Why virtual learning works for this Henrico family
Why virtual learning works for this Henrico family
Lew Wallace, the former territorial governor of New Mexico (and author of Ben Hur), once said, “Every calculation based on experience elsewhere fails in New Mexico.”In so many ways Wallace was prescient about this beautiful, poor, and unique state in the American Southwest. One “calculation” about modern politics that would especially perplex him is the fact that a relatively poor but oil-rich Western state elects politicians that are so directly at odds with its economic best interest.After Texas and North Dakota, New Mexico is the third-largest oil-producing state in the U.S. The oil and gas industries combine to generate roughly 40 percent of its annual budget. Furthermore, New Mexico’s oil and gas resources are heavily concentrated on lands managed by the federal government. The central role of energy, especially energy extracted within the state’s borders and controlled by federal policy-makers, might lead one to believe that New Mexicans would vote for pro-energy Republicans in federal elections.Instead, New Mexico has become a safely blue state. It narrowly went for George W. Bush in 2004 but since then has gone for Democrats by wide margins. The situation is even more stark at the state level, where Democrats have had “trifectas” (total control of both houses and the governor’s mansion) for 60 of the past 90 years. The GOP hasn’t had such governing authority in the state for a single year since 1931 and, despite significant turnover, has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since Pete Domenici retired in 2009.In 2020 Biden won the state 54.3 percent to 43.5 percent despite the fact that President Trump’s pro-energy policies have been a boon to the New Mexico economy and that the Biden administration’s energy policies are a dagger aimed at the heart of New Mexico’s economy.That “dagger” comes in the form of the numerous -- sometimes clear, often conflicting -- statements that candidate Biden made during the campaign. It is unclear what Biden will do about hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which enables oil and gas producers to access previously inaccessible oil and gas sources. He backed away from an outright nationwide ban late in the campaign. However, Biden has clearly stated that he would ban new gas and oil permits -- including fracking -- on federal lands.Targeting federal lands would devastate New Mexico’s oil and gas industry and its economy, because of the state’s large federal estate. According to the Institute for Energy Research, 34.7 percent of the land in New Mexico is federal. In fiscal year 2019, New Mexico received energy-related disbursement (from the federal Bureau of Land Management) of $1.17 billion, the highest payment made in any state (Wyoming was next, with $641 million, and then Colorado, with $108 million). This was the highest payment from the bureau in the state’s history and compares with $455 million in FY 2017. A vast majority of this increased revenue is a result of fracking.Furthermore, data from the Global Energy Institute indicate that if energy production on federal lands were banned, New Mexico would lose 24,300 jobs (10,000 direct, 14,300 indirect and induced), a significant hit for a state with a workforce of around 900,000. Making matters worse, a good number of the “direct” jobs lost are good-paying -- something that is not easy to find in New Mexico, a state that consistently ranks among the poorest in the nation and has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Closing New Mexico’s federal lands to energy production entirely would cost the state $496 million in annual royalty collections, representing 8 percent of the state’s total General Fund Revenues.Biden’s proposed fracking ban is even too much for New Mexico’s Democratic governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has said that she’ll ask for an exemption from any future drilling ban. Acknowledging the tax-revenue contributions to education funding, Grisham explained to the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association conference in Santa Fe last October that “without the energy effort in this state, no one gets to make education the top priority.”To be sure, Lujan Grisham is broadly supportive of Biden’s energy policies. (She’s even on the president-elect’s short list for administration positions.) Both of them have stated that they would like to “transition out of fossil fuels” despite New Mexico’s financial dependence on the industry.But Biden’s aggressive anti-fossil-fuels stance as it relates to federal land not only puts him at odds with Lujan Grisham, it puts him far to the left of President Obama on the issue. In a 2012 presidential debate, Obama stated, “We’ve opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than the previous administration. . . . And natural gas isn’t just appearing magically; we’re encouraging it and working with the industry.”President Obama was of course considered an environmentalist by political opponents and supporters alike. His support for natural-gas right isn’t difficult to reconcile with his environmental track record. That’s because (when used in a new power plants), natural gas emits 