Posts tagged with "The Hill"

Illustration by Alex Bogdan for use by 360 Magazine

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Resignation

By: Emily Bunn

Amidst searing scandal, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has resigned. Many have supported this decision after Cuomo’s many scandals came to light. First there were sexual harassment allegations, then a report exposed the Governor’s use of state resources to aid in the writing of his memoir. Cuomo was also pinned for undercounted nursing home related deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. After that, tragically, even more sexual harassment charges against Cuomo were reported. The investigation in these charges has now been concluded to determine that he did sexual harass multiple women, violating state and federal law. Politically ostracized and facing the grim reality of impeachment, Gov. Cuomo decided to resign on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio remarked on Cuomo’s circumstance in a statement: “It is beyond clear that Andrew Cuomo is not fit to hold office and can no longer serve as Governor. He must resign, and if he continues to resist and attack the investigators who did their jobs, he should be impeached immediately.” Many politicos in New York have also agreed with Cuomo’s departure. Hakeem Jeffries, Gregory Meeks and Tom Suozzi issued a joint statement saying, “the time is right” for Cuomo to resign.

After this statement was issues, each of New York’s 19 congressional Democrats called for their governor to resign. A lawyer for two of Cuomo’s sexual harassment accusers, Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis, added: “My clients feel both vindicated and relieved that Cuomo will no longer be in a position of power over anyone. Taking things a step further, some Democratic lawmakers are requesting for Cuomo to be impeached. The governor is currently the subject of an impeach inquiry in the state assembly, reports The Hill.

Taking this place is current lieutenant governor and Buffalo native, Dem. Kathy Hochul. In 2011, Hochul ran for a congressional seat in a special election, in a Republican leaning district between Buffalo and Rochester, NY. Hochul ran against Rep. Jane Corwin at the time and won by 47% of the vote. She held the seat until 2012. In 2015, she became the lieutenant governor and before that, spent more than a decade on the Hamburgh Town Board. Now, Hochul looks to set up into the political arena. Hochul, 62,  is set to become the first female governor of the state of New York.

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New Report Underlines Importance of Science and Tech Funding

Investments in science and technology research are vital to the United States’ economic growth and global leadership, according to a new report from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

The Biden administration has made science and technology (S&T) a centerpiece of its early policy agenda with ambitious targets for federal investments in research and development (R&D). There are also growing concerns in Congress about the United States’ global leadership in S&T-focused industries, especially in relation to China.

“As the high technology sector (e.g., advanced computing and communications, social media platforms and other web-based services) becomes an increasingly large part of the overall U.S. economy, federal funding for early stage R&D, which has been at the root of much of the technological progress of this past century, is more important than ever,” wrote the Baker Institute’s Kenneth Evans, a scholar in science and technology policy, and Kirstin Matthews, a fellow in science and technology policy.

While President Biden’s first budget proposal aims to authorize historic increases to federal R&D agencies, the authors argue that significant challenges remain to ensure long-term, international competitiveness across scientific disciplines and advanced technologies.

According to their report, shifting priorities between administrations, changes to the ideology of Congress and broader economic conditions in the U.S. at large have resulted in inconsistent funding for R&D. 

“Traditionally, federal funding for R&D receives bipartisan support in Congress, particularly for health and defense-related research activities,” the authors wrote. “However, since the mid-1990s, government spending on basic research has declined or stagnated as a share of the U.S. GDP, in part due to the intrinsic uncertainties about the ultimate impacts of basic research.”

Science and technology R&D is essential to creating new knowledge and tools, the authors argue, because it ensures the development of new products and technologies that can drive domestic and global economies. Economists estimate innovations stemming from S&T accounted for more than 60% of economic growth over the last century. 

Yet scientists have placed relatively little value on evaluating and communicating the broader societal impacts of basic research to the public and especially to policymakers, the authors argue. The authors encourage researchers, especially academic scientists driven to action by anti-science rhetoric during the Trump administration, to continue to engage in public outreach during the Biden presidency. 

“Universities should encourage and incentivize avenues for public engagement through increased support of existing programs or funding new activities for interested faculty, postdocs, graduate students and research staff,” they wrote. 

