Friday, January 21News That Matters

Tag: Politics and Government

‘Build Back Better’ Hit a Wall, but Climate Action Could Move Forward

Technology, World
WASHINGTON — A small but growing number of Democrats in Congress want to move ahead with the climate portion of President Biden’s stalled spending bill, saying the urgency of a warming planet demands action and they believe they can muster enough votes to muscle it past Republican opposition.Faced with the possibility that Democrats could lose control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, the party is now looking to salvage what it can from the $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act. The sweeping climate-change and social-policy bill passed the House but came to a halt last month when Joe Manchin III, the West Virginia Democrat and swing vote in the Senate, said he opposed it.But Mr. Manchin has suggested that he might back various climate provisions in the legislation, leading some De...

U.S. Moves to Drop Case Against M.I.T. Scientist Accused of Hiding China Links

Technology
When charges were filed five days later, though, they were more limited in scope.Dr. Chen was charged with two counts of wire fraud, for failing to disclose seven affiliations to the Department of Energy while applying for a $2.7 million grant to study heat conduction in polymer structures and in a subsequent progress report. The affiliations included serving as a “fourth overseas expert consultant” to the Chinese government, a “review expert” for the National Natural Science Foundation of China and an adviser to the Chinese Scholarship Council, among others.He was also charged with failing to declare a Chinese bank account containing more than $10,000, and with making false statements to government officials in his grant disclosures.In recent conversations, officials at the Department of ...
Theodore Roosevelt Statue Removal Begins at Museum of Natural History

Theodore Roosevelt Statue Removal Begins at Museum of Natural History

LifeStyle
It was past midnight when a crane descended on the imposing bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt, lifting his upper body from the pedestal where it has presided at the American Museum of Natural History since 1940. The remainder of the sculpture, now surrounded by scaffolding, is scheduled to leave in pieces through the week. Flanked by representations of a Native American man and an African man on foot, the shadow of the president on horseback is diminishing by the day.A spokeswoman for the institution said that the approximately $2 million removal process was conducted with historic preservation specialists and several dozen workers. It was approved by multiple New York City agencies.The New York City Public Design Commission voted last June to remove the statue; in November, its destinat...

Mexico Is Buying a Texas Oil Refinery in a Quest for Energy Independence

Business
DEER PARK, Texas — Two giant murals, on storage tanks at an oil refinery here, depict the rebels led by Sam Houston who secured Texas’ independence from Mexico in the 1830s. This week those murals will become the property of the Mexican national oil company, which is acquiring full control of the refinery.The refinery purchase is part of President Andres Manuel López Obrador’s own bid for an independence of sorts. In an effort to achieve energy self-sufficiency, the president of Mexico is investing heavily in the state-owned oil company, placing a renewed emphasis on petroleum production and retreating from renewable energy even as some oil giants like BP and Royal Dutch Shell are investing more in that sector.Mr. López Obrador aims to eliminate most Mexican oil exports over the next two y...

China’s Economy Is Slowing, a Worrying Sign for the World

Business
BEIJING — Construction and property sales have slumped. Small businesses have shut because of rising costs and weak sales. Debt-laden local governments are cutting the pay of civil servants.China’s economy slowed markedly in the final months of last year as government measures to limit real estate speculation hurt other sectors as well. Lockdowns and travel restrictions to contain the coronavirus also dented consumer spending. Stringent regulations on everything from internet businesses to after-school tutoring companies have set off a wave of layoffs.China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Monday that economic output from October through December was only 4 percent higher than during the same period a year earlier. That was a deceleration from the 4.9 percent growth in the third quarte...
Novak Djokovic, a Master on the Court, Keeps Making Errors Off It

Novak Djokovic, a Master on the Court, Keeps Making Errors Off It

Sports
In April 2020, with the pro tennis tour suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, Novak Djokovic took part in a Facebook Live chat with some fellow Serbian athletes. During their conversation, Djokovic, famous for his punishing training regimen, abstemious diet and fondness for New Age beliefs, said he was “opposed to vaccination” and “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.”“But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision,” he said.More than a year and a half later, Djokovic’s decision to seek a medical exemption to the Australian Open’s vaccine requirement has become a debacle for tennis — and one of the most bizarre episodes yet served up by the pandemic. Djokovic, 34, has done potentially irreparable har...

Cambodia’s Internet May Soon Be Like China’s: State-Controlled

Business
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The day Kea Sokun was arrested in Cambodia, four men in plainclothes showed up at his photography shop near Angkor Wat and carted him off to the police station. Mr. Kea Sokun, who is also a popular rapper, had released two songs on YouTube, and the men said they needed to know why he’d written them.“They kept asking me: ‘Who is behind you? What party do you vote for?’” Mr. Kea Sokun said. “I told them, ‘I have never even voted, and no one controls me.’”The 23-year-old artist, who says his songs are about everyday struggles in Cambodia, was sentenced to 18 months in an overcrowded prison after a judge found him guilty of inciting social unrest with his lyrics. His case is part of a crackdown in which dozens have been sent to jail for posting jokes, poems, pictures, pr...
Nigeria Lifts Twitter Ban

Nigeria Lifts Twitter Ban

Technology
DAKAR, Senegal — The Nigerian government restored access in the country to Twitter on Thursday after a seven-month suspension that was imposed after the social media site deleted a post by Nigeria’s president that threatened a violent crackdown on secessionist groups.The government blocked access to the site in June, but reversed course on Wednesday after Twitter agreed to several demands. Twitter will establish an office in the country, pay taxes there, appoint a representative and “act with a respectful acknowledgment of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history,” a government official said.Since the ban came into effect, Nigerians have been able to access the service only using a virtual private network. Twitter’s removal of a post by President Muhammadu Buhari was widely seen ...

The Army of Millions Who Enforce China’s Zero-Covid Policy

Business
China’s “zero Covid” policy has a dedicated following: the millions of people who work diligently toward that goal, no matter the human costs.In the northwestern city of Xi’an, hospital employees refused to admit a man suffering from chest pains because he lived in a medium-risk district. He died of a heart attack.They informed a woman who was eight months pregnant and bleeding that her Covid test wasn’t valid. She lost her baby.Two community security guards told a young man they didn’t care that he had nothing to eat after catching him out during the lockdown. They beat him up.The Xi’an government was quick and resolute in imposing a strict lockdown in late December when cases were on the rise. But it was not prepared to provide food, medical care and other necessities to the city’s 13 mi...
Is Norway the Future of Cars?

Is Norway the Future of Cars?

Technology
This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is a collection of past columns.Last year, Norway reached a milestone. Only about 8 percent of new cars sold in the country ran purely on conventional gasoline or diesel fuel. Two-thirds of new cars sold were electric, and most of the rest were electric-and-gasoline hybrids.For years, Norway has been the world leader in shifting away from traditional cars, thanks to government benefits that made electric vehicles far more affordable and offered extras like letting electric car owners skip some fees for parking and toll roads.Still, electric car enthusiasts are stunned by the speed at which the internal combustion engine has become an endangered species in Norway.“It has surprised most people how quickly things have changed,” Christina Bu...