DeSantis vs. DEI, Thailand’s Elections, & DNA’s In The Air
May 16, 2023
The U.S. presidential election might be on the horizon, but Ron DeSantis is very much in power right now in Florida. On Monday, he used that power to sign a bill that will limit diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at Florida’s public colleges while also limiting how race can be discussed in many college-level classrooms.
“If you look at the way this has actually been implemented across the country, DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination,” DeSantis declared at a news conference in Florida, “and that has no place in our public institutions.” Now, Florida public colleges will be blocked from spending state or federal money on DEI programs, though it still allows spending on DEI if required by the federal government.
The bill also prevents public colleges from offering general education courses that might “distort significant historical events,” teach students “identity politics,” or are “based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, or privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, or economic inequities.” Essentially, the bill is an attack on teaching college students the most basic parts of U.S. history.
DeSantis is expected to pivot away from governing Florida to hit the campaign trail soon, but along with the education bill, he’s got some more work left to do at home. He is expected to pass a new law exempting him from Florida’s “resign-to-run” law, which normally forces politicians running for president to give up their office before Florida’s qualifying deadline, basically allowing him to abandon his job while keeping power. Last week, DeSantis also passed a law blocking his past and future travel records from public view. He might be having fun now, but that might not continue on the campaign trail: polls have DeSantis trailing Trump by a significant margin, even amid multiple lawsuits against the former commander-in-chief.
Some Good News
- World’s oldest dog celebrates 31st birthday (AP)
- Free tuition fees extended to migrant students (BBC)
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Thailand Moves Forward (Maybe)
- On Monday, voters in Thailand brought in a tidal wave of change, ousting incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who came to power in a 2014 military coup. The upstart opposition Move Forward Party outperformed expectations, gaining a plurality of seats in the House of Representatives, while the main opposition Pheu Thai Party came in second. Prayuth’s United Thai Nation Party slotted in below both parties with 99% of votes counted. A joint session of elected House Representatives and military-appointed Senators will vote for a prime minister in July.
- Move Forward and Pheu Thai both pushed for government and military reforms, but Move Forward positioned itself further left, also calling for monarchy reforms. While Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat might seem poised to gain the Thai premiership, it won’t be as easy as simply gathering a coalition vote. Conservatives in the military-appointed Senate have put their full weight behind Prayuth in prior elections, and incumbent leaders have begun attacking opposition leaders on technicalities, which they’ve used to disqualify legislators in the past.
Leftist Ideologies Are The Best Contraceptives
- At the U.S. think tank-funded National Conservatism gathering in Westminster on Monday, a Conservative member of the U.K. Parliament claimed that the issue of low birthrates is “the one overarching threat to British conservatism, and to the whole of western society,” adding that “cultural Marxism” is to blame for stopping young people from starting families.
- “Having a home, a secure job and support from your family, community and nation are not the only conditions to starting a family,” said Tory MP Miriam Cate. “You must also have hope for the future. And that hope is not reaching so many of our young people today, because liberal individualism has proved to be completely powerless to resist a cultural Marxism that is systematically destroying our children’s souls.”
- If you’re confused about what Marxism, a socioeconomic theory, has to do with babies, you’re not alone. Apparently, “cultural Marxism” is a conspiracy theory pushed by far-right groups, and states that Marxism is the basis of ideas like progressivism and political correctness, which attack the foundations of “Western society” – especially Christian values and conservatism. The crumbling of these ideals, then, supposedly leads to lower birth rates and “epidemic levels of anxiety and confusion.” Cate recently brought her case to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Downing Street announced it would be issuing “additional guidance” on sex education in schools after listening to her concerns.
Additional World News
- The end of Ukraine aid is rapidly approaching. Reupping it won’t be easy (Politico)
- Duo in Austria charged with playing Hitler speeches on train intercom (ABC)
- The U.N. is marking the 75th anniversary of Palestinians’ displacement (NPR)
- Japanese talent agency apologises over claims founder sexually abused boys (Guardian)
- Nigerian Afrobeat star Kuti arrested over alleged police assault (ABC)
- Guest nations at the G-7 reflect outreach to developing countries, worries over China, Russia (AP)
- ‘We have a violent society’: hate speech in spotlight after Serbian mass shootings (Guardian)
“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” – Socrates
The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints And 100 Billion Dollars
- David Nielsen, a former investment manager for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said during an interview that the organization raised over $100 billion for “charity work” that was, in reality, stockpiled and never put toward philanthropy. Nielsen managed Ensign Peak Advisors, the church’s investment arm, for almost a decade.