“Building public support for R&D, strengthening trust in scientific institutions and expertise, and increasing scientists’ participation in decision-making related to S&T issues are critical to ensuring that scientific discoveries and innovation benefit the broader public and that increased investment in R&D serves the public interest,” they continued.

The report was a collaboration with two Rice undergraduate students and research interns in the science and technology policy program—Gabriella Hazan and Spoorthi Kamepalli.

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NEWS ROUNDUP – WEEK OF JULY NINETEENTH

By: Clara Guthrie

Capitol Rioter Receives Eight-Month Sentence in First Felony Trial Since Insurrection:

On Monday, the first US Capitol rioter to be charged with a felony was sentenced to eight months in prison, following a highly anticipated trial and guilty plea from the convicted. Florida resident Paul Hodgkins was indicted on the basis of obstructing congressional proceedings—specifically, for blocking the counting of electoral votes to confirm the victory of President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Hodgkins can be seen in photos from January 6, 2021: standing on the Senate floor, wearing a Trump 2020 tee shirt with an accompanying Trump flag slugged over his shoulder, even taking a selfie in front of the raised rostrum at the front of the room.

During the trial, Hodgkins took the stand to apologize for his actions, stating, “I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions in Washington, DC, on January 6.” He also added that he had no intention of storming the Capitol when he arrived in DC; he claimed to have traveled with the sole intent of protesting for “a president I love.”

Preceding this, Hodgkins’ attorney, Patrick Leduc, introduced his client. Leduc displayed two selfies of Hogdkins before the jury: one from January 6 of Hodgkins on the Senate floor, and one of Hodgkins leaving Easter Sunday church services, a few months later. “When I look at the image on the left, I see a man who looks lost, and who lost his way,” Leduc said. “When I look at the image on the right, I see a man born again. […] The man to be sentenced by this Honorable Court is not the man who was lost on the left, but the man who has been found on the right.”

Despite these desperate attempts to garner sympathy, many still view the eight-month sentence as insufficient and a glaring example of white privilege in the criminal justice system, given the extremity of the crime. Even the judge for the case, District Judge Randolph Moss, said, “Hodgkins was staking a claim on the floor of the United States Senate, not with the American flag but with a flag declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the entire nation. […] That act captured the threat to democracy that we all witnessed that day.”

Big Time Rush Returns With Surprise Reunion Shows:

After seven years apart, the boy-band phenomenon Big Time Rush is returning. The comeback was announced via their official Twitter page in a tweet that says, “WE ARE BACK! It’s been a minute, but we couldn’t be more excited to see you! Let’s make up for lost time.” The group also announced two upcoming reunion shows; they will be performing on December 15 at the Chicago Theater in Chicago, and on December 18 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Presale ticket access is available HERE.

The announcement was accompanied by a quirky video, updating fans on what the band has been up to since their final tour. Frontman Kendall Schmidt is seen walking through the woods, James Maslow is working under the hood of a car, Logan Henderson is “still working on that PhD” (but he’s really just playing Operation), and Carlos PeñaVega is on dad duty with his kids.

Big Time Rush first rose to fame on a Nickelodeon show of the same name that aired from 2009 until 2013. All four seasons of Big Time Rush are available on Netflix HERE.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on the American Response to Coronavirus:

On Tuesday, the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a full committee hearing to discuss the federal perspective on the nation’s COVID-19 response. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, were present as witnesses.

Most notable from the hearing was an explosive clash between Fauci and Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky after Paul claimed that the National Institute of Health (NIH) helped fund illegal gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. According to The Hill, “gain-of-function is a controversial method where researchers make a pathogen more infectious, often to develop more effective treatments and vaccines.” Paul also implied that Fauci and the NIH are somehow responsible for the pandemic and the mass devastation it has created.

In response, Fauci explained that it is a molecular impossibility that any research funded by the NIH could be responsible for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. “You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals. I totally resent that,” Fauci added. “And if anybody is lying here, Senator, it is you.”

Paul’s inquisition was followed by the far more sympathetic questioning of Democratic Senator Tina Smith from Minnesota. She specifically asked Fauci how he thinks about the side-effect risks of the COVID-19 vaccine compared to the risks of not being vaccinated. “There is no intervention that is without sometimes getting an adverse event,” Fauci said. “You [have to] balance the rarity of a particular adverse event with the advantage you would get of protecting yourself against the actual disease against which you’re vaccinated. […] It’s always weighed on the part of saying that the benefit of the protection of the vaccine outweighs the risk of the adverse event.”

