Home Blog

Often divided Supreme Court shows unity in protecting this fundamental right


NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

While left-wing attacks on the Supreme Court continue, the justices demonstrated again last week that simple partisan categories cannot explain their work. In Tyler v. Hennepin Countythe court unanimously agreed that the right to property continues even when the government seizes land to recover a tax debt. 

Even with a court sharply divided over questions of race, religion and government power, the justices came together to re-affirm the most basic of constitutional freedoms. 

Tyler was another case that pitted an individual property owner against a government Leviathan. The plaintiff was a 94-year-old woman who had bought a one-bedroom condo in Minneapolis. After living there until 2010, a rise in neighborhood crime led her and her family to think it would be safer for her to move into a senior community. 

In a crisp opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, a unanimous Supreme Court reversed and reinstated Tyler’s takings clause claim. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

No one paid her property taxes on the condo after she moved out. It accrued about $2,000 in unpaid taxes plus and about $13,000 in interest and penalties. The county foreclosed on Tyler’s condo and sold it for $40,000. The sale extinguished Tyler’s $15,000 debt, but the county kept the remaining $25,000 for its own purposes.


Tyler sued under the Fourteenth Amendment’s takings clause, arguing that the county had unconstitutionally “taken” her property (the $25,000 surplus) without just compensation. Stunningly, both the district court and the court of appeals threw out her takings clause suit, reasoning that Minnesota law did not recognize a property owner’s interest in the surplus proceeds from a tax foreclosure sale of which the owner had had adequate notice.  

In a crisp opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, a unanimous Supreme Court reversed and reinstated Tyler’s takings clause claim.

President Biden Chief Justice Roberts

President Joe Biden shakes hands with Chief Justice John Roberts as he arrives to deliver his first State of the Union address at the Capitol, March 1, 2022. (Saul Loeb, Pool via AP)

First, though, Tyler had to survive the county’s challenge to her “standing” to bring her suit. “Standing” required proof of an injury from the county’s retention of the surplus, and the county argued that the plaintiff had suffered no financial harm because her condo was encumbered by a mortgage and unpaid homeowners’ fees in excess of $25,000. 

The court rejected that argument because Tyler remained personally liable for those debts. Had she received the surplus, she could at least have paid down some of her remaining obligations.


The meatier side of the opinion was, of course, its analysis of the “takings” issue. Noting that the takings clause does not itself define property, the court explained the understanding of “property” that informs its decisions. State law is one important source; and Minnesota had enacted a statute providing that an owner forfeits her interest in her home when she falls behind on her property taxes. No interest in the home, the county argued, meant no property; and no property meant no taking of property.

supreme court justices new session

Members of the Supreme Court gather on June 30, 2022, as Ketanji Brown Jackson takes the oaths of office to become the 104th associate justice. (Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images)

The county’s reasoning was too slick for the justices. If state law were the only source for deciding whether a property right existed, then a state could make the takings clause a dead letter simply by denying that the assets it wished to seize were “property.” 

Instead, the court looked to “[h]istory and precedent” (including its own cases) to determine that the government may not take more from a taxpayer than she owes. It traced the origins of that principle back to the Magna Carta of 1215, through English and American statutory and common law, up to the ratification of the 14th Amendment (which applied the takings clause to the states). 

The court observed that although a small minority of states at the time of the 14th Amendment’s ratification had deemed delinquent property entirely forfeited by failure to pay taxes, both then and now a clear majority of American jurisdictions required that the taxpayer was entitled to the surplus once the debt was paid.


Tyler is a significant case for at least four reasons. First, it should upend the laws in jurisdictions that have forfeiture rules like Minnesota’s. (The Pacific Legal Foundation suggests that there are a dozen such states.) 

Second, it confirms that a state cannot sidestep the takings clause simply by defining “property” out of existence. Third, it also confirms the centrality of our legal traditions and practices in ascertaining the scope of constitutional rights. In this, it resembles last term’s Bruen case on gun rights. 

And fourth, Justice Neil Gorsuch’s concurrence, joined by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, featured Tyler’s excessive fines claim. At least those two justices seem prepared to take a hard look at the harsh civil forfeiture statutes that are often used now instead of taxes to finance law enforcement operations.

Justice Neil Gorsuch photo

Justice Neil Gorsuch during the Supreme Court’s group photo session in Washington, April 23, 2021. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool, File)


Most important, Tyler shows that the justices can still agree where American’s fundamental rights are at stake. Unlike the right to abortion or the power to impose affirmative action, which judges of the past have conjured out of vague provisions of the Constitution, the right to property is clearly protected by the Fifth and 14th Amendments. 

As the Tyler court observed, the right to private property pre-existed the founding, formed the understanding against which the Constitution was written, and found expression in the Bill of Rights and the Reconstruction amendments.  Tyler re-affirmed that Americans’ right to own property does not exist at the whim of government, but forms a fundamental part of that individual liberty, the protection of which we create government in the first place.


John Yoo is a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. They are the authors of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Supreme Court,” out from Regnery in June.

Source link

Aggressive handshakes, last-gasp winners: The season’s best Premier League photos


With the truly wild 2022-23 Premier League season now officially done, we are finally gifted with the chance to exhale, decompress and take a look at some of the dizzying scenes that unfolded in the top flight over the past nine months.

Of course, banks of cameras were present at all 380 Premier League matches between August and May with every thrill, spill and memorable moment captured from a pitchside vantage.

