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Dems Push $25B to Electrify School Buses, a Biden Priority

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Democrat lawmakers are unveiling legislation that would invest $25 billion to convert the nation’s fleet of gasoline- and diesel-powered school buses to electric vehicles, aiming at a component of President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan to improve children’s health.

The legislation led by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., seeks to build on the administration’s effort this week to promote the electrification of school buses, which Biden sees as an important step in addressing climate change and economic inequities.

School buses make up 90% of the nation’s total bus fleet and typically carry nearly 25 million children each day. Emissions from diesel engines may contribute to respiratory illnesses in children, studies have found, and have been linked to poor academic performance.

The bill being introduced Wednesday would authorize federal grant money over 10 years, with 40% of it devoted to replacing school buses that serve mostly nonwhite, poorer communities.

It would cover the expense of purchasing electric school buses, building charging stations and providing workforce training. The legislation also directs the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct outreach to help school districts with the transition.

“I know firsthand how outdated diesel school buses expose our children to harmful and unnecessary pollution,” Padilla told The Associated Press, explaining how as a kid he frequently rode the bus to get to class and for after-school programs such as baseball games. “Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, my lungs would be filled with diesel exhaust by the time I arrived at school each day.”

“Transitioning our school bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles is an essential aspect of building equitable, sustainable infrastructure and is a wise investment in our children, our environment and our future,” he said.

Joining Padilla in co-sponsoring the legislation are Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Reps. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., and Jahana Hayes, D-Conn.

The lawmakers’ push comes in a week when Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are highlighting their proposed $45 billion in infrastructure spending to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission transit buses and school buses. On Monday, Harris visited a North Carolina bus manufacturing plant and urged $20 billion in investments to help convert the nation’s 500,000 school buses to electric.

Harris’ focus on the issue dates back to legislation she introduced as a California senator in 2019 that would have provided $1 billion in federal grants to help districts electrify school buses. The issue later was a plank in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposed Green New Deal.

Padilla was appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill Harris’ seat when she was elected vice president.

The legislation faces an uphill climb to attract 60 votes needed for passage as a stand-alone bill in a Senate divided 50-50, with Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. But as lawmakers start building the Biden infrastructure bill, the measure could become a piece of the broader package that could have more support or that congressional Democrats may try to muscle through on 51 votes via a budget process called reconciliation.

The bill has earned support from an array of outside groups, including the American Federation of Teachers, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, the League of Conservation Voters and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Public schools are huge consumers of mass transit, and the challenge of getting students to school buildings in a more green, efficient way is one we must tackle immediately,” said Randi Weingarten, AFT’s president. “By investing in zero-emission school buses we can create cleaner, healthier, more sustainable school communities where our children don’t just survive but actually thrive.”

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This Anti-Trump Republican is About to Go Down

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Members of the G.O.P. are scheduled to vote tomorrow to expel Conference Chair Liz Cheney from the No. 3 leadership post. The Wyoming Republican, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, is a vocal critic of Donald Trump even though they belong to the same party. This move to get her out of her position is a huge sign that Trump still has a powerful grip on the Republican Party. 

Cheney’s problems with her party sprouted from the January 6 Capitol riots, wherein a throng of Trump supporters mobbed the Congress. A few days after that chaotic event, Liz Cheney was among the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection. The impeachment was unsurprisingly supported by the Democrats but the Republican-dominated Senate acquitted then-president Donald Trump.

House Republicans tried to unseat Cheney from her post as party conference chair but the Republican’s main guy in the lower chamber, Kevin McCarthy, advised members to keep her in that position. Ms Cheney would eventually stay due to a unanimous vote and since then her lambasting of Donald Trump continued for months.

Last week however, Cheney published an anti-Trump article on Washington Post which seemed to annoy McCarthy himself. He thought that the party would be able to move forward after helping to retain Cheney, but because of her continued divisive actions, McCarthy lost his confidence in her, eventually prompting him to take the necessary steps to try to remove her from power. 

This development will thrust Liz Cheney into the Never Trump spotlight further and will make her the face of that leaderless movement. The divided faction has already lost Arizona Senator John McCain when he died in 2018. Meanwhile, centrist Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney of Utah, with all their waning popularity, don’t seem all-in in the fight against Donald Trump.

