Posts tagged with "President Biden"

Nicole Salazar Breaking News Illustration

Weekly News Roundup: Week of May 10

Biden’s Spending Plan for Education

President Biden is planning to enact higher taxes on the wealthy to go towards free preschool, two years of free community college for young adults, and national paid leave. The 1.8 trillion spending and tax plan is aimed to expand education, while increasing the US’ social safety net, supporting women in the workplace, and decreasing the cost of child care. The New York Times recognized Biden’s tax plan as “ the biggest expansion in federal support for higher education in at least half a century.”

Increasing Vaccination Numbers in the EU

The pace of people being administered the COVID vaccine in the European Union is steadily rising. Just last week, nearly three million doses of the vaccine were being administered daily according to Our World in Data, a University of Oxford database. The EU is primarily utilizing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The New York Times reports that in a rate adjusted for population, the amount of people being administered the vaccine daily in the EU is now roughly equivalent to the US. Usula von der Leyen, the European Commision president, announced her goal of vaccination 70 percent of adults in the EU by the end of the summer. Due to an early shipment of doses from Pfizer last month, and the company’s partnership with BioNTech, it is predicted that this goal will be reached.

DarkSide Ransomware Attack

On Monday, President Biden announced that the United States will “disrupt and prosecute” the criminal gang of hackers, DarkSide. The hackers have been the culprit of a huge ransomware attach that effected the flow of gasoline and jet fuel supplies to the country’s East Coast. Federal investigators believe that the attackers aimed at uncovering corporate data and back-office operations, rather than taking control of the pipelines. After taking note of the ransomware attack that which locked Colonial Pipelines–up a major pipeline in Texas that transported gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from Texas’ Gulf Coast to New York Harbor– the F.B.I. sent out an emergency alert to other pipeline operators and electric utility and gas suppliers. Colonial Pipelines has remained closed since the attack and hopes to restore operations by the end of this week. The city governments of Atlanta, New Orleans, and the Washington D.C. Police Department have also been victim to DarkSide’s attacks.

Violent Clash Between Palestinian Protesters and Israeli Police in Jerusalem

Recent escalations between Palestinians and Israeli Jews regarding control over a single neighborhood in Jerusalem has exploded into major conflict. Israeli efforts to eradicate Palestinians from parts of the city have incited upset between the two groups. While Israeli Jews attempt to ensure Jewish landownership and control over East Jerusalem, Palestinians argue that their attempts are illegal and a form of ethnic cleansing. On Monday, right-wing Israeli protestors and the police erupted into military conflict with Palestinian protesters. As a result of a raid on the Israeli police on the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Gaza militants retaliated with rocket fire. Countering, Israeli airstrikes were fired back. Due to the violent conflict, at least twenty Palestinians have been killed, including nine children.

Offshore Wind Plan to Create Thousands of Jobs

On Monday, the Biden Administration announced their plan to use offshore wind power along the East Coast. Through utilization of off-shore wind turbines in coastal waters nationwide, the plan is aiming to deliver 30,000 megawatts of wind power to power 10,000 homes by 2030, reports the New York Times. To start, the eco-conscious project will begin in the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind farm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. It is predicted that offshore wind deployment projects will create 44,000 new jobs in the offshore window sector and 33,000 other new, indirect job positions. According to the American Clean Power Association, “States along the East Coast are driving demand for offshore wind. Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia have established targets to procure a total of 25,400 MW of offshore wind by at least 2035 and have selected over 6,000 MW of projects as of February 2020 to help meet these goals.”

CDC Announces Vaccinated People Rarely Need Masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear mask in most situations. Whereas it is still encouraged for vaccinated people to wear a mask inside to contribute to the culture of mask wearing, they are at virtually no risk of disease and minuscule risk of transmitting the virus to others. The New York Times talked to Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: “The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are ‘essentially 100 percent effective against serious disease.’”

Furthermore, it has been announced that there have been few, if any, instances of COVID-19 transmission occurring from brief outdoor interactions. The risk of exposure from outdoor contact is too small to lead to infection.  However, unvaccinated people are still advised to wear masks when in close conversation with people both outdoors and indoors, when not at home.

However, with the child population of Americans unvaccinated, it raises questions about how families will be able to return to normalcy. While children under 16 haven’t been eligible to receive the vaccination, their demographic poses a low risk to fatal coronavirus cases. For children, it is believed that COVID-19 presents no greater risk than the average flu season. As America looks towards the rest of 2021, it can be hoped that a return to normalcy will soon come. To read the current CDC COVID-19 guidelines, you may visit this website.

