Category Archives: Educational

White House Wants to End Some Eco Based Subsidies

By: Reuters

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Monday the Trump administration wants to end subsidies for electric cars and other items, including renewable energy sources.

Asked about plans after General Motors Co (GM.N) announced U.S. plant closings and layoffs last week, Kudlow pointed to the $2,500-to-$7,500 tax credit for consumers who buy plug-in electric vehicles, including those made by GM, under federal law.

“As a matter of our policy, we want to end all of those subsidies,” Kudlow said. “And by the way, other subsidies that were imposed during the Obama administration, we are ending, whether it’s for renewables and so forth.” 

Asked about a timeline, he said: “It’s just all going to end in the near future. I don’t know whether it will end in 2020 or 2021.”

The tax credits are capped by Congress at 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer, after which the subsidy phases out. GM has said it expects to hit the threshold by the end of 2018, which means under the current law, its tax credit scheme would end in 2020. Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) said in July it had hit the threshold. Other automakers may not hit the cap for several years. 

Experts say the White House cannot change the cap unilaterally. U.S. President Donald Trump last week threatened to eliminate subsidies for GM in retaliation for the company’s decision.

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Could Premature Apology Be Bad For Children ?

By: Laura Bailey

Parents who force unremorseful kids to apologize to others before they’re truly sorry may do more harm than good.

That’s because the point main point of an apology—to express remorse and repair relationships—is lost because children may dislike the apologizer even more after the insincere apology than before. Children know when you mean you’re truly sorry.

The new study from the University of Michigan looked at whether children distinguish between willingly given and coerced expressions of remorse—and they do. The findings suggest that exploring ways to help your child learn to have empathy for the victim, thus ensuring a sincere apology, is more constructive than immediately coercing a reluctant “I’m sorry.”

“Make sure the child understands why the other person feels bad, and make sure the child is really ready to say ‘I’m sorry.’ Then have them apologize,” said study author Craig Smith, research investigator at the U-M Center for Human Growth and Development.

“Coercing your child to apologize is going to backfire. Other kids don’t view that apologizer as likable. The teachable element of having the child apologize has gone away and the goal of the apology prompt—to help your child express remorse, soothe someone else’s hurt feelings and make your child more likable—is lost.”

Smith and colleagues looked at how children ages 4-9 viewed three types of apology scenarios among peers: unprompted apologies, prompted but willingly given apologies, and coerced apologies.

They found that kids viewed willing apologies the same, whether prompted or unprompted by adults. But the coerced apologies weren’t seen as effective, especially by the 7-to-9-year-olds, Smith said.

All children viewed the transgressors as feeling worse after the apology than before, but the 7-to-9-year-old children thought the coerced apologizers’ bad feelings were rooted in self-interest (concern about punishment, for example), rather than remorse.

And, children of all ages thought the victims felt better after receiving a willing apology, but they saw the recipient of the forced apology as feeling worse than the recipients of the willing apologies.

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POTUS stands With Saudi Arabia After Controversial Killing

By: Kevin Breuninger of CNBC

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that the U.S. stands with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a lengthy statement — punctuated with eight exclamation points — Trump said that “we may never know all of the facts surrounding” Khashoggi’s death, but “our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Trump said that U.S. intelligence agencies are still assessing all the information surrounding the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the Saudi royal family, in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October.

The Washington Post reported Friday that the CIA had concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself had ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, citing people familiar with the matter.

Trump told reporters Saturday that a “very full report” will be coming by Tuesday on the investigation by the U.S. But in his statement Tuesday, Trump appeared to cast doubt that the U.S. probe of the matter was complete.

“It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event,” Trump said in the statement, though “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

In remarks outside the White House before departing for the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump said the CIA had “nothing definitive” on the crown prince’s involvement.

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Indigenous Woman Forced To Sterilize If They Wanted To See Their Children

By: CBC

As a senator calls for a nationwide review of the forced sterilization of Indigenous women, a lawyer representing a proposed class action detailed the women’s accounts of being sterilized without proper and informed consent.

“In the throes of labour … they would be approached, harassed, coerced into signing these consent forms,” said Alisa Lombard, an associate with Maurice Law, the first Indigenous-owned national law firm in Canada.

The women would be told that they could not leave until their tubes were tied, cut or cauterized, she added, or that “they could not see their baby until they agreed.”

At least 60 Indigenous women are pursuing a class-action lawsuit launched last year, alleging they underwent forced sterilizations over the past 20 to 25 years in Saskatchewan. Each woman is claiming about $7 million in damages.

