Analysis | Urban pickleball wars. States target AI. Your weekly non-Beltway stories.

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The big idea

Urban pickleball wars. States target AI. Your weekly non-Beltway stories.

Welcome to the wars over building pickleball courts. Oregon and other states look to regular artificial intelligence. Mississippi jails mentally ill people who have not been charged with a crime. North Carolina Democrats vote “no” to recognizing a Jewish caucus.

These are your weekly non-Beltway political stories.

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 strictly inside-the-Beltway stories, we try to bring you a weekly mix of pieces with significant local, national or international importance.

But we need your help to know what we’re missing! Please keep sending your links to news coverage of political stories that are getting overlooked. (They don’t have to be from this week, and the submission link is right under this column.) Make sure to say whether we can use your first name, last initial and location. Anonymous is okay, too, as long as you give a location.

Welcome [thwack] to the pickleball wars

It’s official. Of all of the recent news media start-ups, 404 Media is Olivier’s favorite. Jason Koebler and pals are turning out top-notch reporting about technology every day, from economic, political, and social angles.

But this one is way out-of-the-box. Armed with requests for public documents, Jason wrote about the national surge in bigger-than-ping-pong, smaller-than-tennis, noisier-than-both pickleball, and how it’s swamping urban parks departments all over the country. As pickleballers take over tennis courts and hockey rinks and skate parks, their opponents are demanding noise and environmental assessments.

The documents “show what happens after we fail to build things in America: Compromises are made, and our cities’ already strapped public space and public resources become increasingly crowded and difficult to use. People fight about it,” Jason wrote.

The politics: NIMBY campaigns, pro-pickleball lobbying, hijinks involving reserving courts, lawsuits, this piece has almost every kind of local land-use fight imaginable. Check it out.

Oregon makes an artificial-intelligence plan

Via Ben Botkin of the Oregon Capital Chronicle, we learn Gov. Tina Kotek (D) is creating a special advisory council to draft a plan for the state’s use of artificial intelligence “that values transparency, privacy and equity.”

  • The council’s work could lead to action by the legislature, Botkin noted.

“That work has started in statehouses in the nation. In 2023, at least 25 states introduced bills about artificial intelligence in 2023, and 15 states passed proposals, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures report. Oregon was not on the list,” Botkin reported.

The politics: Federalism means the states can try to regulate AI, too. And they have been, leading the federal government by a sight. Does this lead Congress to act to try to impose national standards?

Mississippi jails mentally ill folks who haven’t been charged with a crime

Via reader Jayne P. in Raymond, MS, we became aware of this report by Isabelle Taft at Mississippi Today in partnership with ProPublica, about Mississippi holding people required to undergo treatment for mental illness or substance abuse in jail without accusing them of a crime.

“Fourteen years ago, Mississippi legislators passed a law requiring county jails to be certified by the state if they held people awaiting court-ordered psychiatric treatment. Today, just one jail in the state is certified,” Taft wrote.

  • From July 2022 to June 2023, more than 800 people awaiting treatment were jailed throughout the state, almost all in uncertified facilities,” Taft reported. They can be detained if there’s “no reasonable alternative.”

And the state’s 2009 civil commitment law “provides no funding to help counties comply and no penalties if they don’t.”

The politics: Should police take on the role of mental health care provider? Should people awaiting their commitment court hearing be treated much the same way as convicted criminals? Should states create unfunded mandates like this?

North Carolina Dems say ‘no’ to recognizing the Jewish caucus

Reader Zoë A., (“DC but North Carolina at heart forever”) sent along this Steve Harrison report for WFAE on North Carolina Democrats narrowly voting not to recognize the Jewish Caucus as a party-affiliated organization earlier this month. (They may get another shot at this soon.)

“The state Democratic Party already has a number of recognized, smaller groups, such as the African American Caucus, the LGBTQ Caucus and the Coastal Caucus,” Harrison wrote.

The politics: Scenes of vast human suffering coming out of Gaza have heightened divisions among Democrats over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That said, if this really was due to “procedural issues,” as a party spokesman has said, it seems likely the caucus will get another chance, and be successful.


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

What’s happening now

Sandra Day O’Connor, pathbreaking woman on Supreme Court, dies at 93

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female U.S. Supreme Court justice, whose independence on a court that was often ideologically divided made her the pivotal vote in numerous closely contested cases and one of the most powerful women of her era, died Dec. 1 in Phoenix. She was 93,” Fred Barbash reports.

Rep. George Santos expelled from Congress on bipartisan vote

“The House on Friday voted to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from Congress — an action the chamber had taken only five times in U.S. history and not for more than 20 years — in response to an array of alleged crimes and ethical lapses that came to light after the freshman lawmaker was found to have fabricated key parts of his biography.,” Mariana Alfaro and Amy B Wang report.

