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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: New Utopia
Posted: May 14, 2020 at 5:28 pm
In 1990, when Cameroon's football team did the unthinkable and beat Argentina in the World Cup, the proportion of the world's population living below the poverty line was 35.9%. Fast-forward 35 years to 2015, following a global adoption of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this figure now stands at 10%.
To use the concept of a universal benevolent dictator a classic assumption in beginner economic courses to escape the complexities of real-world decision-making such a person would no doubt have said, "The world is doing infinitely better!
On the contrary, the world has not been doing as well as it should. The fact is, there have been warning signs all along. The proportion of people living below the poverty line in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015 was an astonishing 41%, about the same as the global rate of extreme poverty in 1981.
On October 17, 2018, the then President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, presented a report titled "Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing together the Poverty Puzzle." With rigorous data, the report clearly indicated that global conditions were not in place to bring the rate of extreme poverty below 3% by 2030. The most alarming case in point was Africa, where even in the most optimistic scenarios, the poverty rate would continue to be in double digits. The report was like having a pitcher of cold water upended on me.
But it was not the first time Jim Yong Kim had jolted me. A few years earlier in 2015, in Lima, Peru, during a panel at the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, Jim Yong Kims projections caught my attention. In attendance were Peruvian President Ollanta Moises Humala Tasso; Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General; Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director; and Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development. For 90 minutes, they spoke eloquently about the type of partnerships that would be needed to make Agenda 2030 a reality; the international cooperation that would be deployed; the necessary financing mechanisms and formulas; and the creativity and citizen action required.
Gathered in this august venue, the guardians of the global architecture responsible for eradicating poverty spoke convincingly and articulately about the world of tomorrow. Collectively, they concluded that by 2030, we would end up, to quote Oscar Wilde, in a country called Utopia. The Road to Lima was a party.
Barely three years later, as 2018 dawned, the same global architecture presented us with a new story: the end of Utopia. In December 2019, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched its Human Development Report, "Beyond Income, Beyond Averages, Beyond the Present: Human Development Inequalities in the 21st Century". As with the World Bank, the conclusion was straightforward and clear: While humanity is progressing, something is just not working in our globalized society. A new generation of inequalities, beyond basic capabilities, is emerging and threatens to render people living in developing countries obsolete in the future.
Combining the alarming 2018 World Bank report with the no less alarming 2019 UNDP report, the picture is not one of optimism. Not only was the aspiration to eradicate poverty by 2030 not going to be met, but a new inequality gap was opening up.
These challenges had previously been the focus of the World Economic Forum Regional Strategy Group (WEF RSG), of which I had the privilege of being a member. One of the ideas behind the WEF RSG was simple and irrefutable: Africa must leapfrog into the Fourth Industrial Revolution or risk being left behind.
In 2019, as well as in previous years, several countries including my country, Equatorial Guinea made important policy decisions to define and prioritize national development aspirations, in alignment with the UN's Agenda 2030 and the African Union's Agenda 2063. Additionally, to take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we scaled up our investments in ICT and technology and in developing the capacity of our youth.
And then, COVID-19 arrived. In just a few short months the world has changed. When we return to normal, it will be a new normality and a brave new world.
COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries in Africa as of May 9, 2020.
Image: African Union
COVID-19 is an existential crisis. It is severely testing Africa's social, economic and political resilience. In a post-COVID-19 world, the continent's leaders will have to rethink many prior assumptions and find new balances for individual and collective behaviour.
What I am absolutely certain of is that opportunities will emerge. Innovative minds previously imprisoned by institutional inertia and interest groups will rise to the challenges that we collectively face.
What will the brave new world post COVID-19 look like in Africa? The African Development Bank estimates that Africa will lose between $35 and $100 billion due to the fall in raw material prices caused by the pandemic. The World Economic Forum estimates that global losses for the continent will be in the order of $275 billion. There is a real risk therefore that Africas inequality gap will worsen in the coming years.
Ever since the virus crossed the continent's borders, regular bilateral and multilateral consultations among African finance ministers have philosophically revolved around the need to rethink our multifaceted responses to COVID-19 and other future threats that have equal or greater potential for disruption.
Today, African States are developing strategic and in-depth approaches to human development, regional integration, digitalization, industrialization, economic diversification, fiscal and monetary policies, and international solidarity. In short, they are rethinking the causes of the continent's underdevelopment and coming up with feasible solutions. The outcomes will undoubtedly be good for Africa and for all humanity.
To better understand the scenarios before us, there are three sparks that could light a flame in the brave new world that is before us:
1. In 2001, African leaders pledged to invest around 15% of their budgets in health. By 2020, only five countries have fulfilled this promise. No one doubts today that the health sector in Africa will be strengthened by COVID-19. There are decisions that can no longer be postponed. In mid-March, a Togolese activist, Farida Nabourema, mocked African elites who used to go to Europe to have their ailments treated, saying: I would like to ask our African presidents who travel to Italy, Germany, France, the UK and other European countries for medical treatment, please, when are you leaving? On April 2, Bloomberg published an article entitled: Trapped by Coronavirus, Nigeria's Elite faces squalid hospital. Things are going to change.
2. The vast majority of African countries, after COVID-19, will have to put in place social protection systems to mitigate the suffering of the continent's most disadvantaged. Kenya and Equatorial Guinea offer excellent examples of countries that have regulated and put in place social protection systems that will survive and outlast our battle against this common enemy.
3. The continents poor pharmaceutical capacity has been a source of amazement to locals and foreigners alike. Bangladesh, a poorer country than many African countries, produces 97% of the national demand for medicines, in contrast to Africa which is almost 100% dependent on imports.
This last note has triggered another debate: the necessary industrialization of Africa, to transform and add value to the continent's vast and valuable raw materials. Many African countries have already been deprived access to COVID-19 essentials. Excessive global demand has relegated Africa to the back of the queue. This is an early warning and lesson for Africa.
A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.
Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forums mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect peoples livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.
As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.
But there is much reason for optimism. The African Union is in discussions with Madagascar over the artemisia annua tonic, a herbal remedy that Andry Rajoelina, President of Madagascar, presented to the world as Africas solution to COVID-19.
Our enthusiasm as Africans is rooted in a wounded self-esteem. For way too long, we have been victims of marginalization. The power to regain our dignity has too often been stripped away. Today, nestled in the souls of all Africans is a rational expectation, an unshakable faith that the most important resource that Africa needs in order to rise up is none other than Africans themselves.
No one will help us if we do not help ourselves. Africa is no longer asking to be taught how to fish. Africa is already going fishing and rowing towards the utopia enunciated in the UNs Sustainable Development Goals and the Africa Union's Agenda 2063. In spite of dire predictions and apocalyptic narratives, humanity always has a way of striving for a better future.
