Women are People, Not a Commodity

An extraordinary event transpired amidst the 19th and 20th centuries which altered the course of the history and transformed the world into life as we know it today. This century-long struggle has come to be known as the period of women’s suffrage movement. Prior to that time, long before any of us were born, women were once considered as a mere commodity just like a property. In fact, the United States in the early 1800s marked the era of white male dominance. It was a time when women were not permitted the same rights that men did, such as the right to vote as well as the right to own property.

Nonetheless, many women in countries all over the world are still considered inferior for the most part. Some examples of these places are Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the most infamous of all, Egypt. The society within these countries has an ostensibly innate gender-biased predisposition towards women that still subsists today. Frequent cases of domestic violence and the little to zero number of women in business and politics can be seen as the supporting evidence for the statement above, which is why an event hosted by Saudi Arabia recently has received worldwide attention.

With the rest of the world progressing so rapidly in terms of gender equality, it should come as no surprise that the women who are residing in Saudi Arabia, one of the countries in the Middle East are making an effort to improve women’s rights. The recent event is a clear illustration of this endeavor; Their first and foremost women marathon that lasts for nearly two miles. Fifteen hundred women participated in the run, ranging from professionals such as Mizna al-Nassar to other laypersons, who are there to show their support to the cause – all age groups included. Mizna al-Nassar, a twenty-eight years old prospective Olympian who, since then, has announced her plans to enter the 2020 Olympics that will be located in Tokyo, as a representative on Saudi Arabia. She is currently pursuing a career in the line of graphic design.

She successfully crossed the finish line of the al-Ahsa run within fifteen minutes, an impressive achievement that is backed by her,

“regimented food program and training schedule supervised by professional trainer,” in addition to past experience, “I have participated in the Islamic Sport Games in Baku Azerbaijan in 2017 and in the Ladies Sport Games in Sharjah in 2018,”

– she informed Al Arabiya, a news outlet that is based in Saudi.

The “al-Ahsa Runs” took place in the Eastern province of al-Ahsa, as reported by the Anadolu Agency.

Nonetheless, all participants in the run were reported to have their abayas and hijabs on in accordance with the Sharia law. Needless to say, this was not an easy race for the women, but their determination is both admirable and inspiring for all female across the world. Several months prior to this run, these women had just overcome the law that inhibits them from driving on the streets in the country. All in all, the Middle Eastern countries are really making progress towards gender equality in recent months.

While we are extremely proud of them, we cannot help but wonder why we have to fight for these entities in our lives. Why are female frequently considered as the inferior counterpart, when we are able to perform miraculous tasks such as reproduction, in addition to bearing the astronomical amount of pain that follows. Even so, women’s rights are still on the brink today in the United States as we approach the subject of pregnancy.

If we are as far ahead as we are led to believe, why do we still have to fight for Pro-Choice?

Featured Image via Flickr/Hernán Piñera

Harvey and Irma combined could prove more expensive than Katrina

Moody’s Analytics estimates that Irma will cost the U.S. economy between $64 billion and $92 billion, CNN reports. Insured losses resulting from the storm will range between $20 billion and $40 billion, the firm said.

Moody’s estimated Harvey-related costs between $86 billion and $108 billion, CNBC notes.

Harvey and Irma will likely cost a combined $150 billion to $200 billion, Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi says, per CNN.

Hurricane Katrina cost the U.S. about $160 billion (adjusted for inflation) when that storm hit in 2005. It was the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. Irma’s and Harvey’s combined economic damage will likely exceed the Katrina figure.

Irma has crippled Florida’s tourism industry, turning much of the state into the kind of water park nobody wants to see. Miami and Tampa saw four feet of storm surge, and three to five feet of storm surge, along with a foot of rain, inundated Jacksonville. The extent of the damage to business operations remains largely unknown but is presumably considerable.

Meanwhile, oil refinery operations in Texas continue to reel in the wake of Harvey. About 13 percent of the United States’ refinery capacity remains offline in Texas, according to CNN.

Last Thursday, the federal government said joblessness claims rose by 62,000, to 298,000, in the days following Harvey, CNBC notes.

The two storms together could cost the U.S. between $20 billion and $30 billion in economic output, Moody’s said per CNBC. The firm has dropped its third-quarter forecast of the nation’s GDP growth by half a percentage point, to 2.5 percent.

Zandi notes that the recovery of the nation’s economy will depend on the speed with which Florida and Texas can revive their tourism and oil industries, respectively, but says he expects the rebuilding effort to provide an economic boost that will put the U.S. economy back on track by the year’s end.

“The longer-term economic impact of the storms should be nil,” said Zandi per CNN.

William Dudley, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, echoed Zandi’s analysis. While natural disasters such as Irma and Harvey disrupt industry, create scarcity and raise prices in the short-term, the rebuilding effort boosts the economy, he said per CNBC.

“The long-run effect of these disasters unfortunately is it actually lifts economic activity because you have to rebuild all the things that have been damaged by the storms,” Dudley said in a live interview with CNBC.

He added: “I would expect that by the time we get to the end of the year and early 2018, the transitory negative effects of this storm I think will be over and we actually will start to see some of the benefits of the rebuilding efforts in terms of boosting the economy.”

Recovery efforts following a natural disaster create jobs, compel the government to increase infrastructure spending, and bring other economic stimuli.

For instance, Congress and President Trump agreed last week to raise the debt limit for three months to facilitate relief efforts in the wake of the storms, and the House approved $7.85 billion aid package for Harvey relief last Tuesday, the New York Post reports.

According to Reuters, Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday that the government would use all of its resources to aid Irma victims.

While the storms’ long-term impact on the economy at large may be negligible or even positive, their financial impact on a small scale can, of course, be devastating. Irma and Harvey have destroyed homes, businesses, valuables and other crucial assets.

“Think of the wealth destruction created by these hurricanes,” said Dan North, chief economist for Euler Hermes, North America, per CNBC.

In discussing Irma relief, President Trump was quick to point out that human considerations outweigh economic ones. “Right now, we are worried about lives, not cost,” he said, per Reuters.

Irma’s death toll in the U.S. rose to 12 Monday, ABC News reports. The Associated Press reported last Thursday that Harvey has killed 70. The hardship the storms have brought is incalculable; as one small example, Irma left 2 million Floridians without power. They regained power Tuesday morning.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Indonesia extradites xiu.com founder, China continues crack down on fugitives

Chinese authorities have extradited Ji Wenhong, founder of online clothing retailer xiu.com, from Indonesia to face smuggling charges, the AP reports via New York Daily News. Indonesian officials returned Ji to China Saturday.

