U.S. Gives $2.9M to Universities That Promote Anti-West Ideologies
November 14, 2022
Virginia’s Office of the State Inspector General is probing a $286,000 state tourism contract given to the political advertising agency behind Glenn Youngkin’s successful bid for Virginia governor.
The state’s tourism bureau awarded Richmond-based Poolhouse a contract to produce the “Governor’s Welcome Project,” featuring Youngkin and shown at welcome centers and in airports, according to the Associated Press.
Virginia Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and House Minority Leader Don Scott, asked the inspector general to investigate what they say are concerns about the political media firm that does ads for Youngkin landing the contract, arguing that the video amounted a political ad for Youngkin
“The government RFP process should not be used to reward political cronies,” Scott stated in The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Poolhouse is “a full-service creative agency partnering with" campaigns, causes, and companies. The agency produces ads for Republican campaigns and continues to work with Younkin’s political action committee.
Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism, defended the process that led to selecting Poolhouse, which she called a “local, talented, Virginia-based company that has done exceptional work for other corporate clients from Anheuser-Busch to Honda to GE,” AP reported.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported it obtained public records that show Youngkin aides were concerned about using the Youngkin-friendly firm through a single-sourced contract and they asked the tourism bureau to seek more contract bids.
Those records show that one firm didn’t respond and another said it couldn’t meet the scope of work.
Kate Hourin, a spokesperson for the inspector general, said the office would look into whether the proper procurement process was followed and “whether any waste of government funds was involved," she told the AP.
U.S.-Funded Military Research Goes to Chinese Institutions
November 15, 2022
More than 150 Chinese-born scientists who did U.S. taxpayer-funded military research at the fabled Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are now back home working in China, in some cases, helping develop weapons.
“Since returning to China, Los Alamos alumni have helped the [People’s Republic of China] advance key military and dual-use technologies in areas such as hypersonics, deep-earth penetrating warheads, unmanned autonomous vehicles, jet engines, and submarine noise reduction,” according to a report titled “The Los Alamos Club” from Strider Technologies first reported on by NBC News.
One such scientist focused on in the report was Zhao Yusheng, a researcher at Los Alamos for 18 years, who collected about $20 million in taxpayer-funded research grants from the U.S. Department of Energy.
With “Q clearance,” at Los Alamos, Zhao was allowed access to top secret restricted data and national security information and led the lab’s team researching high-pressure materials — nuclear warheads, according to the report.
After leaving Los Alamos in 2010, Zhao lead the University of Nevada, Las Vegas High-Pressure Science and Engineering Center, also with a Q Clearance, collecting another approximately $2.9 million in DOE funding for research into new battery materials, the report found.
Zhao was recruited to work for Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China in 2016. He had been scouted by another former Los Alamos alumnus, Dr. Chen Shiyi, “a world-renowned expert in fluid dynamics and turbulence who spent the 1990s at the lab,” he Strider report said.
Chen returned to China and served as president of the university, recruiting scientists with links to Los Alamos, luring them back with between $155,000 and $755,000 in research subsidies and grants.
Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping and other top CCP leaders have supported China’s talent programs, the Strider report noted.
“This is the first time we have a comprehensive open-sourced reporting that identifies the people, the places, the services and the organizations in China that are benefitting from the talent who once worked here in our national labs,” Bill Evanina, former director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told NBC News. “No one can say this is not a threat to our national security,” saying the U.S. is giving “our enemies” the ability to use weapons against us.
HHS Giving $4.5M to Train on Implicit Bias
November 16, 2022
The Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $4.5 million in grants to public colleges to train maternal health providers in implicit bias.
The grant summary states, “the purpose of this program is to address implicit bias among maternal health care providers to reduce health disparities and improve maternal health outcomes,” with public and state-controlled institutions of higher education eligible for the funding.
An HHS press release about the funding specifies that the funds will be used to support community-based doulas, a non-medical professional to support women as they give birth. They don’t deliver babies but give expectant mothers emotional and physical support leading up to and giving birth.
The funding, through HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration, said the money will be used to hire, train, certify, and pay community-based doulas “in areas with high rates of adverse maternal and infant health outcomes.”
