Commentary: Joe Biden Is Threatening Our Freedom of Movement

The federal gov’t and silicon valley are looking to clamp down on your freedom of movement. Your ability to move about as you please does not fit with their goals for the future of our world. Automotive-related freedoms, including access to fuel, allow us to be free to move without the permission of silicon valley and the federal government. Automotive freedoms are not only hobby related; they are essential to preventing yet another step along the road to serfdom at the hands of woke corporations and federal bureaucrats.

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Commentary: The Huge Anchors of Container Ships Are Wrecking the Coastal Seafloor

by Ross Pomeroy   In a study published May 7 to the journal Scientific Reports, researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand observed and quantified the damage that anchoring container ships can do to coastal seafloors. Container ships are the behemoths of the seas. The largest are longer, wider, and heavier…

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Commentary: The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act Is the Wrong Solution for American Mining

Everything in this world is either grown or mined, and if we don’t grow it or mine it in America, we import it. Events from the past few years, namely the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have highlighted America’s hunger for metals, including copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum-group elements, and more. Therefore, Congress needs to boost domestic production. Instead, the majority is putting up more arbitrary hurdles, like the so-called Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act.

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Commentary: States Can Make the Difference on an Unjust Teacher Pay Gap

The seemingly-omnipresent call to raise teacher pay is sounding even louder this year, as rising inflation threatens to render moot any raises made in previous years. Yet even before that became apparent, state pay raises for teachers were heading toward a crescendo. There were numerous historic raises in March 2022 alone: Mississippi’s Gov. Tate Reeves signed a pay bump of roughly 10 percent, New Mexico’s Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a base salary increase average of 20 percent, and Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis announced $800 million in additional funds to raise teachers’ starting salaries. In April 2022, Alabama’s Gov. Kay Ivey approved raises that range from 4 to 21 percent depending on teachers’ experience levels.

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Commentary: Planned Parenthood Directs Women to Illegal Abortions

Planned Parenthood is directing its patients to a service that guides women through the process of illegally importing abortion drugs into the United States. The information is communicated prominently on a landing page that links from the front page of the organization’s website. It’s all part of a broader plan by abortion activists to use the illegal trade of drugs like mifepristone and misoprostol to provide abortions in states where abortion will be banned if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

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Commentary: Despite Rising Crime, Nation’s Capital Is at Forefront of Cities Pushing Leniency

WASHINGTON, D.C. — “But she told me she was 16 years old.”

Under a new criminal code being considered by the District of Columbia city council, that statement would be what is called “an affirmative defense to liability” for an adult who has sex with a minor. Put more plainly, an adult accused of sexual activity with a minor could avoid culpability if found to have “reasonably” believed the child’s claim at the time to have reached the age of consent.

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Commentary: Taxpayers Are Now Funding These 90 Plus ‘Equity’ Plans Across the Federal Government

Under the Biden administration, more than 90 federal agencies have pledged their commitment to equity by adopting action plans that put gender, race and other such factors at the center of their governmental missions.

The Equity Action Plans, which have received little notice since they were posted online last month following a document request from RealClearInvestigations, represent a “whole of government” fight against “entrenched disparities” and the “unbearable human costs of systemic racism.”

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Commentary: Federal Student Loans Create College Rankings Scandals

A whistleblower lawsuit filed last month alleges that Rutgers University’s business school artificially boosted its rankings by using a temp agency to hire MBA graduates and place them into “sham positions at the university itself,” according to NJ.com, which first reported the news. Though shocking, the scandal is the natural result of the incentives the federal government has set up for schools through uncapped student loan subsidies for graduate programs.

Rutgers has denied the charges. But the allegations are credible when considering the source: the lawsuit was filed by Deidre White, the human resources manager at Rutgers’ business school. Days later, a separate class-action lawsuit was filed by one of Rutgers’ MBA students.

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Commentary: America’s Schools Face Mounting Threats from Cyberattacks

The U.S. education sector is in the midst of a cyber crisis. The shift to cloud-based virtual learning during COVID-19 created the perfect storm for threat actors to capitalize on: education IT departments, already weathering a shortage of physical resources, funding, and staffing, unexpectedly faced an even greater challenge. Without the human resources and advanced solutions to secure vulnerabilities in their networks, K-12 school districts and higher-ed institutions became easy targets.

