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Teacher shortages in pandemic threaten in-person schooling

Indeed, recent data from the Household Pulse Survey, an experimental effort by the US Census Bureau to measure Americans’ experiences during the pandemic, suggests that declining teacher availability – in person and online – may disproportionately affect low-income students.

In the two weeks leading up to the December vacation, for example, 6.3 million respondents said children in their household had had no direct contact with their teachers in the previous week. The impact was greatest in households earning $ 25,000 or less, the lowest income bracket, where nearly 1.4 million respondents said there was no contact; less than 300,000 respondents in the highest income bracket, households earning $ 200,000 or more, said the same thing.

As teacher availability decreases, many schools are looking for additional instructors for in-person and virtual teaching positions. Kelly Education, an employment agency that provides temporary staff to school districts, said demand for long-term substitutes, who could take over classes for a teacher who is absent for weeks or a semester, has increased 34% this school year.

To encourage newcomers to try teaching during the pandemic, some districts are raising salaries or lowering the bar on entry by eliminating college course requirements for replacements. Public schools in Gwinnett County, Georgia – one of the largest districts in the country, with about 178,000 students – have tried both approaches. The district is grappling with a drop of more than 1,000 substitutes, a decrease of 30%.

After increasing the salary of short-term substitute teachers by $ 5, to $ 98 per day, proved insufficient to recruit enough substitute teachers, the district lowered the education requirements for substitute teachers in December . Rather than needing 60 college credits, substitutes can now teach with a high school diploma. Monica Batiste, the district’s associate superintendent for human resources, said the rule change allowed the district to hire first and second-year students majoring in education.

Even so, the district’s efforts fell short of the pandemic. With 460 teachers stranded at home in January due to possible coronavirus exposures, the district has temporarily switched to distance learning starting this week.

In a pandemic that has already derailed the education of millions of schoolchildren, lowering the bar of surrogates can be a difficult exercise. In Nevada, education experts have been torn after Gov. Steve Sisolak issued pandemic regulations allowing large urban districts to hire emergency substitute teachers with only high school diplomas – an option previously available only for small rural districts.

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US rushes to declare Houthi terrorists threaten to stop aid to Yemen

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s rush to declare the Houthi rebels in Yemen a terrorist organization leaves aid workers and commercial importers vulnerable to criminal sanctions, officials said on Monday at the risk of future shipments of food, supplies medical and other forms of assistance to the impoverished country.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who announced the terrorism designation Sunday evening, said officials “plan to put in place measures” to ensure continued aid.

But that did not reassure a number of lawmakers, diplomats and aid groups who accused the administration of rushing to publish the policy before President Trump steps down next week, and said clear legal protections should have been adopted alongside the designation of terrorism to prevent another obstacle to helping one of the world’s poorest states.

The terrorism designation “makes it more difficult to provide life-saving assistance in a country already experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” said Representative Gregory W. Meeks, a Democrat from New York who is chairman of the Committee on Human Rights. Foreign Affairs of the House.

“People will suffer and die, and these deaths are completely preventable,” Meeks said.

The terrorism designation, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Sunday night and takes effect January 19, imposes new travel and economic sanctions on Houthi rebels who overthrew the Yemeni government six years ago and are waging war against Saudi Arabia since 2015.

Much of it aims to hamper Iran, the main benefactor of the Houthis, by discouraging the weapons, supplies and other support that Tehran has sent to the rebel movement as part of a proxy war in the Middle East.

Mr. Pompeo said the action was aimed “at advancing efforts to achieve a peaceful, sovereign and united Yemen, both free from Iranian interference and at peace with its neighbors.”

He also noted that the designation would limit aid to desperate Yemenis, but said if the Houthis “don’t behave like a terrorist organization, we won’t designate them.”

This did little to reassure aid workers and other commercial importers who asked for clarification on seemingly conflicting standards of accountability.