50 to 60 percent less CO2 than a typical new coal plant.Obama understood the vast benefits of natural gas, including the fact that it was appropriate to drill for it on federal lands. During his tenure, natural-gas production rose some 35 percent, from approximately 21 million cubic feet to more than 28.4 million cubic feet.If he truly cares about the environment, Biden would be wise to follow his predecessor’s playbook. According to the EPA, U.S. net greenhouse-gas emissions went down by 10 percent from 2005 to 2018, and much of the contribution to that decline in recent years was “due to an increasing shift to use of less carbon dioxide-intensive natural gas for generating electricity and a rapid increase in the use of renewable energy in the electric power sector.” But if natural-gas prices rise -- and a ban on federal leasing is likely to contribute to higher prices -- these positive developments could go into reverse. The Energy Information Administration recently projected that higher natural-gas prices would cause coal’s share of power generation to increase from 18 percent to 22 percent in 2021.Obama also signed into law legislation that ended the U.S. government’s restrictions on crude-oil exports back in 2015.During the campaign, Biden faced tremendous pressure from the left wing of his political base to come out for policies such the Green New Deal and bans on fracking and other fossil-fuel-based energy production. Biden has never been associated with such hard-Left stances against economic policy and growth in the past. Remember, even Obama is to the right of where Biden campaigned.Let's hope that President Biden has a more realistic approach to energy than did candidate Biden. New Mexico’s economic future is certainly at stake, but so is the recovery of our nation’s virus-hobbled economy.Rather than instituting a blanket ban on production of oil and gas on federal lands, a better approach would be to recognize the benefits and work to make sure that any production is handled responsibly and safely. The growing American energy sector and American energy independence have delivered wins for the environment, for consumers, and for the U.S. and state economies such as New Mexico’s. Let’s keep it that way.
A few hours after a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a $908 billion coronavirus relief bill proposal Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) circulated his own plan among Republican lawmakers. Several news organizations obtained a copy of the outline.McConnell's plan, Bloomberg notes, appears to be a tweaked version of his previous $500 billion proposal (although the full price tag is not yet known), with funds earmarked for a second round of the Payroll Protection Program and coronavirus vaccine distribution and development. It doesn't seem likely to serve as an overture to Democrats and instead caters to several Republican senators by including measures like COVID-19 liability shields for businesses, which the other side of the aisle opposes.> McConnell's "revised" bill includes lots of goodies for his members:> > \- Toomey proposal ensuring Fed can't use unspent CARES money > \- school choice tax credits for Cruz > \- Tim Scott's tax deduction for biz meals > \- Cornyn's liability shield bill > \- $20B in additional aid to farmers> > -- Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) December 1, 2020Unlike the bipartisan framework from earlier in the day, McConnell's bill does not include any money for state, local, and tribal governments, another nod toward Republicans who remain staunchly opposed to the notion. It does extend the deadline for enhanced unemployment benefits, but only by a month, whereas the other bill proposal would push end date to April.McConnell said he was bearish on his colleagues' framework because the clock is ticking, and he seems to believe the White House will sign off on his version. > I asked @senatemajldr McConnell why not push for the bipartisan, presumably more popular, COVID Relief framework. His response: pic.twitter.com/iekHQkkues> > -- Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) December 1, 2020More stories from theweek.com Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. Americans are choosing death over deprivation How camp explains Trump
More than 150 parliamentarians from 18 countries have called on Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to intervene to ensure justice for 12 people, the youngest of who is 16, who have been detained in mainland China while trying to flee the city by boat. The 12, who had all faced charges in Hong Kong linked to anti-government protests, have been held virtually incommunicado in a mainland prison since they were detained at sea on Aug. 23, apparently while trying to reach the democratic island of Taiwan. Chinese authorities said last week members of the group face charges of illegal border crossing and organising an illicit border crossing, which could carry a sentence of up to seven years in jail.
The heavily redacted documents do not name the individuals potentially involved.
On Tuesday Gabriel Sterling of the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office spoke forcefully against post-election threats and rhetoric directed at election staff.