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Commentary: Unemployment Benefits Are Causing America’s Worker Shortage

These days, storefronts are adorned with “Now Hiring” and “Help Wanted” signs. Local family-owned businesses and restaurants are announcing reduced business hours and even closures, often citing a lack of employees. And many post signs imploring customers to be patient as fewer workers mean longer wait times.

A new jobs report released this week shows there are now more than 11 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. Where have the workers gone? Thanks to the Biden administration, millions are staying at home, where they’re given financial incentives not to return to the workforce. What started off as temporary measures to alleviate the pains of the pandemic have instead become a nearly two-year economic reality.

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Commentary: The Pragmatic American

“I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the telephone directory than by the Harvard University faculty.” —William F. Buckley, Jr.

While American partisans have altered their policy opinions to match the ideologies of the political class, regular Americans have ignored that marching order. Partisans no longer agree with the Other Side on anything, but average Americans don’t let team allegiance dominate their views. Even most Americans who are registered as Democrats or Republicans still favor some policies desired by majorities in the other party. Average citizens demonstrate greater independence of thought than the ideological conformists so revered by political scientists.

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Commentary: Long-Term Spaceflight Harm on Astronauts’ Teeth Needs to Be Studied More

Scientists in the faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences at McGill University have turned up a serious void in the scientific literature. Despite all of the research conducted on the effects of long-term space travel on human health, we seem to have neglected to study what happens to our teeth! Imagine an intrepid team of explorers journeying to Mars on a multi-year mission, then gradually discovering that their chompers have grown brittle and weak. They’re soon wracked with pain when chewing, making eating a torturous chore and completing their duties much more difficult.

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Commentary: Caught Between Science and Power

After losing in court and receiving a nationwide injunction against the institution of the mask mandate, the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had a decision to make: accept the court’s decision and move on to other means to combat Covid-19 without resorting to mask mandates; try to start from scratch and put a mask mandate rule in place that might conform better with statutory requirements; or appeal the case.

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Commentary: To Spy on a Trump Aide, the FBI Pursued a Dossier Rumor the Press Shot Down as Nonsense

The FBI decision to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser hinged on an unsubstantiated rumor from a Clinton campaign-paid dossier that the Washington Post’s Moscow sources had quickly shot down as “b******t” and “impossible,” according to emails disclosed last week to a D.C. court hearing the criminal case of a Clinton lawyer accused of lying to the FBI.

Though the FBI presumably had access to better sources than the newspaper, agents did little to verify the rumor that Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page had secretly met with sanctioned Kremlin officials in Moscow. Instead, the bureau pounced on the dossier report the day it received it, immediately plugging the rumor into an application under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to wiretap Page as a suspected Russian agent.

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Commentary: All the President’s Border Policies That Have Illegals Heading North

While a federal court has stayed the Biden administration’s attempt to lift pandemic-prompted restrictions on immigrants pouring across the southern border, that is just one setback in a largely successful push by the president to make it easier for migrants to enter, live, and work in the U.S.

Since Joe Biden’s first day in office, when he signed seven executive orders on immigration that, among other things, suspended deportations and ended the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program that had eased the crush of those awaiting asylum hearings, the president has in word and deed sent signals that migrants have interpreted as welcoming. The initiatives include reviving the Obama-era policy known as “catch and release,” “paroling” illegal border crossers so they can enter the country, resettling migrants through secret flights around the country, and ending the “no match” policy that had helped the government identify people who were using fraudulent credentials to find work.

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Commentary: If Elections Are to Be Trusted, They Must Be Trustworthy

early voting

The way we cast our ballots matters. Some methods are not secure. Some methods are overly complicated. Some methods are not transparent. Any of these shortcomings is enough to undermine public confidence in the outcomes of our elections – and thus undermine our democracy itself.

Voting by mail suffers from every one of those shortcomings. In 2020, the avalanche of nonprofit monies used to turn urban election offices into partisan turnout centers identified and exacerbated these flaws and the impact of legal violations.

