Government Spending Billions To Expand Broadband but Can’t Tell Who Needs It

In November 2021, Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a $1.2 trillion grab bag of public spending wish list items. One of those projects, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, would expand broadband access to communities that currently lack access to high-speed internet. BEAD would dole out $42.45 billion in state grants, and the Government Accountability Office estimated that the projects could require as many as 23,000 additional telecom workers to complete.

The only problem is that the government currently has no idea where broadband actually is and is not available.

The government defines broadband as any high-speed internet connection that is always on without needing to dial up. According to the text of the IIJA, “Access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband is essential to full participation in modern life in the United States,” especially in an era of remote work and Zoom schooling. As such, the law set out to bridge the so-called “digital divide” wherein some rural and low-income communities do not have easy broadband access.

To determine what areas need investment, the government relies on maps from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But despite costing $350 million, the FCC’s maps are notoriously unreliable and have been for many years. In 2021, The Washington Post noted the maps are based on census data, so “if even one household in a census block—a statistical area that conveys population data—has broadband available, then the agency considers the entire group served. In rural areas, one block could cover dozens of square miles.” The FCC’s maps also don’t take into account physical impediments, like trees and mountains, which can disrupt wireless signals.

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NFL Pro Game gets full power as Tennessee residents suffer freezing temps and rolling blackouts

Residents in Tennessee were furious at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on Sunday as the state suffered in a deep freeze and people were left cold on Christmas Day replete with rolling blackouts while the NFL’s Titans game against Houston was granted full power usage.

The temperature in Nashville on Sunday ranged from 16 to 30 degrees. The cold air put a significant strain on the TVA’s power grid and in response, the power authority implemented rolling blackouts in Memphis and Nashville. The Nashville Electric System (NES) also mandated reductions in power consumption just when it was needed most to keep residents warm. Over a million residents were told to limit the power they used to stay warm in freezing temps while millionaires cavorted on a football field for a billion-dollar enterprise.

As if the rolling blackouts and mandated limits weren’t bad enough, there were periods where there was no power at all during the below-freezing winter day.

The NFL allegedly got preferential treatment on power usage and was allowed to fully tap into mega-wattage for the game at Nissan Stadium. While a million residents shivered in their homes, 66,634 attendees luxuriated in buying tickets to a football game.

“I’ve been informed that TVA’s unilateral rolling blackouts will continue,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said after requesting that the game be postponed. “All non-essential businesses should reduce power usage. I’ve asked the Titans to postpone their noon game in solidarity with our neighbors. TVA needs to invest in infrastructure to withstand extreme temps.”

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America’s ‘neediest’ cities ranked, from poverty to adequate plumbing

Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Los Angeles all rank among the nation’s 10 “neediest” cities, according to an analysis by the personal finance website WalletHub.

The report ranked 182 cities on 28 economic indicators, including child poverty, food insecurity and inadequate kitchens.

Detroit ranked as the neediest metropolis. One Detroit renter in five faced eviction this year, according to a report in The Detroit News.

Brownsville, Texas, ranked second. One-quarter of the city’s population lives in poverty, twice the national average, according to a recent account in 24/7 Wall St. 

Cleveland ranks third. Cleveland’s poverty rate is 29 percent, according to a report from WEWS-TV, making it the nation’s second-poorest large city, behind Detroit.

Ranking fourth through sixth were Gulfport, Miss.; Fresno, Calif.; and Laredo, Texas.

Philadelphia ranked seventh. The City of Brotherly Love has logged 500 homicides in 2022, according to WTXF-TV.

New Orleans ranked eighth. The city may have the nation’s highest murder rate, with more than 250 homicides this year, according to a report in nola.com.

Los Angeles, for all its wealth, came in at ninth on the list of needy cities. More than 40,000 Angelenos live on the streets, according to a recent report in The Nation.

The nation’s least needy city, by WalletHub’s calculus, is the D.C suburb of Columbia, Maryland, a tony bedroom community in Howard County.

Other cities at the desirable bottom end of the list include Bismarck, the North Dakota capital; Overland Park, the Kansas City suburb; Pearl City, part of greater Honolulu; South Burlington, Vt., home to Ben & Jerry’s; and Irvine, Calif., across the Orange Curtain from L.A.

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DOT hands out $1.5 billion in grants for ‘woke’ transportation projects 

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just The News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s.

This week’s Golden Horseshoe is awarded to the Department of Transportation for $1.5 billion in grants for “woke” projects to promote “racial equity,” “environmental justice” and union jobs in transportation.

Part of President Biden’s $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the grants will be administered under DOT’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Program, the department said in a press release accompanying its Notice of Funding Opportunity. 