Breaking News by Nicole Salazar

Weekly News Roundup: Week of May 3

President Biden Raises Refugee Admission Cap to 62,500 People

In a move to reverse former President Donald Trump’s stricter admission cap on refugees, President Biden has raised the admission cap to 62,500 people in the next six months. Originally, Trump had administered a cap on 15,000 refugees. At first, Biden said he would stick to this figure, but changed his stance after receiving condemnation from Democrats on Capitol Hill. In a statement issued by the White House addressing this political reversal, Biden commented “This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.” The New York Times says that Biden’s statement acknowledged how Trump’s budget and staffing cuts during his presidency makes it more unlikely to handle resettling 62,500 refugees within the coming year. In his statement, Biden admitted “the sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” he said. “We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”

Pfizer Vaccine to be Administered to Adolescents

The availability of the Pfizer vaccine is soon to more accessible to millions more Americans. The FDA is said to authorize the use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 by early next week. Pfizer has recently released trial results in which show their vaccine to be at least as effective for adolescents as it is for the adult population. If granted access, the CDC will likely meet the following day to review the clinical trial data and announce public health recommendations for adolescent vaccinations.  Over 100 million adults have already been vaccinated, and with the Pfizer vaccine becoming available to millions more, the level of public immunity is forecasted to rise, and the number of deaths and hospitalizations are to drop.

In order to target vaccinations to younger Americans, Biden announced on Tuesday that mass vaccinations sites would shift to more local settings. He also stated his goal of vaccination 70% of Americans by July’s Independence Day. To those who are unvaccinated, Biden plead: “This is your choice. Its life and death.” On Tuesday, the Biden Administration announced that tens of millions more Americans need to get vaccinated before the rate of the coronavirus will be low enough to return to normalcy.

Subway Overpass Collapse Results in the Death of 23 People

Late Monday night in Mexico City, the collapse of a subway overpass–and subsequent fall of an active train car– resulted in the deaths of 23 people. Dozens of more victims are suffering injuries. The accident occurred on Line 12, one of the newer tracks in Mexico’s subway system. The subway system has been plagued by safety concerns from the public after a severe earthquake in 2017. Over 70 people were transported to the nearby hospitals, most of them delivered to Belisario Dominguez Hospital. Mexico’s fire fighters, military, and forensics department all arrived on scene to aid in the rescuing and recovery of the accident’s victims. Currently, Line 12 will remain closed as authorities investigate the harrowing accident. The Mayor of Mexico City, Claudio Steinbaum, spoke to reporters on Tuesday morning: ” At this moment, we can’t speculate about what happened. There has to be a deep investigation, and whoever is responsible has to be held responsible.”

Derek Chauvin Files for New Trial Regarding Murder of George Floyd

The trial of the police officer involved in the killing of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of one count of second-degree murder, one count of third-degree murder, and one count of second-degree manslaughter by Judge Peter Cahill. However, Chauvin’ lawyer, Eric Nelson, is now claiming that Chauvin’s rights were violated during the trial since Judge Cahill refused a change of venue regarding where the trial was help. As a result of such, Nelson claims that the pre-trial publicity deprived Chauvin of a fair trial. NPR reports that Nelson also has cited “prosecutorial and jury misconduct; errors of law at trial; and a verdict that is contrary to law.” In Nelson’s file motion that requests another trial, he argues that the court “abused its discretion” because of the nationwide publicity of the high-profile trial. Due to the mass publicity of the trial, Nelson says that the defense’s expert witnesses and jury felt “threatened of intimidated, felt race-based pressure during the proceedings.”

NPR reports that according to Nelson’s file motion, the court abused its discretion by:

  • When it failed to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial, or in the least, admonish them to avoid all media
  • When it permitted the State to present cumulative evidence with respect to use of force
  • When it failed to order that a record be made of the numerous sidebars that occurred during the trial
  • When it submitted instructions to the jury that failed to accurately reflect the law with respect to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and authorized use of force

NPR’s Carrie Johnson reports on how infrequently officers are called to conduct while in uniform, “Some studies show only seven police officers since 2005 have been convicted of murder for their actions on the job. That’s even though about 1,000 or 1,100 people a year die at the hands of police.” The way in which Derek Chauvin’s initial trial ended was a long-awaited plea for justice that many Americans felt finally acknowledged and held accountable the perpetrators of police violence and systemic racism in the nation. Ultimately, it is up to Judge Peter Cahill to decide whether to open trial again for Chauvin.

