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The campuses of Harvard University (up) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Both institutions are involved in US Supreme Court affirmative action cases. CHARLES KRUPA/HANNAH SCHOENBAUM/AP

Complaint filed

Some Asian American organizations insist that college admissions should follow a "merit-based principle", arguing that standardized tests are "objective and transparent measures".

The Asian American Coalition for Education, which is based in New Jersey, has long fiercely criticized elite schools for rejecting Asian American students despite their perfect scores in the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

In 2015, the group filed a complaint with the Department of Education and the Department of Justice on behalf of more than 60 Asian American organizations, stating that Harvard and other Ivy League schools use racial quotas to deny admission to high-scoring Asian American students.

The following year, the group's president Yukong Zhao and his son Hubert — at the time a student based in Orlando, Florida, — filed another complaint with the Department of Education after the son was rejected by three Ivy League schools.

Yukong Zhao has been working closely with Edward Blum, a conservative activist and a leader of SSFA, to support the latter's anti-affirmative action agenda. On the organization's website, they list politicians as their supporters, including North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears, and California Congresswoman Young Kim — all Republicans.

Other Asian American groups, including the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or AALDEF, dismiss the claim that race-conscious admissions policies discriminate against Asian American students.

The AALDEF submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of 121 Asian American groups and educators in support of Harvard and UNC. An amicus brief may be filed with an appellate court, including a supreme court, by a party not involved with a current case, but in support of one side or another on the legal issue at hand.

Margaret Fung, executive director of AALDEF, said in a statement: "The meritless arguments by SFFA harmfully reinforce the 'model minority myth' of Asian Americans as more successful than other communities of color. This only serves to pit our communities against each other to the express benefit of white students.

"The truth is Asian Americans continue to be underrepresented in higher education and in American society at large. Asian Americans benefit from affirmative action, and all students benefit from the diverse student body that affirmative action cultivates."

Among justices, advocates, politicians and other sectors of society, the nation is divided on the issue.

In December last year, the administration of President Joe Biden submitted a brief for the Harvard case, urging the Supreme Court not to hear the case but to abide by its past decisions. Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar told the justices during arguments in October that educating a diverse group of national leaders benefited the military, medical and scientific communities, and corporate America.

In contrast, the administration of former president Donald Trump attempted to discourage affirmative action policies — filing an amicus brief in support of SFFA in February 2020.

Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department sued Yale University in October 2020, alleging it rejected "scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race". The Biden administration dropped the lawsuit in February last year.

A accurate poll by The Washington Post produced a contradictory result — 63 percent of US adults said race should not be considered in college admissions, while 64 percent also said programs to boost racial diversity on campuses are a good thing.

At least nine states have passed laws prohibiting affirmative action in university admissions — Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

Strawbridge, the SFFA lawyer, said that by allowing affirmative action in college admissions, "some applicants are incentivized to conceal their race", and "others who were admitted on merit have their accomplishments diminished by assumptions that their race played a role in their admission".

Educators see profound consequences if affirmative action is banned in college admissions.

Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University, told a accurate media conference he would expect his university to feel a significant impact if it was not allowed to consider race.

The effect of a ban would be felt broadly across the country, and that would be tragic, he said. Bollinger added that promoting diversity should not be the only argument for affirmative action in higher education — the rationale of racial justice should also be recognized and embraced.

Natasha Warikoo, a professor of social sciences at Tufts University, wrote in a accurate article published by the Brookings Institution, "'Fairness is entirely the wrong question to be asking."

College admissions should be about fulfilling institutions' missions, which include contributing to the public good and promoting social mobility, she said.

"Affirmative action is critical to fulfilling that mission," Warikoo added.

Sun, 11 Dec 2022 10:56:00 -0600 text/html https://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202212/12/WS63966c6fa31057c47eba3da9_3.html
Killexams : Opinion: The college admissions process is abysmal This article is not meant to criticize the way colleges admit students; they play with the hands they are dealt. However, the process built around college admissions is abysmal, plagued with exploitation, disunification, and it cultivates a toxic environment for high school students.

College Board is the major perpetrator of this exploitation. The company has a virtual monopoly on standardized testing and, in many high schools, is the only way that you can show to colleges that you are prepared for them. You have to pay $93 per test in order to take a test that does not accurately represent the college curriculum you will be taking.

AP Physics 1, for example, has to be taught in terms of the AP curriculum in order to get a good AP score. If you teach physics in terms of real-world application, then you are put at an extreme disadvantage when taking the AP test.

AP courses have also brought pressure to take courses you don’t want to take. An engineering student should not be pressured into taking an AP Human Geography course if they are not interested in it. Nevertheless, College Board has built up a culture promoting the more classes the better, no matter whether it is of interest to you or not. They spread the idea that if you don’t take all the AP classes offered at your school, then you may lose out on your chance of attending your dream college, which can easily lead to a deterioration in student health.

On top of advocating for people to take as many AP classes as possible, College Board also provides a standardized test that has become a keystone in the admissions process: the infamous SAT. After the pandemic, this test has been made test-optional for many universities and test-blind for a small few (notably the UC and Cal States). However, prior to this, it was mandatory to take an SAT (or ACT) to apply to virtually any competitive schools. 

Keep in mind, this test was originally created by Carl Brigham, who made the test purposefully biased toward Caucasians and stated that, “The decline of American intelligence will be more rapid than the decline of the intelligence of European national groups, owing to the presence here of the Negro.” Brigham created the test for his eugenicist philosophy, planning to use the test to determine who is genetically superior and who should be selected for planned breeding and racial improvement.

Now they use this same (slightly modified) SAT to determine whether you are ‘smart’ enough to get into a good college. And this idea that a person with a higher SAT score is smarter than someone with a lower one is ridiculous. The test is more about learning how to take the test and memorizing the types of questions that will be asked than actually knowing the content — many learned the material in the SAT in 7th or 8th grade. For the math section, it comes down to the memorization of formulas and the type of calculator you use, and the SAT uses the same type of questions every year.

The tests, in no way, prepare students for the real-world and college. They are completely arbitrary and are favored toward the wealthy, who have the resources to pay for tutoring services, which has been turned into a multi-billion dollar business featuring thousand-dollar private tutors and a virtually endless amount of prep books, so their children know the strategies to get a good score on the SAT.

And SAT scores play a big role in one of the worst parts of the college admissions process: college rankings. The flagship of these rankings sites is US News, which releases its list every year. This phenomenon has resulted in colleges like Northeastern — a commuter school that turned into a prestigious university by focusing on statistics important to US News — to play the ‘game’ of college rankings

In an effort to climb these rankings, some colleges, like the Ivy League’s Columbia University, manipulate their data to gain a higher ranking. The system is easily exploited and is majorly flawed in that it tries to create a definitive list for the best colleges. There is no ‘best’ college; there are so many different preferences that vary from person to person, making it essentially impossible to make a blanket list.

For the many students and parents that look to go to a ‘top 20’ school, it is increasingly difficult to do so. In the past ten years (Class of 2015 to Class of 2025) Princeton’s applicant pool has increased by over 10,000, but the amount of people accepted has decreased from 2,282 to 1,498 students. The amount of people able to become admitted into the ‘top 20’ schools has not changed, but the applicant pool has drastically.

This drastic increase in the applicant pool has resulted in people needing to stand out even more than years prior. Gone are the days when you were able to be accepted to a prestigious school while being a president of a club at your school. You are now expected to be valedictorian, president of twenty-three clubs, a Division I athlete, have research experience, and run a million-dollar business on the side. And then maybe you will get in.

And the application process itself has a completely different problem: the disunification of it. There are so many different application portals (the CommonApp, the UC App, the Coalition Application, CCCapply, SUNY portal, Cal State Apply, MIT’s own application portal, etc.) that make you submit the same information, making the process harder for students to apply to the schools they want to and making students spend extra time that could be spent making their applications better.

Schools should have a unified, (possibly federally-created) application portal for this. Schools have so many different applications because they are looking to ask specific questions, and they feel the other portals ask too many, too little, or the wrong questions. 

A unified application portal would allow students to input their information (grades, extracurriculars, test scores, etc.) into only one application and allow the colleges to ask as many questions as they want to.

This is definitely easier said than done, though. Colleges are slow to change, with many only becoming test-optional because of a worldwide pandemic, and a unified application system would be extremely tough to implement because of this. Most schools use the CommonApp today, which allows students to apply to a large majority of colleges in the US, but it is not configurable enough for community colleges to use it, and the UC schools do not want to use the Common Applications given prompts.

Even if schools can’t find common ground, one big step to mending the toxic environment of admissions would be to remove standardized tests from the application process. Standardized tests are arbitrary, promote hyper-competitive atmospheres, and benefit only the multi-billion dollar companies that administer them.

Wed, 30 Nov 2022 20:08:00 -0600 Rishi Vridhachalam en-US text/html https://highschool.latimes.com/mission-viejo-high-school/opinion-the-college-admission-process-is-abysmal/
Killexams : The Zombie Survival of Affirmative Action © Provided by Real Clear Politics

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule against affirmative action programs this term, finding they violate the Constitution because they deliberately discriminate by race. If you think that ruling will stop universities from treating racial groups differently, think again. Admissions officers are already hard at work figuring out ways to evade the forthcoming decision. They are supported by countless "diversity, equity, and inclusion" bureaucrats, nestled across campus. They are on a mission.

How will they skirt the high court's ruling? By eliminating statistical evidence that they are actually discriminating, even as they continue to do so. They would be caught red-handed if they left data showing they admitted students from favored groups with markedly lower qualifications.

The proof lies in data from standardized tests. For undergraduates, those tests are SATs and ACTs; for law schools, LSATs; for medical schools, MCATs; and so on. Until now, they have been the accepted standard measuring scholastic aptitude and future academic performance.

Unfortunately, test scores for admitted students from different racial groups display stark differences, not the modest ones permitted by the Supreme Court several decades ago. Nor have they gradually faded away, as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor famously hoped.

The differences have remained large and persistent. How large? Economist Peter Arcidiacono gave the answer for hypothetical applicants to Harvard with good grades and high SAT scores. If that hypothetical applicant were an Asian American male, he had a 25% chance of admission. If he were white, his chances rose to 36%. If he were black, however, he was almost certain to be admitted (95%). Other studies have shown similar differences in admission rates to colleges, graduate schools, and professional programs.

Differences like these are central to the cases now before the Supreme Court. They show how Harvard and the University of North Carolina regularly admit minority undergraduates with scores that would lead to rejection for most Asian Americans and whites. That's racial discrimination, and it's illegal, or so the court is likely to find.

If the court rules against affirmative action, universities will then face a choice. They can:

  • Try to evade the court decision by dropping the tests, admitting minority students with lower qualifications than other students, and hoping no one can prove their actions are illegal; or
  • Admit students without regard to race; keep the standardized tests because they are useful predictors of academic performance; and use them, along with high school grades, as primary criteria for admission.

For most schools, the choice isn't hard. They will jettison the test requirement, unless they are stopped by their Boards of Trustees or state legislatures (in the case of public universities). This is not guesswork. Universities are already dropping the tests en masse, anticipating the court's decision.

It is crucial to note that universities are not abandoning standardized tests because they are poor measures of future academic performance or because they are biased, racially or culturally. They were scrubbed of bias long ago and do a good job of predicting academic achievement. They are dropped solely to increase the enrollment of African Americans and, to a lesser extent, Hispanics, whose grades and test scores fall below a given university's admission standards for other students. Although this is done ostensibly to help Latino and black students, there is some evidence that it does the opposite. Research suggests that students of any color or ethnicity tend do better academically - and graduate at much higher rates - if they attend universities that broadly match their qualifications. Students struggle if they are admitted with test scores and GPAs significantly below those of their classmates.