License and Republishing
Cesar Augusto Mba Abogo, Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning, Ministry of Finance, Economy and Planning of Equatorial Guinea
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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Posted: at 5:28 pm
MORGAN It might be a bit easier for the residents of Morgan to stay home now than it was a few weeks ago.
On April 27, UTOPIA Fiber completed its infrastructure in the city, giving the 4,500 citizens access to some of the fastest internet speeds in the nation.
UTOPIA Fiber started as a group of 11 local cities that joined together in 2004 to bring fiber internet to residences and businesses in their areas. The group lays down fiber optic cables, then leases the infrastructure to local internet service providers so residents can choose from a variety.
Were all excited about our new fiber connectivity, said Ray Little, Morgan's mayor. As Morgan City continues to grow, high-speed Internet is increasingly important for our residents and businesses.
Little has some stats to actually back up the excitement. About a third of Morgans households signed up for the service during the five-month period, leading to all bond payments of the $2.5 million project already being paid off. UTOPIA expects north of 60% of the city will eventually be using fiber.
The completion of the project comes at a time when the internet is needed the most. With most Utah business doors still shut due to the coronavirus pandemic, work has to be done primarily online. Thats made a quick and reliable connection not only a convenience but a near necessity.
UTOPIA chief marketing officer Kim McKinley said internet usage has surged during the pandemic as people have become more reliant on video conferences to conduct business.
It's been a crazy time to watch what's really happened, McKinley said. We're seeing about a spike of about 30% of bandwidth usage, and our peak hours have changed for residential usage.
In fact, there are now two peaks. The first comes from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., as employees finish up the workday. The second comes after 8 p.m. when streaming becomes popular.
With more time spent online, it makes sense for residents to be looking for a better connection. And, so, yes, UTOPIA has had some profitable months.
We just calculated our sales for the month of April and we are still seeing a staggering amount of customers coming on the network still, McKinley said. This would be our second-highest month in UTOPIAs history.
That comes from people getting fiber for the first time, but also existing users that have needed to upgrade to accommodate school work done, business being conducted, and entertainment being streamed all at once for the majority of the day.
Where some people might have been more price-conscious before, they now might be like, this is more of a necessity to me now, McKinley said. And so we've seen this huge uptick of sales. ... People used to think it was a luxury.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, it had been a busy year for UTOPIA. It finished a $23-million infrastructure build in Layton and began building the infrastructure in West Point as more cities have put their faith in fiber.
As a governmental agency, we don't have shareholders, we're a steward of the residents of Utah, McKinley said. So we go into whatever city comes to us, and we'll go talk to him and say can we make this work? We've done Woodland Hills, which only had 300 residents, and we built out that city.
The Morgan build is the latest in the line of smaller cities that UTOPIA has built fiber infrastructure in. Others include Perry, Tremonton and Payson.
We believe we're one of the ways forward for rural Utah to get connected to the 21st century, McKinley said. Its funny because I live in downtown Salt Lake and Morgan, Utah, has better connectivity than I have.
The rest is here:
Posted: at 5:28 pm
50 years ago Clarice Lispector already pointed out how difficult it was to unveil Brasilia: "the two architects did not think of building beautiful, it would be easy; they raised their amazement, and left the amazement unexplained". This year the capital turned 60, and still remains intriguing for scholars, students, and anyone who allows themselves to explore it better. In order to understand the daily life that exists there, we invited six professionals- in the field of architecture and urbanism - who live in the city, to share their visions with us and bring a few more layers that help to build an interpretation of utopia and reality that Braslia currently represents.
Below, we've compiled excerpts by Daniel Mangabeira, founding partner of Bloco Arquitetos, Gabriela Cascelli Farinasso and Luiza Dias Coelho, alumni of UnB and co-founders of the collective Arquitetas inVisveis (inVisible Architects), Maribel Aliaga Fuentes, professor and researcher at FAU-UnB , and Luiz Eduardo Sarmento, architect and urban planner at IPHAN and Senior Adviser at IAB-DF, all accompanied by photographs of the Brazilian capital by Joana Frana.
by Daniel Mangabeira - Bloco Arquitetos
Braslia and quarantine are antagonistic. This city was not invented for cloistered residents. Obviously no cities were designed for this, but the Plano Piloto de Braslia has particularities that make seclusion the antithesis of what it was meant to be. Lucio Costa's French-affiliated city was born to be free, open, and democratic utopia. The celebration of this imagined and real city, therefore, is essential in times of confinement.
The experimental plan cannot be an example to be followed, but what is celebrated here is precisely what is missing in many Brazilian cities: generous and democratic public spaces. Although many of these lawless green voids are not designed to be useful, they are essential for the well-being of their users. Brasilia, in this sense, has great potential to help Brazilians understand what is missing in their cities when everyone starts to leave their enclosures. Norma Evenson wrote an article in which she stated that "there is nothing in the design of Braslia that indicates a desire to harmonize man's works with those of nature". Despite agreeing with this statement and knowing that the cerrado is not present in its voids - which is a pity - nonetheless, the wide green spaces in our city need to boost the value of non-occupation in other cities. What is the importance of a park for health? Why have trees on the street? Why is seeing the horizon important in a city? What is the relevance of emptiness within an urban center? Simple questions can be easily answered by those who live here. Brazilian cities need a little more of Brasilia now more than ever.
The monumental axis presents the most celebrated works of the Plano Piloto, but it is the road axis, on the south and north wings, that best celebrate the great success of Lucio Costa. The city is full of bakeries, bars, corner stores, meetings, markets, churches, fruit shops, gym, florists, schools, and everything we need to live that is monumentally human. This is the city that must be celebrated!
The tribute to the city's 60th anniversary will take place on the superblocks and not on the terraces. It will occur in the utilitarian city, not in the representative one. It will happen where mankind feels protected, and not where he sees himself represented. It will occur for those who live and make their lives in the city and not for those who are passing through for four years. We are in quarantine, so there will be no celebration, but there will certainly be a just and necessary tribute to the one who originally was made to be an experiment, but became a standard. Braslia exists, it is beautiful, imperfect and I am grateful to live in it.
by Gabriela Cascelli Farinasso e Luiza Dias Coelho - Arquitetas inVisveis
Behind every great man is a great woman. A saying as common as it is ancient, has for years synthesized the relationship between architects-, and with Braslia, it would be no different. The process of creating the new Capital has forever cemented the names of Brazilian men as the history of architecture and urbanism. But beside them were women, who in the late 1950s were breaking barriers and writing part of a little-known story. Today, 60 years after its inauguration, it is time for Braslia to recognize the women who helped to build the city, as well as to learn about how women can contribute to the transformation of spaces with more security, accessibility, sustainability and that favor positive social interactions.