The DOT is “encouraging applicants to consider how their projects can address climate change, ensure racial equity, and remove barriers to opportunity,” the department said. “The Department also intends to use the RAISE program to support wealth creation and the creation of good-paying jobs with the free and fair choice to join a union, the incorporation of strong labor standards, and training and placement programs, especially registered apprenticeships.”

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3 Power Substations Vandalized in Washington State as Thousands Lose Power

At least three power substations were vandalized on Christmas Day in Pierce County, Washington state, according to officials in an update that comes just weeks after another substation was vandalized in North Carolina.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that one Tacoma Public Utilities substation was vandalized in Spanaway, located between Olympia and Tacoma, at around 5:30 a.m. local time on Dec. 25. Police said the incident led to power outages in the area.

A second Tacoma Public Utilities substation was vandalized a short time later, officials said. “Deputies arrived on scene and saw there was forced entry into the fenced area. Nothing had been taken from the substation, but the suspect vandalized the equipment causing a power outage in the area,” deputies wrote on Facebook.

Later on Dec. 25, at around 7 p.m., a Puget Sound Energy substation was vandalized after a fire was reported on-site, according to the sheriff’s office.

“The fire was extinguished and the substation secured. Power was knocked out for homes in Kapowsin and Graham. The suspect(s) gained access to the fenced area and vandalized the equipment which caused the fire,” Pierce County sheriff’s officials said. “There are no suspects in custody at this time.”

It added that “all law enforcement agencies in the county have been notified of the incidents and will be monitoring power substations in their area,” noting that “power has been restored to most of the affected homes.”

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Biden Wants $8 Billion In Taxpayer Funds To Shut Down Coal Power In South Africa

With the UN and other interests already interfering in Africa’s energy development, Joe Biden announced at the US-Africa Business Forum a plan for American taxpayers to shell out at least $8 billion to shut down effective coal fired energy plants in South Africa so they can be replaced with far less effective and far less efficient green-energy alternatives.

In other words, the goal of climate change cultists is to use $8 billion of America’s money to diminish South African infrastructure. 

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What We Know—and Don’t Know—About Recent Power Grid Attacks

The lights are coming back on in Moore County, North Carolina, where tens of thousands of people were plunged into darkness after two power substations were shot up over the weekend. 

But days later, there are still no answers about who might have been responsible for the attack or what their motivation was. 

The attack on the Duke Energy substations coincided with a planned drag show in Southern Pines that had been the target of an escalating harassment campaign by far-right extremists in the area. The timing fueled speculation that the attack could have been ideologically motivated, part of an increasingly violent assault on LGBTQ rights and events nationwide.

So far, law enforcement have not found evidence that the drag show and substation attack were linked, but anti-LGBTQ terrorism has not been ruled out as a potential motive, sources told CNN. Investigators are also exploring other possibilities—including whether the attack in Moore County is part of a broader campaign from extremists to attack critical infrastructure in the U.S. 

Law enforcement, however, appears certain that whoever was responsible for the attack “knew exactly what they were doing,” Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said Sunday. Investigators found nearly two dozen shell casings at the crime scenes. The office also applied for search warrants earlier this week. 

The attacks took place on Saturday night at around 7 p.m., local time, when one or more people shot up two separate substations using high-powered rifles. Residents in the area lost power and heat for several days, as temperatures fell to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The state of North Carolina, Moore County, and Duke Energy are offering $25,000 reward for information each, totaling $75,000. The FBI also posted a public notice seeking information about the attack.  

While investigators search for clues, news of other recent attacks on power substations elsewhere in the U.S. have also come to light. At least five such attacks on electricity substations in Oregon and Washington were reported to the FBI since late November, The Seattle Times reported

Oregon Public Broadcasting obtained memos by Kenneth Worstell, a security specialist with the Bonneville Power Administration (the federal agency that markets hydropower across the Pacific Northwest). They offered some details on an attack on a power station in Clackamas County on Thanksgiving morning.

Worstell wrote that two individuals cut through the fence surrounding that facility and then “used firearms to shoot up and disable numerous pieces of equipment and cause significant damage.” Worstell also described attacks on several other substations in western Washington, which entailed “setting the control houses on fire, forced entry and sabotage of intricate electrical control systems.” They also caused short circuits by tossing chains into the overhead web of wires and switches. 

He said that they were dealing with “quickly escalating incidents of sabotage” and noted that online extremist groups encourage such attacks. 

On Wednesday evening, 146 miles south of Moore County, CBS reported yet another possible incident involving critical infrastructure, also belonging to Duke Energy. An individual in a truck opened fire near crews outside the Wateree Hydro Station in Ridgeway, South Carolina, before driving off. Local authorities have since determined the shooting in South Carolina to be “a random act” that just happened to take place near a hydro station and had no discernible connection to the attacks in North Carolina.

