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Navy Faces Rough Waters Under Biden

The United States Navy launched an expansive buildup under the Trump administration to counter China. But veteran national security officials say the more immediate challenge may come from President Joe Biden.

The battle for control of the seas could play a decisive role in future American-Chinese relations and global stability. China touts the largest naval fleet in the world, with several aircraft carriers under construction over the next decade. Strategy documents from China indicate that it sees the expansion and projection of its naval strength as critical to challenging the United States. A former Trump administration official urged Biden to preserve gains in shipbuilding.

“Maritime competition is if not the key area of competition, one of the key areas along with cyber and airpower,” the official said. “Do you want to live in a world where the economic and security rules are set by the People’s Republic of China? That’s what’s at stake over the next 10 years or so.”

The Trump administration designed new plans to build up a 500-ship fleet by 2045 and put longterm financial resources into doing just that. In many ways, the effort to rebuild the Navy started from the ground up, as the fleet fell into disrepair during the meager defense spending of the Obama administration. By 2015, America’s fleet shrunk to its smallest levels since World War I with 284 warships. At the end of the Trump administration, the Navy returned to a force size of 299 vessels, with at least 79 future ships under contract for construction.

The Biden administration did not return a request for comment.

The Trump administration dealt several heavy blows to China’s growing aspirations to control the high seas through its naval buildup, Russ Vought, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget, told the Washington Free Beacon. He called the Obama era “a real low point.”

“If we’re going to really be able to prepare to counter China, American maritime supremacy has to be leading the way,” Vought said. “It’s crucial to the fight. … This comes out of a coherent, longterm historical strategy.”

The United States Navy may be the strongest deterrent against Chinese aggression in Taiwan. It regularly sends warships to maneuver past the tiny island nation in a show of strength. Those cruises, known as “freedom of navigation operations,” doubled under the Trump administration. Seth Cropsey, the director of the Center of American Seapower at the Hudson Institute, said that maintaining a strong American presence off the coast of Taiwan is crucial to defending against China.

“Deterring China from attacking Taiwan is high on the list of what I hope President Biden and his national security advisers are thinking about as they try to proceed,” he said.

Bryan McGrath, a defense consultant and former Navy officer, spoke to Obama’s failures on freedom of navigation operations. McGrath said that during the Obama years, top officials saw the operations as gasoline on the fire in tensions with China instead of the way they are intended—as a tool to affirm American sovereignty and international law.

“You put a team on the field that is capable of making people’s lives miserable, and you make the right statements that you intend to make their lives miserable if they do something stupid, and you hope that they don’t do something stupid,” McGrath said of how freedom of navigation operations are supposed to work. “Obama got them wrong because he saw them as escalatory.”

Though the Navy enjoyed increased focus from the White House in the past four years, officials and experts voiced concern to the Free Beacon that Biden may scale back expansion amid budget battles. Critics said that the Navy became sclerotic during Biden’s tenure as vice president. The Obama administration’s most ambitious naval plans aimed at making warships and planes more eco-friendly, rather than expanding the branch—an initiative that critics called a financial and security disaster. Biden’s defense picks have similarly argued that green energy and environmental efficiency should be atop the Pentagon agenda.

“They made some of this ‘Great Green Fleet’ seem like it was more important than capacity and capability,” McGrath said of Obama’s defense team. “Efficient operations aren’t always the most effective operations.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) urged Biden to continue the ship buildup rather than get sidetracked with pet environmentalist initiatives.

“The Biden Administration would be wise to continue the bicameral and bipartisan effort to achieve a 355 ship Navy,” Cotton said. “Regaining maritime primacy is a critical component of our ability to compete with China and maintain peace through strength.”

The Navy did not return a request for comment.

Jack Beyrer is a news writer at the Washington Free Beacon. He covers breaking news in national security and domestic politics. Jack previously interned with RealClearPolitics and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and is a graduate of Wake Forest University where he majored in history. He can be reached at beyrer@freebeacon.com.

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Biden’s Asia Policy Czar Helped Found Group ‘Heavily Influenced by the CCP’

Joe Biden’s incoming Asia policy czar was a top leader at a nonprofit group that was bankrolled by the head of a Chinese propaganda front group and partnered with a Chinese foreign mission.

Kurt Campbell, a former Obama State Department official and businessman, was until August 2020 listed as board vice chairman of the U.S.-China Strong Foundation, ostensibly a nonprofit group that promotes student language exchanges with Beijing but whose leaders included prominent members of the Chinese government’s overseas propaganda fronts, according to State Department and Department of Justice records.

Campbell is slated to serve as the chief coordinator for President Joe Biden’s Asia policy on the National Security Council, but his leadership role with the foundation is raising concerns with China hawks in Washington. The foundation has promoted the Chinese army and China’s Belt and Road Initiative—deemed a national security threat by U.S. officials. It has also partnered with the Confucius Institute U.S. Center, an educational nonprofit organization that the State Department designated as a foreign mission last summer, citing its promotion of Beijing’s propaganda efforts to academics across the world.