“It’s hard to imagine that in the final days of the Trump administration, lightning is going to strike them and they will suddenly realize how these designations must not wreak havoc on civilians in Yemen,” said Scott Paul , Head of Humanitarian Policy for Oxfam America. “We can’t count on that.”

Congressional aides expressed similar concerns after being briefed on Monday by officials from the State Department and the US Agency for International Development.

The Houthis, who call themselves Ansar Allah, or followers of God, are the de facto government in part of the territory where the majority of Yemen’s population lives, including the capital, Sana, and the greater port of the country.

Saudi Arabia and a number of Arab allies, which pushed for the designation of terrorism, failed to restore the internationally recognized government as the war in Yemen descended into a quagmire, giving rise to what United Nations officials have called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Millions of Yemenis depend on government institutions controlled by the Houthis for basic commodities. Ships bringing in food must pay postage at a Houthi-controlled port, and Western charities support teachers and healthcare workers who work for Houthi-controlled administrations, which they support the group. or not.

Mr Pompeo referred to the December 30 attack on the civilian airport in the Yemeni city of Aden, killing 27 people, as evidence of the Houthis’ terrorist capacity. No one has claimed responsibility for this attack, and both Al Qaeda and Islamic State are active in the region.

Many analysts believe the Houthis do not pose a direct threat to the United States and have expressed skepticism that the sanctions will pressure the Houthis to negotiate an end to the war. The United States has supported the Saudi effort in the war, which has killed thousands of civilians in Yemen.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a prominent member of the Houthi movement, on Monday scoffed at the designation which he said would result in “death and the spread of hunger.”

A spokesperson for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s new administration did not rule out rescinding the appointment after Mr. Trump left on January 20.

Even diplomats who claim that the Houthis do not qualify as a terrorist organization, and objected to this designation, recognize that “they are certainly an odious group,” said Gerald M. Feierstein, the ambassador to Yemen under the Obama administration.

“So how do you remove the FTO designation without suggesting that they sympathize with them or hold them blameless for the disaster in Yemen?” said Feierstein, who currently works at the Middle East Institute in Washington. “It won’t be easy.”

Lara jakes reported from Washington, and Ben hubbard from Beirut, Lebanon. Edward wong contribution to reports.

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Democrats threaten impeachment if Pence doesn’t act after Capitol siege

They admitted that the Senate conviction, which would require a two-thirds majority, including 17 Republican deserters, still had a long way to go. But some Democrats and Republicans have privately felt that impeachment has other benefits. If the Senate were to vote to convict, then it could bar Mr. Trump from re-assuming federal office, thereby eliminating any prospect of him running in 2024, a possibility some Republicans privately dread.

Among those pushing leaders towards the idea were some of the House’s more outspoken progressives, including Representatives Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and key moderates whose backers to last year’s impeachment was crucial.

“As a country, we need to demonstrate that this type of behavior is beyond the pale,” Michigan Representative Elissa Slotkin, a former national security official who represents a Red District, said in a statement. “I would prefer cabinet officials to act, but I will be prepared to consider other measures, such as impeachment, in the little time we have left.”

A group of Justice Panel Democrats, led by Representatives David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Jamie Raskin of Maryland, have begun circulating charges of “serious felony”. They included a single tally, “abuse of power,” based on Mr. Trump “willfully inciting violence against the United States government” in an effort to overturn the results of a democratically decided election. The articles also mention an explosive phone call from Mr. Trump pressuring the Georgian Secretary of State to “find” him the votes he needed to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory there.

Other articles written by Ms. Omar had around 60 co-sponsors, she said.

A handful of Republicans also appeared open to drastic action, although they dismissed the indictment for practical reasons. Some Democrats have also argued that it may not be worth the effort to pull together and defend a case with so little time for Mr. Trump.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, called on Mr Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, posting on Twitter that the president had become “released not only from his duty or oath, but from reality itself. “.

Rep. Tom Reed, a New York Republican and co-chair of the Bipartisan Caucus for Problem Solving, argued that the impeachment process could backfire at a time when the nation appeared to be heading for a peaceful transfer of power after Mr. Pence and Congress have ratified Mr. Biden’s victory.