Braslia was the dream fueled by the desire to show that we could do something ahead of our time. It was this spirit that enabled the construction of the city in such a short time frame, and the creativity of the first architects and planners who lent a hand for the creation and development of projects for the construction of the new city. Even the competition in Brasilia played an important role in enabling female professional performance.
Despite the low representation, there were women participating in one of the main architecture and urbanism competitions in Brazilian history. Although the reality of the cerrado was so harsh, many women came to the capital with their families to work and study at the University of Braslia. The accomplishments of women there are well documented through membership lists from the Institute of Architects of Brazil - IAB, and lists of commemorative meetings, which indicate that around 30 architects were in the capital in the 1960s and 70s- the period of greatest momentum in local construction.
Among the women involved in the city's inception was Mayumi Watanabe Souza Lima. Mayumi was born in Tokyo, and became Brazilian in 1956. In the same year, she enrolled in the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of So Paulo, completing her degree in 1960. She came to Braslia in the early 1960s with Srgio Souza Lima, her partner and husband, living the collective dream of creating a new University where she developed a master's dissertation, titled "Aspects of Urban Housing", where she faced the challenge of transforming a theoretical discussion of housing into the construction of the city, which at the time was a becoming a design competition. The housing project is now realized in the blocks of the So Miguel Neighborhood Unit.
Her husband designed a series of public school projects for the country, and also was involved in the construction of some of them. In more than thirty years of work with educators, administrators of basic education, daycare centers, and children outside and inside institutions, he discussed and analyzed issues related to spaces for children in our society. Following this line of work, he published two books: Educational Spaces, use and construction (Braslia, MEC / CEDATE, 1986) and A Cidade ea Criana (So Paulo, Nobel, 1989).
Mayumi developed other interests based on his academic experience. She was a professor at the Faculties of Architecture and Urbanism at UnB, in Braslia, Santos, So Jos dos Campos and the So Carlos School of Engineering. It was affiliated with the Communist Party and had an important role in the discussion about the professional performance of architects from the criticism of the capitalist mode of production. He put his students in contact with the favelas in the first year of study, seeking to politicize the students, as he believed in architecture combined with social changes.
The curiosity that made us revisit the history of architecture in search of female names, presented us with Mayumi Souza Lima and the So Miguel Neighborhood Unit. She is an architect who inspires us with her professional career, personal engagement, and works that are built in the present day.
It took more than 50 years to recognize Mayumi's role in the design of this city, which is why we wish that on this particular anniversary, Brasilia shines a light on the women who helped shape this capital.
by Maribel Aliaga Fuentes - Professor at the Department of Design, Expression and Representation at FAU-UnB
Today I decided to venture into a new world outside the Superquadras circuit.Early in the morning I left the Setor Hoteleiro Sul near Parque da Cidade towards Eixinho, crossed the W3 and went down the internal street of the southern commercial sector towards the municipalities sector.I saw people, commerce and traders.Shoes, clothes, snack bars.People!The marquee of the buildings shaded the path.The streets, corridors of wind.I went down the gallery of the states and crossed the Eixo through an underground passage.To end the adventure as it should, I took a little zebra back to Asa Norte.It was such an urban experience, that for a brief moment I was happy.
by Luiz Eduardo Sarmento - architect and urban planner at IPHAN and Senior Adviser at IAB-DF.
"(...) I felt this movement, this intense life of the true Brasilians (...). This is all very different from what I had imagined for this urban center (...). Those Brazilians took care of it who built the city and are legitimately there. In fact, the dream was less than the reality ".-Lcio Costa
Braslia is perhaps one of the most exceptional cases of urban growth that we know of.
The capital city is the result of a national public competition, and was designed for approximately 500,000 people. Now, it is the third-largest metropolis in the country, according to IBGE data. Literally, the dream was less than reality, as Lcio Costa said, when he visited the platform of the Rodoviria do Plano Piloto in 1984.
Just as Costa did when visiting the city that was born from his ideologies, it is important that we take a more careful look at how the city operates today. Much is debated about the dreamed Brasilia, but we need to understand the but we still need to understand how the metropolis has grown over the years.
By understanding that Braslia today is much more than what Braslia was planned to be, we will be able to connect the city dwellers of today to those who came to build the capital city and realize the modernist dream many years ago.
Braslia's sixty-year history is very challenging because it is the Brazilian metropolis that emerged from a modernist nucleus, but it also currently presents significant problems that we need to face to provide the solutions that a city that was born under the aegis of demands for urban innovations.
The genetics of the modern city is present in the settlements that have emerged around the Plano Piloto, which underscores the contrast between the urban center and the clear urban sprawl, with a greater span than what is usually observed in other Brazilian metropolises. The evolution of the peripheries is a continuation of the road logic of the Plano Piloto, which is an aggravating factor in the Administrative Regions whose population has a lower income and that infrastructure consumes a considerable part of its resources. In informal settlements, it is common to have shacks whose structure is extremely precarious, but which reserves a space to house its main asset: a car.
The peculiarity of our urban fabric presents daily difficulties, such as transportation problems and the continuous expulsion of the poorest people to the edges of the metropolis, as well as symbolic, cultural, and social problems, such as the small interaction between the various social classes in the city center. Is it all Brasilia if everything is so far away?
One factor that explains this socio-spatial segregation is the distance between the center of Braslia and some administrative regions. Ceilndia, whose name comes from the Invasion Eradication Center, was a settlement promoted by the state to resettle the residents who lived in the camps in the Plano Piloto Region. About 50 years later, Ceilndia became home to old areas of agricultural production and the Sol Nascente community, which was once considered the largest slum in Latin America. Sol Nascente is an exemplary case of these distances, with the more than 30 km separating the Eixo Monumental do Plano and the community.
This enormous distance is so striking for the residents that it was mocked by the filmmaker Adirley Queirs in the film White Out, Black I, in which the population of Ceilndia needed to present a passport to enter into the urban zone of Braslia.
It is essential that the innovative and hopeful spirit that guided the New Capital project be summarized and pushed forward, especially with the adversity our nation currently faces.
We have a big responsibility to (re)design the future of the city's mobility and inequality problems that demand creative actions. Through this, Braslia can return as a standard of urban management, and become a city that can face its mobility problems, precarious housing, lack of urban infrastructure, and absence of afforestation and urban equipment. The challenges are great and our creative and execution capacity needs to be developed on the same scale.
If reality is bigger than a dream, we need to dream even bigger. It is our historical duty.
______ ALIAGA FUENTES, Maribel ; COELHO, Luza Dias; TABOSA, Mayara. Aspects of Urban Housing: A critical look from Mayumi Souza Lima to the construction of Braslia .. In: 9 PROJETAR, 2019, Curitiba. Anais 9 PROJETAR 2019. Curitiba, 2019. v. 2.
