DML Morning Briefing Tue. Oct. 25

Russia rules on Brittney Griner, Biden rant, school scores, housing prices, and more…
By Anneta Griffee

Today is October 25. Below are some of the stories grabbing headlines this morning. I hope you share this briefing as doing so will make you the smartest person in the room.

1 – Russia appeals court rules on Brittney Griner’s nine-year sentence
Fox News reports: Brittney Griner’s nine-year prison sentence in Russia for drug possession was upheld on Tuesday.

Griner was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow on Feb. 17 after Russian authorities said she had vape canisters with cannabis oil inside her luggage. On Aug. 4 she was given a nine-year sentence after pleading guilty, arguing that she had been prescribed cannabis for her pain and inadvertently packed it.

Griner’s lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said Monday the WNBA star was “not expecting any miracles.”

MY TAKE: Sorry about that… but I can’t forget how she dissed America when she was here.

2 – White House dodges blame for historic drops in student math and reading scores
The Washington Examiner reports: The White House danced around a new report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress on Monday showing significant drops in math and reading scores among students over the past two years.

The “nation’s report card” found that no state saw math or reading score increases over the time frame, and Peggy Carr, the commissioner of the National Center of Education Statistics, claimed, “The results show the profound toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the size and scope of the declines are the largest ever in mathematics.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, pressed on the report during Monday’s briefing, did not preview any initiatives under consideration by the administration meant to boost learning in light of the report and instead pointed to Biden’s American Rescue Plan as being critical to reopening schools in 2021.

“The results of this data are unacceptable. That is something that the president believes, and you heard straight directly from Secretary Cardona today,” she said.

Jean-Pierre claimed that the administration “always knew that getting schools open would not be enough” and sought to shift the blame back on Republicans for voting against the president’s pandemic spending proposals.

MY TAKE: And everyone who warned this would happened was slammed for “misinformation.”

3 – America’s housing prices are facing a stunning downfall – with the West Coast facing the fastest drops of up to 10% in cities like San Jose and San Francisco: Experts say the trend will soon spread to the Northeast as well
The Daily Mail reports: The housing market in the United States has reached a stunning downfall from highs seen in the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a study from the American Enterprise Institute that was published by Fortune Magazine, the West Coast is experiencing rapid housing price drops in cities including San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.

The study was conducted by Ed Pinto—director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Housing Center. Pinto told Fortune that he predicts that the ‘damage’ will spread for the Northeast, with low and middle-markets being hit the worst.

It’s Northern California that leads the way, with San Jose experiencing a drop of 10.8 percent since September, followed by San Francisco at 8.5 percent, then it’s Seattle at 8.2 percent, Denver at 5.8 percent, San Diego 5.2 percent, Portland 5.1 percent, Las Vegas 4.8 percent and Phoenix at 4.4 percent.

MY TAKE: Notice the prices fell the most in the largest Democrat-run cities.  Who’s surprised?

4 – Biden gives ‘closing message’ for midterms in Democratic National Committee speech
The Hill reports: President Biden on Monday shared what he dubbed his “closing argument” for Democrats ahead of the midterms, contrasting Democratic and Republican policies to frame next month’s election as a stark choice that would shape the country’s future for decades.

“I’m here to deliver what I believe is a closing argument about what we need to do in the next 15 days to make a victory assured and make it clear that this election is … not a referendum, it’s a choice,” Biden said in remarks to a group of Democratic National Committee (DNC) volunteers, staffers and donors. “Everybody wants to make it a referendum, but it’s a choice between two vastly different visions for America.”

Biden used his speech to an enthusiastic group of supporters to lay out a laundry list of what Democrats have accomplished in the last 18 months and compared it to proposals from some Republicans should they retake control of Congress.

The president touted passage of legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs and health care premiums that did not garner a single Republican vote. He also vowed Democrats would protect reproductive rights, the right to privacy and the right to vote, though Democrats have been unable to codify any of those things with such a narrow Senate majority.

Additionally, Biden argued he inherited a struggling economy and a nation without a plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic and enacted a massive plan to vaccinate millions of Americans, while pushing an economic agenda that led to a sharp decline in unemployment and a boost in small-business applications.

MY TAKE: If this wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable.

5 – Largest New York Jewish School Will Pay Millions After Admitting To Defrauding Government
The Daily Caller reports: A New York private Hasidic Jewish School agreed to pay $8 million after admitting to stealing millions from government programs, according to court documents filed Monday.

Officials of the Central United Talmudical Academy (CUTA) announced in federal court that the school took part in fraud by taking money from government programs for school lunches and child care, according to court documents. In total, CUTA will pay $5 million in fines, plus another $3 million in restitution in order to avoid prosecution.

“The misconduct at CUTA was systemic and wide ranging, including stealing over $3 million allocated for schoolchildren in need of meals,” United States Attorney Breon Peace stated in a Department of Justice press release. “Today’s resolution accounts for CUTA’s involvement in those crimes and provides a path forward to repay and repair the damage done to the community, while also allowing CUTA to continue to provide education for children in the community.”

Through 2014 and 2016, CUTA was given at least $3 million for a student meal program that it had made up to divert the funds elsewhere, the court documents showed.

MY TAKE: Appalling!!

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