Authorities accuse Ji of having designed a system by which his company illegally imported goods from Europe and the US. Allegedly, the company would order goods from foreign clothing sellers and have the products shipped to Hong Kong. Then, travelers would carry the goods to mainland China, disguising them as personal belongings so as to avoid import taxes.

The AP cites Chinese authorities as saying the products were worth 438 yen ($65.5 million). Ji, authorities say, neglected to report the true value of the goods.

Ji fled China for Indonesia in May 2016 following the initial smuggling charges. His extradition is the latest fruit of Operations Fox Hunt and Sky Net, two concerted efforts by the Chinese government to repatriate a number of fugitives.

The international law enforcement operations, which President Xi Jinping launched as part of a comprehensive crusade against corruption in the government, have achieved a certain degree of success despite the reluctance of countries like the US and Hong Kong to cooperate in sending fugitives back to China. That reluctance stems from suspicions surrounding China’s human rights practices and the fairness of the country’s judicial system.

According to an AsiaToday report republished by The Huffington Post, the Sky Net and Foxhunt sent 381 alleged criminals, accused of stealing a combined 1.24 billion yuan ($186 million) from the government, back to China in the first half of 2017.

Despite their aforementioned reluctance to send fugitives back to China, the United States government has agreed to do so in cases in which China can provide sufficient proof of a criminal’s wrongdoing.

“We continue to encourage China to provide strong evidence and intelligence to ensure that our law enforcement agencies can properly investigate and prosecute cases related to the alleged corruption,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Business Insider in March 2015.

In September 2015, the US extradited Yang Jinjun to China to face bribery and graft charges, according to Reuters.

In early June of this year, US authorities extradited Zhu Haiping, former general manager of Shenzen Yuwei Industry Corporation, to face charges of what the Chinese government calls “violations of personal rights,” per Reuters.

AsiaToday reports that Zhu had been living in the US for 18 years. Immigration officials detained him in January, according to Reuters.

Reuters cites China’s Ministry of Public Security as saying the extradition was the first result of a cross-border law enforcement cooperation agreement forged between Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump in early April at Trump’s estate at Mar-a-Lago, a Florida resort.

Zhu’s repatriation, the Ministry added, per Reuters, was a “major achievement,” and a “model example” of things to come as a result of the Xi-Trump agreement.

China, Reuters says, is pursuing the extradition of Gun Wengei, a billionaire living in New York whom Chinese authorities have accused of making corruption allegations against top Chinese political officials.

According to AsiaToday, the Chinese government expects to apprehend 300 more fugitives by the end of 2017. Skynet relies upon the collaborative effort of at least four agencies in the Chinese government: the Central Organization Department, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the People’s Bank of China, BusinessInsider says.

The People’s Bank, according to BusinessInsider, aims to locate and shut down bank accounts criminals use to harbor illicit funds.

“There is no longer safety zone for criminals on the planet. This is even more so due to the development of information and communication. The day when we don’t have to foxhunt will come soon,” said Wang Defu, executive of the Public Security Bureau of Chaoyang District in Beijing, of Skynet, per AsiaToday.

Xiu.com, the AP reports, has acknowledged that some members of the company are under investigation but did not mention Ji by name. The company said it is operating normally.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Boeing, Northrop to compete to design new land-based nukes for US

The US Air Force announced Monday that it has awarded two defense companies—Boeing and Northrop Grumman—each a $359 million contract to design new, land-based, nuclear Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), CNBC reports. The companies will compete in what the Pentagon calls the “technology maturation and risk reduction” phase of development, which CNBC describes as the “preliminary design” phase.

The development of the new missiles is part of the US Military’s Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) weapon system program.

A third potential contractor, Lockheed Martin, has dropped out of the running. The narrowing of the design-competition field marks a step forward for the GBSD program, notes Jefferies analyst Howard Rubel, per CNBC.

Said Rubel: ”You went from three competitors to two. You went from what I call broad concepts to now, two competing designers, who will come up with an industrialization concept that will…probably have some testing done to prove certain points along the way.”

The contract also represents a “win” for the Boeing’s defense operation, Rubel says, pointing out that Boeing lost a long-range strike bomber contract to Northrop, and has faced setbacks on an aerial tanker project.

Boeing hasn’t selected subcontractors yet, and Northrop has released just a partial list. Rubel told CNBC he expects Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne, two manufacturers of rocket motors, to “split the propulsion work in some fashion.”

The new missiles, which the military expects to begin producing and deploying in the late 2020s, may replace the United States’ current nuclear ICBM, dubbed Minuteman III, the development of which Boeing led in the 1970s.

“Things just wear out, and it becomes more expensive to maintain them than to replace them,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said of the aging missiles in a statement. “We need to cost-effectively modernize.”

China and Russia are both modernizing their nuclear fleets, and North Korea is becoming a credible nuclear threat to the US and others.

Still, some experts debate whether the GBSD project is cost-effective and whether modernization of the country’s land-based missiles is an effective defense strategy.

The Air Force originally estimated the cost of “acquiring” the new missiles at $62 billion, but now expects costs between $85 billion and $140 billion. Per CNBC, Reif Kingston, director of disarmament and threat reduction policy for the ACA, called the pricing information on which the Air Force and the Pentagon have based the fiscal projections “old and incomplete.”

“We [i.e. the US] haven’t built a new intercontinental ballistic missile in decades. As the program proceeds, they will have start to get a better sense of the costs. But at this point, there’s a lot of uncertainty, and the Air Force’s [first] estimate [of $62 billion] by all accounts is unrealistically low,” Kingston told CNBC.

Kingston also disputes Wilson’s claim that the development of new missiles would be cheaper than the continued maintenance of Minuteman III. At least in the short term, he says, there is an economic reason to delay GBSD.

“Sustaining the Minuteman III for a period of time (say 10-15 years) beyond 2030 would be cheaper than GBSD over that period,” he said. “The case for deferring a decision on GBSD and pursuing another life extension of the Minuteman III is strong.”

Were the Pentagon to defer the development of Minuteman III replacements, Kingston concedes, the nation’s supply of land-based ICBMs would indeed diminish. “A smaller force,” however, “would not diminish the overall strength and credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent,” said Kingston.

The US currently deploys a “nuclear triad”: a combination of land, sea, and air weapons.

Some critics of the GBSD project say nuclear land missiles are not as effective in a defense capacity as nuclear bombs and torpedoes. Air and sea weapons, such critics argue, are more suited to dispersion and avoidance of detection than land weapons.