Wildfire Continues to Burn in Oregon:

The rampant Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon continues to burn as sporadic winds and heat lightning exacerbate the damage. On Wednesday, USA Today reported the total damages to span roughly 616 square miles, and the total containment of the fire to be about 32 percent. “This fire is a real challenge,” said incident commander Joe Hessel. “We are looking at a sustained battle for the foreseeable future.”

According to AP News, wildfires of this size—or even larger—used to burn more frequently across the American West, but “much less explosively” when they did. These natural fires would clear out the underbrush that makes fires like Bootleg so dangerous and difficult to contain. According to James Johnston, a researcher at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry, these natural and helpful fires have not been allowed to burn in recent years due to fire suppression and poor forest management. “My colleagues and I have been predicting a massive fire in that area for years,” Johnston said. “It’s an area that’s exceptionally prone to catastrophic fire. […] But what’s changed over the past 100 years is an extraordinary amount of fuel buildup.” He also noted that climate change is the true catalyst for such destruction.

The Milwaukee Bucks Win Their First NBA Championship in 50 Year:

After 50 years, the Milwaukee Bucks once again became NBA Champions with MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the charge and putting up 50 points in a thrilling Game Six on Tuesday evening. The Bucks clinched a 105-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns to cap off a memorable 4-2 series.

Antetokounmpo accepted the Finals MVP Award following his electric game—which was the fourth in the series in which he had more than 40 points and 10 rebounds—and thanked the team that surrounded him. “They played hard every freaking game,” he said. “I trusted this team. I wanted to do it here in this city, I wanted to do it with these guys, so I’m happy. I’m happy that we were able to get it done.”

This was the Bucks’ second NBA championship in franchise history. The Suns have never won an NBA championship.

USWNT Defeated 3-0 in Tokyo Olympics Opener Against Sweden:

On Wednesday, the US women’s soccer team was defeated by the Swedish team 3-0 in their Tokyo Olympics opener. This loss marks the team’s first since January of 2019 and the end of a 44-match unbeaten streak. It was an especially painful outcome given the team’s loss to none other than Sweden on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Rio Olympics: the first Olympics in which the team had ever failed to medal.

Many news outlets and fans have pointed out that the team looked sloppy and inharmonious in their most recent match. As USA Today said, “The US team looked against Sweden like teams usually look against them: inept, and unable to do anything about it.”

Fortunately for the team and the fans alike, Wednesday’s match was not a knockout. The team must now turn their attention towards their upcoming match against New Zealand on Saturday.

Second Trailer for the Highly Anticipated Film, Dune, Has Been Released:

WarnerMedia and Legendary Pictures finally released the second official trailer for the upcoming film, Dune, on Thursday. You can watch the epic trailer HERE.

Dune is the newest big-screen adaptation of the 1965 science-fiction novel of the same name by Frank Herbert, following a 1984 film by David Lynch. Given the density of the novel, this new adaptation only covers the first half, according to the director Denis Villeneuve, and the full title is actually Dune: Part One. The impressive cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård and Javier Bardem.

Warner Bros. describes their upcoming release: “Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive.”

Dune is scheduled to be released in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22.

Kanye West DONDA Release:

Kanye West is set to release DONDA tonight in Atlanta. But West’s mother has always inspired his art, beginning in his youth. The portrait below is an early work West painted of Donda West in high school–part of an important collection of Kanye’s artwork–owned by D.C.-based art collector and entrepreneur Vinoda Basnayake.

After catching a glimpse of Kanye’s original artwork on an episode of PBS’s Antiques Roadshow and being deeply impressed by the work–which traces back Kanye’s artistic brilliance to his high school days–Basnayake set out on a mission to locate and purchase the portfolio and add it to his collection, which includes work from other artists such as Mr. Brainwash and Justin Bua.

*Photo Credit: Randi Kontner

Kanye West Donde painting which is owned by DC-based entrepeneur and art collector Vinoda Basnayake, shot by Randi Kontner, for use by 360 Magazine