Not Your Grandpa’s Mermaids & Orcs
September 15, 2022
Conservative Civil War
As the last primary elections wrap up and we head into this year’s midterms on November 8, another race is heating up in the Republican Party. Representative Byron Donalds of Florida plans to face off with incumbent Representative Elise Stefanik out of New York for her position as the GOP’s conference chair, the third-most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives behind Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Whip Steve Scalise.
Donalds announced he’d challenge just an hour after Stefanik said that she would run for re-election as House conference chair if Republicans win the majority of the legislature come November, as they’re expected to do. While she’d previously promised to serve as conference chair for only one Congress, her bid for re-election was no surprise as her upward mobility in the party is currently blocked. There’s a tense fight for Republican Whip, the next step up in the House, and the top GOP spot on the House Education and Labor Committee looks to be cut off as well. Stefanik currently has broad support in the House GOP, both from the center and right sides of the party, with many praising her leadership of party messaging. She’s expected to win the race easily.
For Donalds, support comes from less-established corners of the GOP. One of two Black conference members and a member of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus, Donalds hopes to win based on his ability to appeal to “people who typically are not Republicans.” Other Freedom Caucus members have spoken out in support of him, with Rep. Dan Bishop saying he’d “love to see a conservative” as conference chair, implying that Stefanik’s centrism is not the direction he wants for the party. The contest shows a long-present but growing divide in the GOP between more moderate party members and a pro-Trump, far-right section. (Politico)
“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” – Confucius
Kenya Cut Your Carbon Emissions?
- Newly elected Kenyan President William Ruto has announced an ambitious new climate plan for his country. Following his inauguration on Tuesday, Ruto outlined his new energy policy for Kenya, which includes phasing out the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity by 2030.
- “In our country, women and men, young people, farmers, workers, and local communities suffer the consequences of climate emergency,” he said in his inauguration speech. “We must act urgently to keep global heating levels below 1.5 Celsius, help those in need and end addiction to fossil fuels.” Ruto promises a full and just transition to fully-renewable electricity by 2030, looking to make sure that all Kenyans benefit from the energy shift.
- Kenya’s fifth president faces some speed bumps on his way to his green power goal. A record-breaking drought across Africa promises to weaken any hydroelectric infrastructure, and Kenya’s lacking geothermal and solar infrastructure will need vast improvements to meet the 2030 deadline. (WaPo, $)
Siphoning Off The Gas Prices
- Amid sky-high gas and electricity prices across Europe, the E.U. is looking to raise €140 billion by taking some money out of its bloated energy sector. The plan includes capping profits for renewable and nuclear electricity producers while also taxing the windfall earnings of oil and gas companies.
- The move to limit profits from the energy industry comes as European wind, solar, and nuclear energy generators are raking in massive profits thanks to tariffs linked to the wholesale price of natural gas. Natural gas prices rose 550% compared to last year thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March.
- “These companies are making revenues they never accounted for, they never even dreamt of,” said E.U. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday. “It is wrong to receive extraordinary record profits benefiting from war and on the back of consumers.” The regulation would cap the price of renewably produced energy at €180 per megawatt hour, demand a “crisis contribution” from fossil fuel producers, and introduce targets for countries to slash their electricity consumption during peak hours. (CNN)
Additional World News
- ‘What is Berlin afraid of?’ Ukraine presses Germany for more military kit (Guardian)
- Clash erupts between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan border guards (Al Jazeera)
- Australia to take South Pacific leaders to UK royal funeral (ABC)
- China is committing genocide. The world has no plan to stop it. (Vox)
- Ceasefire is short-lived as Azerbaijan and Armenia resume attacks (CNN)
- Canada’s Trudeau announces C$4.5 bln inflation relief package for low earners (Reuters)
- Millions in China brace for torrential rains and floods as Typhoon Muifa makes landfall (CNN)
Some Good News
- EXCLUSIVE EU aims to ban products, imports made with forced labour (Reuters)
- How a new hard hat technology can protect workers better from concussion (NPR)
- New malaria vaccine is world-changing, say scientists (BBC)
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The Renaming Renaissance
- The independent commission that’s been recommending ships, base roads, buildings, and other items that should be renamed to no longer recognize offensive figures issued their final list of recommendations on Tuesday. The final cost for all its renaming suggestions is expected to be around $62.5 million.
