America doesn’t have enough teachers to keep schools open

“Studies in the US and around the world have found that student learning suffered when classes were remote, and many teachers were no fan of the system either, with educators ranking the challenges of virtual instruction among their top pandemic stressors in one recent study. At the same time, some fear that in-person school during omicron may simply become untenable. Sheikh’s school has one nurse for 2,500 students, making it nearly impossible to do any real contact tracing. “There’s no way to contain these Covid cases,” she said.”

The GOP’s masculinity panic

“That’s not just Twitter trolling. It’s not just posturing online anymore. It’s the logic of a movement centered around aggression divorced from virtue that indulges in apocalyptic rhetoric. It’s heading exactly where such movements head, and everyone who in 2015 or 2016 was dismissing the alt-right and Trump’s Twitter trolls says, “Oh, that’s just Twitter. That’s just Twitter.” There was an inexorable moral logic that was going to lead to action in the streets.

I’ve been a pessimist about this for some time. I’ve been warning about violence for some time. In December, I was jumping up and down on The Dispatch saying violence is a real threat. Even as a pessimist, I didn’t imagine the capital being overrun on January 6.

To argue that, “Well, that was a one-time thing. Everybody got carried away” — no. No, no, no. That was the result of rhetoric and conduct that put a specific group of people together on January 6 to provide cover for an attempted coup. Many of the architects of that exact plan are still some of the most revered figures in Republican life right now.

So when you tell people their country is at stake, when you tell people the other side hates them, wants to see you dead, hates you, puts you in camps, then some people are going to believe that, and act accordingly.”

On the Horn of Africa, a tiny ‘country’ has Congress’ ear

“a diplomatic delegation from the self-declared independent republic of Somaliland — which broke away from Somalia in 1991 but has no formal diplomatic ties with major developed nations — worked the halls of Capitol Hill seeking sit-downs with whomever would meet with them. The delegation presented itself to U.S. government agencies and lawmakers as an African ally insulated from the instability and China ties that define many of its neighbors.

Somaliland brought solid anti-China credentials to those meetings: it slammed the door on aid and cooperation with Beijing in July 2020 when it inked a diplomatic relations agreement with Taiwan.

That move infuriated the Chinese government because it marked a rare victory in Taiwan’s battle against Beijing’s diplomatic strangulation of the self-governing island.

Somaliland also has geostrategic potential: its location on the Gulf of Aden and deep-water port of Berbera, into which Dubai’s DP World has poured $442 million to build a new container cargo facility, would allow for naval power protection in the Middle East and East Africa. That’s a serious enticement given U.S. Africa Command’s security concerns about its base in neighboring Djibouti: a Chinese naval installation just a few miles away was stood up in 2017.

“We have come to the U.S. to show them that we have the same enemy, and our long-term strategy is we want to be closer to democracies and market economies like the U.S.,” said Bashir Goth, head of mission at Somaliland’s unofficial outpost in Alexandria, Va. “We are countering China [and] the Chinese influence in the Horn of Africa and we deserve [U.S. government] help.”

That pitch had impact — last week, the first-ever staff congressional delegation visited the territory, marking what the Somaliland Chronicle described as “the highest-level American delegation” in more than a decade. That fact-finding mission included staff members of Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The staffers returned home convinced of Somaliland’s value to the U.S. in countering China’s regional influence, said Piero Tozzi, senior foreign policy adviser for Smith.”

New law to combat forced labor in China sparks enforcement debate

“President Joe Biden..signed a bill to curb forced labor in China that U.S. business groups and trade experts warn will inflict unnecessary pain on U.S. firms and punish legitimately employed Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which was approved after more than a year’s delay, is designed to insulate U.S. companies and consumers from complicity in forced labor practices in Xinjiang. The U.S. government has concluded that the practices are among abusive state policies targeting Uyghurs that constitute genocide.

But industry groups and trade lawyers say the law’s strict compliance standards coupled with problematic Customs and Border Protection enforcement will harm both U.S. business interests and Uyghur Muslims.”

““If you’re a company who is manufacturing in that area, you’re going to need to prove that slaves didn’t make it. The presumption is on you,” Rubio said after the bill’s Dec. 16 Senate passage.”

“Assertions of the law’s stringent compliance standards are no exaggeration. It imposes a presumption of guilt in terms of forced labor links to any Xinjiang-sourced imports — predominately agricultural and chemical products — and obligates importers to provide documentation that proves its Xinjiang supply chains are not tied to forced labor.

The experience of solar and apparel companies from previous forced labor enforcement actions by Customs and Border Protection suggest that the new law’s compliance standards will be “practically impossible” to meet, said former CBP trade lawyer Richard Mojica.”

“Mojica and other trade lawyers say the law’s compliance requirements will most seriously impact small- and medium-sized U.S. firms that lack in-house expertise to reliably map complex overseas supply chains.”

California’s weed market should be flourishing. But bureaucracy is blunting it.