President Trump threatened to veto a $740 billion defense spending bill if it doesn't repeal Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, an unrelated provision that grants broad legal immunity to social media and other internet sites. Unless the "dangerous and unfair Section 230" is "completely terminated," Trump said on Twitter, he will "unequivocally veto" the legislation. Section 230, which shields social media companies from legal liability for user content posted on their sites, is considered a foundational provision of the internet.Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act with bipartisan support for 59 years in a row, and "presidents from both parties have always signed them, even after issuing veto threats," The Wall Street Journal notes. "The Senate version passed 86-14, and the House version passed 295-125, more than the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a potential veto." Negotiators are currently working out the differences so the legislation can be cleared in the next few weeks. Trump has already threatened to veto this same bill over a provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate officers.There is bipartisan support to reform Section 230, though each party objects to different ways it affects social media. Democrats say Facebook, Twitter, and other sites should do more to weed out disinformation and dangerous content, while Trump has complained baselessly that the sites censor conservatives. The NDAA authorizes $740 billion in Pentagon and Energy Department spending, including a 3 percent raise for U.S. troops, and guides Pentagon policy decisions.Besides passing the NDAA, Congress hopes to push through a spending bill to keep the government running and a COVID-19 relief package before adjourning for the year.More stories from theweek.com Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. Americans are choosing death over deprivation How camp explains Trump
Germany inched towards tougher lockdown measures on Wednesday, with one regional premier promising a stricter course now that regions that had been spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are seeing case numbers surge. A partial lockdown that was imposed at the start of November was last week extended into December, and state and federal leaders are expected to discuss a further prolongation into January at a video conference due on Wednesday afternoon. Michael Kretschmer, premier of Saxony, the most populous of the eastern German states, said his state would impose lockdown measures strictly given the speed at which the virus was spreading throughout the region.
Control of the United States Senate hinges on two January 5 runoff elections in Georgia, where incumbent Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock respectively. Most immediately, the race is a contest over whether President-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic Party will be able to govern — especially by passing another big coronavirus rescue package.However, Loeffler and Perdue are also excellent examples of what interests the Republican Party serves — namely, the ultra-rich, which includes both Loeffler and Perdue personally. These are two people who were rich before they got into politics, and leveraged their power as senators to make themselves even more rich — by profiteering off the pandemic. It is government of, by, and for the top 0.1 percent.Let me consider their cases in turn. David Perdue is a longtime businessman who served as CEO of Dollar General in the mid-2000s, where he worked diligently to source more products from China. According to his financial disclosures, he is worth between $15 million and $43 million.As Michela Tindera writes at Forbes, Kelly Loeffler and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher own a big stake in International Exchange, a financial clearinghouse company that Sprecher founded and where he remains CEO and chairman. (That company also owns the New York Stock Exchange, where Sprecher is again chairman.) After closely examining Loeffler's financial disclosure forms and other information, Tindera estimates that the couple is worth at least $800 million, and likely over $1 billion — or roughly quadruple the wealth of the second-richest member of Congress, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah).Here's how the pandemic profiteering worked. On January 24, there was a private all-Senate briefing about the looming disaster — long before there was a broad public understanding that the U.S. was going to get slammed by COVID-19. Immediately afterward, both Loeffler and Perdue started trading strategic stocks. As The Daily Beast reported at the time, Loeffler executed 29 transactions valued between $1.275 and $3.1 million in the following days before the market crashed, almost all of them sales — one exception was a purchase of Citrix, which sells teleworking software. (Also, Loeffler recently violated the legal prohibition on soliciting campaign funds in a Senate office building.)Perdue made a similar number of trades, but bought more than Loeffler — in particular, an investment of up to $850,000 in DuPont, which manufactures personal protective equipment. And as The Associated Press reports, in late January he sold between $1 million and $5 million in shares of Cardlytics, a financial technology firm, at $86 per share. Then, when the market had bottomed out in March, he snapped up between $200,000 and $500,000 of Cardlytics shares at $30 apiece; since then the share price has shot back up to $121. Nice tidy little profit to counterbalance the 270,000 dead Americans. (The Daily Beast also reports that in 2019, Perdue bought up shares of a submarine parts manufacturer before voting to give the company a lucrative contract, then sold it for another handsome profit.)When reports of these trades first came out, both Loeffler and Perdue insisted they had nothing to do personally with the moves. "I have never used any confidential information I received while performing my Senate duties as a means of