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Commentary: Five Key Findings from a Huge Study of Dog Life Expectancy

Veterinary scientists associated with National Taiwan University and The Royal Veterinary College in the United Kingdom have completed a massive study of pet dogs’ life expectancy in the United Kingdom, providing unprecedented, evidence-backed estimates of how long owners can expect their pooches to live.

The researchers made use of the VetCompass database for their study. VetCompass is composed of anonymous patient data from primary-care veterinary practices in the UK. During the study period from January 1st, 2016 to July 31st, 2020, the researchers monitored 876,039 dogs from 18 recognized breeds as well as crossbred dogs, observing a total of 30,563 confirmed deaths.

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Commentary: America’s Future Depends on the Bioeconomy

If the coronavirus pandemic exposed the fragility of our supply chains, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has laid bare the precarious state of global food security. While inflation and sanctions on Russia have pushed up the price of food and fuel, the latest U.N. climate report provides a further urgent warning to change the status quo for the sake of our planet. It claims that global CO2 emissions must peak by 2025 to avoid catastrophic effects.

But there is an alternative to the uncomfortable choice between economic sacrifice, moral compromise, and ecological ruin. It’s called the bioeconomy, and it has the potential to address the existential challenges posed by climate change, global pandemics, and growing economic inequity. Imagine bio-based antiviral face masks, or carbon-neutral cement produced in facilities located in America’s former industrial hubs.

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Commentary: They’re Paneling Paradise to Put Up Solar – A Lot

The pathway to a green future involves taking millions of acres of pristine wilderness and turning them into fields of windmills and hot expanses of glistening panels.

The Biden administration’s goal of supplying 40% of the nation’s energy from the sun by 2035 means covering millions of acres of forest and desert habitat with vast solar panel installations fenced off like prisons. It would require 8,800 square miles of land, or 5.6 million acres, to generate that power (leaving out small installations on buildings and the like) — about the size of Rhode Island and Massachusetts combined.

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Commentary: The Kansas-Missouri Border War Isn’t Over

Missouri and Kansas are no strangers to border conflict. No, we’re not talking about the chaos that inspired “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” The fear today is over cross-border job poachers. However, that doesn’t justify giving Fidelity Security Life Insurance $12.7 million just to stay inside Kansas City. No one gets a gold medal in a race to the bottom — but politicians will waste endless taxpayer dollars trying to tell you that they’re “winning.”

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Commentary: Reaction to Musk Offer Suggests Content Moderation More About Control Than Safety

The reaction among the press and tech communities to Elon Musk’s efforts to purchase Twitter has been nothing short of apocalyptic. A common theme has been that democracy itself would be under threat if unelected billionaire oligarchs controlled what was allowed online. Yet this is precisely how social media works today. The Musk controversy, like the Cambridge Analytica story before it, highlights the real issue: the fight over content moderation is less about online safety and more about who controls the digital public square.

Only a year ago, the media cheered the unilateral decisions by a handful of billionaires to effectively banish then-President Donald Trump from the digital public square. Lawmakers and media outlets alike proclaimed the societal benefits of private companies controlling the digital public square beyond the reach of government. In contrast, the possibility of a libertarian-leaning billionaire like Musk wielding that same power has been presented as nothing short of an attack on democracy itself.

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Commentary: Retirees Turn Detective to Find ‘Lost’ Pensions

When Sam Semilia toted up his retirement finances, he was pretty sure that he was due a pension from his time working as a steam engineer for the Diamond Crystal salt company four decades before. Salty is one way to describe the search for his money, a four-year odyssey filled with shredded paper trails and assorted dead ends, along with a brief history of modern American capitalism.

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Commentary: Economically Free States Are Recovering from the COVID-19 Pandemic More Rapidly Than High Control States

The fact that our nation’s unemployment rate is approaching the low rate of 3.5% that was reached just prior to the pandemic should be a cause for celebration. But for a variety of reasons, the official unemployment number is misleading.

The employment situation is not as rosy as it may seem. There is a wide disparity among the states that can be explained by how much economic freedom they allow, including how severely each state shut down its economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Commentary: Obama/Biden Team Empowered Terrorist Networks in Syria

Hours after the Feb. 3 U.S. military raid in northern Syria that left the leader of ISIS and multiple family members dead, President Biden delivered a triumphant White House address. 