Here is our ESPN writers’ pick of the best action shots taken during the Premier League season, presented here in chronological order.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte’s aggressive handshake (Aug. 14)

With pressure already beginning to mount two games into the season, things boiled over in spectacular fashion after Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur slugged out a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. The postmatch formalities between managers Tuchel and Conte proved a flash point when the handshake descended into an ill-tempered jostle; the Italian refusing to make eye contact and his German counterpart gripping just a little too firmly in retaliation. Both coaches were subsequently fined for their churlish conduct. Tuchel was also given a touchline ban, but he was out of a job less than four weeks later anyway when Chelsea unexpectedly fired him.

Cristiano Ronaldo storms down tunnel early (Oct. 19)

Ronaldo suffered a chastening case of second-season syndrome as his return to Manchester United fizzled in the first half of the 2022-23 campaign. Relegated to the bench by new head coach Erik ten Hag, the veteran Portuguese superstar cut an increasingly frustrated figure, culminating in him storming off down the Old Trafford tunnel before the end of United’s 3-2 victory over Tottenham after spending the evening as an unused substitute. Ronaldo then left for good in December when he completed a shock midseason transfer to Saudi side Al Nassr.

Kevin De Bruyne pushes Mikel Arteta at Emirates Stadium (Feb. 15)

Just three points separated Arsenal and Manchester City when the top two sides in the Premier League met at the Emirates in February. With the title on the line, the gnawing tension might have gotten the better of De Bruyne when the City midfielder physically shoved Gunners’ coach Arteta in the chest after the latter moved to partially shield a loose ball that had rolled over the touchline. Clearly incensed by the perceived obstruction, the Belgian then wagged his finger in Arteta’s face on his way back to the pitch. The visitors proceeded to steamroll their hosts, winning 3-1 to go top of the table on goal difference.

Players’ reactions after Reiss Nelson‘s injury time winner for Arsenal (March 4)

After going behind inside the first 10 seconds and then finding themselves two goals down before the hour mark, things were looking dicey for Arsenal and their tentative lead at the summit when they faced Bournemouth at the Emirates. However, the Gunners rallied to score three goals in the final stages to seal a dramatic comeback, with Nelson’s incredible 97th-minute winner releasing all sorts of pent-up emotion across North London.

Bournemouth player David Brooks‘ emotional return to the field (March 18)

There was a timely reminder of the truly important things in life as midfielder Brooks made his first Premier League appearance in 536 days when his side faced Aston Villa in March. The Welsh international was given an emotional standing ovation from everybody as he made his first appearance since September 2021 after a long and arduous recovery from cancer.

Man City manager Pep Guardiola’s celebrations in front of Liverpool players (April 1)

Knowing that his side desperately needed to win the big games in order to catch Arsenal at the top, City coach Guardiola couldn’t resist celebrating directly in the face of Liverpool substitutes Kostas Tsimikas and Arthur while watching his side power to a resounding 4-1 victory at the Etihad. The unedifying image of Guardiola offering Tsimikas a childish “low five” will hardly go down as the oft-excitable Spanish manager’s finest moment. April Fool’s indeed.

Erling Haaland letting his hair down before scoring against Arsenal (April 26)

Fans were treated to the rare sight of Haaland’s hair in all its long, lustrous glory after the Man City striker temporarily misplaced his hair band during a game against Arsenal. With locks fully wild and flowing free, the Norwegian powered through the Gunners back line and got on the score sheet as City roared to a commanding 4-1 victory over their title rivals.

Diogo Jota‘s high kick in the face of Tottenham’s Oliver Skipp (April 30)

Jota somehow managed to avoid being being sent off when he swung a high boot directly into the oncoming forehead of Skipp during the seven-goal thriller between Liverpool and Tottenham at Anfield. With both players lucky to stay on the pitch for very different reasons, Jota escaped a VAR review and was only shown a yellow card for the foul before going on to score a late winner for the Reds. He then offered a public apology to Skipp after the final whistle, explaining that the collision was purely accidental and that it was never his intention to hurt his opponent.

Jurgen Klopp pulling his hamstring while celebrating late winner (April 30)

Liverpool head coach Klopp fell afoul of a little instant karma while celebrating Jota’s injury-time winner against Tottenham after sustaining an injury while bounding along the touchline to scream directly in the fourth official’s face. The German coach tweaked a hamstring in the process and was forced to limp painfully back to his dugout while the excess adrenaline quickly drained from his system.

Haaland’s guard of honor after breaking the Premier League scoring record (May 3)

On the back of a truly prolific debut season in the Premier League, Erling Haaland received a fitting guard of honour from his Man City teammates after turning up and smashing the league’s single-season scoring record at the first attempt. The Norwegian scored his 35th goal of the campaign against West Ham, thereby beating a record previously jointly held by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer since the early 1990s.

Julio Enciso‘s wonder goal for Brighton vs. Man City

He left it late but Brighton attacking midfielder Enciso scored one of the best goals of the Premier League season as the Seagulls mustered another impressive result against big-name opposition. The Paraguayan youngster sent a fantastic 20-yard effort into the top corner to draw his team level against champions City, with the game ultimately ending in a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium.

Sapping to the very last, the Premier League relegation fight rumbled right to the final day for Leeds United, Everton and Leicester City who were all desperately trying to avoid joining already-down Southampton in the bottom three come close of play. Everton’s precious top-flight status was secured for another season by a moment of sheer excellence from Doucoure, who scored the only goal in a vital 1-0 win over Bournemouth that sent the tempestuous atmosphere at Goodison Park into raptures while also consigning Leeds and Leicester to their shared fate.

Source link

OPEC+ prepares for weekend meeting after Saudi warns speculators to ‘watch out’


Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November.