U.N. chief says ‘Earth’s vital signs are failing’ as leaders meet at COP28

“U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said Friday the world is ‘minutes to midnight’ in its goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and he called on leaders at the U.N. climate change conference in Dubai, known as COP28, to prevent a ‘planetary crash and burn,’” our colleagues report.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

‘A dumpster fire’: DeSantis struggles grow in GOP presidential race

Ron DeSantis’s presidential bid is facing extraordinary turmoil approximately six weeks before the Iowa caucuses, with internal disputes erupting into public view as Republicans increasingly pin their hopes of stopping Donald Trump on a rival contender,” Hannah Knowles, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey report.

  • The CEO of the super PAC running much of DeSantis’s operation quit last week as allies took the unusual step of starting another super PAC late in the race. The vast political network led by Charles Koch — once drawn to DeSantis — endorsed Nikki Haley as it looks to stop Trump, promising the support of its ready-made field program. Some senior campaign aides are increasingly gloomy about their chances, according to a person close to DeSantis.”

Pentagon plans a drone army to counter China’s market dominance

“The war in Ukraine has shown the value of low-cost drone swarms in modern warfare. Now the Pentagon is planning to build an army of thousands of small, cheap drones in hopes of spurring U.S. drone production and cutting China’s dominance of that market,” Eva Dou and Gerrit De Vynck report.

Montana ban on TikTok blocked, extending critics’ losing streak

“A federal judge in Montana blocked the state’s first-in-the-nation ban of TikTok on Thursday, dealing a blow to critics’ efforts to outlaw the popular video app for public use. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said the ban, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, ‘oversteps state power’ and was clearly an attempt to target ‘China’s ostensible role in TikTok’ more than an effort to protect Montana consumers,Drew Harwell reports.

… and beyond

Israel knew Hamas’s attack plan more than a year ago

“Israeli officials obtained Hamas’s battle plan for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened, documents, emails and interviews show. But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out,” the New York Times’s Ronen Bergman and Adam Goldman report.

  • “The approximately 40-page document, which the Israeli authorities code-named ‘Jericho Wall,’ outlined, point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to the deaths of about 1,200 people.”

Israel plans to kill Hamas leaders around the world after war

“Israel’s intelligence services are preparing to kill Hamas leaders around the world when the nation’s war in the Gaza Strip winds down, setting the stage for a yearslong campaign to hunt down militants responsible for the Oct. 7 massacres, Israeli officials said,” the Wall Street Journal’s Dion Nissenbaum reports.

The Biden agenda

Biden turns up pressure on corporate ‘price gouging’ as 2024 nears

“President Biden blasted corporate ‘price gouging’ more forcefully this week than ever before, reflecting a renewed administration effort to respond to widespread voter discontent over the economy as next year’s election looms,” Jeff Stein reports.

  • “After weeks of internal meetings led by White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, Biden aides recently pitched the president on a plan to sharply rebuke firms for not lowering despite record profits, according to three people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect internal deliberations. The president liked the idea and quickly approved it, the people said.”

China’s space facilities in Latin America, visualized

The Pentagon is increasingly concerned that China’s growing network of facilities in Latin America and Antarctica for its civilian space and satellite programs has defense capabilities. U.S. officials say the ground stations — which allow countries to maintain uninterrupted communication with satellites and other space vehicles — have the potential to expand Beijing’s global military surveillance network in the southern hemisphere and areas close to the United States,” Cate Cadell and Marcelo Perez del Carpio report.

Hot on the left

Gavin Newsom 2028? His early moves offer a potential glimpse.

“Newsom, seen widely in the Democratic Party as a 2028 presidential contender-in-waiting, isn’t doing all that much waiting. While other potential White House aspirants are quietly laying the groundwork for the future, the second-term governor has been more of an attention-seeking missile — darting across the country and the world stage as he courts a broad array of Democratic constituencies who could be helpful in a future presidential run,” Maeve Reston reports.

Hot on the right

Republican officials consider shaking up presidential debate system

Top officials at the Republican National Committee will consider a proposal next week to allow candidates to participate in presidential debates that have not been approved by the national party, a potential shift in the nominating process rules as campaigning heats up in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Marianne LeVine report.

Today in Washington

There is nothing on Biden’s public schedule this afternoon.

In closing

It’s the month of the year’s best meteor shower. Are you ready?

The night sky highlight of the month and possibly the year is the annual Geminid meteor shower, which peaks on the night of Dec. 13. These meteors are associated with an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon, which is likely the dusty remnant of an extinct comet nucleus. It is the year’s most consistently prolific shower, and a single observer at a dark site should see upward of 60 “shooting stars” per hour before midnight with up to 150 per hour between 2 and 3 a.m. local time,” Geoff Chester reports.

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

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