The late-night Special Forces operation in Syria’s Idlib province, Biden proclaimed, was a “testament to America’s reach and capability to take out terrorist threats no matter where they hide around the world.”

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Commentary: Energy Myths Are Triggering a New Dark Age in Europe

Europe has an energy crisis. Factories are halting operations in the face of soaring energy prices; families are paying 50% more for heating (or opting to freeze in their homes), and  Europe as a whole continues to destabilize its political position by making itself dependent on Russia for natural gas.

Europe shows what happens when you adopt policies based on false ideas—myths about energy that all but guarantee high prices, power blackouts, and a crashing economy.

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Commentary: Louisiana’s Bold Move to Overhaul High School Career and Technical Education

America’s high schools have problems. Nearly twenty years ago, Bill Gates observed that the existing model is obsolete — that, even when high schools “work,” the results are too often mediocre. In 2016, The Education Trust found that 47 percent of high schoolers graduated prepared for neither college nor a career. In 2018, Gallup reported that two-thirds of high schoolers described themselves as wholly or partially disengaged. And, just last month, the National Center for Education Statistics concluded that high schools are plagued by grade inflation: Over the past decade, grades have risen to a record high even as math and science performance by 12th graders has edged down.

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Commentary: Michigan and Pennsylvania Lockdowns Show the High Price of Government Overreach

It’s official, COVID-19 is no longer a crisis. According to a recent Axios poll, only nine percent of Americans believe COVID is a serious crisis. Yet the economic destruction caused by lockdowns lingers. Nowhere is that more obvious than in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Gov. Tom Wolf wielded immense emergency powers to shut down large parts of the economy, actions unprecedented in the 246-year history of the United States.

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Commentary: Restrict Mail-In Voting to Restore Trust

The 2020 U.S. election was unique in many respects, but its chief distinguishing feature is that it occurred during a full-scale pandemic. One consequence was that the election operated under regulations that changed how Americans vote. Some states bent voting rules to expand access. Some resorted to mail-in voting to ensure that everyone who wanted to vote could do so. These actions were, to some extent, understandable, but the resulting conditions were extraordinary, and the dramatic increase in mail-in voting created a major political phenomenon: the blue shift, in which late-counted ballots turn voting outcomes toward the Democrats.

On election night, vote totals initially looked good for President Donald Trump. But as mail-in votes rolled in, central swing states moved into Joe Biden’s column, and Biden won the election. The phenomenon disrupted expectations – and sowed distrust. Many of my Republican family members said, “It didn’t seem right. I knew something was wrong.” Trump, attuned to the emotions of his base, made use of this sentiment. He stoked suspicion that Democrats stole the election. The nightmarish result was the Jan. 6 insurrection.

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Commentary: President Biden Sides Against Union Rank-and-File

While rank-and-file union members embraced President Trump, virtually every major union endorsed Joe Biden. A quietly issued Labor Department regulation helps explain this disconnect. President Biden has put union leaders first — even at the expense of union members.

Late last year, the Labor Department rescinded Trump Administration union transparency regulations. These regulations would have required union trust funds — like apprenticeship funds and strike funds — to disclose their receipts and expenditures.

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Commentary: Pay Attention to These Supreme Court Races in Six States

Before the 2024 election, six swing states will have supreme court elections that could flip which party controls the state’s supreme court. 

Rulings by state supreme courts on redistricting maps have led Cook Political to revise their projections on who redistricting favors, from favoring Republicans, to being a wash. This didn’t happen by Democrats’ good fortune. Former Attorney General Eric Holder and other Democrats have targeted state supreme court races over the last decade and are continuing to do so. In response, the Republican State Leadership Committee declared in a memorandum: “Democrats’ past spending on state court races paying off in redistricting fight.” Republicans believe they have a plan to fight back in future court races, but this round of redistricting will likely be done before any of those races are decided.