Facebook’s Suspension of Donald Trump Continues

Since the Capitol insurrection on January 1, Facebook has suspended Trump’s usage of the platform. The length and permanence of the suspension has been hotly debated lately, especially since Facebook doesn’t have a standard policy or punishment regarding indefinite suspensions. On Wednesday, a team of journalists, activists, and lawyers upheld the social media company’s ban of Trump. Their discussion ended any immediate return of Trump to the platform, and sparked debate concerning freedom of speech online. Facebook’s Oversight Board cited their reasoning for banning Trump in January, stating that Trump “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible. At the time of Mr. Trump’s posts, there was a clear, immediate risk of harm and his words of support for those involved in the riots legitimized their violent actions.” After Facebook reviews its action, Trump may be able to return to the platform later down the line. Other social media giants, including Twitter and YouTube, also locked Trump’s accounts after the Capitol chaos. Trump has responded to the rulings with agitation, stating that “free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth.” The New York Times reports that Facebook responded to their ruling in a statement, stating that the company is “‘pleased’ that the board recognized that its barring of Mr. Trump in January was justified. It said it would consider the ruling and ‘determine an action that is clear and proportionate.’”

Liz Cheney May Be Sequestered from G.O.P.

Rep. Liz Cheyney has received backlash from Republican lawmakers in the GOP party due to her public criticisms of former President Donald Trump. After Trump’s insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, she voted to impeach him from office. This vote to impeach Trump increased tensions between Cheyney and the members of the GOP leadership and other Republican lawmakers. Notably, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy questioned Cheyney’s ability to carry out her position in office, stating “I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message. We all need to be working as one if we’re able to win the majority.” At the Conservative Political Action Committee, Cheyney was asked if Trump should speak at the conference. She replied, “I’ve been clear in my views about President Trump and the extent to which following Jan. 6 I don’t believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.” While her party oppositions have landed Cheyney in controversy, Sen. Mitt Romney tweeted on Tuesday, recognizing her honesty and dedication to her stance: “Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie.”

Olympians And Officials to Be Offered Pfizer Vaccine

The International Olympic Committee announced on Thursday that, in an effort to quell public safety concerns, athletes and official will be offered the Pfizer vaccine before arriving in Japan. Through utilization of domestic inoculation programs, vaccines are to be administered to patients in their home countries. However, there is no requirement for athletes, coaches, officials, or others attending the game to be vaccinated. So far, approximately only 1% of Japan’s residents have been fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times’ database. In a statement put out by the International Olympic Committee, it was notes that “any additional doses delivered by Pfizer and BioNTech will not be taken out of existing programs, but will be in addition to existing quotas and planned deliveries around the world.” Hopefully, the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer will bring celebration, instead of crisis.

Breaking News by Nicole Salazar

Breaking News Roundup – Week of April 27

A Jewish gathering in Israel resulted in the deaths of 44 people, and the injury of some 150 others.

The New York Times estimated that crowd of approximately 100,000 people had been congregating at Mount Meron the night prior to the stampede in celebration of Lag b’Omer. This even had been the first legal huge religious gathering since India’s curtailing of coronavirus mutations. A 24-year-old witness told Army Radio that a first row of people collapsed, resulting in the second row of people to also fall due to the pressure of the stampede, and so on. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tweeted Thursday night, “Our hearts go out to the people of Israel tonight following the tragedy at Mount Meron. We offer our condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones in this disaster and wish a full and swift recovery to those injured.”

Coronavirus cases soar in India.

A global, record-number of cases has been set for the fifth day straight as of Monday in India. 352,991 cases had been confirmed over a 24-hour period. Immediately, the United States moved to send over medical equipment, medical gear, and other coronavirus resources. President Biden tweeted on Sunday night: “Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need.”

North Carolina sheriff requests body camera footage of Andrew Brown Jr.’s death.

A North Carolina sheriff requests that the footage of Andrew Brown Jr.’s death be made publicly accessible. However, a court motion will have to be made to do so. Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten clarified “only a judge can release the video.” Wooten has allowed four of the deputies back on active duty after video evidence proved that they didn’t fire their weapons. Three sheriffs who did fire their weapons will remain on leave until the investigation is complete. As of Wednesday, the judge denied making the footage publicly accessible, but allowed Brown’s family to view the recording.