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Democrats threaten impeachment if Pence doesn’t act after Capitol siege

They admitted that the Senate conviction, which would require a two-thirds majority, including 17 Republican deserters, still had a long way to go. But some Democrats and Republicans have privately felt that impeachment has other benefits. If the Senate were to vote to convict, then it could bar Mr. Trump from re-assuming federal office, thereby eliminating any prospect of him running in 2024, a possibility some Republicans privately dread.

Among those pushing leaders towards the idea were some of the House’s more outspoken progressives, including Representatives Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and key moderates whose backers to last year’s impeachment was crucial.

“As a country, we need to demonstrate that this type of behavior is beyond the pale,” Michigan Representative Elissa Slotkin, a former national security official who represents a Red District, said in a statement. “I would prefer cabinet officials to act, but I will be prepared to consider other measures, such as impeachment, in the little time we have left.”

A group of Justice Panel Democrats, led by Representatives David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Jamie Raskin of Maryland, have begun circulating charges of “serious felony”. They included a single tally, “abuse of power,” based on Mr. Trump “willfully inciting violence against the United States government” in an effort to overturn the results of a democratically decided election. The articles also mention an explosive phone call from Mr. Trump pressuring the Georgian Secretary of State to “find” him the votes he needed to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory there.

Other articles written by Ms. Omar had around 60 co-sponsors, she said.

A handful of Republicans also appeared open to drastic action, although they dismissed the indictment for practical reasons. Some Democrats have also argued that it may not be worth the effort to pull together and defend a case with so little time for Mr. Trump.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, called on Mr Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, posting on Twitter that the president had become “released not only from his duty or oath, but from reality itself. “.

Rep. Tom Reed, a New York Republican and co-chair of the Bipartisan Caucus for Problem Solving, argued that the impeachment process could backfire at a time when the nation appeared to be heading for a peaceful transfer of power after Mr. Pence and Congress have ratified Mr. Biden’s victory.

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Arizona man who conspired to threaten journalists sentenced to 16 months in prison

A 21-year-old Arizona man who pleaded guilty to helping a neo-Nazi group threaten and intimidate journalists was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison on Wednesday.

The man, Johnny Roman Garza of Queen Creek, Ariz., Was among a handful of people linked to a violent paramilitary neo-Nazi group, the Atomwaffen Division, who were arrested in February, prosecutors in Virginia and the United Kingdom said. Washington State.

Brian T. Moran, the US attorney for the Western District of Washington, said in a statement that Garza had not proposed the program but “enthusiastically embraced” it.

Mr Garza, who pleaded guilty in September to a conspiracy charge in the case, admitted that he researched home addresses for potential targets and that in January he put a threatening poster on the window of the room of a publisher of a Jewish publication in Arizona. . The poster showed a hooded skeleton holding a Molotov cocktail in front of a burning house, with the words “Your actions have consequences” and “Our patience has its limits,” according to court documents.

The poster also included personal information about the publisher, prosecutors said.

The case was handled in the Western District of Washington because an accused was there when he led the conspiracy, a prosecutor spokeswoman said.

Mr. Garza appeared via Zoom from Arizona on Wednesday on charges of being convicted by a judge at the Seattle Federal Courthouse. He also admitted that he tried in January to put up a similar poster at an apartment complex in Phoenix where a member of the Arizona Black Journalists Association lived, but that he did not could find a place to post it.

Others at Atomwaffen have targeted a broadcasting reporter in Seattle who had reported on Atomwaffen and two people associated with the Anti-Defamation League, officials said. The New York Times earlier reported that Kirstjen Nielsen, who at the time was Secretary of Homeland Security, was also among the targets.

Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement that the organization was “happy that Garza is being punished for his anti-Semitic and hateful threats,” but also said it came in the middle of a wave rising. of the violence of white supremacists.