Vladimir Simicek | Afp | Getty Images

The OPEC+ alliance of oil producers will decide further production policy steps over the weekend, as crude prices reflect an ongoing struggle between supply-demand fundamentals and broader macro-economic concerns.

After convening remotely throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, OPEC+ has returned to in-person meetings and will gather in Vienna on June 4. The OPEC ministers gather for a separate meeting unlikely to address output on June 3.

Ministers face an oil market rattled by supply volatility, demand uncertainty, and a prospective recession, which could throttle transport fuel consumption. Since October, OPEC+ — a 23-member alliance including heavyweights Russia and Saudi Arabia — has lowered output by 2 million barrels per day in an effort to combat lower demand. Some members have also announced additional voluntary cuts totaling 1.6 million barrels per day in April.

Group members are expected to coagulate their individual positions and proposals in the 24-48 hours before the meeting, some OPEC+ delegates told CNBC, speaking on condition of anonymity — while public comments so far have been conflicting.

On May 23, Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman warned oil market speculators they could face further pain ahead, in comments some have read as hinting further supply cuts could be in the cards.

“I keep advising [speculators] that they will be ouching. They did ouch in April. I don’t have to show my cards, I’m not [a] poker player … but I would just tell them, watch out,” he said at the time.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak later indicated that he expected no further steps from the OPEC+ meeting, but then said his comments were misinterpreted as downplaying an output cut, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

Russia and Saudi Arabia have been united in their public OPEC+ stance since a March 2020 dispute that led to the one-month dissolution of their oil partnership and an ensuing price war.

Moscow and Riyadh later mended ties through a new OPEC+ agreement to respond to a demand plunge driven by the Covid-19 pandemic — and have remained like-minded on OPEC+ matters since. Voiding the perception of a public rift, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Thursday met on the sidelines of a BRICS summit in Cape Town.

The two reviewed the cooperation between their countries and “ways to strengthen & develop them in all fields, in addition to discussing the consolidation of bilateral & multilateral action,” according to the Saudi foreign ministry.

Two OPEC+ delegates, who did not want to be named due to the market sensitivity of the meeting, told CNBC that further output cuts were unlikely this weekend. One noted that this will remain the case unless demand stays low in China — where recovery has fallen short of expectations, in the wake of shedding strict Covid-19 restrictions.

A third source said that OPEC+, which prioritizes the state of global inventories over outright prices, would be comfortable with futures above $75 per barrel, while a fourth estimated near $70-80 per barrel.

Brent futures with August expiry were trading at $75.70 per barrel at 10:24 a.m. in London, up $1.42 per barrel from the Thursday settlement.

The OPEC+ group isn’t “after spikes” and seeks a “balanced market,” the fourth delegate told CNBC, stressing that the alliance must continue to strike a “precautionary” production strategy. Deep cuts also risk re-attracting U.S. ire, as Washington has historically criticized supply reductions that pile strain on consuming households.

‘Wait and see’?

Goldman Sachs’ analysts expect OPEC+ to keep production unchanged this weekend. However, they said in a note Wednesday that they see a “sizeable 35% subjective probability” of further OPEC cuts, as oil prices are “clearly below our $80-85/bbl estimate of the OPEC put. Very low positioning, the Saudi determination not to give speculators free rein, and the decision to meet in person also suggest that deeper cuts will likely be discussed.”

OPEC+ has waded stormy waters for the better part of the year. Oil markets have historically been steered by physical supply and demand fundamentals — which have been increasingly overshadowed by broader macro-economic concerns over the fuel consumption impact of high inflation, bolstering interest rates and the spring collapse of several U.S. and European banks.

OPEC+ delegates also said the group had been following U.S. debt ceiling negotiations, as the proposal of President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy transited several debate and vote stages in a bid for the world’s largest economy to avoid defaulting on its bills.

“The impact of higher oil prices on the global economy will weigh heavily on the ministers’ minds,” Jorge Leon, senior vice president of oil market research at Rystad Energy, said in a Thursday note, adding that OPEC+ could maintain production as a precaution. “The ministers might therefore take a ‘wait and see’ approach and hold off taking any action. Demand forecasts remain lukewarm at best, so maintaining current output could be the most prudent course. “

Supply is also under question, given involuntary declines.

Roughly 450,000 barrels per day of northern Iraqi exports were frozen by a legal dispute between Baghdad, Ankara, and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Nigeria, typically West Africa’s largest oil producer, self-reported its April crude production at just 999,000 barrels per day following disruptions, according to OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report for May.

Meanwhile, the true extent of Russian output losses remains unclear, as vessels carrying Moscow’s crude turn off their satellite tracking and Russia looks to further shift its clientele east.

Source link

Premier League without VAR: Tottenham replace Liverpool in Europa League, Forest relegated


The 2022-23 Premier League season is over, with plenty of VAR controversies across the campaign. Which clubs have been the winners and losers from the influence of the video referee?

ESPN brings you the VAR Effect Table. We’ve taken all 116 VAR overturns in the Premier League and calculated how they might have influenced matches.

It’s not just about the number of times a team gets a favourable VAR call or about how many goals are affected. What’s more important is when these VAR decisions take place, and crucially, whether that impact would ultimately have changed the final score.

We’re not saying the VAR decisions were wrong — we’re just looking at what might have happened if the video assistant didn’t exist and the original decisions stood.

– JUMP TO: The losers without VAR | The winners without VAR

How we work out the VAR Effect Table

We take only the first VAR overturn in each game, because the calculation considers that any subsequent VAR incident wouldn’t have happened because the whole direction of the game has been altered. (Think of it like a Marvel timeline, or the plot of any time-travel movie.)

The VAR decision is then reversed to the original on-field call — so if a goal is disallowed for offside, it’s given as a goal.