As part of what CNBC calls a “nuclear posturing review,” the Trump administration will examine whether the triad remains an efficient strategy.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin State Assembly approves bill to incentivize proposed in-state Foxconn factory

Thursday, by a vote of 59-30, Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled State Assembly approved legislation that would provide $3 billion worth of incentives—mostly cash—to technology manufacturer Foxconn over 15 years, Reuters reports.

Foxconn, based in Taiwan, has proposed to build a 20 million square-foot liquid-crystal display (LCD) plant on a 1,000-acre plot in the southeastern sector of the state. The company’s initial investment in the plant, which would be operational by 2020 will be $10 billion.

The bill still awaits approval by the state senate and a joint finance committee, both of which Republicans control. Republicans generally support the bill, while Democrats oppose it, but the Assembly’s vote Thursday did not strictly follow party lines; two Republicans voted against, and three Democrats in favor, according to Reuters.

Proponents point out that the plant would bring tens of thousands of jobs to the area, and “transform Wisconsin’s economy,” as Foxconn said in a statement. The facility would create 10,000 construction jobs and 22,000 ancillary jobs, according to Reuters. Initially, it would employ 3,000, but could ultimately employ 13,000.

“We are ready to take advantage of this historic opportunity … and build a long-lasting relationship with Foxconn,” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican who was instrumental in the orchestration of the deal, said in a statement, per Reuters.

“We look forward to continuing to work with them [i.e. legislators] to transform Wisconsin’s economy and make it a center of worldwide high-tech manufacturing,” Foxconn said in a statement.

President Donald Trump, who made the domestication of jobs a primary platform of his campaign, has played a large part in negotiating with the company for the plant. Trump met with Foxconn’s founder and chairman, Terry Gou, three times to discuss the plan, according to Fortune.

“I would see Terry, and I would say, ‘Terry, you have to give us one of these massive places you do great work with,’” Trump said, per The Washington Post. The president says he also told Gou, “The American worker will not let you down.”

In a testament to the importance of the deal for the Trump Administration’s economic agenda, Gou, Trump, Walker and others announced the completion of the negotiations in the East Room of the White House, the Post reports,

“The construction of this facility,” said Trump late last month, “represents the return of LCD electronics—and electronic manufacturing—to the United States.”

The bill’s detractors point out that the incentives would put Wisconsin’s government in considerable debt. The government would not break even on the deal for almost 25 years, according to a legislative analysis released last week, Reuters says.

Critics have called the incentives a “corporate welfare” project (Reuters’ words), and believe policymakers are rushing the bill.

“I think we need more time,” Democratic Representative Jill Billings said. “I want a better deal and more guarantees for my taxpayers.”

Early in the debate, Reuters says, the legislative body nixed a motion by Democrats to allow the finance committee to review the bill prior to the vote. The Assembly also shot down three amendments proposed by Democrats.

Many worry about the impact the making of LCDs has on the environment. According to a 2008 CNET article, the “chemical vapor deposition” process that produces LCDs, semi-conductors and synthetic diamond relies on a “missing greenhouse gas” known as nitrogen trifluoride, the globe-warming effect of which could be as much as 17,000 times stronger than that of CO2, according to an independent report cited by CNET.

Foxconn builds electronics for Apple, Google, Amazon, and a host of other tech giants.

The Washington Post points out that the move to build a factory on American soil is unprecedented for Foxconn, which stations most of its production operations in underdeveloped countries, where the cost of labor is cheaper.

The Post further notes that the company has a reputation for overworking employees and for dangerous work environments. In 2011, an explosion at a Foxconn factory in China killed three workers and injured 16. Some Foxconn workers report working seven days a week, living in cramped dorms, and standing so long that their legs would swell.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Right-wing protestors postpone anti-Google demonstration

Right wing protesters have a march on Google due to what the group’s website calls “credible Alt Left terrorist threats,” CNET reports.

The demonstration, which conservative activist Jack Posobiec organized to protest the firing of engineer James Damore, who distributed this in-house memo about gender and business, was set for Saturday, August 19. The group, known by the monicker March on Google, planned to organize at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA, as well as at Google facilities in eight other cities around the country.

“We hope to hold our peaceful march in a few weeks’ time,” the group said.

The postponement comes in the wake of violence at an alt-right protest in Charlottesville, VA this past Saturday. During the march, a number of skirmishes allegedly broke out. After the rally had dissipated, an alleged neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of counter-demonstrators, injuring several and killing one.

One prospective “terrorist” allegedly threatened “to use an automobile to drive into the March on Google protest,” according to the group’s site, which also says “relevant authorities have been notified.”

The Mountain View police department told CNET that despite the postponement, law enforcement plan to “maintain a heightened presence” in the area “in an abundance of caution.”

Following the Charlottesville incident, March on Google posted a message condemning the events and asserting that March on Google was “in no way associated with any group who organized [in Charlottesville].”

“The March on Google condemns and disavows violence, hatred, and bigotry and all groups that espouse it such as White Nationalists, KKK, Antifa, and NeoNazis,” the group wrote in another post, which goes on to say that the protest event is “open to [those] from all backgrounds, ethnicity, and walks of life.”

The group claims its tenants were misrepresented by the media. “CNN and other mainstream media made malicious and false statements that our peaceful march was being organized by Nazi sympathizers,” the group’s website says.

Damore, whose memo, according to CNET, attributed the gender gap at Google to “biological differences between men and women” (CNET’s words) rather than institutional sexism, gave an interview to Stefan Molyneux, whom The Washington Post has described as “one of the alt-right’s biggest Youtube stars.”

fundraiser for Damore has raised almost $50,000. The text describing the fundraiser indicates that it is sponsored by a far-right group. The fundraiser’s description says Damore was attacked by “the radical Left,” which “has been whipping up hate mobs to get independents, libertarians, conservatives, and simple contrarians publicly shamed, bullied, and fired from their jobs for years.”

However, CNET points out that Damore described himself as a centrist in a Reddit AMAand told CNN after Charlottesville that he “does not support the far right,”

Google, meanwhile, is taking flak from both sides of the political aisle. While groups on the right say the company’s termination of Damore violated his freedom of speech, others on the left blame Google for firing the engineer only after the issue went public.

Last Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai canceled an “all-hands” meeting meant to address the memo controversy, after numerous employees reportedly voiced concerns about their privacy and personal safety. Several members of Google’s staff have been subject to online harassment of late, according to Wired.

