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'The Tea Party to the 10th power': Trumpworld bets big on critical race theory

“This is the Tea Party to the 10th power,” Steve Bannon, Trump’s former adviser who has zeroed in on local school board fights over critical race theory, said in an interview. “This isn’t Q, this is mainstream suburban moms — and a lot of these people aren’t Trump voters.”

Concerns about critical race theory, which examines how race and racism permeates society, have been percolating for months in what activists describe as a sincere grassroots phenomenon led by parents. Critical race theory dates back to the 1970s, but as the country remains in a prolonged conversation about race following George Floyd’s death, a new political battle over how to teach American history has emerged.

It has increasingly become a major focus of the Republican establishment, which has sought to capitalize on the angst even as some officeholders have failed to define what critical race theory is and the threat it poses. (Critical race theory, for example, does not imply white students should feel guilty about past civil rights issues and is not taught in many of the schools where lawmakers are seeking to ban it).

Their efforts to elevate the issue have worked.

Google searches for “critical race theory” skyrocketed on March 18, for example, the same day that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed banning it from Florida’s school curriculum. Fox News mentioned critical race theory nearly 1,300 times over a three-and-a-half-month span, according to an analysis done by the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America. Last week, Texas became the fifth state that passed a law taking aim at critical race theory or similar topics, and legislation has been proposed in more than a dozen other states.

Democrats, liberal political analysts, and even celebrities have used the power of the Black press and broadcast news to push back.

Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association and a friend to the Biden White House, supported a thorough teaching of American history — including the more painful parts — in an NBC interview last week. “We have made many mistakes in this country, but our kids, our kids deserve to learn all of that truth,” she said.

Journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates and Hollywood actress and LGBTQ activist Lena Waithe, along with dozens of academics and writers, are also backing efforts to support teaching students about systemic racism. They penned an open letter in The Root in support of Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 project, which many Republicans see as a key tool for pushing critical race theory.

They are combating the decision of major Trump World and other national Republican figures who are increasingly entering the fray. Earlier this month, Republicans at the North Carolina GOP’s annual convention jumped to their feet with enthusiastic applause when Trump called for a ban on critical race theory from the local school level to the federal government. Some top Republicans aren’t coy when they talk about the electoral benefits that stoking such a culture war issue could provide.

“I look at this and say, ‘Hey, this is how we are going to win.’ I see 50 [House Republican] seats in 2022. Keep this up,” Bannon said. “I think you’re going to see a lot more emphasis from Trump on it and DeSantis and others. People who are serious in 2024 and beyond are going to focus on it.”

Jessica Anderson, executive director of the Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm, said critical race theory is one of the top two issues her group is working on alongside efforts to tighten voting laws. A former Office of Management and Budget official in the Trump administration, Anderson’s Heritage Action for America put out a pamphlet on Monday calling critical race theory a “destructive” ideology and urging voters to call on their lawmakers to support anti-critical race theory bills introduced by Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Dan Bishop (R-N.C.). It also urges voters to use Freedom of Information Act requests as a tactic to identify critical race theory-tied elements in schools’ curricula.

“It could turn out to be one of the most important conservative grassroots fights since the Tea Party movement,” she said.

In addition to Heritage Action, a new group called Citizens for Renewing America, an outfit started by Russ Vought, Trump’s former Office of Management and Budget director, has rushed in to bolster anti-critical race theory efforts.

As OMB director, Vought drafted a September memo warning federal agencies that Trump wanted them to “cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.” More recently, Citizens for Renewing America has circulated a 33-page document titled “An A to Z Guide on How to Stop Critical Race Theory and Reclaim Your Local School Board.”

In Washington, Heritage Action is pursuing a long shot strategy to try to shoehorn anti-critical race theory language into must-pass legislation such as the annual defense spending bill. Vought’s group, meanwhile, is pushing for Republicans to force the provisions in Bishop’s bill to be included in legislation to raise the debt limit this fall.

“We believe it’s necessary for us to find leverage points to get that onto bills that must pass,” Vought said in an interview.

Author: Maggie Severns, Theodoric Meyer and Meridith McGraw
This post originally appeared on Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

Lewis Hamilton 'the best we've seen' says Jenson Button as Brit's big change explained

Former world champion Jenson Button believes we are seeing the ‘best Lewis Hamilton‘ we’ve ever seen throughout his time in Formula One, adding that it’s been good to see him speaking ‘from the heart’.

Button partnered Hamilton at McLaren in 2010, fresh off the back of winning the title the season before, creating what was dubbed as an all-British ‘super team’.

Hamilton had won just one world title at the time, and Button managed to outscore Hamilton over the course of their three seasons together as team-mates at the Working-based team.

Yet this season, Button says he’s seen a huge change in his former team-mate, who is looking to become statistically the most successful driver in Formula One.

“From his time from McLaren to Mercedes he changed, yes, but this year is completely different,” Button exclusively told Express Sport.

“You walk in the paddock high-fiving people and calling them by their name and it’s like, where have you been this winter?”

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“It’s great to see, he’s just confident in his own ability, which is great, really great to see that he’s comfortable in his own skin.

“That for me is a big talking point of the year – how he’s changed this year.

“He’s so much calmer in the car. There’s still the adrenaline, right? And then you say things that maybe after the race you regret.

“But when he’s out of the car, he’s so calm. Monaco’s a tough race, you know, but I learned a lot and I’m moving forward.

“It’s great to hear. And I do think it’s from the heart and it’s the truth, which is good.

Hamilton and Mercedes are being pushed to their limits this season with a mountain of pressure from Max Verstappen and Red Bull this season.