The HHS said the grant builds on the administration of President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris to “address the nation’s Black maternal health crisis.”
Many news outlets and medical entities have reported on the high rate of Black mothers dying in or leading up to childbirth, a terrible scourge that Americans in 2022 shouldn’t face.
“Black mothers of all ages are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their White peers,” March of Dimes reported.
The non-profit that advocates for the health of mothers and babies, notes that some of this is due to living in rural areas known as “maternity care deserts.”
Also partly to blame is being unhealthy before getting pregnant and battling things like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity while pregnant.
Funding to help mothers and their babies survive is one thing, but $4.5 million to train unconscious racism out of doulas and other maternal health care providers could be better spent to improve medical care.
Throwback Thursday: In 1979, NOAA Studies Pot Smoking in Scuba Divers
November 17, 2022
In 1979, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spent $6,000 — $24,529 in 2022 — to see if smoking pot had a bad effect on scuba divers.
This spending earned the unit of the Department of Commerce a Golden Fleece award from Sen. William Proxmire.
Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave awards to wasteful and nonsensical spending, eventually handing out 168 Golden Fleece Awards between 1975 and 1988.
While the spending wasn’t particularly high, one might wonder if the people who awarded this funding were.
The money was part of a $726,000 federal grant to the University of Hawaii, looking into “human performance in the sea,” Proxmire’s announcement said.
“Ten pot-smoking men … aged 21 to 28 were recruited from a large class at the university,” the senator said when awarding the tongue-in-cheek honor. The researchers looked at “the effects of marijuana smoking after one or two-hour exposures to both mildly cold water and cold air were undertaken.”
The men were immersed in the water for an hour, with only their head above water.
“This was done three times, each on a separate day with a day in between, after smoking pot, after smoking a placebo and after no smoking at all,” Proxmire described the research.
Similar experiments were performed, lasting two hours. The men wore only bathing suits and were connected to temperature gauges on nine places on their bodies and researchers took tests with the men holding their breaths.
They found that core body temperature wasn’t affected by the marijuana, but there were “significant losses of body heat, elevated heart action and shivering after smoking pot,” Proxmire said.
“Marijuana did not produce simple hypothermia during cold exposure at rest,” the study found. “However, the consequences of tachycardia … may be consequential.”
This finding upset Promxire, who said, “In my view, the government was at sea on this one. What the study tells us is that if you smoke pot, don’t go swimming, scuba diving or mountain climbing.”
Iowa Using $23.5M in Covid Aid for ‘Field of Dreams’ Stadium
November 18, 2022
Capitalizing on the feel-good nostalgia of the "Field of Dreams" film, and the success of Major League Baseball games played on a temporary field built near the film’s site, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is using $12.5 million from the state’s Covid-19 relief funds to help build a permanent Field of Dreams Ballpark in the city of Dyersville, according to the Des Moines Register.
That comes after she already committed another $11 million from Covid-19 funds to build water and sewer lines to the Field of Dreams stadium site.
Along with city and county funds, and $1.5 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the federal funds go toward the $50 million project.
Those funds come from Reynolds’s grant program “Destination Iowa,” created with $100 million of the $4.5 billion slice of the pie Iowa received from the American Rescue Plan Act, the March 2021 congressional coronavirus relief bill.
The spending is needed “to bolster the quality of life in Iowa’s communities and attract visitors and new residents to the state,” Reynolds said in a press release. “The hospitality industry in the State of Iowa experienced a 46.1 percent decrease in employment and there was an overall 29 percent decline in visitor spending as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The Field of Dreams Ballpark, not expected to be ready for play until 2024, is one of a number of projects within Destination Iowa that proports to help Iowa recover.
While a feasibility study expects the ballpark to have 136,000 patrons annually, employ 81 people in new jobs and host 62 events, bringing in $9.1 million in investments the first year, some economic development experts are skeptical about how much economic benefit the ballpark will bring, The Register reported.
Neither the corporate events, banquets, concerts and festivals, nor the baseball games needed to sustain the ballpark, are guaranteed, experts said, noting it would compete with cities Dubuque and Cedar Rapids for events.
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