If a penalty has been cancelled, it is considered to have been awarded and scored, unless the team in question has a penalty-conversion record below 50% over the season. For instance, Crystal Palace scored only one of their three spot kicks. If below 50%, a penalty may be judged to have been missed.

If a team has been awarded a goal through a penalty or an incorrect offside through VAR, the goal is disallowed.

We then take into account a series of factors before settling on a predicted outcome:

Team form: Results in the previous five matches give an indication of how a team has been playing generally.

Time of incident: For instance, if an incident happens late in the game, it’s less likely that the scoreline would change again after this point.

xG at time of incident: This allows us to take into account which team has been creating the better chances and is in the ascendancy.

Team strength: As well as form, a team’s general strength plays a part. This takes into account league position, and a team’s goal-scoring and defensive records across the season.

Impact of incident: For example, a red card decision being reversed may change the outcome of a match.

These results have then been used to modify the table and work out what impact VAR has had on teams’ positions this season.

The table shows each team’s position after the amended results, with the arrows indicating if their league position is better or worse without VAR.

The big losers without VAR

Two teams have, comfortably more than any other, benefitted from VAR decisions at crucial times in matches this season — and it earned them European football for next season.

Incredibly, Aston Villa are 10 points worse off without the influence of Stockley Park. That sends the Villans out of the Europa Conference League place and tumbling down three places into 10th.

Villa have had seven VAR calls in their favour, which is far from the highest (that’s Brentford with 11), but five of them came at pivotal points in games and turned some draws into victories.

Emiliano Buendia had a goal awarded for an incorrect offside against Leeds United in a game which they won 2-1. Then Southampton‘s James Ward-Prowse had a goal disallowed for a foul in the build-up that would have given Saints the lead, in a match Villa went on to win 1-0. In March, in the narrow win at home to Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha had a goal chalked off for offside. Leicester City had a penalty overturned, and Brighton also had a goal cancelled for offside, in games Villa won 2-1.

Not far behind are Liverpool, who lose nine points and drop out of the Europa League places into seventh, only worthy of the Europa Conference League — a position they just hold onto ahead of Brentford, who lose a point themselves, on goal difference.

Only two clubs have had more VAR interventions in their favour (nine) than Liverpool, and the six goals that were disallowed for the opposition is more than any other club; not one VAR intervention has cost Liverpool points.

In October, Phil Foden had a goal disallowed at Anfield when Erling Haaland was adjudged to have fouled Fabinho in the build-up. That strike would have given Man City the lead, and instead Liverpool went on to win the match 1-0. The VAR table gives City the victory, a swing of three points.

Four other incidents see draws turn to defeats for Jurgen Klopp’s men. Liverpool were 2-0 down against Brighton at Anfield when VAR helped give Mohamed Salah a goal which had been disallowed for offside; the game finished 3-3 but our table gives Brighton a 2-1 win. In September, Conor Coady thought he had bagged a late winner in the goalless draw in the Merseyside derby until the offside lines came out. And while both games against Chelsea finished goalless, the Blues actually had an effort ruled out by the VAR in each.

Finally, at West Ham in April, Jarrod Bowen had a goal ruled out for offside. The game was 1-1 at that point, and Liverpool went on to win it through Joel Matip. That match is calculated as a draw, costing Liverpool two more points.

Aston Villa’s and Liverpool’s loss is Tottenham Hotspur‘s gain — who would suddenly have European football. Although Spurs are one point worse off without VAR, the huge loss of points for the two teams above them means managerless Tottenham move up two places to sixth, and get the Europa League.

While Villa and Liverpool may have their European aspirations affected, there’s even worse news for Nottingham Forest — who are relegated.

Steve Cooper’s men have spent much of this season complaining about refereeing decisions, but they are a net three points worse off without VAR, which is enough to send them into the bottom three, with Leicester City saved from the drop into the Championship.

Forest would have lost at home to West Ham on the opening weekend, but for the VAR disallowing Said Benrahma‘s goal for a foul in the build-up by Michail Antonio. And in a win against Crystal Palace, Morgan Gibbs-White was awarded the match-winning goal after an incorrect offside flag. Brennan Johnson also had an offside goal given against Leicester when the game was locked at 0-0, and they were awarded a penalty in a win against Brighton when the score was 1-1.

AFC Bournemouth also drop three points and are left perilously close to the relegation zone, just a point above it. Crystal Palace, too, are three points worse off and fall two places to 13th.

Four teams have a loss of one point, including Arsenal. The Gunners were involved in some high-profile events, though the missed offside in the home draw with Brentford isn’t factored in as that wasn’t a VAR intervention. Newcastle United also lose a point, but hold onto Champions League football.

Manchester United are the only club in the division to remain on the same number of points (75), and they also stay in the same position (third).

The big winners without VAR

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that Brighton & Hove Albion are the joint-worst affected and, along with Manchester City, get the most points back (five) once the influence of the VAR is factored out. The pair also sit at the bottom of net VAR decisions on minus-4.

The Seagulls saw a series of high-profile VAR events go against them, including Alexis Mac Allister‘s goal being ruled out for handball in their loss at Tottenham, Salah’s goal allowed after an incorrect offside flag, Deniz Undav‘s goal ruled out for offside at Villa and the penalty awarded to Forest for Lewis Dunk‘s handball.

Brighton have had the most VAR decisions go against them, with five goals disallowed (only Newcastle and West Ham [six] suffered more). Roberto De Zerbi’s men did have a few decisions go in their favour, especially toward the end of the season, including the late winner disallowed for Man City striker Erling Haaland. Brighton climb up a place to fifth in the table — but they are three points short of Newcastle in the final Champions League spot.