“In recognition of Googlers’ [i.e. Google employees’] concerns, we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion,” Pichai wrote to employees, per Recode, adding that “in the coming days” the company would “find several forums to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely.”

Pichai has said the memo violated his company’s Code of Conduct and crossed “the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

Recode further quotes the CEO as saying: “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”

 Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Regional Planning Association proposes changes to public transit in New York

As New York commuters suffer through the complications, repairs and shutdowns at Penn Station this summer, the Regional Planning Association (RPA), a think tank dedicated to improving various aspects of life in the tri-state area, has proposed two projects to revitalize the region’s public transportation system, TheRealDeal reports. The plans would cost a combined $10 billion.

The RPA’s first plan suggests a new bus station in the basement of the Jacob K. Javits center. The blueprint includes pedestrian walkways from the new station to the No. 7 subway station in Hudson Yards. The organization estimates the cost at $3 billion.

According to the RPA, per TheRealDeal, the new station would increase capacity and alleviate the strain on the Port Authority bus terminal on West 42nd Street, so that it could be refurbished rather than replaced or rebuilt.

New York-based architecture firm Perkins Eastman first raised the notion of a basement terminal at the Javits Center last year. Port Authority nixed the plan but has since installed a new executive director, Rick Cotton.

“With the change of regime at the Port and the pushback over a bigger [42nd Street] bus terminal, there is also a sense that there has been a reset on the bus terminal that could welcome new ideas like this,” Scott Rechler, chairman of the RPA and the former vice-chairman of the Port Authority, told Crain’s. 

The second proposal calls for the construction of two new tunnels that would run under the East River from Penn Station to Sunnyside Yards in Queens. Two tunnels are already in the works under the Hudson River as part of the $25 billion Gateway project.The RPA has dubbed its proposed tunnels “Gateway East.”

Were Gateway East implemented, Penn Station would become a “through station rather than a terminus for trains,” per Crain’s, thereby increasing train traffic by 138%, the RPA predicts. The organization estimates a cost in the neighborhood of $7 billion. The plan would require the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New Jersey Transit to expand their areas of service, even as the transport organizations struggle to fulfill their current obligations, Crain’s points out.

The public transportation proposals come as part of the RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan, a broad effort to improve economic productivity, environmental sustainability, and overall quality of life across the tri-state area. Part of the effort involves increasing low-income residents’ access to opportunities for education and employment. The improvements to the public transit system would catalyze that endeavor.

The organization holds that partisan politics stunt large-scale progress. “With more than 3,000 governmental entities in our region,” the RPA says in an overview of the plan, “policy making is fragmented.”

“…while other cities around the world are embracing innovation,” the report adds, “the New York metropolitan region has struggled to deliver major infrastructure projects in a timely and efficient manner. Public authorities have been hobbled by political disputes, eroding the public’s trust.”

So, the Fourth Plan strives to streamline long-term policy making by advocating cooperation. Advancement in areas like public transport, the RPA contends, would be more efficient if entities collaborated across political, geographic, and commercial divides.

The larger aim of the report on public transportation, then, is to “get public agencies to start planning together, rather than in fragmented efforts—buses here, trains over there,” RPA president Tom Wright says, per Crain’s.

Over the course of its almost century-long history, the RPA has issued three reports similar to the Fourth Regional Plan: one in 1929, one in 1960, and one in 1997. The plans have laid the groundwork for such things as the creation of the MTA, the creation of the Governor’s Island Park, and the preservation of wilderness areas.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Nevada’s Marijuana Shortage Might End Soon

The marijuana shortage which befell Nevada’s dispensaries after they sold over $3 million worth of marijuana in the first weekend of sales will be eased by a measure passed by the state’s tax commission Thursday to increase the number of entities who can distribute weed, Grace Donnelly of Fortune reports.

After hearing arguments from dispensary owners and alcohol wholesalers concerning whether the alcohol industry was equipped to handle the distribution of marijuana, the commission voted unanimously to pass legislation that will permit businesses outside of the liquor industry to apply for distribution licenses. Presumably, the state’s former medical marijuana distributors, some of whom have been operating for upwards of a decade, will be the first to apply.

But Neal Gidvani, who works in finance and cannabis law at Greenspoon Marder, a law firm that handles marijuana related cases, warns that the legal battles between the alcohol industry and the cannabis industry are just beginning.

“Early indications are that alcohol distributors will challenge the decision,” Gidvani told Fortune. The alcohol distributors really want exclusive rights, not just the ability to apply and compete in an open marketplace.”

Whatever they may want, though, alcohol companies must prove they are capable of delivering a massive supply of marijuana to dispensaries striving to fill an even more massive demand. The first weekend of pot sales in Nevada saw 40,000 retail transactions, Donnelly says. That means over 850 deals took place at each of the state’s 47 dispensaries, on average. In other words, a lot of Nevadans want to exercise their newly-gained legal right to purchase and use marijuana.

But at the moment, only two alcohol companies in Nevada are licensed to distribute weed. One of them, Crooked Wine Co., has contracted day-to-day distribution operations out to Blackbird, a company that distributed medical marijuana before the recreational legislation transferred all distribution responsibilities—medical and recreational—to the alcohol sellers.

Rebel One, a wholesale liquor distributor based in Las Vegas, received the second license. The company has made no public comment as to how it intends to perform distribution, but it would do well to emulate Crooked Wine and hand the duties over to a former medical marijuana distributor.

Most alcohol distributors, it seems, are uninterested in distributing marijuana. The Nevada Tax Commission garnered only “lukewarm interest” when it began inquiring as to whether alcohol distributors would be willing and able to distribute weed, Colton Lochhead of the Las Vegas Review Journal reports. On May 31, the original deadline by which distributors were expected to apply, Nevada Tax commission spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein told Lockheed just one alcohol company had sought for a marijuana distribution license.

Lochhead points out that alcohol distributors are “licensed on the federal level, where marijuana remains illegal,” and that by engaging in the distribution of weed, the alcohol companies might jeopardize their alcohol distribution licenses. Nevada Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ opposition to marijuana legalization—despite overwhelming support for both recreational and medicinal marijuana use amongst his state’s voters—does not help anybody’s confidence.

“It definitely still worries me at night that we’re doing something our Department of Justice and our Attorney General says is illegal,” Nick Shook, who runs a dispensary in Las Vegas, told Donnelly. “I lose sleep over it.”

And with the dispensary shelves drying up, anxious marijuana sellers like Shook cannot afford to dip into their own product to alleviate the worries.