New Orleans Shooting Resulted in Injury to Five People

Early morning on Saturday, a shooting on Bourbon Street in New Orleans resulted in the injury to five people, though none of the injuries are believed to be life threatening. One person was treated on scene, and the rest of the injured people were taken to a nearby hospital. The reason behind what led to the shooting is currently unknown, but detectives are investigating the crime scene.

Wisconsin Casino Shooting resulted in tragedy.

Saturday night, a shooting at the Oneida Casino near Green Bay, Wisconsin, resulted in the death of two people, and serious injury to a third victim. Investigators believe that the gunman had a “personal relationship” with an employee who worked inside the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center at the Duck Creek restaurant. The targeted employee wasn’t working when the gunman took to opening fire, so the gunman instead attacked his target’s “co-workers or friends,” says Lt. Kevin Pawlak of the Brown Country Sheriff’s Department. The main casino and other facilities are closed until further notice, and the investigation is still unfolding.

Medina Spirit Wins 147th Kentucky Derby

The winner of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday was Medina Spirit. This year’s derby is believed to be the most attended event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The prized pony was trained by Bob Baffert, the most accomplished winner of the Derby–this win counting as his seventh victory. Medina Spirit won over second place Manaloun, third place Hot Rod Charlie, and Essential Quality at fourth.

On Wednesday, federal agents executed search warrants to investigate Rudy Giuliani’s Manhattan apartment.

The criminal investigation into Giuliani, who served as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has been underway for more than two years already. Trump’s activities in Ukraine, which may or may not involve illegal lobbying, are one of the main focuses of the investigation. Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing, claiming innocence, and has not been charged. A search warrant for a lawyer, such as Giuliani, requires a sign-off from the highest levels of the Department of Justice. Giuliani’s electronic devices including the computer belonging to his assistant. Giuliani’s assistant, Jo Ann Zafonte, has also received a subpoena to appear before a grand jury in court next month.

President Joe Biden surpassed 100 days in office.

During his speech to mark this event in Duluth, Georgia, Biden was interrupted by protesters rallying for prison reform. Biden agreed with their demand and took to praising and acknowledging Derek Chauvin’s conviction.

Some of the other biggest feats of Biden’s 100 days in office so far include administering 200 million vaccines doses as of April 21, passage of the American Rescue Plan to bolster funding vaccinations and improve economic recovery. President Biden also reopened the federal Affordable Care Act exchange, with additional assistance as part of the Democrat’s $1.9 trillion dollar relief package.

Further, Biden rescinded Trump’s national emergency declaration regarding the former president’s “zero tolerance” policy regarding migrant families. Biden has reversed Trump’s travel ban that targeted mostly Muslim countries and secured the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for children brought into America as children.

Biden has also looked to address foreign policy issues, committing to withdrawing troops for Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Additionally, Biden has looked to salvage the US-Iranian nuclear deal previously put into place by former President Barack Obama. The Biden administration has also issued diplomatic expulsions against Russia in response to Moscow’s interference in the 2020 election.

Looking to address issues of climate change, Biden looks to lower the US’ emission of greenhouse gases. Biden has already pursed this commitment by formally rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement back in February.

Finally, the President has showcased his commitment to social justice by hosting the most racially diverse cabinet in history, dissolving the 1776 commission, signing executive orders surrounding racial equity, and repealing Trump’s ban unto transgender people joining the military.

Biden looks to continue the national shift to greener energy, improve the US’ infrastructure, and invest in a $1.8 trillion federal investment program regarding education, childcare, and paid family leave.

earth illustration for use by 360 Magazine

Johnson Controls to Speak at Leaders Summit on Climate

President Biden invites Johnson Controls’ CEO to speak at Leaders Summit on Climate

  • George Oliver to address role of U.S. business community in supporting ambitious climate action and policy, and in creating jobs and economic growth
  • Biden calls for urgent dialogue on ways to strengthen collective efforts to address climate crisis
  • Summit to explore economic benefits of green recovery and long-term decarbonization

Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), the global leader for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, announced that its chairman and CEO George Oliver has been invited by U.S. President Joe Biden to participate in the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate.

The summit will bring together leaders of the world’s major economies and other vital partners for an urgent and open dialogue on ways to strengthen collective efforts to address the climate crisis. President Biden has made tackling climate change a top national priority since taking office and is urging other world leaders to attend the summit to discuss how their governments will help drive the goal of limiting global temperature rise.