Man City now top the Premier League by 11 points, six points more than in the real table, finishing the campaign on 94 to Arsenal’s 83. City only have two result-changing incidents: the Haaland effort at Brighton and their goal disallowed at Anfield when the game was 0-0, as Liverpool went on to claim all three points.

Leeds United are facing up to life back in the Championship, and while they are four points better off without VAR, it’s not enough to lift them out of the relegation zone. Leeds conceded five goals through VAR, more than any other team. A 1-0 loss at home to Arsenal is a draw after an injury-time Leeds penalty was cancelled through VAR; Leeds also had an early penalty overturned in their loss at Bournemouth. They are also given a win at home to West Ham and draws from defeats at Aston Villa and Brentford. Leeds did get a crucial VAR call in their favour just before the international break, with defender Jonny sent off as Wolverhampton Wanderers piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser; without the red card, this game goes down as a draw.

West Ham also get four more points without VAR, sending them up two places to 14th. West Ham (along with Newcastle) have been more involved in VAR than any other club with 19 interventions — an average of one every other game.

Everton and Leicester are two points better off, which is enough to lift the Foxes out of the relegation and up into 16th. Leicester had 14 VAR interventions, eight of those going against them — with the cancelled penalty against Villa, and the goal awarded to Forest being their two changed results.

Chelsea, Fulham, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers complete the list, each one point better off without VAR.

Source link

Will a Dollar General Ruin a Rural Crossroads?


Anne Hartley’s brick house in Ebony, Va., overlooks windswept fields, a Methodist church, a general store and the intersection of two country roads, a pastoral setting that evokes an Edward Hopper painting or a faded postcard from the South.

Now this scene is being threatened, Ms. Hartley said, by a plan to build what every small American town seems to have: a Dollar General.

A descendant of one of Ebony’s founding families, Ms. Hartley says the discount store — which would be built next to her home — will create traffic problems in the area, with people drawn to the brand’s signature yellow sign and its aisles filled with inexpensive food and household staples.

Beyond the store itself, Ms. Hartley and many others with ties to Ebony think it will open the door to additional development that will spoil the character of their tiny, rural community of about 230 people. The name of their website and the rallying cry for their campaign against the Dollar General is “Keep Ebony Country.”

“We don’t want over-commercialization to destroy the integrity of the community,” Ms. Hartley said.

Jerry Jones also has strong feelings about Dollar General. He, too, grew up in Ebony and, for several years, was Ms. Hartley’s classmate at the local public school. He went on to manage grocery stores around southern Virginia and later owned a gas station in Ebony that sold freshly baked biscuits and deep-fried baloney burgers.

Mostly retired now, Mr. Jones owns the land where the Dollar General would be built. He said the store would provide the county’s residents a convenient and affordable place to shop, while also generating sorely needed tax revenue.

“You still need to have that balance between the people with nicer things and the people who live paycheck to paycheck,” Mr. Jones said. “To me, Dollar General fits right in with that.”

The dispute in Ebony, which has been going on for more than three years, is about planning and zoning, but it also touches on a deeper issue simmering in many parts of rural America, whether the disputes are about cellphone towers or snowmobile trails. What does “country” mean to different people in a small community?

In most places, Dollar General is winning. Across the United States, the company has made an aggressive push to permeate thousands of far-flung or impoverished communities with stores that, along with low prices, are criticized for their unhealthy food offerings and low-paid employees.

An increasing number of these proposed dollar stores are leading to disputes, generating opponents in small towns and struggling cities. The retailer has been assailed by a think tank for the negative effects it has on small businesses and by the Biden administration for the unkempt condition of its stores.

Yet, a vast majority of the proposed dollar stores are being built. One in three stores that opened in the United States in 2022 was a dollar store.

Those who oppose the proposed Dollar General in Ebony are trying to buck the trend.

About 90 miles south of Richmond, Ebony sits on the edge of Lake Gaston and is a haven for second homes that serve as an important tax base. Ebony is part of Brunswick County, once a hub for tobacco farming, where the median household income is about $49,600, far below the statewide median of $80,600. More than half the county’s population is Black.

The five-member Brunswick County Board of Supervisors approved a zoning change that would allow the store to be built in a 3-to-2 vote.

The supervisors who voted to approve the store declined to comment, citing a lawsuit that Ms. Hartley and other opponents filed challenging their decision.

In a statement, Dollar General said that it offered fresh produces in thousands of stores and provided a “safe work environment” and “competitive wages.”

“We regularly hear from communities, particularly in rural areas, asking us to bring a Dollar General to their hometown,” the company added. “We understand a Dollar General would be welcomed by many Ebony residents and hope to be able to serve that community.”

Many of the opponents of the store are driven by their appreciation for Ebony’s past and what they hope can be preserved. And some relative newcomers to the community are sympathetic to their argument. Mohamed Abouemara moved to southern Virginia from New York to operate convenience stores and has run the Ebony General Store for nine years.

He said his store, where locals can socialize and buy hot food, played an important role in a rural community.

A dollar store, he said, would significantly hurt his business. “Jerry is a friend of mine,” Mr. Abouemara said of Mr. Jones. “I am not angry at him. But if he still owned his store, he would not let a Dollar General come here.”

Ms. Hartley is a meticulous keeper of family and Ebony history. Her family has owned land in the area for generations, and her great-grandfather named the community in the late 1800s after a black horse called Ebony.

