbreaking on a “presidential center,” including a 235-foot museum tower, a conference center, and an athletic center. 

The city provided a 99-year use agreement to the Obama Foundation for land in the middle of Jackson Park for only $10, though experts say the land is likely worth around $200 million. 

Protesters Point Out Hypocrisy 

Protesters have noted that President Obama himself made it difficult to place construction projects near waterways over environmental concerns, yet his project will be directly adjacent to a marsh and will require cutting down 800 of the park’s trees.

Residents are also upset about vehicular traffic. In order to create access to buildings in the park, the city is rerouting commuter traffic and the resulting roadwork will cost another $175 million.

Wesley Hitt/Contributor/Getty Images

Weekend Sports Update

The Topline: The first full slate of NFL preseason games are underway this weekend and the preseason top-25 in College Football has been released. 

College Football

Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are the clear number-one ranked team in the country. Clemson comes in at number two with Oklahoma coming in at number three. Alabama opens the season on September 4 against #16 Miami, while Clemson starts the season against #5 Georgia. 

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