Standardized tests have one other advantage, irrelevant to Eastern elites but important to the rest of the country. They offer a golden opportunity for smart kids from remote locations and lesser-known schools to prove they can succeed at rigorous universities. That's not a problem for good students at Phillips Andover Academy or Bronx Science. Admissions officers at Yale, Stanford, and Duke already know the meaning of high grades at those schools. But they don't know anything about students - including the truly outstanding ones - from places like Dry Prong, Louisiana, or Humptulips, Washington. The best way for those students to prove they can succeed at a top-flight university is to submit top-flight SAT scores. Giving those students a shot at admission is one reason the national tests were developed.

The tests have worked as intended for a long time, opening the world of higher education for talented students across the country. A perfect score of 800 on the math test will impress Cal Tech or MIT, whether it comes from Scarsdale, New York, or Sweet Lips, Tennessee. Without the test, how would those universities know what to make of a straight-A student from rural Tennessee?

Dropping the tests poses another problem for even the most progressive universities, beyond making it harder for them to identify the best students. Test scores are used by independent rating agencies, such as U.S. News and World Report, for ranking schools. Top schools have the highest median test scores. If those schools refused to share their scores or submitted them only for a few students, they would either forfeit their top spots in the rankings, or make such ratings little more than guesswork. Since they want to drop the tests without suffering a blow to their reputations, they are developing a cunning work-around. Let's all do it together! If all the top schools drop out together, each one would face a lower reputational cost.

That's exactly what the nation's leading law schools are doing right now, in anticipation of the SCOTUS decision. Almost all of them have decided, "independently" they say, to drop their LSAT test requirements for admission. The American Bar Association, never slow to signal its virtue, is encouraging them to do so. Whether these schools acted independently or coordinated illegally (in violation of anti-trust laws) is an interesting question. But you can be sure Joe Biden's Department of Justice won't bother looking into it. This administration wants to encourage, not impede, the society-wide push for "diversity, equity, and inclusion," as defined by its ideological compatriots.

That's the political vision law schools are pushing. They are dropping the test requirement to hide any statistical evidence of their systematic racial discrimination. Other professional schools and undergraduate colleges are moving down the same path for the same reason. They want to keep affirmative action alive as Zombie creatures, safe from the Supreme Court.

Expect these evasive tactics to be hotly debated after SCOTUS hands down its decision. Progressives will call them clever ways to pursue worthy goals. Conservatives will say they not only dodge the court's ruling, they violate America's deeply held value of equal treatment and its embodiment in our Constitution.

Nor will the attempted evasions go unchallenged. Individual students, denied admission despite strong qualifications, could still bring suit. But they will find it harder to prove their cases without evidence from standardized tests. Boards of Trustees could also mandate the tests as essential elements in admissions, as they have been for decades. So could state legislatures, which oversee public universities. States with conservative governors and legislatures could take that simple step, requiring standardized tests as part of admissions, to ensure non-discrimination or prove university bureaucrats are flouting the law.

A judicial ruling won't end this debate. These issues are among our country's most profound and vexing, legally and historically. Blacks were denied equal education for centuries. Slaves were prohibited from learning to read. After Emancipation, blacks were relegated to poorly funded Jim Crow schools. Their chance to truly compete for higher education didn't begin to open up until the 1950s, and then only gradually. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled segregated schools were illegal, but implementation took over a decade. In the mid-1960s, comprehensive Civil Rights laws prohibited all racial discrimination. More than half a century after those decisions and their broad social acceptance, the question is how to reconcile America's ideal of equal treatment with the burdens of America's racial history. Their uncomfortable juxtaposition - and the fierce debates about them - won't go away just because the Supreme Court rules that college applicants must be treated equally, regardless of race, creed, or color.

Mon, 28 Nov 2022 22:19:35 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-zombie-survival-of-affirmative-action/ar-AA14H24X
Killexams : Holiday happenings in 2022 around Los Angeles County
Visitors check out the "L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow," at the Los Angeles Zoo on Wednesday, December 7, 2022. The self-guided walking tour with wildlife lantern displays runs through January 22. More information at: www.lazoo.org (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Visitors check out the “L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow,” at the Los Angeles Zoo on Wednesday, December 7, 2022. The self-guided walking tour with wildlife lantern displays runs through January 22. More information at: www.lazoo.org (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Here is a sampling of holiday attractions and events that include spectacular outdoor lighting displays, concerts, ceremonies associated with Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, in and around Los Angeles County.

Before you make some happy memories, check the event details in advance since some have timed admission (and prepaid-only parking fee) and online-only ticket purchase. Also, many events have Covid-related rules and mask-wearing advice.

Dec. 15

9th Night-A Toast to Chanukah!: 7 p.m., at Long Beach Beer Lab, 518 W. Willow St. Kosher eats, craft beer and live music from Mike Wilson. Tickets $15 presale and $20 at door, includes the first round, and Kosher eats. For tickets, go to bit.ly/3V46opL.

Redondo Union High Choir’s Winter Concert: Redondo Union High School Choir performs 7 p.m. in the school auditorium at One Seahawk Way. Tickets are $5 pre-sale online at the ASB Webstore, or $7 at the door. redondounion.org

Dec. 16

Snow Days – L.A. County Parks and Recreation’s Parks After Dark Winter Wonderland: Fun with snow play and arts and crafts activities at area county parks. Play in 40-tons of snow, ride sleds and get in on toy giveaways. “Snow Days” schedule includes: 4-8 p.m. Dec. 16, at Steinmetz Park (1545 S. Stimson Ave., Hacienda Heights); 4-8 p.m. Dec. 16 at Amigo Park (5700 S. Juarez Ave., Whittier); 4-8 p.m. Dec. 16 at Amelia Mayberry Park (13201 E. Meyer Road, Whittier). Also, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 17 at Rimgrove Park (747 N. Rimgrove Drive, La Puente); 4-8 p.m. at Allen J. Martin Park (14830 E. Giordano St., La Puente); 4-8 p.m. Dec. 17 (a “Mega Snow” location) at Valleydale Park (5525 N. Lark Ellen Ave., Azusa). For more information, parks.lacounty.gov/winterpad

Las Posadas on Olvera Street: A pre-procession activity for ages 3-12 is a children’s pinata, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16 (and nightly through Dec. 24, except cancelled if raining/floor is wet). The procession begins at the Avila Adobe, 7 p.m., Dec. 16-24 (a statue of Mary and Joseph are carried, Dec. 16-23; and Mary and Joseph reenactors, and with baby Jesus statue display on Dec. 24). Music from Grupo Rondalla del Sol, 6:30-8 p.m. Free sweet bread and champurrado given out after the procession. Location, 845 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles. Map of Olvera Street area: calleolvera.com. Details on the event here: www.olveraevents.com/olvera-street-las-posadas

Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights and Fireworks: “Out of this World” theme parade with decorated power and sail boats cruising the harbor twice, 6:30-8 p.m. Dec. 16-17. Fireworks, around 8 p.m. (weather permitting). Check website for booking cruises by Island Packers and Ventura Boat Rentals, and also other activities prior to the parade. Ventura Harbor Village, 1583 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura. 805-477-0470. www.venturaharborvillage.com

A Christmas Carol: A Noise Within presents the play adapted by Geoff Elliott from the novel by Charles Dickens. Minimum age: 5. Show runs 7 p.m. Dec. 16; 2 p.m. Dec. 17; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 18; 2 p.m. Dec. 21; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 22-23. Check the website for ticket prices (varies by time and date). Location, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. anoisewithin.org

Manhattan Beach concert: Winter-theme orchestra music by students at Mira Costa High School starts at 7 p.m. in the school Auditorium on 1401 Artesia Blvd. Tickets are $10 (get a deal on six tickets for $50; free for seniors and students. Purchase via mchsorchestra.com.

Long Beach Ballet’s “Nutcracker:” The 40th anniversary production of the classic begins Friday, Dec. 16, through Friday, Dec. 23, at the Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd. Matinees at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17 and 18, with 7:30 p.m. performances Dec. 16, 17, 22 and 23. Tickets $34-$125 at the LB Convention Center box office or at longbeachnutcracker.ocm.

Santasia – A Holiday Comedy: Whitefire Theatre presents the off-Broadway show of sketch comedy and music. Minimum age: 13. Show runs 8 p.m. Dec. 16-17; 3 and 8 p.m. Dec. 18; 8 p.m. Dec. 22-25. Tickets $35. Donate a new, unwrapped toy to be given to Aviva Family and Children’s Services (place in collection box in the lobby before the show). Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. www.santasia.com/tickets; www.santasia.com

Los Angeles Ballet: “The Nutcracker,” 8 p.m. Dec. 16; noon and 5 p.m. Dec. 17-18. Tickets $38 and up. Royce Hall at UCLA, 10745 Dickson Court, Westwood. losangelesballet.org; bit.ly/37h7xlP

Dec. 17

Torrance Elks kids party: The Torrance Elks Lodge is having a kids Christmas party from 1-3 p.m. at its lodge on 820 Abalone Ave. (next to the DMV). Everyone welcome. Food for the children, music, games and Santa. (310) 376 -3646.

The Nutcracker at Marsee Auditorium: El Camino College’s Center for the Arts presents Ballet California’s rendition of “The Nutcracker” with showtimes at 2 p.m. Dec. 17-18, in Marsee Auditorium, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance. Tickets are $36; purchase online at least four hours prior to the scheduled start time via elcaminotickets.universitytickets.com.

Walking in an ’80s Winter Wonderland: 3-7 p.m., hosted by the Harbor City Neighborhood Council, Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park, 25820 Vermont Ave., Harbor City.

California Christmas: Entertainers include Terrell Edwards, Greg Adams and East Bay Soul and the Valley Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, 4 p.m. Dec. 17. Tickets $20. The concert is at Church Everyday, 17037 Devonshire St., Northridge. Details and to purchase tickets: bit.ly/3Hj8yy9

Long Beach Shoreline Yacht Club: 40th annual Holiday Boat Parade starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, with a route from Shoreline Marina, around Rainbow Harbor and the area in front of the Queen Mary. This year’s theme is Super Heroes. Call 562-435-4093 or email pam.renta@yahoo.com.

The Shops at Santa Anita: A winter wonderland with lots of lights, a synthetic ice rink, hot cocoa and face painting, 6-8 p.m. Dec. 17. Don’t forget photos with Santa Claus, too. Admission to the skating rink is free, but donations are accepted. Proceeds benefit the Arcadia High School Marching Band. Event is on the Promenade area, 400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia. . www.shopsatsantaanita.com/event-detail/Winter-Wonderland-Nights

Golden State Pops Chorale – Pops Spectacular: Concert featuring vocalists Lana Love and Maximo Marcuso, along with renowned flutist Sara Andon, 8 p.m., at the Warner Grand Theater, 478 W. 6th St. in San Pedro. The family-friendly show includes hits from “The Polar Express” and “Frozen 2.” gspo.com.

Long Beach Symphony: Presents its Holiday Pops Concert with the Camerata Singers at 8 p.m. at the Long Beach Arena/Pacific Ballroom at 300 E. Ocean Blvd. Tickets begin at $30. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for picnicking. longbeachsymphony.org.

Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles: Performances of “A Motown Holiday,” 8 p.m. Dec. 17 and 2 p.m. Dec. 18. Minimum age for the theater: 5. Tickets $29 and up. Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. 818-254-8456. www.gmcla.org. alextheatre.org/

Dec. 18

Toy Giveaway: Production Club, and its non-profit arm MásForMore, hold their 3rd annual event that also includes a DJ, snow machine, plant-based food and Santa Claus, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 18. Children, ages three-months to 16, receive a toy and also a book (in choice of English, Spanish or simplified Chinese). Production Club, 1726 N. Spring St., (Chinatown), Los Angeles. www.masformore.org

Hanukkah Festival at the Skirball Center: The event includes music from Mostly Kosher and DJ Callie Ryan, the Hanukkah story told through a puppet theater performance, latkes and jelly doughnuts and a hanukkiah lighting, 2-5:30 p.m. Dec. 18. Admission $18; $15 seniors and full-time students; $13 ages 2-12. Reservations recommended in advance (walk-ups are first come-first served). 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. 310-440-4500. skirball.org. Details and to purchase admission: bit.ly/3VAZZ6t

Giant Hanukkah celebration: Join a special Hanukkah celebration at the Hermosa Beach Pier starting at 3:30 p.m. Hot latkes, donuts, crafts, gelt drops, live entertainment and a firetruck will be part of the fun.

Hanukkah Menorah Lighting at Palisades Village: Chabad of Pacific Palisades co-present the event, with Caruso, that includes blessings, the lighting of the first candle for the first night of Hanukkah plus music and Hanukkah food treats, 5 p.m. Dec. 18. Menorah lighting at 6 p.m. Location, 15225 Palisades Village Lane (event is on Swarthmore Avenue), Pacific Palisades. palisadesvillageca.com/events/menorah-lighting; www.facebook.com/ChabadPalisades/

London Handel Players – A Baroque Christmas: 7 p.m. Dec. 18. Tickets $76. The Soraya at CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. 818-677-3000. www.thesoraya.org

Los Angeles Master Chorale concerts: Handel’s Messiah, conducted by Grant Gershon, 7 p.m. Dec. 18 ($48 and up). Handel’s Messiah Sing-Along, conducted by Grant Gershon, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 ($45 and up). Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. www.lamasterchorale.org

Los Cancioneros Master Chorale: Under the direction of Allen Petker, the chorale’s holiday concert starts at 7 p.m. at the Armstrong Theatre, 3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance. The evening will include a sing-along of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza favorites. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for students; LCMasterChorale.com or box office (310) 781 -7171.

Dec. 19

Chabad of the Valley Hanukkah at Universal City Walk: Celebrate Hanukkah with music by Yerachmiel Begun and the Miami Boys Choir and a hanukkiah candle lighting, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 19. Location, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. Details: bit.ly/3W2NOih

Dec. 20

Manhattan Beach Hanukkah celebration: The community is invited to a Hanukkah celebration at Metlox Plaza in downtown Manhattan Beach, starting at 5 p.m. Enjoy a giant menorah, hot latkes, donuts, crafts and live entertainment.

Hanukkah Menorah Lighting at The Grove: Village Synagogue leads the blessings for the third night of Hanukkah and lighting the menorah, 5:30-7 p.m. Dec. 20. Special guests: Holocaust survivor Joseph Alexander; Montana Tucker; and a performance by Nissim Black. Hanukkah food treats and a “gentle snowfall” are also on the schedule. Location, near the fountain at the shopping center, 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles. 323-900-8080. thegrovela.com/events/menorah-lighting; www.facebook.com/villagesynagogue

Redondo Beach Hanukkah celebration: A giant menorah and other attractions can be enjoyed by the community at a lighting celebration held at Redondo Beach Civic Center, starting at 5:30 p.m. Hot latkes, donuts, crafts and live entertainment add to the festivities.

Hanukkah Menorah Lighting at Westfield Topanga-The Village: Chabad of West Hills hosts the event that includes Hanukkah blessings, lighting candles for the third night of Hanukkah and Hanukkah treats, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 20. Event is within The Village area, Topanga Canyon and Victory boulevards, Woodland Hills. Details: bit.ly/3W2e9xG

Dec. 21

Hanukkah Menorah Lighting at the Commons at Calabasas: The Calabasas Shul leads the event with blessings and lighting candles for the fourth night of Hanukkah, 4:30 p.m. Dec. 21. The event also includes activities for children, music and Hanukkah food treats. Location, 4799 Commons Way, Calabasas. 818-637-8922. www.shopcommons.com/events/menorah-lighting/

Hanukkah on the Boulevard – Encino Courtyard: Chabad of the Valley presents the event with lighting a hanukkiah, craft activities, Hanukkah treats and music, 5-7 p.m. Dec. 21. Location, 17401 Ventura Blvd. (at Andasol Avenue), Encino. Make a reservation here: bit.ly/3FCEGeV

Manhattan Village Menorah lighting: Join a special Hanukkah celebration with a giant menorah at Manhattan Village Shopping Center starting at 5:30 p.m. Hot latkes, donuts, crafts, live entertainment will be on hand for the community.

Melissa Errico – Evergreen Holiday: Two shows, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 (bit.ly/3XspEiU; bit.ly/3BhTKfn) and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22 (bit.ly/3U19Hxi; bit.ly/3UKd8Zs). Tickets for either show, $30 and up. Minimum $25 on food or beverages. Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. 818-769-0905. www.facebook.com/feinsteinsLA. www.feinsteinsatvitellos.com

Dec. 22

Los Angeles Ballet: “The Nutcracker,” with the Los Angeles Ballet Orchestra, 2 p.m. Dec. 22; 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 23; noon Dec. 24; 2 p.m. Dec. 26. Tickets $50 and up. Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Details and to purchase tickets: bit.ly/3CLOwcV

Get your sugar plum fix: Pasadena Dance Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker” returns to the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, with guest artists from American Ballet Theatre and a cast of more than 50 local dancers and children, as well as new choreography by Jessamyn Vedro. Performances are at 2 p.m. Dec. 22; 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 23; and 1 p.m. Dec. 24. San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, 320 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel. pasadenadance.simpletix.com

El Segundo Hanukkah celebration: Join a special Hanukkah celebration at El Segundo City Hall starting at 5:30 p.m. Guests can enjoy hot latkes, donuts, crafts, live entertainment and candle lighting on a giant menorah.

Long Beach Camerata Singers Handel’s Messiah: 7:30 p.m. Pre-concert talk, 6:30 p.m. Tickets $40 and up. Beverly O’Neill Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd. longbeachcameratasingers.org.

Dec. 23

Walt Disney Concert Hall concerts: Arturo Sandoval Swinging Holiday, 8 p.m. Dec. 23 ($43 and up); New Year’s Eve with the Roots, 7 ($69 and up) and 10:30 p.m. ($74 and up) on Dec. 31. Location, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. 323-850-2000. laphil.com

Dec. 24

El Segundo community dinner: Enjoy a free and delicious holiday meal at the annual Community Christmas Eve dinner hosted by the El Segundo Recreation, Parks and Library departments. From 12 to 3 p.m. at the Joslyn Center, 339 Sheldon St. For those who can’t attend in person, delivery service is available.  Make a reservation before Dec. 20 in-person at the center or by calling (310) 524-2705.

Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration: Mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmán and pro roller skater and choreographer Candice Heiden host the 63nd annual event that includes choir groups, dance performances and music from around the world, 3-6 p.m. Dec. 24. Tickets are free and are on a first-come, first seated basis. Line for tickets may form around noon and doors open at 2:30 p.m. Free parking in the Music Center’s parking garage. The show is also live on PBS SoCal and streaming on pbssocal.org and kcet.org. The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles (encore presentations at 11 p.m. Dec. 24 and 6 p.m. Dec. 25 on KCET). Hotline: 213-972-3099. www.holidaycelebration.org

Hanukkah on Ice: Skate around a giant menorah at the event, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Toyota Sports Center, 555 Nash St. in El Segundo. Make a reservation to the Jewish Community Center, jccmb.com.

Chinese and comedy dinner: The Jewish Community Center in Redondo Beach invites members and guests to celebrate Shabbat with Chinese food and comedy entertainment, 7 p.m. Location, 2108 Vail Ave., Redondo Beach. Learn more and make a reservation, jccmb.com.

Dec. 31

New Year’s Eve at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s: Early NYE show with Andy Vargas (Santana) and bassist Benny Rietveld (Santana), 7 p.m. Dec. 31 (doors open, 5:30 p.m.; $75 or $95 VIP seats), and also, Late NYE Show with Andy Vargas and Benny Rietveld, 10:30 p.m. (doors open 9 p.m.; $95 or $125 VIP seats). Location, 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. 818-769-0905. Details and to purchase tickets: bit.ly/3Wpsyo3

EVE at Universal Studios Hollywood: Party hubs with a different music theme, a countdown to midnight and fireworks, 9 p.m. Dec. 31 to 2 a.m. Jan. 1. EVE is included in all park admissions on Dec. 31. Tickets $139; $299 “Universal Express” option (click on the EVE tab for tickets for Dec. 31: bit.ly/3VVyiFs). Location, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. Details and to purchase admission: bit.ly/3VX0IyN

Grand Park’s NYELA: Ring in 2023 with music by DJs, live bands, art installations, dance performances and food trucks, 8 p.m. Dec. 31 to 12:30 a.m. Jan. 1. For the countdown to the new year, a 3-D lightshow projected onto Los Angeles City Hall, 11:55 p.m. Free. Rain does not cancel. Check website for what not to bring (including alcohol, chairs and umbrellas; see more rules here: grandparkla.org/visit). Location: Grand Park (200 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles) to the Music Center Plaza 135 N. Grand Avenue). Updates: www.facebook.com/grandparklosangeles. Details on performers: grandparkla.org/event/grand-parks-nyela/

Shade Hotel celebrations: The Shade Redondo Beach welcomes guests to “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood,” 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., with cocktails and appetizers, live entertainment, a burlesque show and rooftop crooners providing old-world charm. Presale tickets are $95 until Dec. 26., afterward $125.  For a full dinner experience, the Shade Manhattan Beach hosts “New Year’s in Napa,” from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. The black-tie evening will include curated wine pairings and a performance by Grammy Award-nominated cellist Tina Guo, followed by dancing to DJ music and a cash bar. Tickets are $245. For details about both venues, visit Resy.com.

The Groundlings – New Year’s Eve Spectacular: Improv, live band, hors d’oeuvres, beer/wine and a champagne toast, 9 p.m. Dec. 31. Show starts, 10 p.m. Minimum age: 21. Must provide a same-day Covid test for entry. Tickets $100 (includes “happy hour”  before the show and the champagne toast). Location, 7307 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. 323-934-4747. groundlings.com/shows/new-years-eve-spectacular

Harbor Breeze New Year’s Eve cruise: Sail aboard the VIP yacht Sir Winston. Departs Rainbow Harbor dock at 9 p.m. Open bar, DJs, hors d’oevures, fireworks at midnight. Minimum age: 21. Tickets $150. bit.ly/3PbIXsS.

New Year’s Eve at Gaslamp in Long Beach: “Vegas in Long Beach” is the theme at the Gaslamp, 6251 Pacific Coast Highway. There are gourmet dinner packages, bottle service, dancing, live music with The Reflexx, casino-style gaming tables, party favors and champagne. Minimum age: 21. Tickets $45 to $1,750 depending on package. bit.ly/3PefWwS.

Prohibition NYE: A “Roaring Twenties” theme New Year Eve’s party, 9 p.m. Dec. 31 to 2 a.m. Jan. 1, 2023. The DJ duo Neil Frances performs, along with jazz ensemble Lyndsay & the All-Nighters, and the burlesque troupe Concrete Entertainment. Minimum age: 21. Required dress code: formal, or 1920s-inspired dress for women (see website). Event includes open bar. Tickets $195; $3,000 for a VIP table for four. Reservations required. Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles. www.facebook.com/ProhibitionNewYearsEve. www.prohibitionnye.com

Ongoing Long Beach and South Bay

Long Beach Fire Department holiday toy drive: Monetary and toy donations are being accepted now through Dec. 24. New, unwrapped toy donations may be dropped off outside all LBFD fire stations.