“I am honored to accept President Biden`s invitation to join him and other world leaders calling for urgent climate action. It is especially important to establish a roadmap to limiting the rise of global temperatures as we get closer to the COP26 climate conference scheduled for November in Glasgow,” said George Oliver, chairman and CEO, Johnson Controls. “Transitioning to a lower-carbon economy is an opportunity to build back better, as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Providing clean, sustainable and energy efficient solutions creates jobs while building strong, resilient, global economies.”

According to the White House, a major theme of the summit will be the broad economic benefits of climate action, with a strong focus on job creation. This will explore both the economic benefits of green recovery and long-term decarbonization and the importance of ensuring that all communities and workers benefit from the transition to a clean energy economy.

Representing both Business Roundtable and Johnson Controls, Oliver will address these topics in a session on April 23 as well as the role buildings can play to slash both emissions and costs.

Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies. Oliver was named chair of the Business Roundtable Energy & Environment Committee in January this year. The Committee is dedicated to advancing policies that encourage innovation and support an environmentally and economically sustainable future.

The vast majority of Business Roundtable’s 223 member CEOs have made public commitments to reduce their companies’ greenhouse gas emissions/carbon footprints, are making serious progress and reporting on it publicly. Nearly half of those commitments are for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, if not sooner.

Business Roundtable members are playing a significant role in driving ambitious climate action and the policy needed to spur low-carbon economic growth. Last September, the organization endorsed the goals of the Paris Agreement and proposed aggressive policies to achieve those goals.

Johnson Controls own ambitious emissions reductions targets were recently approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative – an independent organization that assesses corporate sustainability claims. As part of its environmental sustainability commitments, Johnson Controls aims to cut operational emissions by 55 percent and reduce customers’ emissions by 16 percent before 2030. Johnson Controls believes its OpenBlue platform for optimizing building sustainability will be central to fulfilling these goals and ultimately creating an environment for healthy people, healthy places and a healthy planet.

The company also recently joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign and is a signatory to The Climate Pledge, an initiative of business leaders co-founded by Amazon and Global Optimism. Signatories to the pledge commit to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2040 – ten years ahead of the Paris Climate Agreement goal.

As a leader in the buildings space for more than 135 years, Johnson Controls has been a pioneer in sustainability and is ranked in the top 12 percent of climate leadership companies globally by CDP. It is on the World’s Most Ethical Companies® Honoree List and is named one of Corporate Knights’ global 100 most Sustainable Companies.

To read more about Johnson Controls’ commitment to sustainability, please visit their website.

About Johnson Controls:

At Johnson Controls (NYSE:JCI) we transform the environments where people live, work, learn and play. As the global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, our mission is to reimagine the performance of buildings to serve people, places and the planet.

With a history of more than 135 years of innovation, Johnson Controls delivers the blueprint of the future for industries such as healthcare, schools, data centers, airports, stadiums, manufacturing and beyond through its comprehensive digital offering OpenBlue. With a global team of 100,000 experts in more than 150 countries, Johnson Controls offers the world`s largest portfolio of building technology, software as well as service solutions with some of the most trusted names in the industry. For more information, visit our website or follow us on Twitter.

Agriculture illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

USDA Announces Investment

USDA Announces $218 Million Investment in Land and Water Conservation

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the USDA Forest Service will invest more than $218 million to fund Great American Outdoors Act projects to conserve critical forest and wetland habitat, support rural economic recovery, and increase public access to national forests and grasslands.

Leveraging the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provided by Congress, this investment will improve public access by funding strategic land acquisitions. Funds will also support work with state agencies to encourage private forest landowners to protect their land through conservation easements or land purchases.

“These investments reflect President Biden’s commitment to supporting locally-led conservation efforts from coast to coast and to honoring and building on the proud private land stewardship traditions of farmers, ranchers, and forest owners,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The investments will not only protect our natural heritage, but they will also create jobs, expand access to the outdoors, and help tackle climate change.”

The Forest Service administers two LWCF programs: The Forest Legacy Program and the Land Acquisition program. Together, these programs conserve critical and strategic lands across the nation’s forests on both private and public lands. The Forest Service will invest more than $94 million to fund 28 projects under the Forest Legacy Program and $123 million to fund Land Acquisition Program projects, including projects for recreation access and other needs.