And in September, half a dozen “intrusions” were reported at Duke Energy facilities in Florida, according to federal documents obtained by NewsNation. In at least two of those incidents, the intruder manually tripped equipment that caused short power outages. 

Critical infrastructure has long been eyed as a desirable target by accelerationist neo-Nazis —who seek the collapse of society through destabilizing, violent acts—and anti-government extremists. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security circulated an intelligence bulletin warning that, since 2020, domestic violent extremists had “developed credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure.” The bulletin mentioned that power companies had been on the receiving end of escalating threats between 2020 and 2021 from extremists. 

In February, three men between the ages of 20 and 24 were arrested as part of an alleged plot to attack power substation using powerful rifles “to damage the economy and stoke division” all “in furtherance of white supremacist ideology.” 

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The US Is Now Propping Up Tiny Moldova’s Energy Sector Too

This week US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the US is prepping more aid to the Ukrainian government, particularly focusing on propping up its devastated energy infrastructure, but also for the first time unveiling that the tiny country of Moldova will be receiving significant aid for its failing energy grid.

“We know that standing up for Ukraine means accepting difficult costs, particularly for our European allies, but the cost of inaction would be far higher,” Blinken began in Wednesday comments. “Caving to Russia’s aggression, accepting its brazen attempts to redraw borders by force, to tear up the rulebook that has made all of us more secure – that would have repercussions not only in Europe but quite literally around the world.”

That’s when he announced decisions made at a NATO meeting of ministers in Romania: “When we convened that group yesterday here in Bucharest, I announced that the United States will commit over $53 million to send equipment to help stabilize Ukraine’s energy grid and keep Ukraine’s power and electricity running.”

He specified $1.1 billion going to both Ukraine and Moldova:

We’ve also submitted a request to Congress for $1.1 billion to secure Ukraine and Moldova’s energy sector and restore their energy supply.  And we will take strong, coordinated action to ensure that President Putin cannot hold the rest of the world hostage to weaponized energy.

Starting last month, Moldovan authorities began informing Western allies it is suffering “massive” blackouts in relations to stepped of Russian airstrikes in neighboring Ukraine.

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As Sludge Pours from Mississippi Sinks, Biden Admin Seeks $13 Billion MORE for UKRAINE

According to Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, although the water treatment plant finally failed in August, the system “has been failing for decades” and nothing is being done.

“I have said on multiple occasions that it’s not a matter of if our system would fail, but a matter of when our system would fail,” Lumumba said.

Even before it failed, the city had been on a months-long boil notice because of a warning over disease carrying bacteria in the water supply. Since 2016, officials knew about the corrosion of the system and inadequate treatment — yet nothing was done — and now sludge pours from Jackson residents’ water taps.

Lumumba estimates that it would take roughly $1 billion to get the systems back up and running in a safe capacity but they don’t have it. This is particularly perplexing to many folks who have watched a record amount of US taxpayer dollars in recent months flow outside of the United States and into Ukraine.

Since the war in Ukraine began in February, Biden authorized $1.3 billion followed by an additional $13.6 billion. This original $15 billion of your tax dollars that got dumped into Ukraine to arm literal Nazis in the region was offensive enough but it was just the tip of the iceberg. In May, the House passed yet another massive spending bill, authorizing another $40 billion in your tax dollars to arm Nazis and keep the country at war. And they show no signs of slowing down.

Since then, various packages of cash and weapons of mass destruction, ranging from just a few hundred million to a billion, have flowed into the arms of welcoming Ukrainian politicians and military leaders.

In late August, the Pentagon announced that yet another $775 million would be sent to Ukraine. As Antiwar.com reported, this was the eighteenth weapons package to Ukraine in six months. But that wasn’t enough, apparently.

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There Has Been A Series Of “Mysterious Explosions” At Natural Gas Facilities In The United States

Are we under attack?  Previously, I have written about a series of very strange fires that have occurred at key food production facilities in the United States this year.  Authorities insist that each one of those fires was an “accident”, and maybe they are correct.  But now the same thing is starting to happen to the energy industry.  In particular, we have seen a number of “mysterious explosions” at natural gas facilities in the United States during the past two months.  Of course natural gas prices were already spiking dramatically all over the world, and so this string of disasters comes at a really bad time.

On Saturday, an absolutely massive explosion at a very important natural gas facility in Medford, Oklahoma made headlines all over the nation.  The following comes from CBS News

A large fire Saturday afternoon engulfed a natural gas plant in the small northern Oklahoma town of Medford. Video posted to social media showed heavy flames and smoke billowing hundreds of feet into the air.

The fire occurred at a “natural gas liquids fractionation facility” operated by ONEOK, a company spokesperson confirmed in a statement to CBS News.

The explosion that caused this fire was so large that it actually caused “a 1.74 magnitude earthquake”.

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