In August 2017, the U.S.-China Strong Foundation appeared to celebrate the founding of the People’s Liberation Army on its Twitter account, writing, “Today is the 90th anniversary of the founding of China’s PLA!” and urging followers to read about a commemorating address by President Xi. The group also posted multiple favorable Twitter messages about China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure program that U.S. officials have decried as a national security risk.

“The indicators suggest that the U.S.-China Strong Foundation could be a [Chinese Communist Party] front group, or so heavily influenced by the CCP as to be tantamount to a front group,” said Anders Corr, an intelligence analyst and publisher of the Journal of Political Risk.

The U.S.-China Strong Foundation’s website appears to have vanished from the internet in August 2020, and its phone number and email address are no longer in service. An archived version of the website, however, listed Campbell as vice chairman and a member of the corporate advisory board as recently as Aug. 15, 2020. He is also listed as vice chairman in the group’s most recent federal financial disclosure, filed in 2019.

The foundation is bankrolled by Florence Fang, a Chinese-American philanthropist who sits on the group’s board and corporate leadership council. Fang is listed as the honorary president of the San Francisco chapter of the National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification, which promotes unified Chinese control over Taiwan. According to the State Department, the association is controlled by the United Front Work Department, the Chinese government’s primary overseas propaganda agency.

Fang, who also goes by the name Fang Li Bangqin, is regularly quoted in state-run media outlets and pictured meeting with Chinese government leaders, including President Xi Jinping. In 2017, Fang met with then-vice premier Liu Yandong, who said their friendship began when Liu served as head of the United Front Work Department in the early 2000s.

Hong Kong billionaire Ronnie Chan is also listed as a member of the U.S.-China Strong Foundation’s leadership council. Chan is a former Hong Kong government official and a governor of the China-United States Exchange Foundation, a registered foreign agent of the Chinese government, the Washington Free Beacon reported last July.

Other U.S.-China Strong Foundation board members include Pin Ni, the head of Chinese conglomerate Wanxiang’s U.S. subsidiary, and Cindy Mi, the head of a Chinese-American educational company that reportedly fired teachers for teaching about the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The U.S.-China Strong Foundation was founded in 2013 and was previously known as the “100,000 Strong Foundation.” The group was a privately funded spinoff of an Obama administration joint initiative with the Chinese government in 2010 to encourage 100,000 American students to travel to China to learn Mandarin through foreign-language exchanges.

The initiative was spearheaded by Campbell, who served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs at the time. Then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton credited Campbell for advancing the project in a Jan. 24, 2013, speech and praised him for helping to “deepen and strengthen our relationship with China and others in the region.”

Campbell left his government post just a couple of weeks later and immediately helped launch the U.S.-China Strong Foundation as an independent nonprofit with more than $1 million in seed funding from Florence Fang and the Ford Foundation, according to a Politico column he wrote at the time.

Although the foundation initially seemed aimed at supporting American language exchange programs in China, its work has also focused on promoting Chinese cultural centers in the United States and even pro-Beijing policies.

The foundation has partnered with the Confucius Institute U.S. Center, an umbrella group of Chinese-language educational centers partially funded by the Chinese government. The U.S. State Department has said the institutes actively seek to influence students and academics as part of “Beijing’s multifaceted propaganda efforts” and designated the group as a foreign mission in August.

In 2018, the U.S.-China Strong Foundation cohosted a “panel discussion” with the Confucius Institute U.S. Center at the National Press Club titled, “U.S.-China Educational Exchanges: 40 Years of Engagement in Higher Education.” The event came as federal agencies were starting to crack down on Confucius Institutes on American campuses and seemed timed to defend the program against public criticism.

“The kinds of groups that Campbell associates with typically promote ‘engagement,’ ‘cooperation,’ and ‘understanding’ between the U.S. and China,” said Corr. “The words sound great, but the CCP is using these words as cover for infiltration operations.”

Campbell is not the first Biden-administration official whose China-related work has drawn scrutiny. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s consulting firm, WestExec, helped American universities raise money from China while sidestepping Pentagon grant restrictions, the Free Beacon reported in December. And Biden’s nominee for a top Pentagon post, Colin Kahl, works at a research institute that runs an outpost at Peking University, the Free Beacon reported in January.

Alana Goodman is a senior investigative reporter for the Washington Free Beacon. She was previously investigative political reporter at the Washington Examiner and a senior reporter at the Daily Mail. Goodman has written for Commentary, the Weekly Standard, and the New York Post. She lives in Washington, D.C. Her Twitter handle is @alanagoodman. Her email address is goodman@freebeacon.com.