making a private profit ... professionals buy and sell stocks on our behalf," wrote Loeffler in an April 8 Wall Street Journal op-ed. Perdue told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that advisers made his investment decisions on their own.In the first place, candidates not taking direct control of their stock trades does not actually remove the conflict of interest. If you are a senator, and you hire a bunch of asset managers to look after your investments without any kind of blind trust, you still know what those investments are. You can make decisions knowing that your Goldman Sachs lackeys will make the profit-maximizing move in response — which is the best-case scenario of what happened here.But realistically speaking, it is virtually impossible to believe that all these trades had nothing to do with the two senators. Are we really to believe it was a coincidence that these asset managers started making "there is a pandemic coming" trades the very same day the two were receiving classified briefings on the disaster? Come on. Indeed, The New York Times recently reported that Perdue was lying with his blanket denial — he did directly instruct his manager to sell the Cardlytics shares after receiving a cryptic email mentioning "upcoming changes" from the company's then-CEO. (Perdue and Loeffler have been cleared of legal wrongdoing by the Department of Justice, but given that Attorney General Barr is a shameless Trump stooge, that is hardly reassuring.)Since then, both Perdue and Loeffler have largely downplayed the pandemic. Unlike Ossoff and Warnock, both have been holding large, in-person rallies. In July, both Loeffler and Perdue came out against extending the boost to unemployment insurance in the CARES Act, and since then neither have answered questions about further economic rescue measures from Atlanta Magazine. Instead, since the election they have amplified Trump's flagrant lies that Georgia's Republican governor and secretary of state somehow helped Joe Biden steal the election there.Over the last decade or so, there has been a long discussion of why Democrats are bleeding votes in rural areas (precisely where Republicans run up huge margins in Georgia). And on one level it's an important debate — there is good evidence that as Democrats embraced austerity, deregulation, and free trade that harmed such places, it hurt their vote share.But on another level, it is frankly staggering that the Republican Party has swooped in to replace them. The Democrats may not be much of a friend to the working class or rural farmers, but Republicans are straight-up picking their pockets. If you want a couple senators to govern solely on behalf of their massive asset portfolio while leaving everyone else twisting in the wind, vote Perdue and Loeffler.More stories from theweek.com Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. Americans are choosing death over deprivation How camp explains Trump
The Justice Department is investigating whether there was a secret scheme to lobby White House officials for a pardon as well as a related plot to offer a hefty political contribution in exchange for clemency, according to a court document unsealed Tuesday. Most of the information in the 18-page court order is redacted, including the identity of the people whom prosecutors are investigating and whom the proposed pardon might be intended for.
A retired Air Force three-star reignited claims about troops' involvement in secret missions in the wake of the election.
Ethiopia's prime minister has called on the fugitive leaders of the Tigray region to give themselves up after its capital was taken by government forces on the weekend. Abiy Ahmed, who was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2019, said that 30 to 40 rebel leaders should surrender to "save their lives" in a televised address to lawmakers on Monday. Mr Abiy praised the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) for bringing about a swift end to a three-week conflict that is believed to have caused thousands of deaths and forced around 40,000 Ethiopians to flee to neighbouring Sudan. His comments contradict claims by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that fighting continues “on every front”. While the rebels’ exact location is unknown, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael told Reuters on Monday that he was “close to Mekele in Tigray fighting the invaders.” It is thought that the remaining fighters tactically retreated to nearby mountains days before the assault on the city to avoid casualties. Ethiopia’s former ruling party also claimed to have shot down a military plane, retaken a local town and captured some Eritrean troops fighting for the federal government. A telephone and electricity blackout has made it impossible to corroborate claims. Though the TPLF came to power by toppling Ethiopia’s Marxist Derg in the 1990s, it is unclear whether it will be able to repeat the guerilla tactics that made the insurgency successful. “It is not yet clear what the condition of the Tigrayan security forces are after the recent fighting, nor what the population's reaction is to the federal intervention and the establishment of a provisional government,” said William Davidson, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Ethiopia. Experts fear that Ethiopia may be headed towards a protracted conflict. Mr Abiy also claimed that “not even a single person was killed” by the government’s offensive and that rockets were not launched to the Tigray region. He said: “Mekele is ours. It was built by our resources, we are not going to destroy it. Not even a single person was affected, damaged by the operation in Mekele.” Last week, The Telegraph published numerous accounts of Tigrayan refugees in Sudan who claimed to have been bombed and attacked by federal soldiers and knife-wielding allied militiamen. Ethiopia’s state TV reported on Sunday that individual and mass graves of 70 people were found in the town of Humera as both sides accuse each other of atrocities and war crimes.