COSTA, Lcio.Ingredients of the Urban Conception of Braslia, 1995. In: XAVIER, Alberto;KATINSKY, Julio (Org.).Braslia: Critical Anthology.So Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2012. Chap. 5. p.144-146
Examining The Biggest Issue In NJ Sports Betting Law With Senator Lesniak – Reported By BonusSeeker – WFMZ Allentown
Posted: at 5:28 pm
LAS VEGAS, May 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --The following is an interview with Senator Lesniak, from BonusSeeker.com.
The entire sports landscape has been flipped on its head for an undetermined amount of time due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the United States and as a result, the pandemic's impact can be felt everywhere including the betting industry.
In the college basketball world, March Madness and the 2020 NCAA Tournament are no more, and flying away with them is the opportunity to shine a light on a seldom discussed issue with sports betting in New Jersey.
From the time it was signed into law in June 2018, legal sports betting in the Garden State has been a massive benefit for all parties. The huge population of fans gets the chance to wager on sports using regulated sites, the operators generate huge amounts of revenue, and in turn, plenty of tax dollars go to the state.
New Jersey features a wide range of sportsbooks to choose from, many with a seemingly never-ending catalog of betting markets that span a huge number of sports. All of this is why it has become the blueprint for every other state entering the market over the past year-and-a-half.
But there is one thing you won't find at any sportsbook in New Jersey: the ability to wager on collegiate teams located in the state.
This topic finally had a shot to come into full view with both of the state's prominent Division I athletic programs, Seton Hall and Rutgers, headed to the 2020 NCAA Tournament this year. The unfortunate cancelation of this year's event means the Garden State's only blemish when it comes to online sports betting wouldn't have the chance to reach the forefront of our collective consciousness unless somebody put it there.
Why Would This Matter During March Madness?
Under New Jersey law, sportsbooks aren't legally allowed to offer lines on college games that involve schools located inside the state. Collegiate events being played inside Garden State borders, even if none of the teams involved are from Jersey, are also off-limits.
The measure seemingly hasn't mattered much to this point, mainly serving as evidence of a legislative concession made before the original bill was passed in 2012. But the truth remains that the ban on local teams negatively impacts sports betting in New Jersey from both a financial and a customer-experience point of view.
Part of the reason why this precondition has been largely ignored is that there haven't been many high-quality athletic programs inside the state that bettors wanted to put their money on in any serious way.
As the 2019-20 season played out, that was no longer the case. Seton Hall earned a top-10 ranking this season for the first time in two decades while Rutgers was going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991. The Pirates and Scarlet Knights were each having huge seasons which included bids to the Big Dance and fans of both programs wanted to wager on their favorite teams during March Madness, but couldn't.
For a minute, let's imagine a utopia where the 2020 NCAA Tournament was still played as it was intended just a couple of weeks ago. As a result of the current law, New Jersey could be missing out on a chance to make even more in tax dollars, which can directly benefit people in the state via the government programs that this money goes toward.
If there is any flaw in the sports betting law in the Garden State, this is it.
Collegiate Sports Betting Ban Was Practical, Not Preferred
The current policy wasn't the original intention of New Jersey lawmakers but as former Senator Raymond Lesniak put it, "it was a matter of practicality that it turned out that way."
To understand how this compromise wound up in place, context is important. Luckily I had a chance to speak with Lesniak, who authored and introduced the pioneering bill that would not only bring sports betting to his state, but play a huge role in the fight that eventually led to the federal repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018.
Lesniak's book, Beating The Odds: The Epic Battle That Brought Legal Sports Betting Across America, chronicles in great detail the years-long fight against the hypocrisy of both the federal government and professional sports leagues. Lesniak will enter the Sports Betting Hall of Fame this year to cement a well-earned legacy as someone who helped regulate the industry and laid the groundwork for it to flourish as it is today.
For now, let's go back to 2011. After drafting his legislation, Lesniak's top priority was making sure that regulated sports betting in New Jerseycould make its way into law while opponents such as basketball Hall of Famer and former Senator Bill Bradley were actively trying to derail its passage.
"It was a political choice I made to make sure that we got the referendum through the legislature and passed by the voters," Lesniak explained to Brian Sausa of BonusSeeker. "We weren't clear that we would be able to get the votes in the legislature to put the referendum on the ballot."
In order to quiet the noise and avoid the type of blowback that could kill the legislation, Lesniak decided losing a battle was worth winning the war. As it turns out, throwing Bradley (who led the charge to pass PASPA in the first place) and other opponents a bone in order to make sure the bill reached the voters was the right move.
Lesniak's legislative efforts led directly to the passing of the Sports Wagering Act on two separate occasions (2012 and 2014), the latter of which granted casinos and racetracks the right to offer sports betting without licensing and regulation from the state.
In the wake of the repeal of PASPA (which had been in place since 1992) in June 2018, the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey has brought exactly the type of financial windfall that Lesniak expected it would several years before it came to fruition.
The first full year of regulated betting in New Jersey was 2019 and it saw the state take in over $4.5 billion in wagers, which produced around $300 million in revenue. After inserting a 9.75 percent tax rate for in-person bets and a 13 percent rate for mobile wagers, that means that over $36 million went right to state and local governments in taxes.
Once you lay out the numbers from all the sports combined, it's easy to see why Lesniak and other sports betting proponents were ultimately fine with acquiescing to cut this tiny group of New Jersey teams from the equation.
But just because this was an understandable deal to make doesn't mean that even Lesniak believes everything about the way betting laws are written in New Jersey is perfect.
Former NJ Senator: Betting Doesn't Hurt Integrity Of Sports
Those against the passage of sports betting legislation cited integrity as a concern and wanted contests featuring in-state teams left off the board entirely. The weather on the moral high ground might be nice but this is not the hill to die on, metaphorically speaking.
On the surface it seems like a legitimate worry, especially considering the point-shaving scandals that have marred the image of the NCAA for decades since the 1950s. But in reality, the argument holds little water. And if you don't believe me, take it from the man who wrote the bill.
"I would have preferred to have included college sports teams [in New Jersey]," Senator Lesniak admitted. "I don't believe it's a threat to the integrity of the sport, that's why I sponsored it in the first place."
What Lesniak and others fought for is completely lawful betting regulated by the state government. Previous attempts to compromise the integrity of college athletics were largely undertaken by organized crime syndicates gaining access to players as part of an unregulated underworld of illegal activity. The two really aren't comparable, though Bradley may disagree.
To be very fair, it wasn't only one person clinging to this perspective, as Lesniak had other opposition to worry about as well. "We thought it would be a focal point for the NFL and the NCAA to wage a campaign against it," the Senator said in reference to allowing wagering on New Jersey schools.