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The Dutchman currently has a 12-point cushion over the seven-time world champion, leading the way since Monaco, with Red Bull stretching their legs over Mercedes with a 37 point lead.

But despite tense battles on track, and rare mistakes appearing from Hamilton, Button concluded it’s a maturity we’ve never seen before from the Briton.

He continued: “I think in the past, there have been moments where he’s wanted to say something, then you see him collect himself, and he’s like what should I actually say right now?

“And then he changes his answer, so you can see it, you can see his brain working.

“And that has been the case before. And when we were teammates, that would happen as well.

“But now I do just feel he’s confident in his skin and he is saying what he thinks, which is really good to see. And I think it’s the best Lewis Hamilton we’ve seen.”

Hamilton looks to reclaim the lead of the championship on Sunday with the second of three back-to-back races this month, with two races in Austria next in line.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Ryanair sues Government over traffic light system – 'the UK will be embarrassed'

What do you think? Join the debate in the comments section here

Other UK airlines are expected to back the legal action after huge frustration within the aviation industry at the removal of Portugal from the green list.

British Airways, IAG, said it intends to join the case as an “interested party”.

MAG CEO, Charlie Cornish, explained: “The Government is not being open and we simply cannot understand how it is making decisions that are fundamental to our ability to plan, and to giving customers the confidence to book travel ahead.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Martin Lewis urges Ministers to alter 'the biggest' financial hit students & parents face

Martin Lewis has been known to campaign for financial causes as the Money Saving Expert pushes for fair outcomes for the nation’s savers. Today, MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) has revealed its founder has issued his latest calls for change.

Martin has written to ministers responsible for student finance in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, urging them to stop hiding the university parental contributions that are built into the UK’s student finance system.

MSE detailed while much is written about tuition fees, the “biggest practical problem most students face is that the amount they get for living expenses is slashed based on parental income – but students and parents get no warning that this gap needs filling.”

According to MSE’s analysis, action is needed before the start of the new academic year in September, when hundreds of thousands of new students begin their courses and millions more return – many of whose families will have seen their financial position deteriorate as a result of the pandemic.

MSE broke down what the parental contribution is, how it is hidden and how the system at large is failing.

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What is the parental contribution?

MSE explained: “For current and prospective university students aged under 25, the value of the maintenance loan and/or grant they get to cover living costs is dictated by their household’s income – for most, this is a proxy for parental income.

“The higher their income is, the less the student gets to cover costs.

“In England, where all the available support is in the form of a maintenance loan, the amount a student gets will start to reduce when total family income is just £25,000 a year, and by the time it’s about £60,000 a year it can be halved.

“Logic implies that parents are expected to contribute to fill the gap – as that’s the only factor that impacts the amount received. For students from England, this can add up to more than £15,000 over a standard three-year course”

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How is the parental contribution hidden and how is the system falling short across the UK?

MSE continued by examining how the contributions are “hidden”: “There is little mention of the parental contribution in official student finance documents around the UK – students get a letter telling them what their living loan (and/or grant) is, without indicating that it has been reduced, never mind by how much, due to the household income means test.

“This leaves many heading off to university without knowing their loans are a fraction of the full amount. Martin has met students whose parents won’t give them money as ‘it’s about learning independence’, without realising their loan’s been halved on the expectation their parents would fill the gap.

“For years, MSE and its founder Martin have campaigned to raise awareness of this hidden parental contribution. The UK government-commissioned Augar report on higher education, published in 2019, supported and included Martin’s suggestion that the Student Loans Company begins to make the contribution explicit. It also noted that only 15 percent of parents give their children the expected amount or more.

“But in its interim conclusion to the review, published in January 2021, the Government did not mention the parental contribution, leading to the worry that unless more pressure is applied, little will happen – which is why Martin is calling for action today. He has written to the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, along with the ministers responsible for student finance in Northern Ireland and Scotland (there is no expected parental contribution in Wales).”

MSE went to break down specifically how the system is falling short, as the following details:

  • Official documentation for students in England (where all the support is via a maintenance loan) says only that depending on their income, parents “may have to contribute” towards their children’s living costs while at university, which isn’t likely to be very helpful in practice. Students aren’t explicitly told how and why their loan has been reduced, or how much their parents need to contribute. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, family income dictates the total amount of support received and how much of that support is a loan versus a non-repayable grant
  • The Student Finance Northern Ireland guide “How you are paid 20/21” previously said: “The Student Loans Company (SLC) will send you a letter telling you how much support you can get and the contribution (if any) you and your family are expected to make towards your living costs.” Yet despite this being exactly the right policy, the SLC confirmed it was never implemented and the guide was later amended to remove the reference to a letter being sent.
  • Scotland’s Student Information website is clearer that parents are expected to contribute – but it doesn’t give exact figures and, as in England and Northern Ireland, this information is absent from letters students receive about their loans.

Martin concluded on this with the following comments: “Politicians love to argue about tuition fees, conveniently ignoring by far the biggest practical problem most students face – do they have enough money to live off?

“Many don’t, but a prime cause is hidden. The system has an implicit parental contribution – the loan and possible grant they receive depends on their family’s income. The more families earn, the less they get. For those who analyse the system, it’s transparent that it works this way. But with the pandemic exacerbating student financial problems, it’s about time that transparency was extended to students and their parents.

“To not make this explicit and explain how it works risks immense stress on relationships between parents and their children, leaving them unable to plan financially – often over several years – with many families complaining that ironically, the living loan isn’t enough.

“I’ve met students living off a pittance, because their parents thought – ‘it’s time to stand on your own two feet’ – not realising the government expects them to help. Whether or not you agree with how the system works, at the very least, it needs to be honest.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Finance Feed