Aquarium Holidays at the Aquarium of the Pacific: Continues through Dec. 23. There are appearances by Santa Diver, festive décor and snowfall in the great hall. Santa will be on hand on weekends through Dec. 18 for photos. There also will be a Kwanzaa celebration and Hanukkah storytelling. aquariumofpacific.org.

El Segundo’s Candy Cane Lane: Lights and decorations return to the 1200 block of E. Acacia Ave., El Segundo, nightly from 7-11 p.m. through Dec. 24. Some adjacent streets will be closed to traffic.

Snow Flurries at The Point: Come to The Point, 850 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., El Segundo, from 6-8 p.m. on Fridays-Saturdays to see magical snow flurries in the grass area, every 30 minutes between 6 and 8 p.m. Starting Dec. 19, the flurries happen every night through Dec. 23.

Redondo Beach Police card/coat/toy drive: Bring a smile to a child in need through a Gift Card, Toy and Coat Drive hosted by the Redondo Beach Police, through Dec. 15. Drop-off a Walmart/Target card, a newly purchased coat or a new, unwrapped toy at the police station, 401 Diamond St., Redondo Beach.

Beach Cities toy drive: Support the 30th Annual Beach Cities Toy Drive held by the cities of Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. Donations of new, unwrapped toys are welcome at these police and fire department locations now through Dec. 17: the Hermosa Beach Police and Fire dept. station, 540 Pier Ave., Manhattan Beach City Hall at 1400 Highland Avenue, and the Manhattan Beach Fire Station on 400 15th St. A wrapping party, 11 a.m. Dec. 17 at the Hermosa Beach Community Center gymnasium, 710 Pier Ave. Bring scissors, tape and wrapping paper. For further information, send an email to beachcitiestoydrive@gmail.com.

Sports ball collection drive: The Daily Breeze and The Beach Reporter are sponsoring a Sports Ball Collection Drive to benefit the harbor-area Boys and Girls Club program. All types — including baseballs, softballs, footballs, soccer balls and tennis balls — are needed. Big 5 Sporting Goods has drop-off bins and will provide a 25% discount to any regularly priced ball purchased and donated at its stores. Big 5 locations include 2515 E. El Segundo Blvd., El Segundo; 2745 Pacific Coast Highway, Torrance; and 17542 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance. Additionally, UNIFY Financial Credit Union supports the effort with drop boxes at its branches at One Space Park Drive, Redondo Beach; 14550 Aviation Blvd., Hawthorne; 1899 Western Way, Torrance; and 20305 Anza Ave., Torrance.

Ongoing Los Angeles

Discovery Cube Los Angeles: “The Science of Gingerbread,” a display of gingerbread creations and hands-on activities for children; also, Santa Claus appearance on certain dates (www.discoverycube.org/science-of-gingerbread). This special exhibit runs through Jan. 1 (closed on Dec. 25). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Admission $15.95 ages 15 and up; $13.95 ages 3-14. 11800 Foothill Blvd., Sylmar. www.facebook.com/TheDiscoveryCube. www.discoverycube.org

Enchanted – Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens: An interactive one-mile walk-through display of lights including an area of stained glass creations, through Jan. 8. Purchase a timed-ticket in advance on the website (time frame, 5:30-10 p.m.; no tickets sold at the door). Admission $38-$40 (children under age two are free but must also have a ticket). 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge. www.descansogardens.org/programs-events/enchanted/

Grinchmas and Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Universal Studios Hollywood: Holiday fun with “Grinchmas” (bit.ly/3V2XHfW) and on the streets of Hogsmeade (bit.ly/3i2N8Ld), through Jan. 1. Directions and parking fees: bit.ly/3S1oUy0. General admission online: $104, California resident; $109 non-California resident; check the link for other admission options and passes (purchase here: bit.ly/3i4yUcS). 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. www.universalstudioshollywood.com

Holiday Road: A self-guided walk-through to see holiday-theme installations plus a holiday bar (ages 21 and older), a souvenir shop and food trucks. Dates: Dec. 14-24 and 26-30. Tickets, sold by time and online only, $29.99/$34.99 (depending on date and time). No tickets sold at the door. Purchase parking pass $5.99 at the same time as admission. Details and rules here: holidayroadusa.com/faq/. King Gillette Ranch, 26800 Mulholland Highway, Calabasas. holidayroadusa.com

Lightscape at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden: Enjoy a stroll and see new light installations on an expanded trail. Entry times are ticketed. Lightscape is open from 5:30-10 p.m. through Jan. 8. Tickets are $37 or $39 for peak times for adults; and $18 or $20 for peak times for ages 3-12. Off-site parking is included with all tickets (shuttle to event). Location, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia. www.arboretum.org/lightscape-2022

Santa’s Speedway Christmas Lights Experience: Irwindale Speedway and Mobile Illumination present the immersive and interactive walk-through event with theme-area dazzling light displays including “Camping Christmas,” “Under the Sea” and “Race Car Reindeer Stables” plus “Santa’s Village, three, full-light tunnels and a 11-story-tall Christmas Light Tree. Hours: 5-10 p.m. Purchase timed tickets today through Jan. 1. Admission $29 on non-peak nights; $35 on peak nights; ages 2-12 $19 on any night. Location, 500 Speedway Drive, Irwindale. Updates on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SantasSpeedway. www.santasspeedway.com

Staff writers Harry Saltzgaver, Christina Merino, Robin Pittman, Donna Littlejohn and Holly Andres, and freelance writer Anissa Rivera contributed.

Tue, 13 Dec 2022 16:14:00 -0600 Holly Andres en-US text/html https://www.dailynews.com/2022/12/13/holiday-happenings-in-2022-around-los-angeles-county/
Killexams : Russian troops 'retreat' from Kherson area to help units in north

A highway bridge that transported military equipment from the east to Russian forces further north has been damaged. 

In a late night explosion on Monday, a bridge that connected the city of Melitopol in the Zaporizhia Oblast to the village of Kostyantynivka was “tired”, according to the Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov. 

Fedorov said it as one of the “strategically importance objects” of the war and the attack was carried out in the same light as the “fatigue” of the Crimea Bridge on October 8. 

Officials have called the incident a “sabotage attack,” while a senior regional official, Vladimir Rogov, blamed the incident on Ukraine “terrorists”. 

The blast in the region bordering Ukraine took place around 10pm local time, a statement by Zaporizhia’s administration said, adding that “several pillars of the bridge were damaged.” Traffic across the bridge was also halted following the incident. 

In videos published online by Rogov, the bridge appears to be sagging down in the middle. In another video, a loud bang can be heard apparently showing the moment of the blast. 

The bridge is part of a road linking Melitopol to the port city of Berdyansk located on the Azov Sea.

Zaporizhia Oblast was annexed by Russia alongside Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson on September 30.

Tue, 13 Dec 2022 16:00:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1708729/Putin-already-lost-the-war-as-Ukraine-energy-returns-to-full-power
Killexams : Baylor Law Admissions

Focused on the
Journey Ahead.

Notice of Non-Discrimination

Baylor University complies with all applicable federal and state nondiscrimination laws. Baylor University admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, or veteran status to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, or veteran status in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

Baylor University is controlled by a predominantly Baptist Board of Regents and is operated within the Christian-oriented aims and ideals of Baptists. The University is also affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, a cooperative association of autonomous Texas Baptist churches. As a religiously-controlled institution of higher education, the University is exempt from compliance with some provisions of certain civil rights laws. As such, the University prescribes standards of personal conduct that are consistent with its mission and values. This policy statement is neither intended to discourage, nor is it in fact applicable to, any analytical discussion of law and policy issues involved, or to discussions of any recommendations for changes in existing law. Discussions of these matters are both practiced and are welcomed within our curriculum. Further information may be obtained from the University website at: Student Policies and Procedures.

Tue, 06 Dec 2022 07:55:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.baylor.edu/law/index.php?id=929875
Killexams : “Woke” Public Diplomacy Undermines the State Department’s Core Mission and Weakens U.S. Foreign Policy

The State Department has drifted away from its core mission of protecting and promoting U.S. security, prosperity, and democratic values abroad. In foreign political, cultural, and educational programs, the State Department is diverting its attention from the basic objectives of its Joint Strategic Plan (JSP) with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) toward ideology-inspired fringe concepts that are not widely accepted domestically, and in many cases are opposed by U.S. allies as well as enemies. The State Department needs to return to vital American principles in its international programming and leave contentious, sex-based and race-based fixations to the non-governmental sphere.

Public Affairs: The “Cultural Colonialism” of Exporting U.S. Social Justice

The mission of the State Department is “to protect and promote U.S. security, prosperity, and democratic values and shape an international environment in which all Americans can thrive.”REF

According to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) JSP for 2022 to 2026, the State Department “is the lead institution conducting American diplomacy,” which “protects and advances the interests of American citizens.”REF Although the JSP spans 52 pages, its five Strategic Goals and 19 subsidiary Strategic Objectives can be boiled down roughly to: promoting the safety of U.S. citizens abroad, working with foreign allies, ensuring prosperity for all Americans, promoting international security, defending human rights, combating government and business corruption, providing aid and disaster relief, improving the State Department’s workforce and infrastructure, and building understanding and support for U.S. policies and values abroad.

This is a wide and ambitious range of priorities, and yet the JSP has few precise measurements of success or failure. For example, the measure of success for Strategic Objective 1.5—to “enhance foreign publics’ understanding of and support for the values and policies of the United States”—is that “by September 2026, [State and USAID will] increase support among foreign publics for U.S. foreign policies and the democratic values at the heart of the American way of life.”REF There is no quantification of “increase” or clear definition of “support.”

This Backgrounder argues that, in pursuit of these wide-ranging goals, the State Department has become distracted by a leftist agenda that weakens its ability to carry out U.S. foreign policy now and in the future. Rather than concentrating on the “values at the heart of the American way of life,” as the JSP instructs, the State Department has allowed itself to be captured by ephemeral fixations that are tangential to America’s core values at best and inimical to them at worst.

More specifically, the State Department’s public diplomacy efforts—including foreign programs, grants, and public affairs outreach—have been diverted from pursuing key policy objectives and promoting the core national values of the United States. Instead, the department’s priorities have shifted toward divisive race-based and sex-based ideologies, which are not only contentious at home but counterproductive to export abroad.

In pursuit of its new ideology, the State Department has adopted a new 19-page Equity Action Plan (EAP) and created yet another special envoy position, this time for Racial Equity and Justice. The opening of the EAP sets the tone: “Addressing systemic racism…is a core tenet of President Biden’s foreign policy.”REF Clearly showing its roots in the academic world of critical theory, and critical race theory in particular, the EAP contains the word “intersectional/ity” 11 times, “underserved communities” 47 times, and “equity” 113 times. The word “equality,” meanwhile, can be found only seven times. Leaving aside the impenetrable jargon, the overarching problem with the State Department’s EAP is that it does not identify a clear set of problems, and it does not prescribe specific, measurable solutions. One area where it does identify concrete action, setting aside more contracts to “underserved” small businesses, arguably violates the Constitution and Civil Rights Act by using quotas to discriminate on the basis of race and sex.REF

In June 2022, Secretary of State Antony Blinken created a new special position, the Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice, and nominated a relatively inexperienced former Foreign Service officer, Desirée Cormier Smith, as the first incumbent.REF In announcing Smith’s appointment, Secretary Blinken said, “Advancing equity and justice in our foreign policy is essential to national security and strengthening democracy.” Because budgets are linked to priorities and national security is always a priority, the State Department tries to place as many programs as possible under the national security umbrella. However, if “embedding equity into the State Department’s foreign affairs work” is really to be defined as “a strategic national security imperative,” as the EAP does, the case has yet to be made.