If you're wondering just how bad the threat posed to NCAA athletics by sports betting is, let us help you. There is so little credence given to the integrity argument that after operations in New Jersey launched, almost every other state passed sports betting legislation while allowing wagers on in-state collegiate teams.
So when push comes to shove, integrity never was and still isn't an issue when it comes to regulated gaming. Unfortunately, Lesniak doesn't see a scenario in which this law is amended to include wagering on programs that play in New Jersey.
"I do not believe we're going to move to change it because it would isolate that issue before the voters and I think it's a tough issue to argue isolated from the rest. So we're going to let Pennsylvania get the benefit of betting on Rutgers to win the Big Ten Tournament,"quipped Lesniak, a Rutgers graduate and longtime supporter prior to March Madness being shut down.
Would NJ Have Missed Out On Sports Betting Revenue During March Madness?
We know that comparatively, the money made from just a few local schools would be a drop in the bucket next to the full-on tsunami of dollars rolling in from all of the other betting options that are offered in the state. With that said, the fact remains New Jersey would still be leaving money on the table.
So yes, it would have missed out on revenue even though March Madness is a cash cow as-is, it's just a question of whether or not it would have been enough for anyone to notice.
One question worth asking might be: with part of sports betting tax money going toward social services, education, and other government programs, is there really any amount of money too insignificant?
Perhaps 30 regular-season games plus conference tournaments aren't enough to turn any heads. But what if Rutgers, a team which excelled in the country's best conference, made it deep into the NCAA Tournament this year?
What if Seton Hall, a likely top-three seed capable of a run to the Final Four, had made it all the way to Atlanta? Suddenly, it would have been a much larger faction of the betting population that is turned away as opposed to just fans of those two programs.
Perhaps what nobody wants to say out loud is that there simply isn't enough of a financial impact made by the inclusion of just a few schools, even if the majority of their fans are residents of the state.
There isn't really a way to quantify the amount necessary to ignite the questions needed to amend the law but one can't help but feel as though if there was enough money to be made off allowing bettors to wager on New Jersey teams, the powers that be may start to see things differently.
We should also remember that since its foray into the gaming world, no arena in New Jersey has been chosen as a host site for any NCAA Tournament games, another thing that could also produce a significant amount of money for the state.
With an amendment to the law, however, the Garden State could have its cake and eat it too. It could host a series of March Madness events to a sold-out arena while making those games available for betting, both of which the state and its resident sports fans would benefit from.
How About Improving Customer Experience In New Jersey?
While the industry is currently in a standstill, betting in the Garden State has been unmistakably prosperous. And quite simply, the only reason New Jersey has experienced such a financial boon in such a short time is because of the bettors.
If people didn't download the app to wager or show up to the window at one of the state's casinos, there would be no revenue or taxes to be collected. Feels like a pretty simple concept, no?
Even though there are tons of betting options, college sports are hugely popular and the law doesn't do everything it can to help the experience of the people that essentially raised $36 million in new tax dollars in 2019. As one New Jersey resident and Seton Hall fan told us, some don't quite understand the game of geographical gymnastics that they've been forced into.
"I don't feel like I should have to drive an hour, or 90 minutes, or two hours to place a bet when I only live a couple miles from the arena where they play all the games," Brian Flynn explained. "So I don't really get why it's like this, why wouldn't you want people to bet more?" he asked.
It's a great question. The word 'fan' is short for fanatic, so it makes sense that people love to wager on the teams they root for. It's part of human nature to feel like your favorite school is going to win and for many casual bettors, wagering on your own team enhances the game-watching experience. And when a fan's team is achieving success, many fans will continue betting on that team regularly.
But without the option, New Jersey is watching other states walk off with money from its residents, just as offshore sportsbooks were doing not so long ago.
Is It Time To Consider Amending Sports Betting Law?
As a frequent sports bettor who places his wagers legally in New Jersey, the prohibition on local teams is something that has never sat well with me.
So when I spotted a high-ranking official from the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement leaving the 2019 Sports Betting USA Conference in Manhattan, I opted to approach him and his colleague, another important DGE employee.
I lightheartedly remarked that the state may have to take a look at some of its rules if an in-state school like Seton Hall or Rutgers made a postseason run in basketball or football postseason due to the money that could potentially be made or lost.
Both men grinned and chuckled momentarily but didn't seem to make much of the thought, probably imagining the farfetched likelihood Rutgers' bottom-of-the-barrel football program going to the College Football Playoff. That remains unlikely, and it's not as though the Scarlet Knights or Seton Hall has been historically considered a basketball powerhouse of any kind, either.
A few short months later, however, and there's little to laugh about. This precondition was necessary at the time and sports betting in New Jersey may not exist without it, but now it's 2020 and New Jersey's teams were about to play a significant role in March Madness. So you'd have to excuse fans and bettors in the state for not getting the joke.
New Jersey would be missing out on opportunities to pull in more tax dollars while providing a service many residents desire because of an antiquated compromise that doesn't even protect the integrity of the sport. The entire exchange reminded me of an excerpt from Lesniak's book, where he references DGE director David Rebuck proclaiming his goal was to make New Jersey the top market for sports betting in the country.
The Garden State has gone a long way toward achieving this goal, passing incumbent Nevada in monthly handle and revenue in May 2019 for the first time, just a year after betting was launched. In fact, in the 13 months from June 2018 to September 2019, New Jersey pulled in nearly $9 million more than Nevada in tax revenue.
Things are indeed going very well as a whole, but wouldn't it be wise to tap all available resources and exhaust all revenue-generating options? Perhaps then, it would be just a little bit easier to attain the ultimate goal of staying on the industry mountain top.
Once things make dollars, they seem to make sense, and this has been the case with sports betting all along. For the very first time, it's possible that allowing betting on collegiate teams and sporting events in the state could help generate revenue for New Jersey. And it's time everyone starts paying attention.
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Posted: at 5:28 pm
Foyles will be nationalised, handed over to staff to own collectively and run cooperatively.
Every publishing house will have a recognised Trade Union for all workers.
Anyone in publishing who references Harry Potter will be fired, this will be accepted by the Union.
Editors who do not do any editing will be moved to Sales and Marketing.
Editors will spend 70% of their week consuming culture that is in no way related to books.
Editors will not have to pretend they have read the Classics.
Editors Whatsapp groups will be leaked regularly.
90% of publishing will take place outside of Zone One.
Only 3% of publishers will be privately educated until private schools are completely abolished.
#ClapForBooksellers every Friday until the netbook agreement returns.
Tote bags will no longer exist, they will be replaced by A0 posters.
All existing tote bags will be requisitioned and used as bags for life at the Turkish Food Centre.
No book will cost more than 10.
A book shall not be celebrated for its size unless it is very small.
Small presses will not be patronisingly labelled brave. All publishing will be courageous.
Working class women from marginalised communities will hold editorial positions at all publishing imprints or houses.