Still, there is plenty of support for Shook’s business within the Nevada government. Governor Brian Sandoval, who declared a state of emergency to help open legislative pathways toward increased marijuana supply, has budgeted $70 million in anticipated tax revenue from marijuana sales to the state’s public school system.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure that we’ve licensed enough people in our market, that’s what we have to do. Our job is to license folks and to bring in the tax dollars,” Klapstein told Jenny Kane of The Reno-Gazette Journal.

Seattle City Council Passes Measure to Tax the Wealthy

By a 9-0 vote this week, Seattle’s city council passed a measure that would require residents to pay a 2.5% tax on income over $250,000. Couples who file jointly would be taxed on household income over $500,000, Rick Anderson of the LA Times reports. Though conservative activists have already taken legal action against the tax, it is scheduled to be implemented in 2019.

As the Trump administration reduces federal funding to cities, Seattle’s local government is seeking alternative revenue sources, so as to continue its climate change, affordable housing, transit, and education programs.

Mayor Ed Murray wants to “ensure Seattle stands up to President Trump’s austere budget,” he said. The Mayor has called the new tax a “formula for fairness.”

Proponents of the new tax say it will combat gentrification—housing prices and rents are “soaring” in Seattle, according to Mr. Anderson—and counter the strain the current tax system places on those with low-income.

“We have an increasing affordability gap between the have and have-nots. The middle class is being squeezed as well,” said city councilwoman Lisa Herbold, who co-sponsored the new tax. “And one of the reasons is our outdated, regressive and unfair tax structure.”

According to John Burbank of the pro-tax Economic Opportunity Institute, “households with incomes below $21,000 are paying, on average, 16.8% of their income in state and local taxes, while those with incomes above $500,000 pay just 2.4%.”

Moreover, Burbank says the new tax will have little effect on most high-income taxpayers. It only taxes income above $250,000. So, those who make, say, $275,000, will pay the 2.5% tax on just $25,000; that’s $625 annually.

Many of Seattle’s mega-rich, including Jeff Bezos, CEO of Seattle-based Amazon; Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft; Steve Ballmer, owner of the LA Clippers and former Microsoft CEO, do not live within city limits, and so would not be subject to the tax.

Opponents of the tax initiative, such as the aforementioned Mr. Ballmer, say it “drive up wages” will incentivize local businesses to move out of Seattle. Moreover, a local income tax in the largest city in a state with no income tax is a tough pill for many to swallow.

“We’re known across the world as a place that doesn’t have an income tax,” says Paul Guppy of the Washington Policy Center think tank in Seattle. “[But an income tax in Seattle would send] a certain signal to people planning to make a life here.”

Of course, the implication is that said “signal” would prompt potential Seattle denizens to move elsewhere.

Expected legal pushback against the measure began just hours after it was passed when a lawsuit was filed by the Freedom Foundation, a conservative activist group, on the grounds that the tax would “violate state law.” According to the LA Times’ Anderson, “[Washington] state law… bars cities from taxing net income and requires state approval for enactment of any new municipal taxes.”

The foundation’s CEO, Tom McCabe, worries the tax will eventually extend beyond the $250,000+ income bracket, and perhaps be applied across the whole state of Washington.

“No matter who starts out paying it, everyone will eventually suffer,” he said in a statement.

Other cities are considering taxing the wealthy to compensate for the decrease in federal funding. San Francisco, for instance, is considering raising the income tax rate by 0.5% for residents who make over $1 million.

Polls provide varying indications of Seattle residents’ attitudes toward the new tax. 62% of 700 voters polled recently by King-5 TV disapproved of the measure, but other studies have shown widespread support for the tax.

New York Fashion Week: Reclaiming American Culture One Stitch at a Time

The American fashion industry is struggling. In the past year, a number of formerly iconic American clothing retailers have shut their doors. True Religion Apparel, Inc. became the latest casualty earlier this month.

Such brands are being pushed out of the market by foreign enterprises like H&M of Sweden and Spain’s Zara, which employ a “fast fashion” business model in which clothes move as quickly as possible from runways to store shelves so that companies can keep up with ever-changing consumer tastes.

But New York Fashion Week: Men’s, which kicked off Monday, may provide a much-needed spotlight that will reestablish US designers as major players in the global fashion scene. Over 65 fashion shows will take place throughout New York this week, showcasing the work of many young American designers eager to carve out space for themselves among fashion’s elite.

Many of the outfits showcased will be available on a “see now, buy now” basis, meaning viewers will be able to purchase them immediately. It is the ultimate in fast fashion: before a product even hits the shelves, a trend-setting consumer can have it in his/her hands.

Many designers are using New York Fashion Week as a platform by which to reclaim each of their unique American identities amidst a political climate they feel threatens to compromise those identities.

Julian Woodhouse, a renowned clothing designer who also happens to be a gay, African-American Army veteran, says much of the inspiration for his “Field Day” collection is born out of uneasiness with the political state of affairs in the USA.

“I called the collection ‘Field Day’,” he told Guy Trebay of the New York Times, “because I was feeling so heavy about political shifts.”

Said collection juxtaposes elements of traditional, conservative American culture against backdrops of chaos and disarray. In one outfit, a pair of suspenders is appended to a pair of cargo shorts and left hanging off of the model’s shoulder. Another outfit features “overalls with pegged ankles and bibs cut low for efficiency of escape,” Trebay reports.

The overalls could be taken as a symbol of outdated aspects of American culture, from which Woodhouse is inviting the viewer to escape. At the same time, Woodhouse’s African-American ancestors would have had far more pressing and concrete motivations for escaping from actual pairs of overalls.

Taofeek Abijako, an American of Nigerian descent, orchestrated a show that, in his words, demonstrates how “the African natives adopted European styles and made them their own.”

Abijako’s collection featured brightly colored, oversized clothing that Trebay says “[looked] as though borrowed from an older brother or else…pulled from the bottom of a prop trunk.”

Of course, African “natives” were forced to, in a sense, “borrow” European culture, but they also transformed it, made it fit them. So it’s not surprising that the baggy, belted trousers, are “tailored close to the leg” (Trebay’s words), for instance: they fit, even though they don’t.

Events like New York Fashion Week take place throughout the year in New York, London, Milan, Paris and Miami. Trebay admits that, from one perspective, the New York event is merely “continuation of a seemingly unending loop of clothes” going on tour throughout the world.

But in terms of the impact it could have on the American fashion industry and the American political situation, New York Fashion Week is uniquely American, just like the designers it showcases.

