It’s Saturday, August 21st, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast here.
1) New Zealand Faces Pushback Over Renewed Lockdowns
The Topline: With New Zealand re-imposing lockdowns after the country’s first covid case in months, some residents are speaking out about the strict policies.
Quote Of The Day:
“It feels like we’re in prison.” — New Zealand Activist Adam Gibbons
The Situation In New Zealand
New Zealand has had its borders closed for more than 18 months, with no foreseeable end. Around 6,000 families have been separated by this policy, with no clear timeline for reuniting. New Zealand anti-lockdown activist Adam Gibbons joined Morning Wire to discuss his efforts to bring families back together.
Gibbons told Morning Wire they have been in a strict “level four lockdown” over one confirmed covid case.
He said everything has been shut down and citizens aren’t allowed to do anything but go to places such as groceries, pharmacies, doctors, and hospitals. The lockdowns have been enforced by police, with arrests reportedly being made after breaches of protocol.
Gibbons said he hasn’t seen his fiance since March of 2020 due to the border being shut down, and a lack of border exemptions and partnership visas being processed by the country.
2) Streaming Services Struggle
The Topline: Several on-demand entertainment platforms are suddenly struggling, which may soon have implications for consumers.
Nearly half a million people dropped their Netflix subscriptions last quarter. This marked the first time the platform lost customers quarter-to-quarter in two years.
Netflix isn’t alone. Though Disney has seen some improved growth recently, its new streaming subscriptions are still tracking below long-term expectations.
Overall, only 3.9% of U.S. homes added a new streaming service last quarter, down from 12.9% a year ago — the biggest drop in several years.
Not only are Americans not signing up for new platforms, they’re canceling their current subscriptions at a record rate.
What’s Causing The Subscription Struggles?
Experts think that as lockdowns began to lift, people weren’t as interested in staying home and binge-watching TV as they were before. The companies also had to implement price hikes in order to stay profitable, which makes it easier for people to leave.
The services might be hitting a saturation point, as well, as there are around 300 streaming platforms. Surveys show people are starting to feel overwhelmed by all of the choices.
Polling also shows a lack of quality content. People pay to get access to noteworthy shows, but when they tune in, many of the shows are disappointing.
Investors Take Note
In recent shareholder meetings, Disney CEO Bob Chapek received questions about the company’s decision to fire Mandalorian actress Gina Carano and the inclusion of LGBT content in children’s shows — two issues that reportedly led to a spike in users canceling their subscriptions.
3) Saigon Vs. Kabul
The Topline: Amid the collapse of Afghanistan under a resurgent Taliban, the U.S. embassy in Kabul was abandoned, with thousands of Americans now being evacuated from the city. Many are comparing the events in Afghanistan to the last days of the Vietnam War.
Reporter: “How do you explain getting this so wrong?”
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan: “Well, first Savannah, to be fair, the helicopter has been our mode of transport from the embassy for 20 years.”
After images were released of helicopters being used to evacuate U.S. personnel from the roof of the embassy in Kabul, people immediately likened the situation to the infamous fall of Saigon, during which communist forces from North Vietnam captured the South Vietnamese capital on April 30, 1975.
The United States had withdrawn its military from South Vietnam two years prior, and the capture of Saigon by The North Vietnamese came far faster than the U.S. expected. This forced the U.S. to abandon its embassy in the city, evacuating over 7,000 American citizens and other personnel.
Remember: President Biden preempted this comparison before Kabul even fell to the Taliban.
Biden was asked, “And do you see any parallels between this withdrawal and what happened in Vietnam, with some people feeling… “ “
He answered, “None whatsoever. Zero.”
Fall Of Saigon: The scramble to leave the city occurred two years after U.S. forces withdrew from Vietnam, and 7,000 people needed to be evacuated.
Fall Of Kabul: The capital city fell just weeks after the U.S. military withdrawal began, while forces hadn’t even fully left yet.
Although President Gerald Ford didn’t experience much long-lasting blowback following the collapse of Saigon, political experts tell us it’s unlikely the same will be true for President Biden, given the speed of Afghanistan’s collapse. Polling data is backing that up.
Other Stories We’re Tracking
Top Republicans Ask Biden For Briefing
Republican leaders have sent a letter to President Biden seeking a classified intelligence briefing on Afghanistan. Republicans say it is of the “utmost importance” to “account for all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan” and give them the ability to leave the country. They also want to discuss the current communication between the United States and the Taliban.
NYC Businesses Sue Over Vaccine Mandate
A coalition of small business owners are suing New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York over its new vaccine mandate. The mandate requires people to show evidence they’ve received at least one vaccine to dine indoors, and go to gyms or theaters. The group is arguing that the executive order is “arbitrary, irrational, unscientific and unlawful.” They claim small businesses will be “directly, severely, and irreparably harmed.”
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