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Commentary: Teachers Unions’ Other Foes Are Liberal Parents

Khulia Pringle would seem an unlikely critic of the local Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. The St. Paul native embarked on a teaching career in the hope of improving a school system that she saw as failing her daughter. By the time she finished her training in 2014, she had grown so disillusioned with the public school system that she took a job with an education reform group, helping to recruit and place hundreds of tutors in schools across the state.

While she shares the union’s emphasis on pushing for higher pay and smaller classrooms, the self-described liberal education activist says the federation’s three-week strike last month provided final confirmation of her worst fear: The union and public education system place a higher priority on serving their own needs than they do on serving students and parents, 60% of whom are minorities.

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Commentary: Three States Are Rethinking the Relationship Between Housing and Education Quality

Most of the nation’s 48.2 million public K-12 students are assigned to their schools based on geographic school districts or attendance zones, with few options for transferring to another public school district. This method of school assignment intertwines schooling with property wealth, limiting families’ education options according to where they can afford to live.

A 2019 Senate Joint Economic Committee report found that homes near highly rated schools were four times the cost of homes near poorly rated schools. This presents a real barrier for many families – and 56% of respondents in a 2019 Cato survey indicated that expensive housing costs prevented them from moving to better neighborhoods. The challenge has only deepened as housing prices skyrocketed during the pandemic, putting better housing and education options out of reach for many.

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Commentary: The ‘Great Opportunity Project’ Spreads Best State Economic Policies Nationwide

Next Monday is Tax Day, the last day for Americans to file their 2021 tax returns. This year’s Tax Day coincides with President Biden’s recent proposal to raise taxes on small businesses, corporations, and individuals by $2.5 trillion. His plan would partly reverse the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed at the end of 2017 that led to historic shared economic prosperity in 2018 and 2019.

While Biden is seeking to contract the size of the private economy through tax increases, numerous states are making positive reforms, including cutting taxes, to expand economic opportunity and well-being for their residents. Rather than fixating on Washington, policymakers can harness these best practices in the states and, eventually, adopt them at the federal level when the political climate allows. Call it the Great Opportunity Project.

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Commentary: Racially Sensitive ‘Restorative’ School Discipline Isn’t Behaving Very Well

Students in shop class at school with safety goggles on

The fight outside North High School in Denver was about to turn more violent as one girl wrapped a bike chain around her fist to strike the other. Just before the attacker used the weapon, school staff arrived and restrained her, ending the fight but not the story.

Most high schools would have referred the chain-wielding girl to the police. But North High brought the two girls together to resolve the conflict through conversation. They discovered that a boy was playing them off each other. Feeling less hostile after figuring out the backstory, the girls did not fight again.

This alternative method of discipline, called “restorative practices,” is spreading across the country – and being put to the test. Many schools are enduring sharp increases in violence following the return of students from COVID lockdowns, making this softer approach a higher-stakes experiment in student safety.

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Commentary: The State and Local Leaders Who Aren’t Ready to Give Up Pandemic Power

Gavin Newsom, Laura Kelly and Roy Cooper

While many government leaders sound the all clear message on COVID-19, dropping vaccine restrictions and mask mandates, some states and municipalities are clinging to the emergency powers that allowed them to govern people’s behavior in unprecedented ways.

Citing the need to direct emergency funding and oversee hospitals, they have held on to their emergency orders even as many restaurants, shopping centers, and sports arenas are once again packed and lingering pandemic concerns have faded into the background of a more normal life.

Emergency orders at the state level are usually issued in response to temporary threats, especially weather disasters, and are wrapped up in a few days or weeks. Soon after the new coronavirus exploded in March 2020, most governors issued broad executive orders. Under these powers, governors banned crowds, closed businesses, and imposed mask and vaccination mandates. They have also deferred to unelected public health officials in imposing restrictions.

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Commentary: Republican Election Integrity Efforts Work

Person with mask on at a computer.

After the serious election integrity issues of 2020, Republican leaders and the Republican National Committee have not been idle, but responded on behalf of voters to ensure that free, fair, and transparent elections remain a hallmark of American democracy. Joe Biden and Democrats predictably have done everything under the sun to smear these efforts, even calling those everyday Americans who oppose the efforts racist. But now, over a year later, the results are in, and Democrats have been totally wrong.