Hopefully, struggling American apparel companies are keeping an eye on the proceedings at New York Fashion Week, looking for cutting-edge designers who can launch their brands back to relevance. If not, maybe some of America’s political figures are keeping an ear tuned to the subtle undercurrents of social protest that run beneath each outfit.

Nevada Marijuana in Short Supply Just Ten Days After Sales Began

In the first three days after Nevada dispensaries began selling marijuana under the state’s new legislation permitting recreational use of the substance, the state’s 47 pot stores pulled in a combined $3 million dollars in revenue.

Nobody anticipated the demand. Now, just ten days after marijuana went on sale at midnight on July 1, the supply at the dispensaries is all but depleted, and at the urging of Nevada’s taxation department, Governor Brian Sandoval has called for a “state of emergency” which would ease regulations halting distribution.

In a concession to the liquor industry, which feared legal marijuana would hamper alcohol sales, legislators agreed to give alcohol wholesalers exclusive rights to distribute marijuana over the first eighteen months of legal sales. Only licensed distributors can “transport marijuana from cultivation and packaging facilities to the dispensaries.”

However, under state law, marijuana distributors must meet a number of regulative requirements. According to Stephanie Klapstein, a spokeswoman for Nevada’s Department of Taxation, “most [potential distributors] don’t yet meet the requirements that would allow us to license them.”

As a result, not a single distribution license has been issued.

The governor’s “state of emergency” measure would temporarily allow entities outside of the liquor industry to “distribute” marijuana. The Nevada Tax Commission will vote on it Thursday.

A host of businesses across the state have been transporting medicinal marijuana since it was introduced in Nevada in 2001. But, under the new recreational legislation requires dispensaries to get one hundred percent of their product—recreational as well as medicinal—from alcohol wholesalers.

Nevada Marijuana in Short Supply Just Ten Days After Legalization

Though it is unclear exactly how Sandoval’s “statement of emergency” will “expand the pool of potential distributors,” as Marketwatch’s Mike Murphy says it will, the most efficient approach may be to allow the businesses that handled the distribution of medical marijuana to become operational again.

That was, in fact, the original plan, before the alcohol industry won exclusive distribution rights in a last minute court scuffle.

The concerted effort the government is making to get pot back on the shelves may be hard to believe after decades in which politicians and law enforcement have done everything they could to keep marijuana out of people’s hands, but marijuana is fast becoming an indispensable source of revenue for the Nevada government.

A 25% tax on marijuana cultivation helps to fund Nevada’s school system, and an additional 10% sales tax goes directly to the government, with no hard and fast rules as to how it must be spent.

Of the $3 million in revenue Nevada’s marijuana industry generated over July 4th weekend, $1 million went to the government.

But Klapstein warns that the regulative bottleneck in the supply chain could have dire business consequences as well, perhaps extinguishing Nevada’s marijuana industry before it even gets smoking.

“The business owners in this industry have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in building facilities across the state. They have hired and trained thousands of additional employees to meet the demands of the market. Unless the issue with distributor licensing is resolved quickly, the inability to deliver product to retail stores will result in many of these people losing their jobs and will bring this nascent market to a grinding halt,” Klapstein says.

Even if the red tape is cut, the marijuana shortage in Nevada could persist in the short term. Many cultivators in the state are between harvest cycles. Until their plants begin yielding flowers again, they will be unable to resupply marijuana retailers, regardless of bureaucratic obstacles or lack thereof.

This November, four states—California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada—voted to legalize recreational marijuana. All but Nevada chose to take a full year to decide how to best implement the voters’ wishes.

Nevada, on the other hand, hurried to complete marijuana legislation by the end of the 2017 legislative session. Now, consumers, businesses, and the government are all paying the price for the rush to get marijuana on the shelves.

Any stoner could have told the politicians not to move so quickly.

Despite Rocket Failure, China Poised to Make Strides in Space

A newly-designed Chinese rocket slated to carry the country’s heaviest ever satellite failed Sunday, Chinese news outlet Xinhua reports.

The Chinese plan to conduct “further investigation” into “an anomaly [that] occurred during the flight of the rocket” and allegedly caused its failure. No information has been provided regarding the nature of either the “anomaly,” or the “investigation” China will perform.

A rocket of the same design was expected to deliver a lunar probe to the moon on behalf of the Chinese later this year, as China continues preparation to become the third country, after the United States and the Soviet Union, to land a man on the moon. It is unknown how Sunday’s hitch will affect the timetable of the probe delivery mission.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has fast-tracked development of the country’s space program in an effort to bolster national security and defense, Reuters reports. He is adamant that China’s ambitions in space are strictly peaceful. The US Department of Defense, however, worries China is developing strategies which would prevent other countries from employing space-based assets in a time of crisis.

China has already made a number of significant accomplishments in space. In 2003, China became the third country (US and Soviet Union/Russia) to send an astronaut into space on a nationally built rocket.

In 2013, China’s Yutu rover touched down on the moon’s surface, sparking fanfare throughout the nation. The rover’s exploration was marred by technical difficulties, but the craft did gather evidence of a new variety of moon rock younger than any rock documented during the United States’ Apollo missions. Some rocks photographed during the Chinese mission were estimated to be 2.96 billion years old. The Apollo mission found no rock younger than 3.4 billion years.

Still, China’s space program has historically lagged well behind those of the United States and Russia/Soviet Union. Xi’s new initiative, though, may rapidly alter the dynamic of space-based competition.

In 2016, China sent more rockets into space than Russia did, and completed development of the world’s largest radio telescope, a 1650-foot-wide dish which will gather new data pertaining to ancient cosmic history, detect low-frequency gravitational waves, and search for signals transmitted by extraterrestrial life forms, space.com reports.

“As the world’s largest single-aperture telescope located at an extremely radio-quiet site, its scientific impact on astronomy will be extraordinary, and it will certainly revolutionize other areas of the natural sciences,” said Nan Rendong, the project’s chief scientist.

By the end of 2018, China plans to become the first country to land a rover on the far side of the moon. The Chinese aim to put a probe on Mars by 2020.

Like many scientific endeavors, the exploration of space requires world powers to strike a balance between cooperation in the name of science and competition in the name of self-preservation and defense.

The data gathered by the Chinese Yutu mission was made available to the world’s scientific community, as was that collected during the American Apollo missions. The Chinese intend to make the aforementioned radio telescope available to researchers everywhere after a team of Chinese scientists conduct “early stage research” for a few years.