Seth M. Apfel, an attorney for Mr. Garza, said in an interview Wednesday that his client, who will be on probation for three years upon his release from prison, was working to give up this life of hate.

Mr. Garza “has gone from those views” to “completely embracing the exact opposite point of view,” his lawyer said.

“The light bulb started to go out when he was taken into custody,” Apfel said.

Mr Garza, who will report to authorities on a date to be determined to begin his sentence, has already moved away from his former associates, Mr Apfel said. Mr. Garza has attended classes to learn more about black and Jewish culture and is keen to work with authorities and activists to prevent others from being drawn into hate groups, Mr. Apfel said.

“Certainly, in my opinion, his transformation has been very sincere,” Mr. Apfel said. “And I say this not only as a lawyer, but also as a Jewish man married to a black woman.

Mr. Garza is the first accused in the case to be convicted. Another defendant who pleaded guilty in September is expected to be sentenced in February; two more people who officials say lead the group, Kaleb Cole and Cameron Brandon Shea, are set to stand trial in March.

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Iceberg heading for subantarctic island could threaten wildlife

An iceberg about the size of Delaware heading towards the subantarctic island of South Georgia has worried experts that it could block wildlife from food sources and threaten the island’s ecosystem.

The iceberg, known as the A68a, was about 400 kilometers, or about 250 miles, off the coast of the British island territory of South Georgia on Wednesday, the British Antarctic Survey said.

The iceberg could run aground near the island and be a few weeks off the island’s coast, said Andrew Fleming, a remote sensing official in charge of the investigation.

The iceberg broke away from the Antarctic Peninsula in 2017 and is approximately 100 miles long and 30 miles wide. The trajectory of the iceberg could change and move away from the island, as it is in the strongest ocean current where the waters are not impeded by the continents. This means that the iceberg could easily pass in front of the island, it all depends on the path that nature takes.

It is unpredictable what could happen if the iceberg washed up near South Georgia, said Mr. Jackson, an explorer glaciologist with the National Geographic Society. Such episodes are not uncommon, but they are usually given more attention when they pose a threat to people and wildlife, she said.

There is a chance that if A68a fails, it could disrupt part of South Georgia’s ecosystem, affecting some of the areas and paths that animals, such as seals and penguins, use to hunt and gather wildlife. the food.

“Essentially, seals and penguins are born on land and then commute into the ocean to stock up and come back with food to feed their young,” Dr. Jackson said. “The iceberg could disrupt that, and the seals and penguins might not be able to get and deliver food to their land puppies and chicks, which could trigger widespread famine.

Douglas R. MacAyeal, a geophysical science professor at the University of Chicago who has studied the behavior of large icebergs, compared A68a to another large iceberg, the B-15A.

In the 2000s, the B-15A struck parts of Ross Island in the Ross Sea as well as other icebergs surrounding it, disrupting the island’s penguin colonies. Some colonies have spent years without hatching chicks. The disturbance has led some penguins to breed with those from different colonies.

“This led to a genetic advantage of exchanging genetic material from different normally isolated cohorts,” Dr MacAyeal said in an email. “In my opinion, if A68a encountered the island itself or the shoals around it, it would be spectacular for a few days but would not lead to an ecosystem disaster.”

Some experts predict that the A68a will eventually shatter into large pieces as a result of strong currents.

“The Southern Ocean around South Georgia is a completely wild place with strong currents and a sea swell that will ‘flex’ the iceberg above the grounding point, causing it to stress and fracture a bit. like a ship, ”said Dr MacAyeal.

If the iceberg breaks near the coast of the island, it could displace large amounts of seawater “which can inundate coastal communities,” Dr Jackson said.

This type of danger is a problem that experts have had to contend with, as climate change has caused ice to melt and ice systems to rupture at significant rates.

“I doubt that, given the increasing rate of ice melt around the world, this will be the last time we will see this,” Dr Jackson said. “I wouldn’t be surprised in the years to come if we continue to see larger icebergs posing greater dangers to communities of people and wildlife.”