Georgia and Texas are perfect examples. Almost a year ago, after the passage of SB 202 – a highly popular Republican-led election integrity law which expanded early voting, poll watching, and voter ID requirements – Democrats pulled out all thestops and started lying. They said the law was “racist,” would “suppress” voter turnout, and even backed a boycott meant to hurt small businesses, many of them black-owned.

Essentially, they shamefully tried to stir up chaos along racial lines. But on Election Day, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution depicted a different scene entirely, writing that voters saw “short lines,” “few problems,” and no “obstacles at the polls.” It is time for all race-baiting Democrat politicians to stop their lies and admit their claims aren’t based in reality.

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Commentary: The Medical Industry’s Embrace of Woke Science

group of doctors

Just a few years ago, concepts such as “white supremacy,” “systemic racism,” and “structural intersectionality” were not the standard fare of prestigious medical journals. These are now the guiding ideas in a February special issue of “Health Affairs” that focuses on medicine and race.

Featuring nearly two dozen articles with titles such as “Racism Runs Through It” and “Sick and Tired of Being Excluded,” as well as a poem called “Identity,” the Washington, D.C.-based, peer-reviewed journal analyzes racial health disparities not through biology, behavior, or culture, but through the lens of  “whiteness,” along with concepts such as power, systems of oppression, state-sanctioned violence, and critical race praxis – a sampling of terms that come up in the February issue.

Health Affairs, dubbed by a Washington Post columnist as “the bible of health policy,” represents something much more ambitious than woke virtue signaling. Its February issue reflects the effort of newly empowered “anti-racist” scholars to transform concepts that are still considered speculative and controversial – and some say unprovable – into scientific fact. This growing effort to document, measure, and quantify racism is being advanced by other high-profile publications, including The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and Scientific American, which last year ran articles entitled “Modern Mathematics Confronts Its White, Patriarchal Past” and “Denial of Evolution Is a Form of White Supremacy.”

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Commentary: More Mining at Home Is a Win-Win for Environment and Defense

This week, the U.S. Senate Energy Committee is examining the feasibility of building domestic supply chains for crucial minerals. The U.S. is currently completely dependent on imports of rare earth elements (REEs) that will determine whether the Biden Administration’s environmental and electrification goals are met. REEs also are used in essential defense systems like fighter jet engines, missile guidance and defense systems, and secure communication networks. Regardless if you are a champion of environmental protection or a strong national defense, bringing crucial supply chains to the U.S. will result in less emissions, higher environmental standards, and more control over materials that are the key to a greener and more secure future.

Green technology that underpins solar panels, wind turbines, and the lithium-ion batteries that store energy all require REEs. Neodymium, cobalt, copper, and lithium are all used in electrical vehicles, and those minerals are just a few of the 17 key minerals that the U.S. is completely dependent on imports for, and they’re a fraction of 29 other minerals that the U.S. imports half its domestic needs.

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Commentary: If the Fed Starts a Digital Currency, It Had Better Guarantee Privacy

President Biden’s latest executive order calls for extensive research on digital assets and may usher in a U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC), eventually allowing individuals to maintain accounts with the Federal Reserve. Other central banks are already on the job. The People’s Bank of China began piloting a digital renminbi in April 2021. India’s Reserve Bank intends to launch a digital rupee as early as this year.

A CBDC may upgrade the physical cash the Federal Reserve already issues — but only if its designers appreciate the value of financial privacy.

Cash is a 7th century technology, with obvious drawbacks today. It pays no interest, is less secure than a bank deposit, and is difficult to insure against loss or theft. It is unwieldy for large transactions, and also requires those transacting to be at the same place at the same time — a big problem in an increasingly digital world.

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Commentary: The Tax Increase That’s Hidden in Plain Sight

Americans have less money than they had last year — though taxes haven’t been raised. So what’s the problem? Inflation, which has increased at a 40-year high annual pace of 7.9%. It acts as a hidden tax because we don’t see it listed on our tax bills, but we sure see less money on our bank accounts.

