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Scene above:  Constitution Island, where Revolutionary War forts still exist, as photographed from Trophy Point, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
 

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MAY 27-28,  2023

SOME PROGRESS:  Well, we know that one good thing will come out of the negotiations over raising the debt limit.  Be thankful for small blessings.  From Fox: 

The highly-anticipated debt ceiling package House Republicans and President Biden announced on Sunday includes a provision fast-tracking a massive 303-mile West Virginia-to-Virginia natural gas pipeline project for approval.

The unexpected carveout green-lighting the billion-dollar Mountain Valley Pipeline — which is 94% complete, but has been mired in a lengthy permitting process for years — was immediately cheered by West Virginia lawmakers who have touted the project's expected economic benefits for years. The pipeline is projected to create 2,500 construction jobs, $40 million in new tax revenue for West Virginia, $10 million in new tax revenue for Virginia and up to $250 million in royalties for West Virginia landowners.

"After working with Speaker McCarthy and reiterating what completing the Mountain Valley Pipeline would mean for American jobs and domestic energy production, I am thrilled it is included in the debt ceiling package that avoids default," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement.

"Despite delay after delay, we continued to fight to get this critical natural gas pipeline up and running, and its inclusion in this deal is a significant victory for the future of West Virginia," she added.

According to a spokesperson for Capito, the pipeline's approval was ultimately earmarked in the debt ceiling deal after she personally engaged with McCarthy about its importance. The spokesperson added that the entire congressional delegation from West Virginia had pushed for its inclusion in the package.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also applauded House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for ensuring the project was included in the deal. Manchin's attempts last year to fast-track the pipeline in a budget package in September and a defense spending package in December both failed to garner enough support.

"Last summer, I introduced legislation to complete the Mountain Valley Pipeline," Manchin said Sunday. "I am pleased Speaker McCarthy and his leadership team see the tremendous value in completing the MVP to increase domestic energy production and drive down costs across America and especially in West Virginia."

COMMENT:  A small but important victory over the reckless energy policies of the Biden administration, which have made America once again dependent on foreign energy.  President Trump had made us energy independent.

May 28,  2023    Permalink

 

 

MAY 25-26,  2023

PATHETIC:  How can we possibly compete with other advanced nations?  From Fox:

A Texas high school had to postpone its graduation after only a few of their seniors met graduation requirements.

While preparing for the ceremony, students at Marlin High School received a disappointing announcement on Wednesday that their graduation would be rescheduled for June.

The school district announced the sudden change in a statement posted to Facebook along with calling for a mandatory meeting for senior parents that same night.

Community members and parents took to the comment section to blast the school district for the outcome. Some parents said that the move is not fair to the students who did pass the graduation requirements.

According to NPR, Marlin ISD Superintendent Darryl Henson said a review of attendance, grades and credits found that only five out of 33 seniors initially met graduation requirements. The school tried to work with students and was able to "help an additional 12 students resolve missing credits and other issues as of Wednesday evening."

However, despite their efforts, it was not enough and the district put out the statement to families about the graduation postponement to "provide more time for students to meet necessary requirements for graduations, many of whom did not meet requirements due to attendance or grades."

"Our district will grow from this setback. Let this be a lesson learned for all," Henson said via Twitter. "As we continue to go through our annual graduation audit, it's our obligation to ensure that all students have met all requirements. Support, accountability, & integrity will remain at the forefront."

He tweeted an image of his statement that read, "We hold firm to our belief that every student in Marlin ISD can and will achieve their potential. We maintain high expectations, not as an imposition, but as a show of faith in our students' abilities. As we navigate these challenges, one thing is clear: students in Marlin ISD will be held to the same high standard as any other student in Texas." 

This comes after the recent results of the national test scores that showed sharp declines in math and reading.

Math scores saw their largest declines ever, while reading scores dropped to levels not seen since 1992 for fourth and eighth graders across the country, according to the Nation’s Report Card. The average mathematics score for fourth-grade students fell five points from 2019 to 2022. The score for eight-graders dropped eight points. Reading for both grades fell three points since 2019." 

Math scores were worst among eighth graders, with 38% earning scores deemed "below basic" — a cutoff that measures, for example, whether students can find the third angle of a triangle if they’re given the other two. That’s worse than 2019, when 31% of eighth graders scored below that level. 

Not a single state saw improvement in their average test scores, with some recording no change at all. Schools in large urban districts also reflected the national average.

COMMENT:  The Chinese must really be afraid of us.  How can we defeat those American geniuses? 

Very easily, it appears.

May 26, 2023       Permalink

 

ANOTHER REMINDER OF THE REAL WORLD:  Oh yes, our election campaign is important, and will grow more so.  But one major purpose of Urgent Agenda is to remind readers of critical, even potentially catastrophic events that change our world while we're looking away.  Consider developments in Iran, from Reuters:

DUBAI, May 25 (Reuters) - Iran successfully test-launched a ballistic missile with a potential 2,000-km range on Thursday, state media said, two days after the chief of Israel's armed forces raised the prospect of "action" against Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Iran, which has one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, says its weapons are capable of reaching the bases of arch-foes Israel and the United States in the region.

Despite U.S. and European opposition, the Islamic Republic has said it will further develop its "defensive" missile programme.

"Our message to Iran's enemies is that we will defend the country and its achievements. Our message to our friends is that we want to help regional stability," Iranian Defence Minister Mohammadreza Ashtiani said.

State TV broadcast a few seconds of footage of what it said was the launch of an upgraded version of Iran's Khoramshahr 4 ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,243 miles) and able to carry a 1,500-kg (3,300-pound) warhead.

"The domestically built Kheibar missile's outstanding features include quick preparation and launch time, which makes it a tactical weapon in addition to a strategic one," it said.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said, "Iran's development and proliferation of ballistic missiles poses a serious threat to regional and international security and remains a significant non-proliferation challenge."

Iran was continuing to seek missile technology from foreign suppliers and conducting tests in defiance of a UN Security Council resolution, Miller told reporters at a regular press briefing, adding that Washington would continue to use tools including sanctions to counter those efforts.

COMMENT:  Yes, we've sure been effective countering Iran's nuclear efforts.  Virtually every credible story out there tells us that Tehran is literally within weeks of producing a live nuclear device.  But who cares?  The really important thing is making sure all our college students use the right pronouns.

May 26, 2023       Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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