In most of the cases — some happening as recently as 2017 — the “women report being told that the procedure was reversible,” Lombard said. 

She said the procedures, known as tubal ligation, have had a huge effect on the women.

“Many have had bouts and persistent depression, anxiety — many are no longer with us because of those ailments and those circumstances.”

In a statement to The Current following Tuesday’s broadcast, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott described forced sterilization as “a serious violation of human rights.”

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America’s Religious Affiliates Are On a Steady Decline

By: Jean Hopfensperger of Star Tribune

The men and women relaxing on yoga mats recently at a Minneapolis meditation center didn’t know it, but most belonged to the fastest-growing religion in America — none at all.

They included a former Lutheran who left the church because the Bible clashed with science, a former Catholic who became leery of its teachings, a former Baptist uninspired by Sunday services, a young man raised with no religion.

They reveal a major force behind the empty pews in churches across Minnesota and the nation. Nearly one in four Americans now declare themselves unaffiliated with any organized religion. An estimated 56 million strong, and growing, there are more of them than all mainline Protestants combined.

The church experience that was central to many of their parents’ lives has lost relevance and credibility.

“I can’t imagine that only one religion has access to the pearly gates,” said Lisa Pool, explaining her church breakup after class ended. “I realized there are all kinds of different paths to being a good person.”

The surge has Minnesota religious leaders wrestling with implications for the future of their churches, the future of Christianity. More than half of U.S. churches now see fewer than 100 worshipers on weekends, and they’re getting older, reports the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

Particularly alarming is the plunge in church membership by people in their 20s and 30s. One in three are now churchless, according to the Pew Research Center. Faith leaders are racking their brains over how to reach these adults who may never step under a steeple.

“We are [all] worried,” said the Rev. John Bauer, pastor at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis. “We all know it’s an issue, but don’t know what to do about it. It’s clear we can’t rely on the old ways of doing things for this next generation.”

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Stan Lee Marvel Creator Passes At 95

By: Mike Barnes of Hollywood Reporter

Stan Lee, the legendary writer, editor and publisher of Marvel Comics whose fantabulous but flawed creations made him a real-life superhero to comic book lovers everywhere, has died. He was 95.

Lee, who began in the business in 1939 and created or co-created Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and Ant-Man, among countless other characters, died early Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a family representative told The Hollywood Reporter.

Kirk Schenck, an attorney for Lee’s daughter, J.C. Lee, also confirmed his death to the Associated Press.

Lee’s final few years were tumultuous. After Joan, his wife of 69 years, died in July 2017, he sued executives at POW! Entertainment — a company he founded in 2001 to develop film, TV and video game properties — for $1 billion alleging fraud, then abruptly dropped the suit weeks later. He also sued his ex-business manager and filed for a restraining order against a man who had been handling his affairs. (Lee’s estate is estimated to be worth as much as $70 million.) And in June 2018, it was revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department had been investigating reports of elder abuse against him.

On his own and through his work with frequent artist-writer collaborators Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others, Lee catapulted Marvel from a tiny venture into the world’s No. 1 publisher of comic books and, later, a multimedia giant.

In 2009, The Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion, and most of the top-grossing superhero films of all time — led by Avengers: Infinity War‘s $2.05 billion worldwide take earlier this year — have featured Marvel characters.

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Is Gerrymandering Killing Democracy?

By: Zachery Roth of Daily Beast

Thousands of would-be voters at risk of being disenfranchised by ultra-strict registration rules. A draconian ID law that could keep Native Americans from the polls en masse. New measures targeting voting by college students. A Hispanic-majority city that moved its lone polling place out of town. 

As the 2018 campaign nears its end, experts who track voter suppression saythis is the worst it’s been in the modern era. In fact, making it harder to vote, especially for racial minorities, now appears to be—with the possible exception of stoking fear over a group of desperate migrants still about 700 miles from the Texas border—the single most important plank of the GOP’s strategy.

Aside from likely giving Republicans an undeserved boost in several key races, the drive to restrict voting has reached a scale that should raise serious questions about the democratic legitimacy of our elections. And alongside the extreme Republican gerrymander—currently the only reason why the party has even an outside shot at holding onto the House—it represents a massive structural obstacle to Democrats ever achieving the power their popular support deserves. In other words, Republicans can only win by rigging the game. 

Georgia has grabbed many of the headlines. Secretary of State Brian Kemp reportedly put around 53,000 registrations—70 percent of them from African-Americans—on pending status because of minor discrepancies with the information on state records.