Even though the voting is yet to take place, it is most likely that Liz Cheney will be unseated from her post. In fact, the party has already been considering a replacement. Only 36 years young, rising star Elisa Stefanik used to be a staunch Trump critic but went on to become an ally and even defended the former president in his 2019 impeachment trial. She also heavily endorsed Donald Trump during the 2020 campaign, stating that Trump is the “only candidate who is capable of protecting the American Dream”. Upon replacement of Liz Cheney, Elise Stefanik is expected to bring in a much-needed new voice in the House of Representatives.

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The White House Condemns Hamas Attacks On Tel Aviv

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Palestinian militants have launched thousands of rocket attacks on Israel since 2001 and the victims are mostly innocent civilians. These assaults were labelled as terrorism by the United Nations, European Union and Israel. On the other hand, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch classify the violent acts as war crimes. 

Recently, Palestinian militant nationalist organization Hamas attacked Tel Aviv with rockets, causing renewed conflict within the already-chaotic region. The U.S. government has condemned the attacks and called for a halt to the unnecessary mayhem that has left nothing but destruction and has already claimed many lives from both sides.

In an interview with the press, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated that President Biden is being briefed regularly on the situation in Jerusalem and Gaza. The president’s team is communicating consistently with Israeli and Palestinian officials, along with other leaders in the Middle East, to try to de-escalate the ongoing attacks. 

“The president’s support for Israel’s security, for its legitimate right to defend itself and its people, is fundamental and will never waiver. We condemn ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including against Jerusalem. We also stand against extremism that has inflicted violence on both communities,” Psaki said.

During a briefing with reporters last Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price stated “The loss of life of innocent Palestinian civilians, innocent Israelis, is something we deeply regret. It is precisely why we are doing everything we can, we are doing everything we can in coordination with our international partners to put an end to a cycle of escalation and a cycle of violence.”

The fighting has been brewing for many days until it escalated into a full blown attack by Hamas, which led to retaliatory strikes from Israel. There would’ve been more destruction in Tel Aviv, but fortunately they have intercepted some of the rockets in the sky, before they reach their targets.

National Security adviser Jake Sullivan has kept in touch with some allies in the Egyptian government and his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne informed the media that Sullivan sent a message that expressed support and encouraged peace. 

“He conveyed the President’s unwavering support for Israel’s security and for its legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians. He also conveyed the United States’ encouragement of steps toward restoring a sustainable calm. They agreed to continue to stay in close touch,” Horne told reporters.

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Pentagon Advances Probe Into UFO Sightings

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he theory that other life forms exist across the universe is nothing new to American society, modern or otherwise. However, throughout decades of pursuit by scientists and fanatics, there has been very little evidence that they exist. Thankfully, the military has the means to observe alien phenomena. They have the technology to fly in the sky on any given day and provide the surveillance needed.

Recently the Pentagon is investigating the military on their policies regarding the way they handle UFO sightings. This conduct evaluation was deemed necessary especially when the Pentagon recently confirmed the veracity of three leaked video footages, including one that featured a flying triangular object that was captured by a Navy pilot back in 2019. 

The leaked videos prompted the Department of Defense to establish the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF) back in August 2020. The Pentagon stated “The Department of Defense established the UAPTF to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs. The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.”

“The Department of Defense and the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously and examine each report. This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as UAP when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing,” the Pentagon added.

The 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act that was passed back in December 2020, commands intelligence agencies and the Defense Department to craft a report on what they know about unidentified aerial phenomena. This piece of information will then be submitted to the lawmakers for further scrutiny.

Science fiction fans must be really excited for the past few years for these revelations. The fact that UAPs are already being taken seriously by the Pentagon and other agencies is a huge development. However, we must remember that this is not proof that we have visitors from other planets. In fact, we are nowhere close to uncovering alien activity. 

With the technology that we have today, there are possibilities that those flying objects were just manmade. Regular citizens like you and I can afford to buy drones and capture footage of our world. So it is not surprising to know that what we have seen could just be some type of unmanned aircraft. The bigger concern of the government and the military right now, is that these UAPs might be deployed by rival superpowers to spy on American offensive and defensive capabilities.

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