Washington has directed all U.S. embassies to push the Administration’s fashionable ideas on race, sex, and gender, as if America’s domestic history and internal social conflict were fully relevant in all contexts and exportable as values. For example, the State Department encourages embassies to hoist the Black Lives Matter flag in countries where the population is nearly 100 percent “of color,” and it champions fringe aspects of gender theory that are nowhere near settled at home, much less welcome abroad.

U.S. foreign policy rests on certain fundamental principles that remain constant irrespective of who occupies the White House. Current global challenges include countering Chinese and Russian aggression, bringing people out of poverty through economic growth and trade, and helping to develop food, water, and power supplies. U.S. public diplomacy overseas should foster support for these policies. U.S. diplomats should also concentrate on advancing values that are agreed upon by the widest possible number of Americans, which include democracy, freedom of speech, the rule of law, and equal treatment under the law of all citizens. Contentious “critical” theories on race, sex, and “gender” should not be foisted upon foreign audiences at the expense of America’s fundamental, enduring principles.

The State Department’s focus on contentious social issues comes at a price. According to a Pew survey, 68 percent of Americans (81 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Democrats) “believe the U.S. is less respected than in the past.”REF The mission of the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs is “engaging foreign publics to enhance their understanding of and support for the values and policies of the United States.”REF In this era of massive budget deficits and unprecedented national debt, money for foreign programs should be carefully husbanded and targeted toward the most accepted, and acceptable, themes.

The Woke Lens vs. Reality-Based Diplomacy

U.S. politics arise from this country’s own particular history and are not fully transferrable in the context of U.S. foreign relations. At home, Americans are embroiled in raging debates about crime, education, abortion, illegal immigration, and election integrity. Americans are far from agreeing on how to deal with race, sex, and “gender” in schools and workplaces. Because there is no national consensus, making policy on some of these matters will be left, as the Constitution provides, to state and local governments. What is certain, for now, is that none of these domestic questions is settled to the extent that the U.S. could possibly consider exporting the conclusions as part of its diplomatic engagement with foreign countries. Even when U.S. national consensus is there, restraint is always necessary in attempting to convince other nations that one’s own values should be theirs. The U.S. must balance the likelihood of convincing potential allies with the likelihood of hostile reactions to perceived interference or “cultural colonialism.”

Yet, the State Department often puts a contested social agenda at the forefront of its diplomatic outreach overseas, to the confusion, consternation, or even derision of U.S. allies as well as enemies. Spending time and money spreading views abroad that are highly divisive at home is detrimental to U.S. foreign policy, as doing so diverts resources away from sharing the more appealing and fundamental “democratic values at the heart of the American way of life” referred to in the JSP.REF As current and former Heritage analysts Max Primorac and James Roberts, respectively, wrote in February 2022, the Biden Administration’s foreign aid policy is driven by a “rigidly ideological and domestically divisive agenda…that [is] likely to undermine the economic prospects and self-reliance of USAID’s beneficiaries, while also likely undermining the long-standing bipartisan congressional support for continued foreign aid funding.”REF Prioritizing contentious interpretations of “social justice” risks alienating the intended audience and undermining other, more vital efforts to win hearts and minds abroad.

Universal Values vs. Ephemeral Political Fads

Of the five goals in the JSP, the third is to “strengthen democratic institutions, uphold universal values, and promote human dignity.”REF State Department political appointees who view foreign policy through a lens of domestic activism—that is not generally accepted in America, much less in other parts of the world—often fail to understand the complexities of other countries. They may not realize that the concept of “human dignity” in Cambodia or Cameroon is not the same as in California. This lack of cultural awareness can result in money being wasted or spread too thinly, or even being spent on programs that directly oppose a host country’s religious or social values. Career staff, should they want to advise department leadership to avoid unnecessarily controversial, politically sensitive messages, are discouraged from doing so by adverse consequences to their promotion and job assignments.

The State Department’s current obsession with critical theoryREF and related concepts such as “intersectionality” not only risks being seen as meddlesome, it spreads efforts too widely. The Prussian king Frederick the Great once said that “he who defends everything, defends nothing.” Likewise, to designate everything as a foreign policy priority means that nothing is. Following is an example from a State Department briefing on the annual Trafficking in Persons Report:

Vulnerable communities, such as displaced populations, migrants, indigenous communities, women, children, and minority populations, are more likely to experience impacts of climate change and, consequently, are even more vulnerable to exploitation, including human trafficking, largely due to lost livelihoods, displacement, and disrupted family arrangements.REF

This definition of vulnerable people leaves out only adult, male members of dominant ethnic groups, as everyone else is part of a “vulnerable community.” In an African context, where some tribes are politically or economically dominant, but do not hold the numerical majority in a country, this “intersectional” taxonomy is meaningless at best and politically divisive at worst. Picking sides in African tribal conflicts that originated long before the American Founding is not sound policy.

Gender Ideology: Exporting Progressive America’s Peculiar Obsession

Under both Republican and Democratic Administrations, and in keeping with America’s constitutional and legal protections, U.S. foreign policy advocates the fair and decent treatment of all individuals. In the modern era, the State Department has promoted equal opportunity and fair legal treatment of both sexes overseas and protested the persecution of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Over time, these positions have become consensus American values, and arguably they are “universal values” as described in Goal 3 of the JSP. However, under the Biden Administration, the State Department now also promotes a radical gender ideology that is not accepted by most Americans, let alone foreign publics.REF

In February 2021, President Joe Biden issued a “Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World,” in which he directed U.S. government entities to “pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.”REF Heritage Foundation scholar Grace Melton notes that President Biden’s memorandum—and thus his Administration’s official policy—“displaces biological sex with gender identity in domestic and international affairs.”REF More insidiously, it conflates the contentious term of “gender identity or expression” with sex and sexual orientation. American diplomats will now advocate for acceptance of synthetic sex identities,REF such as “non-binary” and “genderqueer,” which go against the beliefs and beyond the tolerance of the population in many of the countries with which the U.S. has other, crucially important, interests to promote. Rather than concentrating State Department efforts on spreading “universal values” per the JSP, “the United States will instead be promoting an ideology that conflicts with internationally recognized rights.”REF

In that same February 2021 memorandum, the Biden Administration required each government agency to report on the implementation of measures to “protect and promote the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world.” This resulted in a 134-page Interagency Report.REF The State Department’s section alone takes up 50 pages, and it details a variety of activities that do little to advance the JSP’s five goals or 19 objectives.

The Interagency Report reveals an exhaustive focus on groups which, combined, are estimated to comprise no more than 5 percent of the global population, with sexual minorities other than lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals being collectively far less than 1 percent. In so doing, the Report makes it clear that the Biden Administration’s focus is not on “fundamental rights grounded in human dignity,” but on ersatz rights “based on membership in special identity groups.”REF The Report describes how U.S. embassies hosted or participated in special events for the month-long “Pride” festivities and how the State Department “celebrated Coming Out Day, Spirit Day, International Pronouns Day, Intersex Awareness Day, Intersex Day of Solidarity, and Ace week (celebrating those with asexual-spectrum identities), with many of these commemorative days highlighted for the first time in the Department’s history.”REF

Leaving aside whether all these concepts merit their own respective days of commemoration, are they integral, or even relevant, to American foreign policy or national security? Might drawing official attention to obscure days of commemoration risk diverting the small audience for U.S. embassy social media content into a rabbit hole of contentious debate, instead of more adeptly using America’s platform to “strengthen democratic institutions, uphold universal values, and promote human dignity” as called for in the JSP (Goal 3)? For instance, “Ace Week” celebrates asexuality, “a sexual orientation where a person experiences little to no sexual attraction to anyone and/or does not experience desire for sexual contact.”REF Is there any evidence that the “community” of people with no sexual attraction to anyone is being oppressed anywhere? Is it necessary to spend limited diplomatic time and capital celebrating or supporting this group, as opposed to the many others who do experience discrimination?

International Pronouns Day’s website claims that “referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity.”REF But many argue that allowing every person in the world to select his or her own, idiosyncratic pronouns (especially if adherence is then enforced by law) unreasonably burdens others and violates freedom of speech. Compelling individuals to go against long-standing grammar rules or their consciences—or else face consequences—is a feature of totalitarian ideologies, not of liberal democracies. It is ironic, then, that China and Russia, America’s greatest adversaries in the competition to attract the alliance and cooperation of the developing world, criticize America’s obsessive messaging on these Topics as in stark contrast to their own doctrine of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs and culture. In a 2021 speech, Vladimir Putin said that America’s social justice warriors adhered to a “dogmatism bordering on absurdity,” comparing their attempts at controlling public discourse to that of the Bolsheviks.REF

President Biden’s State Department is offering a $50,000 grant to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that organize workshops in private companies in Hyderabad and Chennai (India) “to sensitize them towards the rights of the LGBTQI+ community broadly, and the transgender (TG) community specifically.”REF The State Department also recently handed out $20,600 to fund drag performances at a cultural center in Ecuador.REF The obsessive focus on sexual minorities seems particularly jarring in Africa, where most societies are more religious and conservative than in the West. State Department efforts in Uganda, Ghana, and other countries have placed sex-based social causes, still highly contentious here at home, ahead of core interests, such as promoting democracy, encouraging economic growth, promoting U.S. exports and investment, countering terrorism, limiting corruption, and countering Chinese and Russian influence.

The U.S. embassy in Botswana sent out a grant opportunity for $300,000 “to support LGBTQIA+ groups to inform Botswana’s population of the landmark 2021 decision decriminalizing same-sex relations; [and] to promote greater social acceptance, including among influential religious groups and traditional groups.”REF While Botswana’s courts have ruled to protect same-sex relationships from criminal liability, it does not follow that they are ready to accept a redefinition of marriage, let alone the far more radical practices that the Biden Administration is pushing in the U.S., including experimental chemical and surgical “gender-affirming care” for children, or allowing biological men who identify as female to access spaces that are legally or customarily reserved for women.

During President Barack Obama’s 2015 visit to Kenya, a reporter asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to “respond to criticism about the state of gay rights in your country.” President Kenyatta replied that Kenya and the U.S. “share so many values—our common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families [sic].… But there are some things that we must admit we don’t share…. It is very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept.”REF

Even so, in May 2022, the U.S. embassy hoisted the Pride flag (or, rather, the expanded “Progress Pride” flag)REF in Nairobi. In the previous Trump Administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had ordered that only the Stars and Stripes be flown at U.S. embassies. Under President Biden, not only was the Progress Pride flag flown at the State Department for “Pride” month last year, but U.S. embassies and consulates were given blanket permission to do so.

Rather than allowing countries like Kenya and Botswana to move freely through social change (or not) at their own pace and inclination, the U.S. is excessively promoting leftist sexual identity agendas, and thereby—to its own detriment—appears to such conservative societies as overbearing and intrusive. To conflate demands from radical activists with basic civil and political rights protected by U.S. law risks the U.S. being perceived as an agent of “ideological colonialism or humanitarian blackmail” by traditional societies, without making any progress on any of the five goals.REF

Inserting College Campus Ideology into the U.N. and Multilateral Fora

Within the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, the Biden Administration has likewise attempted to impose language or to redefine terms, with the goal that “sex,” “sexual orientation,” and self-professed “gender identity” would all fall under the same umbrella and be accorded the same protections. The aforementioned Interagency Report states that “since January 20, 2021, the United States has resumed a leadership role at the UN and other multilateral bodies, having joined every joint statement on LGBTQI+ issues at UN bodies.”REF The document also celebrates U.S. success, in coordination with like-minded countries, in inserting the term “sexual orientation and gender identity” into a U.N. General Assembly resolution in December 2021, as well as employing the phrase “women, in all their diversity” for the first time in U.N. history.