Nonetheless, the powers that be in China as well as in the United States are well aware of the military value of certain space technology. As mentioned earlier, Xi believes his space program can contribute to military efforts. Meanwhile, the US Department of Defense wonders whether China’s advancement in space threatens the US’s and other countries’ own space-based military technology.

World War III will probably not be the stuff of a George Lucas film, but it appears space is playing an increasing role in modern warfare. At the same time, scientific advancement will progress much faster if scientists around the world are allowed to cooperate. This tension between science and competition is not unprecedented: weaponry is always developed in a spirit of secrecy and competition.

So, the space-race may be part relay, part individual. Whatever the case, despite the failure of the rocket Sunday, President Xi’s recent emphasis on his country’s space program may give China the fuel it needs to join the USA and Russia at the front of the pack.

Kapensky Labs Hands Source Code Over to US Government, Alarming Trend Continues

Eugene Kapersky, CEO of security company Kapersky Labs, has agreed to share his company’s source code with the US Government in order to “prove that we don’t behave maliciously.”

Kapersky Labs, which operates out of Russia and has mediated interactions between the US and Russian governments for years, has apparently become a casualty of the United States’ mounting suspicion of Russia. In the wake of rumors that Russia hacked the 2016 US presidential election and suspicions of Russian connections to President Trump’s campaign, a proposal to sever all relationships between the Department of Defense and any US government agency employing the services of Kapersky Labs has been brought before the Senate.

Jeanne Shaheen, a Democratic senator from New Hampshire, says there is “a consensus in Congress and among administration officials that Kaspersky Labs cannot be trusted to protect critical infrastructure.”

Kapersky Labs’ official statement maintains the company’s political impartiality. “As a private company,” the statement reads, “Kaspersky Labs has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts.”

The Russian government employs American companies to protect its own national security, and Russian Communications Minister Nikolay Nikiforov has pledged to retaliate should the US impose any “unilateral political sanctions” requiring Kapensky Labs or other companies to surrender source code. But Russia has demanded and been granted access to the source code for firewalls, anti-virus applications, and other encrypted software created by American companies like IBM, McAfee, and HP.

Symentac, the American software company behind Norton Antivirus and other popular products, broke the mold last week, denying Russia access to its products’ source code. The requests of the Russian government, a Symentac spokesperson said, “pose a risk to the integrity of the products.

One risk is that governments could probe the source code for weaknesses, and exploit those weaknesses to launch cyberattacks. Though governments seize source code under the pretense of ensuring ethical business practices, there is nothing to prevent those governments from using that source code unethically.

According to an article by Rhett Jones of gizidmo.com, the NSA harbored documents exposing security vulnerabilities. Among those vulnerabilities was a weakness in the Windows operating system which the kept as a potential cyber-weapon rather than sharing it with Microsoft.

When information regarding the Windows security flaw leaked, opportunistic hackers created WannaCry, a piece of “ransomware”—that is, malicious software which prohibits access to a computer system until some ransom is paid—which held victims’ data hostage until a sum between $300 and $600 dollars was paid.

Many suspect Russia’s government of having carried out a number of its own cyberattacks. In March of this year, two Russian intelligence agents were indicted in connection with a widespread hacking operation which uncovered data from over a half billion Yahoo accounts. One hacker offered to share the birthdates, email addresses, usernames, and passwords of over 200 million Yahoo users in exchange for just $2,000.

Luckily for Yahoo and victims of the scam, payment information and in many cases passwords were sufficiently encrypted as to remain protected from the hackers.

Neither government trusts the other, and private companies like Kapensky Labs are caught in the middle. In the name of protecting themselves, governments are seizing information from companies. Yet the governments themselves have proven time and again that, whether because of ineptitude, moral corruption, or some combination of both, they cannot be trusted with such information.

Still, the companies are complying with the governments’ demands for the source code. In so doing, they are setting a precedent that empowers corrupt governments and forces ethical private companies to put themselves in danger. There is an intricate web of fear that cannot be untangled: the governments fear each other and the private companies from whom they are seizing information. The companies fear—or at least should fear—the governments, so they hand over the source code. When other companies see their competitors complying with the government, they are forced to do the same.

It is a complicated matrix of forces which seems to propel itself. And Kapensky Labs is the latest domino to fall.

Politics or “Just Business”: Qatar Airways Seeks to Invest in American Airlines

Qatar Airways has made an offer to buy a 10 percent stake in American Airlines despite the current Middle East dispute. American Airlines reported that the bid was unsolicited, however, the CEOs of both companies have spoken. Qatar submitted a filing under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, which will be reviewed by the Department of Justice’s antitrust division.

There has been much speculation in response to the bid concerning the motivations and whether Qatar’s intentions are political or “just business.” Industry experts suggest that the proposed investment is an attempt to ease the political dispute between Qatar and its surrounding neighbors, or it may be a way of gaining favor with American Airlines, which has in the past criticized Qatar Airways’ expansion into the U.S. with the support of its government owners. Either way, these experts are pushing for the motivation behind Qatar’s investment as not just a financial investment, but rather a step as part of broader strategic reasons.

Qatar in response has stated that the proposed investment is indeed intended simply as a means of acquiring a share of a profitable company. Qatar Airways finds American Airlines’ fundamentals agreeable, and intend to maintain a passive position without being involved in management, operation or governance, further reinforcing the motivation as simply financial.

American Airlines has been profitable in recent years, reporting higher share earnings than projected analytical estimates, while keeping in line with revenue estimates. This shows that Qatar Airways financial investment may prove lucrative, and considering Qatar’s history of investing in strong foreign carriers, further supports focused financial intentions.

However, Qatar Airways must have considered the implications of this investment, considering the current political climate. While their primary motivation may indeed be financial, any company worth its salt will have considered and evaluated future implications that a current investment may stimulate. Considering the relations between Qatar Airways and Qatar’s government, what is currently primarily a financial move may transition to a more political move in the future. Qatar Airways needs to evaluate the effects of the political stigma, justified or not, is worth the current financial gain and the effect on potential future profit margins.

Qatar’s investments into foreign carriers have resulted in inclusive alliances that benefit both parties more than simple shares in the companies. Qatar Airways has invested in Meridiana, Italy’s second biggest carrier, while also investing in Chile’s LATAM Airlines Group, and finally also setting up a revenue sharing partnership with British Airways’ parent International Airlines Group. Earlier this month, South Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar and blocked flights with the company, restricting its current passenger base and stunting potential growth. Considering these events, Qatar Airways expansion to acquire different relations is understandable.