English will become a minority influence in world publishing.
Translation will account for 40% of UK Publishing.
Prizes will not be awarded to books that do not need the publicity.
Prizes will be judged by readers who have nothing to do with the publishing industry or the media.
Prizes will be judged with a person to surname ratio of 3:4. So only one double-barrelled human per four judges.
Prizes will not be shared. The definition of the word competition will be respected. If you have a competition, you will keep it a competition. Otherwise, do not have a competition.
Prizes will not exist.
Publishing will be quicker and more responsive.
Publishing will be slow, deliberate and more thoughtful.
Working-class black men will be published more than once a year by more than one or two presses, and sold in more than one or two bookshops.
All publishing will fight fascism.
Publishing will not be Sensible; Sensible will not be published.
Publishers will aim to ferment revolution at all times as possible, in all areas possible, if possible.
Publishing will no longer be part of the Spectacle, support the Spectacle, or ignore the Spectacle.
Free spectacles will be available to all readers of books over 450 pages.
The profits from cookery book bestsellers will be split evenly across the 40 smallest presses in the country.
Books over 10 years old that are still in print will be added to the public domain.
New books published must be meaningful and do one or more of the following:
Pamphlets will return to everyday reading life and will be considered alternatives to newsprint media.
Books will prioritise ideas over form.
No one will have to pretend Literary Fiction is a genre.
Autofiction will auto-destruct after reading.
Airport novels will disappear along with airports and airport bookshops.
Not only books by dead black writers will make it onto the recommended reading tables in bookshops, alive ones will be prominent too.
The British Library will take its archive on tour in restored Led Zeppelin tour buses.
Books will be published to encourage and facilitate class war.
Books will be published to combat Received Opinion, not reinforce it.
Books will imagine new futures not hide in false pasts.
Books will not be put on pedestals, Books will be considered everyday objects that everyday people possess.
The text will be the only thing that matters because equal representation will be the foundational structure of publishing.
The Author with no experience of it, and physically able, will do manual labour between books.
The Author will engage with life outside of literature until the Author no longer believes literature to be necessary.
The Author will know they are important but act as if they are irrelevant.
The Author will have the name of their private school listed in their Twitter bio and is required to wear its insignia at literary events.
The Author complaining on Twitter about how hard writing is will not get a book deal.
The Author self-memeing quotes from their work on Instagram will not get a book deal.
The Author will not be on Social Media for the protection of The Authors mental health and ability to produce genuine thought.
The white Author will shoulder the burden of discussing representation equally and will be asked about it frequently in interviews.
The Author will only communicate with the reader.
The Author will not be put on pedestals, The Author will be considered an everyday person with everyday thoughts.
The Author will admit that all experiments have already occurred and nothing they write is new. Experiments with form will not be labelled experimental as they are finished pieces of work, not experiments.
The Author will not believe the hype.
The Author will believe in their reader
The Author who lives off their spouses vast wealth will have Spouse Funded England printed on the back of their books.
The Author will be paid fairly.
The Author will be under no illusion that being a writer is a viable career option.
The author will drop the uppercase.
The author will be killed once again, so that the text may live.
Kit Caless is co-founder of Influx Press. He is also the author of out-of-print 2016 Christmas stocking classic, Spoons Carpets: An Appreciation. This article first appeared on Minor Literatures.
Posted: at 5:28 pm
SAN ANTONIO Bexar County was under a Flood Advisory until 8 a.m. Thursday.
The County has updated its website with the latest information on road closures here.
There is also a CPS Energy outage map available. As of 5:53 a.m., there were 32 active outages in the area affecting 6,351 customers. At 6:10 a.m., that number decreased to 5,832. At 6:52 a.m., the outage map said 3,426 customers were affected. By 8 a.m., the number was updated to 2,646 customers.
Some locations that the National Weather Service says may have experience flooding include: Hondo, Castroville, Lytle, Sabinal, Lacoste, D`Hanis, New Fountain, Quihi, Hill Country State Natural Area, Dunlay, Bader, Mico, Rio Medina, Lakehills, Noonan, Utopia, Pearson, Cliff, Knippa and Government Canyon State Natural Area.
Additional rainfall of one to two inches was expected over the area. This additional rain may have resulted in minor flooding.
Don't put the umbrella away just yet. More waves of rain expected this weekend! Localized flooding will be a concern Friday into Saturday. It will not rain all day Friday and Saturday.
Some communities could receive up to 5" of rain through next Wednesday.
Don't forget you can download the KENS 5 app for the latest news and weather information each day while you are on the go.
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Posted: at 5:28 pm
The Argentinean J. Posadas -his real name was Homero Cristalli, "Posadas" was more like the collective entity to which he gave life- has been a very well known character in the memesphere since 2010, when all kinds of memes began to circulate around his most picturesque ideas about the communist utopia, especially in connection with UFOs.TheArgentinean not only believed in them, but was also convinced that they wereproof that there were civilizations more advanced than ours in the outer space. Of course, of a socialist nature. Revolutionary aliens.
However, for A. M Gittlitz, author of I Want to Believe: Posadism, UFOs and Apocalypse Communism, beyond the delirious prophecies of the leader of a movement that the Trotskyists themselves considered a madman, Posadas' life and ideas not only refer us to the most tragic history of socialism in Latin America, but are more timely than ever in a period like ours, where uncertainty has given rise to all sorts of conspiracies and wild catastrophism.
After learning about their history, perhaps they would like, as I do, for Netflix to produce a documentary about their delirious utopia that is still alive on the Internet.
This is how the crazy history of the galaxies through a socialist lens begins.
J. Posadas is often taken as a sinister ascetic. Before becoming a political activist, he wanted to be a footballer, but before that he was just a poor, orphaned boy with nine siblings who lived through malnutrition and begging in Argentina. For this reason, saidGittlitz, he was left with the idea that one had to be austere to fight capitalism.
So much so, that after joining the Socialist Workers' Party's Trotskyist branch, some of his comrades began to consider him a maniac. Especially because as he moved up the ranks in the party, his unique routines took over. Among themwas the idea that non-reproductive sex had no place in the socialist struggle and that sexual desire would vanish, as would jokes, after the revolution because of technology.
The Argentinean's essay on Marxist UFOs, "Flying Saucers", was published in 1968 in Spanish and in 2012 in English.
But among all the crazy theories he is credited with, there was one that was not his own, but Dante Minazzoli's - the other half of that entity called "Posadas" and the main believer in life on other planets. With Minazzoli, Homer Cristalli founded a small Trotskyist circle in Argentina in the 1940s -the time of the Roswell incident and when many UFO sightings were reported in the country. Together, they began to address the extraterrestrial hypothesis. Two decades later, when the Trotskyists denied him leadership of the Fourth International, Posadas lit a fuse for his revolutionary morality and wrote his now-famous essay on intergalactic communism -a socialist utopia in the stars that was coming to Earth.The UFOs were his proof.