Land Acquisition Program highlights include:

  • $6.4 million in FY 2021 to acquire 8,590 acres for the Lolo Trails Project in Montana. This project aims to mitigate the effects of climate change by providing the cold water that federally listed bull trout and other species need to sustain healthy populations in a warming climate.
  • $3.7 million to acquire 1,550 acres in the Yakima River Basin for the Washington Cascades Project. Supported by a wide coalition of public, private and non-profit partners, this project seeks to ensure a long-term water supply in the face of climate change.

Forest Legacy Program highlights include:

  • Protecting 12,500 acres of habitat, water and timber on the Ceylon Forest in Georgia. 2.5 million people depend on the Ceylon for drinking water that flows from and through the forest. As a working forest, the Ceylon supports a local wood-based economy that includes 121 mills, with a $1.69 million payroll impact. Once completed, the area will also become part of a much larger Wildlife Management Area and serve as an ideal hunting and fishing destination for sportsmen across the Southeast.
  • The East Grand-Weston in Maine builds on a century-old tradition of sustainable forestry and expands recreation opportunities over more than 4,300 acres. The property supports a thriving local recreation industry by protecting lands, waters and trails while also providing sustainable wood products to up to 15 mills. The property will remain in private hands while continuing to be managed for public benefits.
  • The second phase of the Kootenai Forestlands Conservation Project will permanently protect nearly 28,000 acres of land in northwest Montana. The project area belongs to the Stimson Lumber Company and contributes to the local economy while allowing free public access as a recreation destination for hunting, fishing, skiing, hiking, snowmobiling and more. The project will also protect the area from further residential development, reducing future firefighting costs by more than half.

Background

The Forest Service has been administering LWCF projects since 1964 along with the Department of the Interior. The fund supports Forest Service-led conservation projects including acquisition of critical non-federal lands within the boundaries of national forests and grasslands. Now, with full and permanent funding through the Dingell Act and the Great American Outdoors Act, the Forest Service is poised to strengthen its conservation program and provide greater recreation access to national forests and grasslands.

The agency worked with partners, considered multiple criteria and used established competitive processes to select projects for fiscal year 2021. During the review, the agency evaluated the environmental, social, and economic benefits of proposed projects and whether they contributed to other conservation initiatives. The Forest Service also considered local recreation access needs, the level of local support for strategic land acquisitions and how likely it would be for project areas to be converted to non-forest uses.

For more information on the Great American Outdoors Act and related projects, visit the website.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration under Secretary Vilsack, USDA is committed to transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit USDA.

360 football illustration for sports articles

THE ECONOMIC SUPER BOWL

In midst of a pandemic that devastated society, including sports, the total wealth of 64 billionaire sports barons shot up by $98.5 billion, or over 30 percent. Taxpayer subsidies for stadiums of 26 billionaire team owners have totaled $9 billion since 1990, with most in last decade.

We won’t know the winner of this year’s Super Bowl till Sunday, but we already know the big winners in our COVID-ravaged economy include dozens of billionaire sports barons.

On the eve of the big game, and after 10 plus months of the pandemic, 64 billionaire owners of major league sports franchises—including the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs’ Hunt family and the NFC champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Glazer family—have enjoyed a $98.5 billion rise in their collective net worth, a 30 percent increase, as millions of fans have fallen ill, lost jobs, neared eviction, gone hungry and died due to the coronavirus.

The 64 billionaires, who together own or co-own 68 professional sports franchises, had a combined wealth of $426 billion on January 29, 2021. This number is up from $326 billion on March 18, 2020, roughly since the start of the pandemic lockdowns, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), and data analysis from Forbes and Wealth-X. (Note: The increase in total billionaire wealth from March to January was $100 billion, but has been adjusted to $98.5 billion because an additional billionaire reached that status in January 2021.)

The sports billionaires’ private gain in the midst of so much public pain is particularly galling since many of their franchises have been the beneficiaries of taxpayer handouts. Over the past several decades, according to data maintained by Field of Schemes, 28 pro sports teams owned by 26 billionaires have received $9 billion in taxpayer subsidies (see Table here) to help build or update stadiums and arenas and make other investments that billionaires could presumably afford on their own. These publicly subsidized team owners have seen their wealth increase $45 billion since mid-March.

For the full report go to Pandemic Super Bowl 2021: Billionaires Win, We Lose.