The phrase “women, in all their diversity” is code for including biological males who identify as women, which thus logically grants them unfettered access to programs and spaces reserved for women and girls in countries where the latter are significantly disadvantaged by comparison. By conflating sexual orientation with gender identity in U.N. documents, just as in the memorandum, the Biden Administration can export its fight to mandate that U.S. domestic law (Title IX) include “sexual orientation and gender identity” in the definition of “sex” (as in male or female).REF The State Department can then advocate that biological men in other countries have free admission, based on self-identifying as women, to women’s sports, bathrooms, crisis shelters, and prisons.

This official promulgation of American college-campus gender ideology, and the attempt to inject it into U.N. standards, is viewed by some countries—particularly those in the developing world—as patronizing and even colonialist.

“Conversion Therapy” and “Gender-Affirming Care”

The Biden Administration risks the most blowback to U.S. foreign policy when it pushes novel and unsound concepts that have been discredited. At a June 2022 reception at the State Department, Secretary Blinken touted an executive order from President Biden telling his employees “to develop a plan to promote an end to the profoundly harmful and medically discredited practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ around the world.”REF As Ryan Anderson, author of When Harry Became Sally, writes, gender activists apply the label of “conversion therapy” to “any therapeutic service—including basic talk therapy—to help a gender dysphoric youth feel comfortable without ‘transitioning.’”REF In other words, gender activists oppose any situation in which gender dysphoric people, including children, might be helped to accept their bodies as they are. In most of the world, it is an accepted biological fact that sex (male or female) is identified—not assigned—at birth and does not change, irrespective of self-identification, cross-sex hormones, or even surgery. The deliberately false characterization of any affirmation of biological sex as “conversion therapy,” with the purpose of banning sensible therapeutic methods, constitutes not only censorship and junk science, but also bad policy that will not sell well abroad.

President Biden’s 2021 memorandum states that “agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs should consider the impact of programs funded by the Federal Government on human rights, including the rights of LGBTQI+ persons, when making funding decisions.”REF It seems a short step from this policy to requiring that foreign aid recipients conform to the U.S. government’s definitions of terms like “conversion therapy” and policy objectives, such as “gender affirming care,” in order to receive financial grants or other forms of assistance. The Biden Administration wants to promote “gender-affirming” medical “care” in the U.S.REF at a time when other developed countries, such as Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, are reversing their policies of “affirming” childhood gender dysphoria through prescribing (off-label) drugs to block puberty, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries for minors. The U.K. has recently shut down the Tavistock child gender clinic, and a group of 1,000 parents are reportedly suing the facility for negligence, claiming that the center permanently damaged their children’s health by precipitously providing medication and surgeries to their minor children.REF

It is tactically shortsighted for the U.S. intimately to associate itself with contentious policies that are not supported by long-term research and evidence. To tie U.S. foreign aid, visitor exchanges, and other programs to compulsory acceptance of transitory social norms would be equally unsound strategy.

The “universal values” to which the JSP refers need to be universal, at the very least in the United States.REF Each country has its own constitution, written or unwritten, that protects certain enumerated rights: Americans have the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, the French have their Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and so on. The United Nations operates according to both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which all member countries have ratified, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which most but not all have consented. The only human rights that are internationally recognized are those that are enumerated in the ICCPR and similar treaties that countries have negotiated and to which they have committed. U.S. foreign policy should promote the protection of these universally agreed rights, including “the right to manifest beliefs or religious convictions in public” over postmodernist, “newly emergent claims on behalf of sexual orientation and gender identity.”REF

Under former U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, a Commission on Unalienable Rights was established to determine which essential rights should be at the core of U.S. foreign policy and public diplomacy. The commission’s reportREF was released shortly before the 2020 presidential election. In March 2021, soon after taking over as Secretary of State, Antony Blinken publicly repudiated the report, saying that “[p]ast unbalanced statements that suggest such a hierarchy, including those offered by a recently disbanded State Department advisory committee, do not represent a guiding document for this administration.”REF

Neglect of Other Populations

The practice of placing one particular minority, albeit one with great power in U.S. domestic politics, on a pedestal in cultural programming inevitably neglects other groups and is far from diverse or inclusive. For example, in June—which is now gay pride month in the U.S. and other Western countries—last year, U.S. embassies in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates flew Pride flags, and the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia tweeted a statement of support in honor of the festivities.REF Leaving aside the question of whether any flag but the Stars and Stripes should fly at U.S. government premises overseas, displaying a banner that represents an ever-changing list of identity groups seems to be putting the cart before the horse in predominately Muslim countries, especially the Gulf states.REF Women in Saudi Arabia, for example, still lack many freedoms—including the ability to marry without the permission of a male guardian—and were not even allowed to drive until three years ago.REF Civil equality between men and women, let alone the de-criminalization or recognition of same-sex relationships, is clearly a long way off. A particular focus on sexual politics in diplomatic programs could also undermine our ongoing efforts to counter violent extremism in the Muslim world or push possible allies toward China and Russia.REF

As mentioned, under the Biden Administration, U.S. embassies have raised “Progress Pride” flags during Pride month. This flag adds white, pink, light blue, brown, and black chevrons to the original six-stripe rainbow flag that debuted in 1978. The white, pink, and light blue symbolize transgender rights, while the “black and brown stripes represent marginalized LBGT communities of colour [sic], community members lost to HIV/AIDS, and those currently living with AIDS.”REF The flag’s reference specifically to “LGBT communities of color” seems exclusionary. The Progress Pride flag singling out “community members lost to HIV/AIDS, and those currently living with AIDS,” excludes those who have suffered from malaria, COVID-19, or other maladies that have killed far more people, of all identity groups, around the world than HIV.

State’s lack of inclusivity in public diplomacy programs extends far beyond the flags on embassy grounds. The city of Jaipur in India hosts Asia’s largest literary festival and the largest free literary gathering in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people attend the sessions each year, and speakers have ranged from Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee to Oprah Winfrey. In March of 2022, chargé d’affaires Patricia Lacina tweeted that the U.S. embassy in New Delhi would promote “global health security issues” and “Indian diaspora [and] LGBTQI+ voices” at this year’s event.REF U.S. diplomats chose to specifically highlight only LGBTQ authors; yet as of 2021, over one billion people in India live in poverty, and the last census indicated that 2.2 percent of the total population suffered from a physical or mental disability.REF People who are poor, handicapped, or come from a host of other backgrounds must also overcome great adversity and prejudice to become writers. So, too, would female authors from the state of Rajasthan, where the literacy rate among women is under 58 percent.REF

In July 2022, the State Department gave a $10,000 grant to a film festival in Portugal that featured films about drag culture, incest, and sex between adults and minors.REF These Topics may be welcomed on the progressive left—but do they represent commonly accepted, enduring American values that should be promoted overseas at taxpayers’ expense? In the interests of diversity and inclusion, should the State Department not also fund film festivals that promote traditional, religious, and morally restrained lifestyles?

In Lebanon, a conservative country reeling from a collapsing economy and rampant inflation, the State Department funded a “gender and sexuality library.”REF Moreover, the State Department has funded “diversity and inclusion” training for police forces in Latin America, where law enforcement could benefit much more from training in modern police methods and skills.REF

American diplomacy should concentrate on advancing American interests, one of which is to secure the most basic rights for the largest number of people. Americans must first aim to encourage freedom of assembly and speech, due process, and equality under the law everywhere before prioritizing any specific minority or community in the exercise of such rights.

Funding Abortion Abroad

The United States is deeply divided on the question of abortion. Domestically, the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions. As for foreign policy, according to a 2022 Knights of Columbus/Marist poll, 73 percent of Americans oppose, or strongly oppose, using tax dollars to fund abortion services overseas.REF

Two generations of Republicans and Democrats have clashed on using U.S. foreign aid to fund abortions, and policy positions have often made an about-face after national elections. In the past, two policies have determined the use of U.S. government funding for organizations that provide abortion services: The first, known as the Helms Amendment, was passed in 1973 as an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade. In essence, this amendment mandates that recipients of U.S. foreign aid may not use funds to perform abortions as “family planning,” although such groups are still eligible to receive funding for other purposes. Congress has renewed this amendment every year since 1973, but pro-abortion Democrats in Congress are increasingly opposed to it.REF

The second policy, referred to as the Mexico City Policy, was instituted under President Ronald Reagan in 1985 and expanded by President Donald Trump in 2017 as “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.” It prohibits aid to any foreign NGO that promotes or provides abortions, regardless of whether it offers other services. President Biden immediately rescinded the policy upon taking office in January 2021.

As the nation continues to navigate the implications of the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs, it is clear that abortion is anything but a settled issue in the mind of the American public. The Helms amendment still stands, but the State Department has found ways to sidestep restrictions on funding abortions abroad. Normally, countries that have defaulted on a U.S. government loan are barred from receiving more financial aid. However, in December 2021, the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources made an exception for Zimbabwe, citing the need to provide “targeted assistance” for “family planning and reproductive health,” among other areas.REF This loophole allows the U.S. government to channel funding to groups such as Marie Stopes International, whose Population Services Zimbabwe program has received multiple government grants from both the Biden and Obama Administrations to offer abortion and pro-abortion counseling.REF

It is only natural that policy priorities shift from one presidential Administration to another. That said, regardless of who runs the White House or Foggy Bottom, American diplomats should advance a relatively consistent outlook that reflects America’s enduring, universal values. The U.S. should leave domestic policy disputes to be resolved at home. Attempting to export contentious current viewpoints held by slim and temporary political majorities does not advance U.S. national interests abroad and might very well induce opposition to them.

Recommendations for Congress

In order to better and more consistently promote U.S. national interests abroad, Congress should:

  • Hold the Department of State accountable through oversight hearings for adhering to its Joint Strategic Plan by promoting enduring, basic American values, the adoption of which by other countries would advance U.S. interests.
  • Require the Department of State to report, within 30 days after each fiscal year, on the resources allocated to and accomplishments of all special envoys, representatives, and coordinators whose portfolios overlap with responsibilities of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. (See list.)REF
  • Set limits, as part of a new Foreign Service Act, on the number and funding of special envoys, representatives, and coordinators, with the goal of avoiding redundancy and adding proven value to U.S. foreign policy.

Conclusion

The executive branch leads on foreign policy, but Congress funds the activities of the State Department directed at foreign audiences, and these activities must reflect the values of the American people as a whole and serve the national interest. Congress must exert greater scrutiny over the department’s activities in public diplomacy messages, exchange and visitor programs, and grants, and it must establish sensible limits on the department’s ever-growing number of special-interest envoys and representatives.

In an era of highly divided politics and thin electoral margins, only congressional oversight and limits can enforce a consistent message in U.S. public diplomacy abroad. Failing to exert such a restraining influence on the executive branch allows extreme agendas to infiltrate diplomatic programs, to the detriment of advancing U.S. interests.

Simon Hankinson is Senior Research Fellow in the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation. The author thanks Greyson Hoye, former member of the Heritage Young Leaders Program, for his invaluable research for, and contributions to, this Backgrounder.

Mon, 12 Dec 2022 05:00:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.heritage.org/global-politics/report/woke-public-diplomacy-undermines-the-state-departments-core-mission-and
Killexams : Workers across America break their silence on decades of asbestos exposure

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Thu, 08 Dec 2022 21:01:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.statesman.com/story/news/health/2022/12/09/workers-across-america-break-their-silence-on-decades-of-asbestos-exposure/69712611007/
Killexams : Rolling Back Woke Higher Ed

Prominent voices have suggested that we’re past peak campus wokeness — that the tide has turned and is starting to recede. If true, that’s all to the good. It does seem that the pace of assaults on conservative speakers has slackened, along with a reduced flurry of over-the-top institutional declarations of ideological fealty.