The difference could be as trivial as a misplaced hyphen or a missing middle initial. Those on pending status are supposed to still be able to vote by showing ID, and two late-breaking court rulings softening some of the rules may help. But given the likely level of confusion that’s been kicked up, how it all will play out is anyone’s guess.

Kemp also has aggressively purged Georgia’s voter rolls, raising serious concerns that eligible voters have been wrongly removed. Since 2016, he has scrapped over one in 10 names. And in the four years before that, he purged 1.5 million, twice as many as in the previous four years.

The likely chief beneficiary of these strict policies? That would be Kemp himself, the Republican locked in that super-tight race with Democrat Stacey Abrams, who’s bidding to be the nation’s first ever female African-American governor. Oh, and just for good measure, back in 2014 Kemp, on flimsy evidence, launched an aggressive investigation into a voter registration group serving mostly minority voters that Abrams had founded, significantly stymieing the group’s work.

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Swedes Receiving Tech Injections

By: NPR

Technology continues to get closer and closer to our bodies, from the phones in our pockets to the smartwatches on our wrists. Now, for some people, it’s getting under their skin.

In Sweden, a country rich with technological advancement, thousands have had microchips inserted into their hands.

The chips are designed to speed up users’ daily routines and make their lives more convenient — accessing their homes, offices and gyms is as easy as swiping their hands against digital readers.

They also can be used to store emergency contact details, social media profiles or e-tickets for events and rail journeys within Sweden.

Proponents of the tiny chips say they’re safe and largely protected from hacking, but one scientist is raising privacy concerns around the kind of personal health data that might be stored on the devices.

Around the size of a grain of rice, the chips typically are inserted into the skin just above each user’s thumb, using a syringe similar to that used for giving vaccinations. The procedure costs about $180.

So many Swedes are lining up to get the microchips that the country’s main chipping company says it can’t keep up with the number of requests.

More than 4,000 Swedes have adopted the technology, with one company, Biohax International, dominating the market. The chipping firm was started five years ago by Jowan Osterlund, a former professional body piercer.

After spending the past two years working full time on the project, he is currently developing training materials so he can hire Swedish doctors and nurses to help take on some of his heavy workload.

“Having different cards and tokens verifying your identity to a bunch of different systems just doesn’t make sense,” he says. “Using a chip means that the hyper-connected surroundings that you live in every day can be streamlined.”

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Can Trump Ban Birthright Citizenship ?

By: Greg Sargent

Having spent the past few weeks absurdly hyping the “caravan” of Central American migrants into a national emergency, President Trump is now rolling out a new stunt: He’s claiming he intends to sign an executive order ending birthright citizenship.

Trump told Axios in an interview that he plans to act unilaterally to end the 14th Amendment’s guarantee that all persons born in the United States are automatically citizens. Ending birthright citizenship is something Trump floated during the campaign as part of his immigration agenda, arguing that undocumented immigrants are crossing the border to drop babies on our soil, thus making them citizens.

Trump is now saying he can do this via executive order.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump told Axios. “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and that baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump added. “It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.” Trump concluded: “It’s in the process. It’ll happen.”

No, it won’t happen.

The idea of ending birthright citizenship — including by executive order — has long been a dream of restrictionists. It was recently floated by former Trump adviser Michael Anton, the creator of the “Flight 93 Election” imagery, which posited that immigration poses an existential demographic emergency to the United States and that bipartisan elites who favor it are carrying out a form of assisted civilizational suicide.

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Tim Cook ( CEO of Apple) Demands Federal Privacy Laws

By: James Vincent of The Verge

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for new digital privacy laws in the United States, warning that the collection of huge amounts of personal data by companies is harming society.

Speaking at a privacy conference in Brussels, Cook gave an impassioned and forceful speech. He reiterated familiar talking points like Apple’s commitment to privacy (and, by implication, its rivals lackof commitment) while spelling out public concerns in recent years regarding data collection, surveillance, and manipulation.

Cook said that modern technology has led to the creation of a “data-industrial complex” in which private and everyday information is “weaponized against us with military efficiency.” He added that this mechanism doesn’t just affect individuals, but whole societies.

“Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies,” said Cook. “Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false. This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or crazy.”

Cook did not mention triggers for this crisis, but his comments clearly reference recent events like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the personal data of millions of Facebook users was harvested by a consulting firm with the aim of swaying users’ political views. Similarly, while Cook never mentioned by name tech companies like Facebook and Google, it’s clear that these were targets in his criticism of indiscriminate data collection.

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