The Latin American tinderbox
Although the Argentine Posadistas played a relevant role in the Cuban Revolution, they did so more as supporters of Che than of Fidel, who, especially after the Bay of Pigs invasion, severely rebuked the Trotskyists. The latter did not agree with Cuba's radical posture towards the United States -the USSR was in favor of "peaceful coexistence."In fact, if Posadas and Che agreed on anything, it was that nuclear war could be "a necessary disease" to destroy capitalism and start their new communist utopia.
"[The Posadistas] saw his conception of the foco guerrilla cell as a third-world variant of the Soviet workers council. Posadas experimented with this idea in Guatemala, where he became the ideological figurehead of the MR-13 rebels, pushing them to form armed revolutionary peasant councils," saidA. M Gittlitz.
He added: "When Guevara resigned from the government and disappeared, the Posadists wrote that Castro, under pressure from the Soviets, had killed him," but his body was found a year later in Bolivia and Posadas called it a "forgery."
From Sect to Meme
Things began to take an even more messianic and sectarian turn in the 1970s. J. Posadas had to go into exile in Rome to escapeUruguayan repression and it was during this exile that his utopia was forged in a real way. His followers -most of them, the author points out, had not even read Marx- became acolytes and J. Posadas' texts turned into apocalyptic revelations that spoke about the advent of a new society in which even the dolphins would have a leading role.
While the Fourth Posadist International once had more than 15 member parties around the world, now there are only a few supporters left and only one political party inthe Revolutionary Workers Party of Uruguay.
" One way to read the Posadist memes, in the absence of a potential world war between communism and capitalism, is that 'we're screwed, give up nuclear weapons, get it over with."
Most socialists will say of Posadas that it was a joke, an absolute ridicule, if not a puppet show from the past. But his shadow is cast from that distant Roman exile, where he died in 1981, onto the Internet.
About ten years ago, memes began circulating on the net with his ideas about the longed-for nuclear catastrophe that would destroy capitalism or his eccentric idyll with the dolphins.His essay on the Trotskyist UFOs was even translated into English in 2012. A phenomenon that has produced, according to Gittlitz, that Posadas' character rivals in popularity that of Trotsky himself in Google searches. But why?
"For decades, Posadas was like a funhouse mirror at which sectarian leftists would laugh at their own distorted image. The humor around Posadas today is totally different. The people who are into the memes arent mocking a strange sect of Trotskyism, or Trotskyism in general, or Leninism in general, but the entirety of the failed revolutionary socialist tradition, " concludedGittlitz, who had set out to write a trilogy on illuminati sects with Posada as the background.
"One way of reading the Posadist memes, in the absence of a potential world war between communism and capitalism, is that 'we're screwed, put down your nuclear weapons, get it over with," he wrote.
Posted: at 5:28 pm
If anyone had a dividend on the overuse of the term exit strategy they would surely be cashing in by this point but thankfully conversations are now shifting towards the new place we are entering and to building back better.
A turning point was on March 23 when Nicola Sturgeon announced her lockdown exit plans and talked about a new normal.
Today, along with third sector pioneers in Dundee, I will meet the deputy governor of the Bank of England to turn our attention to life after lockdown.
As an optimist, I am attracted to the language of possibility; the potential to do things better and the belief that our collective tomorrow can be brighter.
Despite the current potential for mental deterioration due to our national isolation, author Matt Haig last week wrote: Can we stop pretending our former world of long working hours, stressful commutes, hectic crowds, infinite choice, mass consumerism and 24/7 everything was a mental health utopia?
So, what might this new normal be?
In these difficult times, one positive thing has been the re-emergence of the emphasis on the family and our elderly.
To date, the Western Isles in the north-west corner of Scotland is the only area to have gone four weeks without any new cases and no deaths due to Covid-19.
While the virus has raged through care homes, the people of Harris and Lewis are often known for taking elderly family members in and caring for them in their old age.
They remind us there is another way of doing things.
Another interesting aspect of life is home-schooling.
While the initial parental buzz quickly wore off, one man told me last week he is enjoying saving 500 per month in nursery fees.
For families with more than one child and fewer devices, however, access to online resources has made education a luxury for some and prioritises the digitally-literate.
On the other hand, it has given my wife a qualified teacher the opportunity to give focused attention to areas in the education of my own children.
Last week, my family were moved by the news my young sister-in-law a nurse in Glasgow had contracted Covid-19 having been required to share personal protective equipment with other nurses, all of whom also contracted the virus.
Despite living less than a mile from the testing centre at Glasgow Airport, it was fully booked.
She had to embark on a four-hour trip to the testing centre in Edinburgh.
I hope our new normal rediscovers the vital social fabric of the family.
I hope it enables parents to maintain an input in the education of our children.
And, crucially, I deeply hope we start to adequately value beyond weekly applause our lowest-paid NHS staff by offering a meaningful pay rise and adequate protection to deliver the service they do in a way that preserves their welfare.
We can, and must, do better.
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Posted: at 5:28 pm
David Tyack was professor of education and history in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University between 1969-2000. He died in 2016. Author of scores of books and articles, his One Best System (1974) has become a classic history of urban schooling. He and Larry Cuban wrote Tinkering toward Utopia (1995). This commentary appeared in Education Week June 23, 1999.
At a time when a pandemic has upended daily life including the closing of nearly all schools since mid-March 2020, school reform talk has accelerated to hyper-drive for altering existing practices and upending traditional ways of schooling well beyond health and safety measures. I thought that Tyacks points in this commentary made over two decades ago, might be useful to consider during this momentous crisis.
The word conservationist has an honorable ring when citizens struggle to preserve wild nature or fine old buildings. When people work to preserve what is good in education, however, they are often dismissed as traditionalists or stand-patters. When real estate developers propose paving over wetlands, environmental activists protest. But when educational innovators want to transform educational practice, few ask what might be lost in the process. Government requires environmental-impact statements for construction projects, but not student- and teacher-impact reports for educational reforms. Who will be there to defend endangered species of good schools, or good educational programs, from the relentless, if zig-zag, march of educational progress?
Believers in progress through educational reform often want to reinvent schooling. The dead hand of the past has created problems for rational planners to solve in the future. Inspired by the progress syndrome, innovators often exaggerate defects to motivate by alarm, try to wipe the educational slate clean, and then propose a short time frame for their favorite projects, hoping to see results before the next election or job opportunity or grant proposal.