“Complicated local rules, understaffed city departments and slow communication with state regulators have made starting a weed business in California a protracted and risky ordeal. Red tape and paralyzing legal battles are stunting the market’s growth, leaving aspiring entrepreneurs in cities such as Los Angeles, Pasadena and Fresno waiting months or even years for permission to open, often while leasing empty storefronts.”

Advance Market Commitments Worked for Vaccines. They Could Work for Carbon Removal, Too.

“we need a gigaton-scale portfolio of permanent carbon removal solutions, and those solutions don’t yet exist. The technology that exists is nascent at best. A growing number of innovative new carbon removal approaches are being tried — from using giant fans to pull CO2 out of the air, to growing kelp in the open ocean and then sinking it, to turning agricultural waste into bio-oil and putting it back underground. But it’s early days, and it’s not yet clear which approaches will be viable, let alone scale quickly.

A key reason permanent carbon removal is behind is that there has been legitimate uncertainty about whether anyone will pay for it. New technologies are typically expensive at first and get cheaper as they scale. Today, carbon removal solutions face a chicken-and-egg problem. As early technologies, they’re more expensive, so they don’t attract a critical mass of customers. But without wider adoption, they can’t scale production to become cheaper.

The uncertainty is particularly large for carbon removal because potential purchasers do not currently have a direct motivation to buy it. Governments and companies might consider carbon removal to fulfill their net-zero emissions pledges, but there are cheaper options that satisfy commitments as they are written today. So even though permanent carbon removal is critical to meeting climate goals, current guidelines do not explicitly reward it.

Carbon removal is thus in urgent need of a bold assist — and an “advance market commitment” could be the solution. This approach, in which money is provided to guarantee a market for a product, is modeled after a program successfully piloted a decade ago that incentivized the development of vaccines for poor countries at a time when pharmaceutical companies weren’t sure that countries could pay for a large volume of vaccines if they were developed.”

“Here’s how it could work. Companies and governments with net-zero pledges could fund the AMC by formalizing and pooling their financial commitments to buy carbon removal over a specified period of time — essentially turning ambiguous net-zero commitments into net-zero contracts to buy carbon removal. The AMC, run by technical experts acting on behalf of contributors, would buy carbon removal from high potential companies. When tons of CO2 get removed, the AMC would pay suppliers and issue credits back to buyers.

A large AMC for carbon removal would be transformative. Large contracts to purchase frontier carbon removal send a much stronger market signal to entrepreneurs and investors than fragmented companies making net-zero commitments, where innovators face substantial uncertainty about how the commitments will be met and whether the companies will choose to invest any resources in permanent carbon removal as opposed to other strategies.

An AMC has the further advantage that the demand signal can be sent now, without needing to pick a winning technology. A diverse set of technologies can be developed, while incentivizing inventors to meet rigorous standards that ensure they deliver real, permanent carbon removal.”

“Sustaining a market of this magnitude will undoubtedly require policy to regulate emissions. But policy takes time and tends to respond to emerging technologies rather than kickstart them. An AMC for carbon removal would help the field make progress while critical policy work happens in parallel. Furthermore, this early assist increases the likelihood that large amounts of permanent carbon removal will even be available at a reasonable price.”

The Bar for Charging Trump with Obstructing Congress Is Higher Than Many Realize

“Text messages to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows indicate that Trump allies in Congress such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pushed plans to set aside the election results and subvert the democratic process before Jan. 6. And when the insurrection started, the messages also reveal that members of Congress, Trump’s media allies and his own son pleaded unsuccessfully with Meadows to get the president to call off his supporters.

That evidence — not to mention the earlier revelation of a PowerPoint presentation circulating in the Trump White House about how to block the electoral vote certification — led members of the committee to question whether the president might be in legal jeopardy. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair of the committee, gained particular attention for a question she posed that went so far as to paraphrase the language of 18 U.S.C. § 1512, which makes it a felony to attempt to “corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede any official proceeding.”
But while the committee may ultimately uncover sufficient evidence to indict Trump, it does not appear that they have done so thus far. Rather than using the exact language of the statute, she inserted four words that reveal the scope of the committee’s investigation but also suggest that the committee knows it might fall short of the bar for criminal prosecution. “Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction [emphasis added], corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’ official proceeding to count electoral votes?” Cheney asked as she urged colleagues to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to be deposed.

The key word used by Cheney is “inaction.” Thus far the evidence made public by the committee indicates that in the face of a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, Trump did nothing. Cheney and others argue that Trump violated his oath of office, in which he swore to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” which requires him to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” There can be little dispute that Trump failed to do so. But a president violating his oath of office, in itself, does not constitute a federal crime.

In fact, our criminal laws rarely punish people for not taking action, and with good reason. Our criminal laws were designed to punish people who knowingly engage in wrongdoing, not to punish people who showed mere indifference or inadvertence when others were engaged in wrongdoing.”