The family also ran a local store. When Ms. Hartley was growing up in Ebony in the 1960s, her father operated a business, which had a butcher shop, a barbershop and a mill in the back. Ms. Hartley helped her parents in the store when she was still a child, and she remembers her father working long hours, from early in the morning until late in the evening. “It was the center of our family life,” she said of small-town retailing.

Ms. Hartley attended the University of North Carolina, where she majored in math and later worked as a computer programmer, a rare position for a woman in the 1970s and ’80s and a point of pride for her.

She now owns her family’s house in Ebony, where family photos, spanning many generations, cover the walls and side tables.

Ms. Hartley’s primary residence is in Chapel Hill, N.C., about 90 miles south, but she regularly visits the house in Ebony.

Ms. Hartley says she is intent on protecting a rural intersection from a box store for the good of a community and local economy, which is seeking to boost tourism

Her lawsuit argues that the county has violated its own comprehensive plan that calls out the importance of the area’s scenic landscapes. The county has said in court papers that the plan is merely meant as a guide for development.

Dozens of local residents and people with roots in Ebony have mobilized against the development as part of the Ebony Preservation Group. They have raised donations to support their legal fight and lobbied the state to have the community considered to be part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Elizabeth Nash Horne, whose parents and grandparents are buried in a cemetery next to the proposed store, said a chain retailer in Ebony was “just unnecessary.” There are already three existing dollar stores only a few miles from Ebony.

Some say they recognize that the county needs tax revenue. “But are we going to sell our soul for anything that comes along?” said Bobby Conner, who grew up in Ebony and now works on tourism initiatives for Brunswick County.

The main route into Ebony from the interstate is Route 903, a two-lane road lined by billboards advertising real estate that eventually opens up into farm fields and pine groves.

Route 903 comes to an intersection in Ebony where there is a gas station on one side of the road and, on the other, the Ebony General Store, a dimly lit warren of canned vegetables and soda bottles where the smell of fried catfish mingles with that of steaming hot dogs.

Sid Cutts, a home builder who has developed properties on Lake Gaston, said Ebony and other historic-looking crossroads were becoming increasingly rare in the South.

“I use the term rural elegance,” Mr. Cutts said in describing Ebony.

Mr. Cutts said his clients from larger cities who were building lake houses were important to the community because they spent money at the local businesses. But they are seeking the down-home charm they can find at the long-running Ebony General Store, he said, not another Dollar General.

Mr. Jones says he, too, has Ebony’s best interest at heart in seeking to bring a Dollar General to the community.

Mr. Jones’s father and grandfather bought land in Ebony in the 1950s and many members of his family still live in Ebony. Several of them are neighbors of Ms. Hartley.

Mr. Jones did not go to college, but he worked his way up through A.&P., managing several stores in Virginia.

In the 1990s, Mr. Jones built a gas station and convenience store across from the Ebony General Store.

He sold his store in 2005 and now lives in a nearby town, though he regularly farms land in Ebony. Mr. Jones said he didn’t understand how putting a third business in a well-trafficked intersection would destroy Ebony’s rural character.

“What character do they really want to save?” he said. “I am still going to be out there on my tractor. None of that is going to change one iota. I just won’t have to drive as far to get a cold drink or a Pop-Tart.”

Mr. Jones’s aunt Betty Lett lives across the street from where the store would be built. She thinks a dollar store would bring new excitement to Ebony.

“I am pure country,” Ms. Lett said one afternoon while sitting across from Mr. Jones in her living room. An antique doll perched on a swing hung from the ceiling.

Mr. Jones shrugged off the criticisms of dollar stores — that their aisles and dumpsters outside are a mess and that their employees underpaid. He pointed out that the hourly minimum wage in Virginia is $12.

“I never even made it to $10 an hour,” said Ms. Lett, who retired in 2007, after four decades of factory and distribution center work. “I should go back to work,” she joked.

Shaunton Taylor, who stopped to fill up on gas at the Ebony General Store one afternoon, said she would still shop there even if a dollar store came along.

Ms. Taylor lives in a home on a family homestead, three miles from the site of the proposed Dollar General. The homestead was first inhabited by her great-grandparents, who were farmers.

“I am open-minded about new things, especially in a rural area,” said Ms Taylor, who works at a nursing home and also writes poetry. “You have to accept anything new.”

This year, Ms. Hartley asked for the Virginia Supreme Court to hear the case, arguing that the issue of how a county interprets its comprehensive plan would “affect all Virginians for years to come.” She is confident that her group will eventually prevail.

In the meantime, Ms. Hartley reached out to Mr. Jones with an offer: She told him that a supporter of her group would match whatever the developer of the Dollar General store would pay Mr. Jones for the property — about $88,000, Mr. Jones said.

But Mr. Jones declined. His idea and the preservation group’s idea for what should happen with the land, he said, “just don’t match.”

Source link

This Kind of Walk Is Much More Than a Workout.


And research suggests it’s good for your health, too. Awe can help calm the nervous system, reduce inflammation and foster a sense of community (even if you experience the emotion alone). People who took awe walks, one study found, felt more upbeat and hopeful than walkers who did not.

These walks also have restorative benefits, said Dr. Keltner, who has seen the positive effects firsthand. When his daughter was younger, she had anxiety and became preoccupied with dying, he said. So they began to take nightly awe walks to a giant cedar tree in their neighborhood. Together, they touched the tree’s bark and talked about the cycle of life. As the months passed, this ritual connected them to nature and each other, Dr. Keltner said, as his daughter went from being “freaked out about dying” to getting “a sense of ‘this is just part of life.’”

“An awe walk can be a healing ritual,” he said. “Twelve years later, I still walk to touch that tree.”