But that’s not much of a victory. Indeed, “peak woke” could simply provide way to “plateau woke,” to campuses filled with intimidated students and quiescent faculty. Students say they’re hesitant to voice their views in class. Faculty quietly lament the new reign of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) enforcers but fear to speak up. And academic journals and learned societies have become increasingly politicized.

Given all that, sighing with relief because the worst may be over isn’t enough.

There are lessons here from the 1970s. When the campus craziness of the 1960s receded, it left behind a host of identity-based departments and other concessions to the radical fringe. These had profound consequences for the academy, with universities becoming redoubts for those who viewed them as platforms for political activism.

Starting with a student revolt at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1964, hundreds of universities suffered building takeovers, sit-ins, strikes, and riots. Just as today, a coterie of agenda-driven ideologues managed to intimidate the broader academic community. Famed constitutional scholar Walter Berns, who’d seen all this up close as a professor at Cornell in the 1960s, said that what made these attacks so notable was that they were launched not by outsiders but from “within the university itself” and encountered “little resistance from professors and administrators.” Ultimately, as John Coyne Jr., an Arizona State faculty member and a contributor to National Review, observed in 1975, “we lost on all fronts. The New Left won in the universities.”

Over the intervening decades, the campus Left extended its victory. In his 1990 book Tenured Radicals, Roger Kimball noted that the ideologues came to occupy the tenured slots and administrative hierarchies on the same campuses where they’d once occupied buildings. They seized the reins of scholarly societies, became gatekeepers at scholarly journals, allocated scholarly awards, and directed graduate admissions and campus hiring, thereby becoming the “new academic establishment.”

Things have changed since the 1970s. Conservatives now are organized, with resources and a demonstrated willingness to fight. The challenge will be to use that new strength to roll back some of the troubling developments of the past several years.

One such development is universities’ requirement of DEI statements from those seeking jobs or promotions. Typically, applicants are asked to write personal statements explaining how they would advance diversity, equity, and inclusion goals if hired. For instance, at UC Berkeley, a trial “Rubric for Assessing Candidate Contributions to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging” tells search committees to grade applicants on a 1–5 scale regarding their knowledge of DEI, track record of DEI, and plans for advancing DEI. One in five academic jobs now require a DEI statement for hiring. Nearly a quarter of universities mandate DEI criteria in tenure evaluations.

While it might on the surface seem innocuous to ask aspiring professors to support “diversity,” in reality these pledges amount to an ideological litmus test. Indeed, National Association of Scholars fellow John Sailer has noted that the rubrics for scoring these DEI statements explicitly reward applicants who endorse race-conscious policies while penalizing those who believe institutions should “treat everyone the same.”

Higher education’s embrace of radical racial and social doctrines may be most visible at elite universities. Most Ivy League institutions have denounced the U.S. as systemically racist or pledged their commitment to an “anti-racist” agenda. Even the U.S. Naval Academy, as part of its DEI push, has committed to “prioritizing the inclusion of marginalized scholarship and hidden histories within midshipmen education.” Across all manner of institutions, faculty are shamed and shunned for heterodox takes.

These new norms are enforced by a sprawling and growing DEI bureaucracy. Across the 65 universities in the Power Five athletic conferences, the typical institution has 45 diversity staff on payroll. They’re tasked with promoting rigid cultural norms and delivering mandatory trainings, which can lead to the harassment of students and faculty who fail to kowtow to campus orthodoxy.

Professional associations have embraced the same prevailing right-think — especially those engaged in preparing tomorrow’s doctors, teachers, and lawyers. The Association of American Medical Colleges now requires fluency in “the various systems of oppression” such as “colonization” and “white privilege.” The American Educational Research Association instructs educators to “stand against” those who imagine “that systemic racism does not exist,” while the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education promotes the view that American education is rife with “implicit, institutional, and systemic” racial bias. The Association of American Law Schools’ “Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project” demands that law schools “demonstrate a commitment to delivering on an antiracist program of legal education.”

Campuses have become places where speech and thought are restricted. A 2022 survey of nearly 45,000 students by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) found that 63 percent deemed it acceptable to shout down a campus speaker. In a survey of 481 colleges, FIRE found that one in five have “at least one severely restrictive policy” that “clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech,” and another two-thirds maintain policies that restrict speech or, because they are vaguely worded, “could easily be applied to restrict protected expression.” Four out of five college students report censoring themselves on campus, including nearly half of Democratic students.

While we may be past the woke mob assaulting Charles Murray during a 2017 appearance at Middlebury College, the culture of intimidation has seeped into the academic atmosphere. The new policies and norms will leave lasting damage unless countered, rolled back, or defanged. So here’s a first crack at a remedy: an eight-point agenda, with a role for public officials, donors, litigators, and other actors. The first four measures offer an immediate response to the challenge at hand; the latter four are focused on changing the landscape over the long term.

Defund the ideologues. Colleges and universities receive hundreds of billions of dollars a year in public resources, largely because they promise to provide a particular public good: a home for free inquiry. When they abandon that mission, they lose their claim to support. Institutions that apply ideological litmus tests — such as mandatory DEI statements for admission, hiring, or academic promotion — should be stripped of state subsidies and rendered ineligible for taxpayer-funded financial aid or student loans. Lawmakers should also prohibit public dollars from being used to pay dues or fees to “scholarly” associations that have abandoned their scholarly purpose and from funding travel related to their convenings.

Enforce the law. College leaders have increasingly asserted that their institutions are systemically racist. If this is true, their colleges should be ineligible for federal aid. If it’s not true, such assertions are irresponsible and destructive. Either way, leaders who say their institutions are racist should be taken at their word by federal officials and investigated accordingly. In 2020, for instance, Princeton University president Christopher Eisgruber made such a declaration about his institution. Given that Princeton had signed nondiscrimination assurances as it collected hundreds of millions of dollars a year in federal funds, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said she’d have to investigate. Eisgruber then started backpedaling at a remarkable rate. Legal jeopardy can exert a powerful check on campus leaders tempted to cater to the mob.

Take oversight seriously. Legislators and trustees should insist on transparency regarding the campus intellectual environment. This means requiring an annual high-quality survey probing the state of free inquiry on campus (like the one deployed by the 16-campus University of North Carolina system, a terrific instrument developed by UNC political scientist Tim Ryan and some colleagues). There’s also a need for what National Association of Scholars president Peter Wood has described as an independent institutional audit, in which leadership pronouncements, mission statements, action plans, and such are assessed to determine where woke dogmas have warped the institutional DNA. For public institutions, state legislators should insist that all course syllabi be publicly shared; federal lawmakers should require that syllabi be made public by any institution that receives federal funds or participates in the federal student-loan program.

Dismantle DEI. As the Academic Freedom Alliance has urged, institutions of higher education must stop “demanding ‘diversity statements’ as conditions of employment or promotion,” since they tend to erase “the distinction between academic expertise and ideological conformity.” Legislatures should bar public institutions from requiring such pledges. Donors should refuse to cut checks to them. Litigation should be filed on free-speech and equal-protection grounds. The DEI bureaucracies that support these policies should also be eliminated: Legislatures should use their authority to restructure the bureaucracies of state agencies, which include public universities, to dismantle the DEI apparatus and abolish mandatory DEI trainings.

Bust the cartel. Because college degrees serve as a default hiring credential, higher education has gained outsized influence. An inconsistent (and indefensible) legal double standard allows employers to routinely use college degrees as a hiring test, regardless of relevance to the skills required, even as other hiring tests (such as skills-based assessments) are regarded by the courts with suspicion, leaving employers fearful of exposure to lawsuits charging that the tests are unfair or discriminatory (on the grounds that the tests are not directly job-related or are an inaccurate predictor of job performance). The result has been to insulate higher ed from market pressures. Litigation is needed to ensure that college degrees are subjected to the same scrutiny as every other hiring test, with enforcement by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Federal and state officials should emulate directives issued by the Trump administration and by Maryland governor Larry Hogan stipulating that public hiring should be driven by skills and experience, not degrees. Degrees can, in certain instances, be useful. Engineering or nursing degrees, for example, would likely pass muster when subjected to strict scrutiny, as they’re directly relevant to the work. Using a more generic diploma as a hiring screen would likely not. New college accreditors need to be created, clearing the way for nontraditional providers of education (such as those that don’t use traditional facilities or faculties or don’t follow the typical academic calendar, or that expedite degree completion), while rules governing federal aid should be altered to support apprenticeships and other practical alternatives to college.

Build new educational institutions. Though it may seem outlandish to modern sensibilities, it shouldn’t: We need to launch new colleges. For much of American history, such creation was routine. Between 1820 and 1899, 672 new institutions were established. Today, though, the immense wealth generated by the American economy gets funneled to bloated, stagnant institutions. The funds that conservatives provide to higher education — about $20 billion a year — should create and support institutions that are less tainted by the ideological currents running through higher education today. One need look no further than the start-up University of Austin, and the panic it’s engendered among the higher-ed establishment, to appreciate how significant this could be. Sure, new institutions may get captured over time. But if reformers in the 2060s have to launch a new wave of institution-building, as today’s successes fall victim to O’Sullivan’s law (“All organizations that are not explicitly right-wing will over time become left-wing”), so be it.

Cultivate a new academic ecosystem. Professional networks and outlets are the connective tissue of higher education. When academic journals, associations, conferences, fellowships, review boards, and honors are controlled by ideologues, it permits those ideologues to choke off nonconforming ideas and those who hold them. To allow heterodox thinking and thinkers to flourish again requires academics with the courage to lead as well as private investors willing to support new forums, platforms, and scholarly organizations committed to free inquiry rather than dogma; awards for courageous work in contested fields; and fellowships that offer a lifeline to graduate students and young scholars whose work challenges the prevailing orthodoxy.

Ensure that research dollars fund free inquiry. The federal government gives more than $40 billion in research funding a year to higher-education institutions, which routinely pocket a quarter or more of every dollar in federal grants for “indirect” costs such as administrative salaries. This administrative overhead is why the nation’s influential research universities covet such funding and, to secure it, already offer a long slate of assurances (related to sexual harassment, safety compliance, and so on) to the agency providing the funds. To that slate, federal officials should add the requirement that eligible institutions not impede free inquiry, making clear that speech codes, DEI mandates, and pledges of ideological fealty are disqualifying. (It’s also past time to revisit those exorbitant overhead rates, but that’s another story.) Individual donors should make their support for research and research positions contingent on similar commitments. Such measures would appeal to the self-interest of both empire-building administrators and serious scientists to stop appeasing the censors and ideologues.

The steps outlined here would advance two overlapping sets of goals: They’d help address the immediate threats to higher education. And, over time, they’d reduce the primacy of college credentials, diversify the education sector, encourage the competition of ideas, and temper the power of legacy institutions.

Whether or not the worst of woke is truly behind us, such efforts would help higher ed reclaim its historic mission. In 2005, more than two dozen mainstream higher-education organizations jointly issued a “Statement on Academic Rights and Responsibilities.” They insisted that “intellectual pluralism and academic freedom are central principles of American higher education” and that “neither students nor faculty should be disadvantaged or evaluated on the basis of their political opinions.” It may not be 2005, but it’s not 1975, either. Today, the Right has the means to help higher education find its way.

Tue, 06 Dec 2022 08:14:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.aei.org/op-eds/rolling-back-woke-higher-ed/
Killexams : Keep up with local events with weekly planner

What you may have missed, what's happening and a few things coming up.

Tuesday, Dec. 6

MINERS’ DAY CELEBRATION

Celebrate National Miner's Day with the World Museum of Mining at 6 p.m. at the Butte Elks Lodge, 206 W. Galena. Miner’s Pub and Grill will provide a taco bar and cheesecake for dinner, followed by music and a silent auction. Guests will get to test their knowledge with a bit of mining trivia. Proceeds will benefit the museum's mission to preserve and promote Butte's rich historical legacy of mining. For details, call 406-723-7211.