- The latest group of assets includes two navy ships, some army vessels, street signs, water towers, athletic fields, hospital doors, and even decals on recycling bins. Perhaps most notable, however, is the recommendation that the Confederate monument at Arlington National Cemetery be torn down because, as the vice-chair of the panel Retired Army Brig Gen Ty Seidule said, it’s “problematic from top to bottom.”
- The pedestal features 14 shields, engraved with the coats of arms of the 13 Confederate states and Maryland, which didn’t secede or join the Confederacy. There is also a “Mammy”-type slave woman holding what is said to be the child of a white officer, and an enslaved man following his owner to war. Its Latin inscription translates to: “The victorious cause was pleasing to the gods, but the lost cause to Cato.” (Guardian)
Hoist With Their Own Regard
- Despite investments by Republicans in pushing state Senate President Chuck Morse, Don Bolduc has won New Hampshire’s Republican U.S. Senate nomination. This means Bolduc will face off against Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan.
- Bolduc has an affinity for election conspiracies, and benefited from a Democratic group that spent over $3 million to try to make him seem like he was a follower of Mitch McConnell, and therefore an enemy of MAGA. Hassan calls Bolduc “too extreme” and said he has a “radical, backward-looking agenda.” (NBC)
Additional USA News
- Andrew Cuomo files a complaint against Letitia James for her sexual harassment report (NPR)
- Montana Restricts Changes to Birth Certificates for Transgender People (NYT, $)
- An Iowa teenager who killed her accused rapist is sentenced and ordered to pay $150K (NPR)
- West Virginia Legislature passes abortion ban with few exceptions (CNN)
- New York Lawmakers Call for More Oversight of Hasidic Schools (NYT, $)
- Americans give health care system failing mark: AP-NORC poll (AP)
- U.S. pair plead guilty to trying to help ISIS (NBC)
- A package that an employee said exploded at Northeastern University didn’t contain explosives, source says (CNN)
Not Your Grandpa’s Mermaids & Orcs
- In this week’s issue of “You’re Probably Too Mad About This On The Internet,” we’ve got mermaids, elves, dwarves, and racism. Last Friday, the first teaser trailer for Disney’s upcoming reboot of The Little Mermaid was released to some online controversy. The reason? The film’s main character Ariel, a fictional creature with a fishtail whose best friend is a talking flounder, is being played by Halle Bailey, a Black actress best known as part of R&B duo Chloe x Halle. Commenters were concerned with the “historical accuracy” of a non-white actor playing the mermaid based on a Danish fairy tale.
- The online hate comes as another fantasy franchise is being pelted with abuse for the crime of featuring actors who are not white. Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is at the center of this storm, with the series’ Black and Latino actors receiving abuse for existing in Middle Earth – again, a fictional world with fictional creatures.
- For both “controversies,” responses to the haters have also arrived on the scene. Former Lord of the Rings hobbit stars Elijah Wood (Frodo), Sean Astin (Samwise), Dominic Monaghan (Merry), and Billy Boyd (Pippen) all tweeted to let Tolkien fans and actors of color know that “You Are All Welcome Here.” Even the Star Wars Twitter account showed some cross-franchise love, tweeting “From Middle-earth to a galaxy far, far away… #YouAreAllWelcomeHere.” (Rolling Stone, WaPo ($))
- Five-year campaign breaks science’s citation paywall (Nature)
- Tricolored bats could become endangered as a fungal disease decimates their population (NPR)
- Ancient skeleton found in Mexico cave threatened by train (AP)
- A scientific way to calm and put a crying baby to sleep (CNN)
- Twitter whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko made a convincing case that Twitter is a mess (Vox)
- Why Princes Harry and Andrew aren’t wearing military uniforms during the Queen’s funeral processions (CNN)
- ‘Mysterious’ Diamonds Found in Space May Be Tougher Than Earth Gems (CNET)
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