Ready to try it? Here’s how:

You can pick somewhere you’ve never been, Dr. Keltner said, adding that you’re more likely to feel awe in an environment where the sights and sounds are unfamiliar — a local park or trail you’ve never visited, a new neighborhood in your city or town, a body of water if you live near one. Or you can travel to a familiar spot and imagine that you’re seeing it for the first time, he said.

No matter where you go, the fleeting beauty of a dawn sky or sunset has been shown to cultivate awe.

Once you’ve arrived at your spot, give yourself at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted time. If you can, turn off your phone. Then take a few deep breaths “to shift out of our hyper task-focused mind,” Dr. Keltner said. Breathe in for four counts, hold for four, breathe out for six. Do this for a few minutes. Then start walking.

Source link

Pivotal election official in Arizona midterms will not seek reelection | CNN Politics



Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates, who faced threats for his management of the 2022 midterms and 2020 presidential election in Arizona, said Thursday he will not run for reelection.

“Today, I am announcing that I will not run for re-election to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in 2024 and intend to pursue other interests and opportunities,” Gates said in a statement. “For over thirteen years it has been my honor to serve my home state of Arizona on the Phoenix City Council and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. As this chapter comes to an end, I rest well knowing that I led with integrity, compassion, and dignity.”

A source close to Gates told CNN that the announcement does not signal the end of Gates’ political career, and that he is not stepping down because of the election threats against him. He is proud, the source said, of his last two terms and accomplished what he wanted during his time at the county.

“My will to fight for the truth remains unhindered, and I look forward to Maricopa County running the 2024 election,” Gates said in his statement, which did not mention the threats.

According to The Washington Post, which first reported on his announcement, Gates will finish out his term through 2024.

On Election Day in 2022, Gates had to be moved to an undisclosed location due to threats to his safety, CNN previously reported. Gates, a Republican, had publicly pushed back against GOP suggestions that there were issues with the way the county – the largest in the state – conducted the election.

Gates, in an interview with the Post last month, shared his struggle with PTSD due to the onslaught of election lies and threats he and his family have experienced.

“This has been a family journey,” he told the newspaper at the time. “We’re all working through this together. But we had to understand that we couldn’t do this on our own. We had to reach out for help.”

Source link

The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics


Cartoon Carousel

Every week political cartoonists throughout the country and across the political spectrum apply their ink-stained skills to capture the foibles, memes, hypocrisies and other head-slapping events in the world of politics. The fruits of these labors are hundreds of cartoons that entertain and enrage readers of all political stripes. Here’s an offering of the best of this week’s crop, picked fresh off the Toonosphere. Edited by Matt Wuerker.

Source link

China wants to be energy superpower. Here’s how they can be stopped


NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

At the G7 conference, President Joe Biden predicted a coming “thaw” in relations with Beijing. A day later, the Department of Energy announced that it is revoking a $200 million grant to Texas-based battery company due to its connections with China.  

Despite the Biden administration’s efforts to stabilize the relationship, tension over energy security is heating up. Ensuring American energy dominance at home and combating Chinese influence abroad requires a bold new strategy.  

The United States is still an energy superpower. Thanks to geology, private sector innovation and shrewd policy, the U.S. is the world’s top oil and gas producer. During the last decade, rapid increases in the production of natural gas and oil, due to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, have made energy more affordable at home and strengthened America’s position abroad. Without its abundant energy resources, America would be a poorer and far-less-powerful country.  


China is not so fortunate. It is the world’s largest importer of coal, oil, and natural gas. This year, China’s oil imports are on track to reach a record high — increasing up to 1 million barrels per day. Pulled between their economy’s voracious appetite for energy and the strategic vulnerability of relying on imports, energy security is a growing source of anxiety for the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership.

China’s President Xi Jinping wants his nation to become a global energy superpower rivaling or surpassing the US.  (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

President Xi Jinping and other high-level party officials have repeatedly said that ensuring energy security is a foundational element of the regime’s “stability maintenance” architecture. 

It should come as no surprise then that the CCP is working hard to turn its weakness into a strength. While Xi cannot change China’s geology, he is using diplomacy to enhance China’s energy interests abroad.  

Earlier this year, Xi brokered a historic détente between Saudi Arabia and Iran, deepening his relationship with the world’s second- and ninth-largest oil producers. In Asia and Africa, China is investing hundreds of billions of dollars in energy extraction and generation projects through its Belt and Road Initiative.

China is also capitalizing on the energy transition. While experts disagree over the speed of the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, all acknowledge that it is happening. Chinese manufacturers produce 70% of the world’s solar modules, 50% of wind turbines, and 90% of lithium-ion batteries. OPEC, by comparison, controls only 40% of global oil production. 

In South America, which now counts China as its largest trading partner, CCP-backed firms are securing project deals in the “Lithium Triangle.” Roughly 60% of the world’s lithium — a crucial input for batteries and other clean energy technologies — is located in the region which spans Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.  

As the transition progresses, the CCP will command a market share of the global clean energy economy that would make John D. Rockefeller blush. Left unchecked, China will benefit from the same economic and geopolitical advantages that the U.S. currently enjoys.  

The only way to deny China energy superpower status is to win the clean energy arms race at home and abroad. The U.S. and its allies must close the gap in clean energy manufacturing through smart industrial policy.  

Onshoring and “friend-shoring” critical mineral mining and processing can help loosen China’s chokehold on the supply chains of electric vehicles and other vital technologies. Strengthening America’s relationships with developing nations through capacity building and clean energy financing will diminish the power of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.  

