The Spectacle Blog

Teachers Unions’ Political Power Stunts Education Reform in Montana

By on 6.30.15 | 10:55AM

Some Montanans now have access to education tax credits, after Senate Bill 410 passed into law in May, but school choice remains extremely limited in the state.

SB 410 was the only school choice bill to pass this legislative session, and it became law without Gov. Steve Bullock’s (D) signature.

Legislators introduced a variety of education bills this session, including measures for Common Core repeal, charter schools, data privacy for students, standardized testing reform, and greater local control. All but two failed to reach the governor’s desk, and of those two, Bullock vetoed one and the other became law after a 10-day waiting period, when Bullock neither signed nor vetoed it. 

Political, Judicial Impediments

Sen. Kris Hansen (R-Havre) says it is difficult to make changes in education policy in Montana because of the influence of teachers unions and a court interpretation of the state constitution.

“In Montana, if there’s any bill that isn’t 100 percent supported by the teachers’ union, the first claim is that it’s unconstitutional,” Hansen said. “The unconstitutional claim falls on a segment of the Montana constitution.”

Christie Still Isn’t Ready to be President

By on 6.30.15 | 10:52AM

Four years ago, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie resisted calls by Republicans to make a bid for the White House in 2012. During a speech before AEI in February 2011, Christie stated:

You have to believe in your heart and your soul that you’re ready to be president. And I don’t believe that about myself right now.

Christie would reiterate this position in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper back in April. “So I get lots of people who come to us and say, oh, you should have done it four years ago,” said Christie, “And I tell you one thing I know for sure I wasn’t ready to be president four years ago. And so the worst thing wasn’t not running; it was if I had run and won already.”

Turkey Toying With Military Intervention In Syria To Challenge The U.S.?

By on 6.30.15 | 10:46AM

Turkey is determined to keep Syrian Kurds from statehood in the aftermath of victories against Islamic State, highlighting just how different Turkish and U.S. regional aims really are.

According to some Turkish media reports, the government is planning a military intervention to establish a buffer zone in northern Syria, supporting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement the country ”will never allow” a Kurdish state along its southern border last Friday, The Daily Beast reported.

The country’s military has purportedly been ordered to send troops into Syria, but this hasn’t been confirmed or denied by the government. According to Turkey’s foreign minister, a statement will be released after the National Security Council meets Tuesday.

There is some credence to the claim, but it’s probably a matter of fierce debate, says Robert Pearson, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 2000-2003. It could be designed to test the U.S. or caution it away from helping the Kurdish YPG too aggressively by way of the airstrike campaign.

Is DC About To Be America’s 51st State?

By on 6.30.15 | 10:39AM

Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced legislation that would make Washington, D.C. the 51st state in the union and give its residents a real voice in the chambers.

The Senate legislation garnered 17 co-sponsors, slightly less than the same legislation achieved last year, but Sen. Tom Carper, who introduced the legislation, is still optimistic about the bill’s potential.

Carper said it is “simply not fair” that residents of the nation’s capital do not enjoy the same right to representation in the federal government that residents in other states have.

Scholars Reject College Board’s AP History Standards

By on 6.30.15 | 10:27AM

A group of 55 academic historians is speaking out against the College Board’s recent overhaul of its Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) standards.

The professors and scholars met in April to discuss the new APUSH standards and drafted an open letter in response to the AP history framework rewrite. The National Association of Scholars (NAS) published the letter detailing the scholars’ concerns on June 2.

Former Pot Smoking Mayor Wants City Residents To Kick Their Tobacco Habit

By on 6.30.15 | 10:12AM

Just six months after claiming his family doesn’t smoke pot “inside” the mayor’s mansion, Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is going after residents who smoke tobacco in their own homes.

“The Health Department is encouraging efforts for voluntary smoke-free housing initiatives,” the mayor’s office told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a prepared statement. “Everyone benefits from smoke-free housing – residents enjoy breathing cleaner, healthier air in their homes and in common areas, while owners see reductions in property damage and turnover costs.”

Though tobacco is a legal substance, as opposed to marijuana, the mayor  has sought to stop its use in as many areas around the city as possible. The latest plan is to get landlords and developers to voluntarily ban smoking in their resident buildings. The administration will select four advocacy groups who will be in charge of persuading property owners to put the bans on their residents. Each group will get paid $9,000.

Does EPA’s Supreme Court Loss Doom Obama’s Climate Agenda?

By on 6.30.15 | 10:00AM

In a 5-4 decision yesterday, the Supreme Court struck down the Obama Administration EPA’s signature “Mercury and Air Toxic Rule,” which regulates emissions by fossil-fuel-fired power plants. Before regulating, EPA was obligated to decide whether regulation under one the Act’s most burdensome programs was “appropriate and necessary.” EPA interpreted that language to preclude it from considering the costs of regulation—some $10 billion per year, in exchange for $4 million or so in direct benefits. That interpretation, the Court decided, was ludicrous.

The decision may well leave the Obama climate agenda in tatters. Why that is requires a bit of explanation. In the usual case when the Court finds a rule to be unlawful, it vacates the offending action—in other words, deprives it of legal force. But that’s not what the Court did here. Instead, it sent the case back down to the D.C. Circuit for further proceedings, knowing full well that that court will follow its usual practice of “remand without vacatur”—in other words, let the agency fix any flaws in its rule while leaving the rule in place.

Bobby Jindal Is ‘Tanned, Rested and Ready’

By on 6.29.15 | 5:15PM

At first glance, it seems like Bobby Jindal is taking a page out of Richard Nixon's playbook.

But stare at his official campaign t-shirt design for a few minutes and you'll start to see a very different side of Bobby than his speeches, given in short-sleeved shirts, with an almost bookish demeanor, might demonstrate:

I kind of like it. Jindal doesn't differentiate himself from the pack very well, and a joke like this...it makes a big difference both in demonstrating the personality he's been hiding from the public all these years, and brings to the forefront part of what makes him different from his fellow candidates: his ethnic background.

NBC Dumps Trump

By on 6.29.15 | 4:58PM

Donald Trump has a big reason for taking this Presidential bid seriously: he's got some space in his calendar to fill.

Although the real estate mogul isn't exactly hurting for business opportunity, NBC announcced today that they've cut all ties with Trump after he made what they considered to be disaparging comments about illegal immigrants (specifically Mexicans) in his initial announcement speech. That means that NBC has dropped Trump from the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, mostly, since Mark Burnett is the producer of The Apprentice and Trump had already parted ways as the host of the show (while his campaign is in full swing, anyway).  

NBC is ending its business relationship with Donald Trump over his recent comments about Mexican immigrants.

"At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values," NBC said in a statement. "Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump."

Greece’s Debt Problem Is Becoming A Global Problem

By on 6.29.15 | 4:55PM

The worsening Greek financial crisis became a global problem Monday with stocks around the world falling following a weekend of troublesome bailout negotiations.

The decline in global stocks came after Greek officials announced plans to close its banks and impose restrictions on cash withdrawals to try to prevent the current financial crisis from getting worse. The decision and news that the bailout negotiations faltered over the weekend caught investors around the globe off guard.

“Most people’s consensus forecast was for them to muddle through with some kind of a deal,” Kymberly Martin, the senior market strategist at the Bank of New Zealand, told The New York Times. “So it has taken people a little bit by surprise.”

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