The word progress pops up everywhere, even in the rhetoric of conservatives who want to blame schools for economic problems. During the Reagan administration, the official American report on education for UNESCO was called Progress of Education in the United States, while the major tool for measuring achievement bears the name of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The ideology of progress through change obscures what a conservationist strategy illuminates: It is at least as important to conserve the good as to invent the new. It is easy to become so obsessed with what is not workingthe cacophony of bad schoolsthat one forgets what makes many schools sing. Good schools are hard to create and nurture, for they require healthy relationships of trust, challenge, and respect, qualities that take time to grow. When teachers, students, parents, and administrators create such learning communities, a conservationist strategy seeks to preserve what makes them work, to sabotage ignorant efforts to fix what aint broke, and to share knowledge about how to grow more such places.
As Ive talked with diverse people across the country, Ive asked them what was their most positive experience in school. They may have forgotten whatever fad was sweeping education or the teenage culture, but they remembered key relationships, especially with teachers. They spoke, often with great warmth, about teachers who challenged them to use their minds to the full, who kindled enthusiasm for a subject, who honed their skills on the playing field with relentless goodwill, who were there to support them in times of stress or sadness, and who knew and cared for them as individuals.
When teachers were asked what were their greatest satisfactions in their own work, almost nine in 10 said helping students to learn and grow as social beings. Its a sign of a school worth conserving when the best memories of its former students and the best rewards of its teachers are well-aligned. Such schools have grown not just in favored and prosperous places, but also in economically deprived but culturally strong communities, as Vanessa Siddle-Walker has shown in her studies of Southern black schools.
Conservationist does not simply mean conservative (though it can mean that). Conservationists in education would probably span as wide a political spectrum as those in the ecology movement, who range from radical members of Greenpeace to genteel Republicans active in the Audubon Society. Conservationism is an attitude, a habit of mind, not a political orthodoxy. It analyzes as well as advocates. It seeks to moderate the pendulum swings of policy that decree that schools should be larger (or smaller), that more (or fewer) courses should be elective, or that governance should be more (or less) centralized.
Many different sorts of people could take part in preserving what they find valuable in education. Intrinsic in the work of school board members, for example, is the duty to be trustees of the past as well as planners of the future. Teachers, parents, students, and administrators know first-hand what works in their schools and what they believe should be preserved, though endangered from time to time by fiscal retrenchment or a change in policy climate.
The conservationist cannot look only backwards, for preservation involves planning for the future as well. The work of the educational conservationist, like that of the defender of wild animals, is a challenging one. It takes resources and smarts and political savvy to preserve Mongolian Gazelles or good schools.
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Posted: at 5:28 pm
Con base en lo logrado buscaremos emprender una transformacin pacfica y ordenada, s, pero no por ello menos profunda que la Independencia, la Reforma y la Revolucin; no hemos hecho todo este esfuerzo para meros cambios cosmticos, por encimita, y mucho menos para quedarnos con ms de lo mismo" -Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador. June 28th, 2018
In his closing speech during the 2018 Mexican presidential election, when his victory was all but certain, Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador (known by his initials as AMLO) promised that his government would embark on the Fourth Transformation of Mexico. The previous three arguably being the War of Independence from Spain (1810-1821), the conservative-liberal civil War of Reform (1857-1861), and the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). Almost two years have passed since then, and the Fourth Transformation moniker has proved to be partially fitting but for the wrong reasons. As president, AMLO has shown less interest in governing the country than in transforming it. These are not one and the same thing. If the goal of governing is to respond to social demands, the goal of transforming is to find a place in history.
Politicians actively engaged in governing their countries must contend with the most basic of economic principles: that we live in a world of scarcity. This means they need to balance their populist electoral promises with limited budgetary resources. One way to do this is by prioritizing social demands according to their level of urgency and electoral profitability. AMLO is no exception in this regard. In his first eighteen months in office he has already reallocated vast amounts of public monies to infrastructure projects a new oil refinery in his home state of Tabasco and welfare programs to benefit and expand his political clientele for example Jvenes Construyendo el Futuro, a conditional cash transfer program for unemployed youth. What sets AMLO apart from other politicians is that his infrastructure and welfare projects are not to be seen simply for what they are: limited government responses to social demands. Instead, they ought to be interpreted as signs that his Fourth Transformation is moving forward.
Transforming a country is a more benign task for politicians than governing because it releases them from the iron law of scarcity. In time of transformation, politicians put themselves in a time and place where everything needs to be redone and thus resources suddenly abound. This brings to mind Chiles slogan during its recovery in the aftermath of the 1960 Valdivia earthquake: Because we have nothing, we will do everything. Mexico at the moment is also reeling from an earthquake, of the electoral kind. In 2018 the party system in place since 1991 collapsed, sending shockwaves across the nation. Keenly aware of this situation, AMLO is sparing no expense to establish a new political order: during his first year in office he spent half the government savings accumulated over the past 20 years in the Fondo de Estabilizacin de los Ingresos Presupuestarios.
Because AMLO is concerned with transforming the country rather than governing it, some of his policy decisions may seem bizarre from afar. Take for example the cancellation in 2018 of the new and partially built Mexico City Texcoco International Airport. Commonly referred to in the press simply as Texcoco, this was at the time the largest infrastructure project in Latin America, and the signature project of former president Enrique Pea Nieto (2012-2018). Notwithstanding the public support for completing the project, AMLO decided to cancel the whole thing one month before taking office based on a dubious referendum in which less than one percent of the electorate participated. By doing so, his incoming government assumed all investment losses and took on a massive debt that uses airport taxes as collateral to pay it down. For the next 20 years, travellers coming and going into Mexico City will pay for an airport that will never be completed. It is now commonly accepted that this decision derailed the economic prospects of AMLOs government by bringing investors confidence in the country to historic lows.
Financially catastrophic as it was, AMLO has pitched the cancellation of Texcoco as palpable proof that the transformation of the country is underway. An epic victory against his nemeses: neoliberalism and corruption. Perhaps epic, but given the massive scale and cost of Texcoco, also pyrrhic and quixotic. But then again, in time of transformation what matters is the here and now, and to make things different regardless of the outcome. Together we will make history was AMLOs campaign slogan, and he is delivering. In his Fourth Transformation, different is good and signals history in the making.
The transformation that AMLO is selling is an utopia: a place never to be found but which is worth fighting for. In so doing we find redemption. Like their more senior relative, Revolutions, transformations are open-ended processes that can go on indefinitely, bringing us closer and closer to a new society that neither we nor our children will ever see. Many are eagerly taking part in it, others simply jumped on the bandwagon. However, sooner or later scarcity will show its head again. Time is ticking for the Fourth Transformation. To buy himself more time, AMLO is pushing for an mid-term on his presidency in the hopes of keeping alive the momentum of his 2018 electoral victory. Regardless, eventually the country will wake up to some shocking news: the transformation that AMLO promised is marching victorious, and what better proof of this than the trail of destruction it left behind, and the ruin of the nations infrastructure and finances.
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