Processing plant in Chile

A worker stirs lithium with his hand at the SQM processing plant in Antofagasta, Chile, Wednesday, April 19, 2023. Chile is part of the Lithium Triangle that China wants to dominate.  (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Some argue that the threat of global climate change necessitates collaboration with China. John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, has suggested that the U.S. should join hands with China and Russia to lower greenhouse gas emissions, setting other “issues” aside.  

Despite Kerry’s strategy of appeasement, China remains the world’s No. 1 polluter and its renewable energy industry is built on the backs of Uyghur slave laborers.  

There is a better way. Rather than hoping for Chinese cooperation on climate change, the United States should strengthen its energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard its values and interests by outcompeting China in the clean energy arms race.  

This approach is already working with Russia. America’s liquid natural gas exports to Europe are loosening Russian President Vladimir Putin’s grasp on Ukraine — and reducing emissions by displacing Russian natural gas, which emits over 40% more than U.S. exports.  

President Xi Jinping and other high-level party officials have repeatedly said that ensuring energy security is a foundational element of the regime’s “stability maintenance” architecture. 

Last fall, Poland signed a $40 billion deal with U.S.-based Westinghouse to build its first civilian nuclear reactor, which will provide 1.6 gigawatts of emission-free power. These are steps in the right direction, but they must be built upon and supported by a coherent energy security strategy. 


Policymakers must recognize energy security as a fundamentally global issue, with risks and opportunities that extend far beyond America’s borders. They must end the crusade against fossil fuels, while also recognizing the realities of the energy transition.  

An all-of-the-above approach that delivers affordable, reliable and sustainable energy at home, and enhances the United States’ influence abroad, is the right way forward.  


Finally, our leaders in Washington must act quickly to pass permitting reform, align our trade and energy policies with Europe, beat China in the contest to commercialize fusion energy and counter the CCP’s influence in Africa and South America.  

Xi Jinping has a clear strategy to overcome China’s energy scarcity and turn his country into an energy superpower. U.S. leaders must check Xi’s ambition by adopting a new approach that ensures continued American energy dominance at home and abroad.  

Source link

Judge: DSG must fully pay MLB teams’ contracts


A U.S. bankruptcy judge in Houston ruled in favor of Major League Baseball and four of its teams Thursday, forcing Diamond Sports Group, the RSN operator that airs broadcasts under the name Bally Sports, to fully pay the contracts in question.

Diamond, navigating through bankruptcy proceedings, had argued it should pay the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Guardians, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers less than what the current deals call for, noting that the rapid rate of cord-cutting throughout the United States has significantly devalued the assets. But Judge Chris Lopez, presiding over a case that lasted two full days and included prolonged testimony from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, ultimately stated that “the contract rate is the right answer here.”

The decision likely set a crucial precedent that undercuts Diamond’s hope to lower costs by decreasing the value of previously agreed upon contracts, particularly with 28 NBA and NHL teams also under its purview.

“Profitability is certainly decreasing for each team,” Lopez said as part of his ruling. “But again, this doesn’t mean that the contract rate and those fees under those contracts is not reasonable.”

The Twins, Guardians, D-backs and Rangers had already been paid 75% of what they were owed as a means to hold them over until the conclusion of the hearing. Lopez, in opting not to adjust their contracts, ruled that they can hold on to those funds and that Diamond needs to pay the remaining 25% “in the ordinary course of business.” Lopez, who described his ruling as a “very difficult decision,” did not set a deadline for when Diamond must decide whether to keep or hold on to those contracts.

Diamond, a Sinclair subsidiary, took on more than $8 billion of debt to purchase the broadcasting rights for 42 teams across MLB, NBA and NHL from Fox in 2019, then gradually suffered through the proliferation of over-the-top streaming services and was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in March. Diamond owned the rights to 14 major league teams but lost the San Diego Padres earlier this week when it did not make its scheduled rights-fee payment by the end of a grace period.

MLB has been running Padres broadcasts since Wednesday, offering the games blackout-free through its streaming service, MLB.TV, and on different channels through various cable companies. The league has promised to do the same for any other team that falls out of Diamond’s purview. The judge’s ruling could push Diamond to shed the D-backs, Guardians, Twins and Rangers in the near future, and perhaps also some of the other nine major league teams under its ownership.

“MLB appreciates the ruling from the federal bankruptcy court in Houston requiring Diamond to pay the full contractual rate to clubs,” the league wrote in a statement. “As always, we hope Diamond will continue to broadcast games and meet its contractual obligations to clubs. As with the Padres, MLB will stand ready to make games available to fans if Diamond fails to meet its obligations.”

Diamond has long stated that it needs to secure streaming rights in order to prop up its Bally Sports+ app and run a more sustainable business, but it currently holds the streaming rights to only five major league teams: the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins. MLB has shown no interest in providing streaming rights for the others. The two-day hearing, which lasted a total of about 20 hours, underscored the hostility that has festered between the two sides over the past four years.

“I am asking the parties to talk,” Lopez said. “I’m not asking the parties to agree — I’m asking the parties to talk. That’s the request. I’m not going to force you into the room, but I am asking you to talk.”

During his near two-hour testimony Wednesday, Manfred stated that MLB promised Bally-owned teams they would generate at least 80% of the revenue they were expecting through their broadcast deals in 2023; whatever is not ultimately paid by Diamond will be backstopped by the league. Manfred also said MLB tried to buy the regional sports networks when they were initially for sale but came up about $900 million short of Diamond’s winning bid, adding that he would attempt to buy them again if the situation presented itself.

The revelation helped MLB’s argument.

“They believe that their rights are valuable, and that they can get as much or more for them, and they’re willing to put money on the table for them,” Lopez said, alluding to Manfred’s testimony. “They just can’t.”

Source link