Over the past five years—when a lot of sweetheart tax deals were cut—the collective wealth of sports billionaires shot up $165 billion, or 67 percent. Their combined wealth of $247 billion in March 2016 had grown to $426 billion by January 29 of this year. (Nine billionaires on the list in 2021 were not billionaires in 2016, accounting for the $14 billion discrepancy.)

The $98.5 billion wealth gain by 64 sports franchise billionaires since March 2020 could pay for:

  • A stimulus check of $1,400 for over 70 million Americans—almost half of the 153 million people who likely will be eligible under the pandemic relief plan proposed by President Biden based on the 2020 stimulus payments.
  • More than one-third of the $290 billion cost of providing $400-a-week supplements to existing unemployment benefits through September, as proposed by President Biden in his COVID rescue plan.

March 18 is used as the unofficial beginning of the pandemic because by then most federal and state economic restrictions responding to the virus were in place. Moreover, March 18 was also the date on which Forbes estimated billionaire wealth for the 2020 version of its annual report. That report provided a detailed baseline that ATF and IPS have been comparing periodically with real-time data from the Forbes website. [See past reports here] This methodology has been favorably reviewed by PolitiFact.

Last March is when the nation’s emergency response to the deadly virus threw professional sports, along with the rest of society, into turmoil. Thousands of low-paid stadium and arena workers lost their jobs as sports seasons were cancelled and curtailed.

The long winning streak of America’s billionaire sports owners is just part of the dominance of a national dynasty of 661 U.S. billionaires whose wealth has grown by $1.2 trillion, or 40%, during the pandemic. The number has climbed from $2.9 trillion on March 18 to $4.13 trillion, as of January 29, 2021 (see link here for all data).

Though only one of their teams will lift the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl champs this year, both the Chiefs’ Hunt family—specifically, Ray Lee Hunt and W. Herbert Hunt—and the Bucs’ Glazer family will continue their long reigns among the nation’s biggest economic winners. The Hunts’ net worth is estimated by Forbes at $6.3 billion, up $482 million during the COVID crisis. The Chiefs received $250 million in taxpayer subsidies for stadium renovations in 2006.

The Buc’s Glazer family is worth an estimated $1.7 billion, according to Wealth-X. Taxpayers provided a total of $218 million in subsidies for construction and renovation of the Buccaneer stadium in 1998 and 2015.

Sixty U.S. billionaires—roughly one in ten of the country’s 661 total billionaires—own one or more major league professional sports teams in the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MBL), and National Hockey League (NHL). Four other billionaires—three from Canada and one from Germany—own four additional teams.

“These billionaire sports barons have seen their wealth rise as their fans lose their lives, livelihoods, health and wealth,” said Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies, Program on Inequality.  “As a country, we should be investigating pandemic profiteering and taxing windfall gains during these extraordinary times.”

“The Super Bowl brings the whole nation together, but we have not come together as a country to beat the pandemic,” said Americans for Tax Fairness executive director Frank Clemente. “Billionaire sports owners have continued their long winning streak of ever-growing fortunes while fans at home are losing their lives and livelihoods. Real team work would require billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes so we can get the whole U.S. back to its winning ways.”

“Every year, wealthy sports team owners rake in more than two billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies for new stadiums and arenas that, according to innumerable economic studies, provide zero measurable economic benefit to the public,” said Neil DeMause, co-author of Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit, and editor of the stadium news site. “Letting billionaire owners socialize their costs and privatize their profits has allowed the rich to get richer, while starving local governments of revenue to pay for schools and other genuine public needs.”

Tax reform that ensures the wealthy pay their fair share—the principle President Biden’s tax plan is built on—would transform a good chunk of those huge billionaire gains into public revenue to help heal a hurting nation. But getting at that big boost in billionaire fortunes is not as simple as raising tax rates: tax rules let the rich delay, diminish and even ultimately avoid any tax on the growth in their wealth. What’s needed is structural change to how wealth is taxed.

The most direct approach is an annual wealth tax on the biggest fortunes, proposed by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, among others. Another option is the annual taxation of investment gains on stocks and other tradable assets, an idea advanced by the new Senate Finance Committee chair, Ron Wyden. Even under the current discounted tax rates for investment income, if Wyden’s plan had been in effect in 2020 America’s billionaire sports owners would be paying billions of dollars in extra taxes this spring thanks to their gargantuan pandemic profits last year. Another reform is needed to significantly strengthen the estate tax so that the riches accumulated by these ultra-wealthy sports franchise owners pay their fair share of taxes when these dynasties get passed onto their heirs.