- The church collected about $7 billion annually from its followers through tithing, where churchgoers designate about 10% of their income to the church. $1 billion of that was placed into a reserve fund at Ensign Peak, which is registered as a nonprofit. Ensign Peak was created over 25 years ago, allowing it to grow to $100 billion tax-free.
- Records show that money from the fund was used to support for-profit initiatives, including a Salt Lake City mall built on church land and a church-owned insurance company. Nielsen said the firm was “[masquerading] as a charity” and managed to dodge billions of dollars in taxes by falsifying its records.
Congress Might Not Work Hard, But Attackers Do
- Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly said that on Monday morning, “an individual entered my District Office armed with a baseball bat and asked for me before committing an act of violence against two members of my staff.” The person is in custody, and the two staffers were in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, luckily.
- Connolly lamented that “someone would take advantage of my staff’s accessibility to commit an act of violence.” This follows an assault on Rep. Angie Craig, a Minnesota Democrat, in February, and the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband last fall. Last year, the U.S. Capitol Police investigated about 7,500 potential threats against Congressmembers.
- In 2022, the man reportedly sued the CIA, alleging that it “wrongfully imprisoned me in a lower perspective,” adding that the agency was responsible for “brutally torturing me with a degenerating disability consistently since 1988 till the present from the fourth dimension.”
Additional USA News
- Trump blasts DeSantis on policy, personality (Politico)
- Biden plans to nominate Dr. Monica Bertagnolli at NIH (ABC)
- Teachers in Oakland, California, reach agreement with school district on ‘common good’ demands as strike continues (CNN)
- Another George Santos challenger joins the fray (Axios)
- Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency, but others remain (CNN)
- Native Americans demand accountability for ancestral remains identified at Dartmouth College (AP)
- Supreme Court rejects Alabama’s bid to use lethal injection against inmate’s wishes (NBC)
I Can Feel It (Human DNA) In The Air Tonight
- In their search for biological knowledge, wildlife researchers have stumbled across something terrible and powerful. No, not a giant squid or something lurking in the depths – they’ve actually developed a technology that could be used to genetically surveil people instead! While researchers originally used environmental DNA (or eDNA) recovery techniques to track invasive or rare species, law enforcement officials have begun employing the techniques on human DNA using half-baked technologies.
- For years, researchers have collected eDNA – basically trace amounts of genetic material floating in the air or water – to track animals and even diseases. While they were focused on collecting species-unique segments of non-human DNA, the process also picked up background human DNA when conducted near human population centers. Now, researchers at the University of Florida are leaning into the human DNA collection aspect, publishing their findings in Nature Ecology & Evolution on Monday.
- While searching for sea turtles off the coast of Florida, the paper’s authors noticed that their instruments were picking up stronger demographic data about local human populations than they expected. They were able to create a snapshot of the genetic ancestry of the local population, discover genetic material with a unique population belonging to someone nearby, and even collect a sample complete enough to meet the requirements of the federal missing persons database.
- While the technology is still very much emerging in a limited scope, law enforcement has already jumped on the opportunity. Oslo University Hospital’s forensic research center has already begun work on collecting human eDNA samples, and there are almost zero regulations barring the practice in the U.S. Looking forward to cops literally pulling evidence out of thin air!
- Veterans exposed to chemical at Camp Lejeune faced a 70% higher Parkinson’s risk, study says (CNN)
- A history-making college athlete with Down syndrome is suing school staff members for discrimination and assault (CBS)
- Astronomers spot largest cosmic explosion ever witnessed (CNN)
- Sauerkraut or sardines? Hiroshima’s pancake goes global for G7 summit (Reuters)
- Auschwitz museum begins emotional work of conserving shoes of murdered children (NPR)
- Florida teacher says she is under investigation after showing 5th grade class Disney movie with gay character (CNN)
- Fixing instead of replacing: Average age of vehicles on US roads hits a record high (AP)
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