Qatar Airways benefits from increased participation in Oneworld Alliance, its airline partnership that allows passengers to earn and redeem loyalty reward points when they fly with any member of the alliance. This has the effect of increasing Qatar’s passenger base, providing an incentive for more passengers to fly with Qatar Airways in order to accumulate more points, and cementing a customer base and its resulting revenue stream. These investments have a twofold effect on Qatar’s revenue stream: through the gains from the company shares, and the increased customer base.

Returning to potential political angles, Qatar’s investment in a major U.S. company can leverage influence with both Wall Street and Washington while Qatar’s most recognized brand faces tensions. Furthermore, Qatar can improve relations with President Donald Trump while also influence a company competitor who have both vocally criticized Qatar, either based on business or assumed political ties.

Regardless of whether the motivations are business, political or both, Qatar Airways’ investment is creating a stronger foothold in U.S. markets, which can serve as a platform that could then push future economic or political goals forward.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Trump’s Order Cuts Regulations on Businesses

One of the orders made by President Donald Trump on Monday was aimed toward regulations on businesses. The president’s new order stated that business can get rid of two regulations for every new one that is established.

Behind his desk in the Oval Office Trump, signed the document and called it “a big one.” Even though many of the business owners were present for the signing, the White House added to the order and stated that new regulations should be offset by getting rid of regulations that have the same cost. The military, however, was excluded in these regulations.

Yet based on the president’s comments, however, it was a bit hard to judge what type of impact this order will have. Trump on the other hands appeared optimistic about what the new order would mean. He said in a comment,

“This will be the largest ever cut by far in terms of regulations. If you have a regulation you want number one we’re not going to approve it because it’s already been approved probably in 17 different forms. But if we do the only way you have a chance is we have to knock out two regulations for every new regulation. So if there’s a new regulation they have to knock out two. But it goes way beyond that.”

Despite the president’s confidence in his new regulation, experts on government policy like William Gale, say, “There’s no logic to this. The number of regulations is not the key. It’s how onerous regulations are. This seems like a totally nonsensical constraint to me.”

Trumps believes that this order will benefit both small and large business. Small businesses aren’t able to bring on the personnel that larger businesses do. Trump also noted that the order is specifically aimed at eliminating regulations toward smaller businesses.

Like many of his other promises he says this is one of the “biggest such act that our country has ever seen.”

Trump Advances Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines

Despite controversies circling the outcome of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, President Donald Trump signed orders on Jan. 24 to move forward with their construction.

Along with signing the executive order for the pipeline on Tuesday, Trump also officiated that workers will use domestic-made materials to build U.S. oil pipelines. Trump made the order to streamline construction regulations and shorten the process for environmental reviews.

The order faces criticism from protestors, as the Dakota Access pipeline is set to run under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, which is only half a mile upstream from treaty-designated Sioux territory. When completed, the $3.7 billion pipeline will be 1,172 miles long, extending through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.

Contestants to the pipeline believe it proposes a high risk of infecting the river, thus violating treaty rights. If there is a leak in the pipeline, the oil will infect the Missouri River, which is the second longest river in North America.

In the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s original federal complaint to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the tribe two claims. The first recognizes that the tribe’s land is a part of the National Historic Preservation Act, and that any damage done to the federal waters, including the Missouri River, is against NHPA compliance. Additionally, the water near the tribe is of significant historical and cultural essence to the Sioux tribe, furthering the complaint.

The second claim is that the pipeline is authorized to discharge into waters that are part of the Tribe’s lands. If true, this violates the NHPA and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault said President Trump is required to honor the tribe’s treaty rights.

“Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted towards our nation and without our consent,” he said. “The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water, and the water of 17 million Americans downstream.”

Numerous environmental groups stand alongside the Sioux Tribe, including NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer. He claims President Trump is placing “corporate interests ahead of American interests.”

“The pipelines are all risk and no reward, allowing corporate polluters to transport oil through our country to be sold on the global market while putting our air and water at serious risk,” he said.

Although the pipelines face major opposition, many people support the move, including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Manchin explained he supports the Keystone XL pipeline because the U.S. needs more jobs. He was an original cosponsor of the legislation that approved the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“With a majority of American in support of the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction, I’m glad we are finally moving forward with this important project,” he said.

The Keystone XL project is an extension of the Keystone Pipeline. It will carry crude oil approximately 1,200 miles from Canada through Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. Despite environmental concerns, pro-pipeline advocacy groups say the pipelines are safe to move oil. They also claim the benefits outweigh the risks, as the pipelines will generate more than $100 million dollars.

While it remains unconfirmed, contestants claim Trump invested in the pipeline construction companies Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66. In 2016, his 2016 federal disclosure forms showed he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in ETP. They also show he owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66. The documents show that Trump collects interest, dividends, and capital gain from ETP and interest from Phillips 66.

Trump Names His Secretary of the Army

Retired Army major and West Point graduate, Vincent Viola is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Army. Confirmation per the Senate is that the 61-year-old will be the senior civilian leader for the Army.

Viola is the owner of the hockey team the Florida Panthers. He has helped with the foundation of the Combating Terrorism Center, which was established after September 11th, and is estimated to be worth $1.8 billion according to Forbes. Not only is he one of the four hundred richest Americans, but Trump’s transition office stated that Viola is working “tirelessly to promote the Army philanthropically in the areas of counter-terrorism, cyber security and leadership development.”

Viola will be succeeding Eric Fanning, who has been contributing to the leadership of America’s largest military service. Viola will report to James Mattis, retired four-star general, who was selected by Trump as the secretary of defense.  In a statement, Viola said that it is an “honor” to be chosen as secretary of the Army. He also said that his main focus would be making sure soldiers have the “means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict.”

Mr. Viola is part of the list of billionaires who will be joining the Trump administration

Trump Releases New List of Economic Advisors

Criticized for the lack of diversity on his staff, Donald Trump has released a new list of economic advisors. The previous list, which came out six days earlier, was composed primarily of white men. The new list however, is almost exclusively female.

Anthony Scaramucci (founder of SkyBridge Capital) is the only man on the current list, while Judy Shelton is the only economist. Shelton is co-director of the Atlas Sound Money Project, an organization affiliated with the Koch brothers. Several other advisors have a background in business or finance, including Liz Uihlein (president of Uline inc) and Carla Sands (chair of Vintage Capital Group).

Other notable names include Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, a long-time critic of Hillary Clinton’s healthcare proposals and the Affordable Care Act. Other advisors with ties to right-wing causes include Brooke Rollins (CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation) and Kathleen Hartnett White, a critic of President Obama’s climate change positions.