In fact, inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings for private employees are down about 2.5% over the last year. This means a person with $31.60 in earnings per hour is buying 2.5% less of a grocery basket purchased just last year. “For a typical family, the inflation tax means a loss in real income of more than $1,900 per year,” stated Joel Griffin, a research fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

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Commentary: Scientists Discover Two New Translucent Glass Frogs in the Andes

glass frog

A team of American and Ecuadorian scientists has discovered two new species of glassfrogs in the Tropical Andes of Ecuador. Glassfrogs are known for their translucent undersides which reveal their insides.

The Tropical Andes are considered the greatest of all biodiversity hotspots. Running along the western coast of South America, the region includes forests, grasslands, and mountainous terrains across altitudes from 1,600 to 16,000 feet! Many of the tens of thousands of plant and animal species that dwell there can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

It was undoubtedly this reputation that attracted the researchers to the area back in 2015, when they initially found the new species of glassfrogs. Juan Guayasamin, a Professor at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, and his colleagues have spotted the amphibians numerous times since then, but still, they haven’t been easy to find. Hyalinobatrachium mashpi and H. nouns, as Guayasamin has dubbed the frogs, typically occupy lofty vegetation along steep streams and rivers in the high-elevation cloud forests. Both have beautiful yellow and green coloration on their backs with clear spots. Most individuals were found on the undersides of leaves, where females lay their eggs, and where both male and female partners remain to watch over them.

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Commentary: States vs. Biden’s Prison-to-Streets Pipeline for Illegal Immigrant Convicts

The Biden administration has allowed a more than eleven-fold increase in the number of illegal immigrant offenders let out of Texas prisons and into the general U.S. population, despite federal immigration law requiring ICE to take convicts into custody after serving their time, usually in advance of deportation.

The disclosure emerges from state-initiated litigation that is beginning to shed light on what critics call the administration’s secretive and lenient handling of immigrants beginning last year – treatment that is imperiling public safety, alarmed state authorities say.

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Commentary: Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Soft Spot for Drug Dealers, Pedophiles and Terrorists

Ketanji Brown Jackson

If confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, she vowed to limit the government’s “overreach” in punishing criminals and enforce the guarantees offered the accused under the Bill of Rights.

That said, Jackson testified, “It’s very important that people be held accountable for their crimes, so if they’re not, then it would be a problem for the rule of law.”

Her idea of the best way to hold criminals “accountable” is a key issue the Senate will have to weigh as it votes to confirm her confirmation early next month.

As the count stands now, it appears she has enough votes to squeeze past an evenly divided Senate. But Republicans are pressuring Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to release documents they say shed more light on Jackson’s record on the bench, as well as the sentencing commission. Democratic Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin refuses to turn over even redacted copies of the presentencing reports generated in the child sex offender cases Jackson presided over. He also will not release her emails and other internal correspondence from her time on the commission. The White House, moreover, is withholding an additional 48,000 pages of documents that likely include some of her commission emails.

“Why are Democrats hiding her record? What is Judge Jackson hiding?” Davis asked.

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Commentary: Pharma Giant’s Mandate Makes Ex-Workers of Vaccine Objectors

Eli Lilly Corporate Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Mandy Van Gorp was confident that her employer of 18 years, Eli Lilly and Company, would treat her fairly when she objected to its company-wide COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The pharmaceutical giant had promised to exempt employees with valid health or religious objections to the policy and she believed she had had both.

Despite presenting a doctor’s note in support of her exemption, citing an auto-immune disease, the company denied her request for a medical exemption. To add injury to the insult she felt, she tested positive for COVID-19 the day after receiving her rejection letter. She then appealed for a six-month deferral on grounds of the positive test. Lilly also denied that request. When she then raised her religious concerns, Lilly said she had missed the application deadline – a deadline that had lapsed several weeks before Lilly replied to her initial accommodation request.

The “toughest night was when we were sitting at the dinner table and my 12-year-old was sobbing, hysterically begging me to get the vaccine so I could keep my job,” recalled Van Gorp, a 42-year-old sales representative and mother of three. “I had to explain that my choice was not about money and that I felt God was leading me not to follow a mandate. It’s hard to explain that to a 12-year-old.”