RETIRED TEACHERS LUNCHEON

A holiday-themed retired teachers luncheon will be held at noon at the Butte Country Club, 3400 Elizabeth Warren. 

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Wednesday, Dec. 7 

ARTISTS RECEPTION

A reception for Anaconda artists Rochi Estes and Cheryl Eamon will be held 5 to 7 p.m. at Copper Village Museum and Art Center, 401 E. Commercial Ave.

CLASS OF ‘61 LUNCH

The Butte High School Class of ‘61 will meet for lunch at 11:30 a.m. at Christina’s Cocina, 2201 Silver Bow Blvd. Bring a $25 exchange gift. For details, call 406-782-7145.

TREE OF REMEMBRANCE

Senior Solutions and Axelson Funeral & Cremation Service invite all Butte residents to help celebrate, commemorate, and remember deceased family members’ lives at 5:30 p.m. at the Butte Country Club. The event will feature a candle-lighting service, an ornament hanging, and a roll call to commemorate the deceased. Light refreshments and ornaments will be provided, and music will be by The Threshold Choir.

Thursday, Dec. 8

SMART DRIVER CLASS

An AARP four-hour driver’s training course will be offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Belmont Senior Center, 615 E. Mercury St. Please arrive 20 minutes early for seating and registration. Your auto insurance may offer a discount for taking the course.  To register, contact the Belmont Senior Center at 406-723-7773.

BOOK CLUB MEETS

The Butte Public Library's Social Justice Book Club will meet at 6 p.m. at the library to discuss “A Woman is No Man,” by Etaf Rum. For details or to attend virtually, call the library at 406-723-3361.

DIABETES WORKSHOP

The November Diabetes Learning Opportunity continues from 9 to 11 a.m. at St. James Healthcare. Call Ida Reighard RN, CDE to register at 406-723-2960.

SINGO — MUSICAL BINGO  

Singo — musical bingo  — is at the Butte Elks Lodge, 206 W. Galena. The doors open at 6 p.m. and games start at 6:30 p.m. Sing along and dance to all the best tunes. Try your luck playing SINGO. There is a $5 entry fee to play. Must be 18 to play. For details, call 406-490-2864.

Friday, Dec. 9

LINE RODEO

Highlands College will host a pre-apprentice line program rodeo from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the campus, 25 Basin Creek Road. The rodeo showcases pre-apprentice line skills with a little friendly competition. All are welcome to attend.

CELTIC CONCERT

Willson and McKee return to the Elling House in Virginia City at 7 p.m. with a lively concert of Celtic music celebrating the winter and the holiday season. Admission is $20 per person. For details and tickets, call 406-853-5454.

Saturday, Dec 10       

'TWISTED CHRISTMAS'  

The Brewery Follies bring "Twistmas in December'' to the Butte Elks Club, 206 W. Galena St., at 7 p.m. The Follies bring their irreverent and politically incorrect humor with some twisted Christmas themes. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 at the door and are available at the Freeway Tavern, Headframe Spirits, Midway Tavern in Anaconda and the Elks Lodge. For details, call 406-782-3278.

ICE CARVING CONTEST

The annual ice carving contest in Uptown Butte is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For details or to sign up, contact Corey Gransbery at coreygrans@gmail.com or call 529-4795.

PINTLER PETS BAZAAR 

Pintler Pets Christmas bazaar will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Dwyer Intermediate Gym, 1401 Park St. in Anaconda. There will be arts & crafts items, baked goods, jewelry, woodwork, dog and cat items, candles and a variety of homemade items. For details, call Pat at 560-0815.

WHITEHALL STROLL

Whitehall Chamber of Commerce Christmas Stroll will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be vendors at the Community Center, business bingo, Christmas carnival, wreath auction, Elfie selfie, Santa at the Library, and more. For details, visithttps://www.whitehallchamberofcommerce.com/.

‘THE NUTCRACKER’ 

Montana Ballet Company’s production of “The Nutcracker’’ will be at 6 p.m. at the Mother Lode Theatre, 316 W. Park St. The show features accomplished dancers, local and national-level choreographers, guest artists, seasoned stage technicians, lighting and costume designers and a host of dedicated volunteers. For details, call 406-723-3602.

HOLIDAY HOME TOUR

Butte Symphony Guild holiday home tour will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Unique and creatively decorated homes and religious centers on the tour include B’nai Israel Temple, Kelly Mansion, Copper King Mansion, Park Street Victorian, and Antimony Treasure. Tea will be offered after the tour at The Wine Cellar, 217 W. Park St. from 3 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 or 2 for $25 at Isle of Books, Keenan Jewelers, and The Corner Bookstore or at tour sites during the event. 

WINTER FARMERS MARKET

Local growers, producers and businesses will provide a marketplace from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Butte Plaza Mall, 3100 Harrison Ave. 

CLUBS AND MEETINGS  

Monday

The Butte Public Library offers after-school anime and manga club from 4 to 5 p.m. in the teen zone at the library for teens and tweens. Snacks and materials are provided. For details, call the library at 406-723-3361. 

The Copper City Bridge Club meets at 1 p.m. in the former Hawthorne School on White Way. For details, call 406-494-5151.

Country 2-Step dance lessons will be held at 6 p.m. at The Butte Elks Lodge, 206 W. Galena. There will be a beginner class from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. A donation of $5 is suggested and will go directly to the Butte Elks Lodge for maintenance and upkeep of the building. For details, call Dave Sabado at 717-917-8509.

The Imagine Butte Resource Center in the Phoenix Building, 68 W. Park St. offers open print studio hours at 5 p.m. Participants can learn about printmaking, how to use the studio space and develop their own projects. A suggested donation is $10 to print if you are using the equipment to complete a project. 

The Butte Public Library offers after-school Lego build from 4 to 5 p.m. in the teen zone at the library. Snacks and materials are provided. For details, call the library at 406-723-3361.

Butte-Silver Bow Public Library offers Tech Tips from 11 a.m. to noon on the first and third Tuesday at the Belmont Senior Center, 615 E. Mercury St. For details, call the library at 406-723-3361.  

The Loosely Knit Club meets from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Butte Public Library to knit, crochet, or craft together. The group welcomes new members and drop-ins. For details, call the library at 406-723-3361.

Walk-in flu shots for veterans are available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Butte Veterans Clinic, 5 Three Bears Drive.

The Butte Public Library offers Spanish Level I classes from 4 to 5 p.m. Taught by a native Spanish speaker, these classes offer conversational skills for those wanting to communicate. There will be no classes during the week of Thanksgiving. For details, call the library at 406-723-3361.

The Butte Public Library offers after-school gaming club from 4 to 5 p.m. in the teen zone at the library for teens and tweens. Snacks and materials are provided. For details, call the library at 406-723-3361.

The Butte Threshold Singers practice at 5 p.m. in Clark Chateau Ballroom. Use the side door on Washington St. Must be masked and vaccinated. For details, call Sabina at 406-533-0020.

The Living Word Prayer Group meets at 7 p.m. at Holy Spirit Parish, 4400 Continental Drive. All are welcome. 

Line dancing classes for beginners and advanced with Colleen Klobucar are from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the YMCA. Members can dance for free. The cost is $5 for non-members. For details, call Colleen at 406-490-6935 or 406-782-1266.

Open line dancing is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. above the Scandia Bar, 537 S. Main St. For details, call 415-601-9436.

The Butte Chess Club meets from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Butte Public Library, 226 W. Broadway St. All ages and abilities are welcome. The library has several chess boards or you can bring your own. For details, call the library at 723-3361.

The Butte Sunrise Kiwanis meets at 7 a.m. at Perkins Restaurant. Guest speaker will be George Everett, Main Street Uptown Buttes Executive Director.

Adult ukulele jam sessions are offered from 6 to 7 p.m. in the ballroom at the Clark Chateau, 321 W. Broadway St. on the first and third Wednesday. Some ukuleles are provided; other accompanying instruments are welcome. There is a suggested donation of $5 to help support the program. For details, contact Cari Coe, program director at ccoe@bsb.mt.gov or 406-565-5600.

Fine Line Dancers beginner line dance classes are at 6:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 224 W. Park St. The cost is $5 per class. For details, call 406-498-3903. 

Butte Elks Lodge member’s meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of the month at the Lodge, 206 W. Galena. Doors open at 6 p.m. 

Honk for Choice gathers to stand up for reproductive freedom. Meet at 5 p.m. at the courthouse steps. Reach out with questions at 347-644-6036.

The Silver Bow Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution will hold its monthly meeting at noon the first Thursday of the month at Perkins Restaurant, 2900 Harrison Ave, Butte. For details, email  silverbowchapter@gmail.com or call Barb Kerr, Chapter Regent at 410-251-3006.

The Butte Public Library offers Spanish Level II classes from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursdays. Taught by a native Spanish speaker, these classes offer conversational skills for those wanting to communicate. For details, call the library at 406-723-3361. 

The Butte Public Library offers technonuts computer club from 4 to 5 p.m. in the teen zone at the library for teens and tweens. Snacks and materials are provided. For details, call the Library at 406-723-3361. 

Line dancing classes for beginners and advanced with Colleen Klobucar are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the YMCA. Members can dance for free. The cost is $5 for non-members. For details, call Colleen at 406-490-6935 or 406-782-1266.

The Butte Mahjongg group will play at 1 p.m. at the Legion Oasis Rec Room.

Butte Mile High Cribbers Club play at 6:30 p.m. at East Side Athletic, 3200 Dexter St. For details, call Phil 406-533-9633 or Joe 406-560-1718.

A memoir writing group meets 1 to 3 p.m. at Butte-Silver Bow Public Library. People don’t need to be good writers, just bring stories. For details, contact the library at 406-723-3361.

The Butte Amateur Radio Club will meet from 7 to 8 p.m., at the Butte Archives, 17 W. Quartz St. This meeting is open to all members and all of the public.

Young creators youth art program is held at 4 p.m. at the historic Clark Chateau. Classes will provide children a safe place to learn how to create and express themselves. Donations are welcomed.

The Rotary Club of Butte meets at noon at the Butte Country Club. For details, leave a message at 406-782-9783.

The Copper City Bridge Club meets at 1 p.m. every Monday and Thursday in the former Hawthorne School on White Way. For details, call 406-494-5151.

Anaconda Chapter T P.E.O. meets at 6 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church. 

Anaconda Kiwanis will meet at noon at Metcalf Center 115 E. Pennsylvania St.

The Butte Public Library offers after-school science club from 4 to 5 p.m. in the teen zone at the library for teens and tweens. Snacks and materials are provided. For details, call the library at 406-723-3361.  

Books and Babies starts at 11 a.m. followed by Story Time at 11:15 a.m. in the children’s room at the Butte Public Library, 226 W. Broadway St. Stories, songs, finger-plays and crafts are available. For details, call Cathy at 406-723-3361.

The Science Mine, 36 E. Granite St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Explore magnetism in the steam-powered kid’s project, the binary counter, Tesla coils, stream tables, laser mazes, and more. Non-member admission is $5 per person and $15 per family. For details, call Jacqueline at 406-559-7279 or email jmjanosko@gmail.com.

Butte-Silver Bow Public library holiday used book sale continues through Dec. 17 during library hours, the books on the first floor will be priced and the books in the Bargain Basement are free. There is a collection of cookbooks, Irish history books, and Butte/Montana books.

Sun, 04 Dec 2022 22:31:00 -0600 en text/html https://mtstandard.com/news/local/keep-up-with-local-events-with-weekly-planner/article_65e9e932-d6db-5069-888b-5cf3f41ba9cc.html
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