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Commentary: Ukraine Crisis Reveals New Bipartisan Energy Opportunities

city factory at night

In just the last three weeks, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has significantly altered our national energy policy landscape and dramatically shifted the political dynamics around legislative priorities and political possibilities in Congress. The roiling of global oil markets, underpinned by an already tight supply situation from the post-pandemic economic awakening, has been driven by perceived risks of supply disruption caused by the Russian invasion. Risk premiums and a formal American embargo of Russian energy have sent prices skyrocketing and revealed, once again, that we have few good short-term options when faced with energy supply challenges. While our tools are limited today, the current moment may present an important window of opportunity to develop a policy approach that reduces this vulnerability and limits our exposure next time. This renewed attention to energy security combined with a focus on fighting energy inflation has the potential to galvanize a bipartisan policy pathway that would have been unthinkable as the year began.

The broad support that materialized in Congress and the White House for a ban on Russian oil and natural gas imports earlier this month is a case in point. Remarkably, widespread congressional support for the ban occurred despite already high gasoline prices, with oil prices well over $100 a barrel and gasoline averaging more than $4.30 a gallon across the nation.

As President Biden said when announcing the ban, “Americans have rallied to support the Ukrainian people and have made it clear we will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war… This is a step that we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin, but there will be costs as well here in the United States.”

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Commentary: Expect Big Pivot from SEC to Require Climate, ESG Disclosures in Investor Filings

The biggest decision the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is likely to make this year will be on mandated disclosure of information related to climate change and corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. The Commission has been working on the issue since early last year, and a new proposed rule is now scheduled to be released on March 21st. The contents of that rule will likely determine the future direction of “responsible” investing in the United States.

In March of last year, then-Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee issued a request for information on the matter, consisting of 15 questions and described as a response to the “demand for climate change information and questions about whether current disclosures adequately inform investors.” The questions covered a wide range of topics, from how to measure greenhouse gas emissions to how climate disclosures “would complement a broader ESG disclosure standard.”

When the SEC first issued guidance on climate change-related disclosures for public companies in 2010, the standards were fairly general and advisory, but the questions from last year’s request-for-information suggests that the agency’s leadership is considering a more aggressive and prescriptive framework.

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Commentary: Weird Things Happen When People Are Blindfolded for 96 Hours

brunette woman with a blindfold on

Vision is the primary way that humans sense the world, so what happens when you suddenly strip sight away? In 2004, researchers at Harvard Medical School found out.

Alvaro Pascual-Leone, a Professor of Neurology, led a team that blindfolded thirteen healthy young adults for 96 hours straight. During that time, as part of a broader study, participants were taught braille for four hours a day, engaged in tactile stimulation activities like puzzles and clay modeling, took daily brain scans, and otherwise lived their lives – they got dressed, they ate, they walked around, and they went to the gym, all in total, numbing darkness.

“A specially designed blindfold was worn that prevented all light perception,” the researchers described. “It was held in place by a Velcro strap and further secured by Ace bandages. The blindfold permitted full motion of the eyes as well as opening and closing of eyelids. Potential tampering with the blindfold by the subjects was controlled with the use of a piece of photographic paper attached to the inside of the blindfold.”

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Commentary: New Afghanistan Report Warns of China’s Emerging Role

man in green jacket standing through sun roof in a moving vehicle

At a time of tectonic shifts in foreign policy alliances, with Russia and China forming a new pact and aggressively asserting themselves on the international stage, Washington’s national security community is splintered across the ideological spectrum on how best to counter the dual threats.

Yet, even before Russia invaded Ukraine, a group of national security practitioners, military veterans, and scholars began trying to move beyond their policy differences to help repair the damage inflicted by the last U.S. foreign policy failure – the chaotic U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan nearly seven months ago.

When the Vandenberg Coalition, a group of primarily Republican experts representing diverse foreign policy views and approaches, began their Afghanistan assessment, its members couldn’t have known that international alarm over Russia’s bloody land grab would soon eclipse the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan. Some national security experts believe that the two U.S. foreign policy nightmares are inextricably linked – that America’s ignominious retreat in Afghanistan emboldened Vladimir Putin to move on Ukraine.

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