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Free Beacon Presents: Political Disrupters to Watch in 2021

Now that Joe Biden has been sworn in as the oldest president in American history, it’s time to stop dwelling on the past and start looking forward to the future.

Twenty twenty-one has the potential to be one of the most politically challenging years since 2020. We’ve identified a number of “political disrupters” who could really shake things up as the year unfolds, as well as some who already have made an impact.

Keep an eye out for these mavericks, agitators, and insurgents whose actions in 2021 could change the course of history:

Joe Manchin

The senator from West Virginia is technically a Democrat, but he couldn’t care less what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks about him. Most of his colleagues want to eliminate the filibuster, but that’s not going to happen unless Manchin changes his mind. For the time being, he’s one of the most influential Democrats in the country and is more powerful than Elizabeth Warren will ever be.

Kyrsten Sinema

Like Manchin but with nicer hair and openly bisexual, Sinema (for now) doesn’t want to get rid of the filibuster either and is a frequent source of anxiety for her party’s liberal base. Perhaps if the libs cried more, it would make a difference.

Mitch McConnell

Midnight Mitch never sleeps. If you thought he was cunning and ruthless in the majority, just wait. Chuck Schumer might be the majority leader on paper, but he’s not in charge.

John Weaver

His ousting from the Democratic-aligned super PAC has the potential to be significantly disruptive, as it raises a number of potentially explosive questions regarding the extent to which his Lincoln Project colleagues enabled or attempted to cover up his predatory behavior.

Hunter Biden

The First Son is under federal investigation for financial crimes related to his sketchy business ventures in China and Ukraine. If they find something juicy, the media might be forced to report on it this time.

Ghislaine Maxwell

Her testimony could (presumably) destroy a number of political careers if she decides to talk and Hillary Clinton doesn’t get to her first.

Mike Lindell

The My Pillow CEO says he has the evidence to prove that Joe Biden was fraudulently elected. Reinstalling Donald Trump as president would be one of the most disruptive events in American history. Let’s hear him out.

Joe Biden

The 78-year-old could disrupt everything by dropping dead. In the meantime, his presidency is already disrupting the media industry by warming the hearts of journalists and forcing them to reimagine the concept of “fact-checking.”

Andrew Stiles is senior writer at the Washington Free Beacon. He can be reached at stiles@freebeacon.com.

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30 Years of Research Rebut Biden’s Minimum-Wage Agenda

Democrats’ plan to hike the minimum wage would cost American jobs, a new review of decades of studies finds.

The analysis, published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, combed through academic literature on the minimum wage and determined that nearly 80 percent of studies conducted since 1992 have found that an increased minimum wage leads to a decrease in the level of employment.

The effect, study authors David Neumark of U.C Irvine and Peter Shirley of the West Virginia state legislature find, is most pronounced for teens and young adults, particularly for the less-educated—meaning that these groups are most likely to be pushed out of the labor market by a hike in the minimum wage.

The new study comes as congressional Democrats reintroduce legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and as President Joe Biden pushes for the same hike as part of his proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus plan. Neumark and Shirley’s findings serve as evidence that these pushes could cost American jobs as the unemployment rate remains elevated thanks to the coronavirus recession.

Neumark and Shirley observe that the debate around the minimum wage is highly fraught, with expert economists often reaching different conclusions based on the same data. Surveying recent summaries of the literature, they find that researchers have simultaneously concluded that increasing the minimum wage cuts jobs, that it doesn’t cut jobs, and that the evidence is too equivocal to say either way.

In an attempt to cut through this dispute, the pair summarize what they identify as the central findings of some 30 years of papers, stretching back to the pioneering work done by Berkeley economist David Card, one of the first economists to use modern methods to study the effects of the minimum wage on employment and wages.

The results of Neumark and Shirley’s survey are not rosy for minimum-wage advocates. They find that some 80 percent of results are negative, with roughly half being both negative and statistically significant. Most of the studies that find large, positive effects of the minimum wage on unemployment are from the early part of the period surveyed, suggesting that they may be using less accurate data or less effective methodology.

The effects are particularly pronounced for teenagers, for whom just one study indicates a significant increase in employment, compared with 18 that find a negative and significant effect. This observation is particularly significant given recent research evidence that finds that minimum-wage increases can lead to an increase in property crime, as young and marginally skilled people are pushed out of the labor market and instead commit crimes to get by.

The new review may prove problematic for Democrats, who this week have begun a push to pass a $15 federal minimum wage into law, with newly installed Senate Budget chairman Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) leading the charge. That could cost anywhere from 1.5 million to 3.7 million jobs, according to an estimate published by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last year.

Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have signaled their hostility to the increase and to Biden’s stimulus bill more generally. Republican senators attacked the wage hike during hearings for new Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen. Yellen told Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.) that “the likely impact on jobs is minimal”—not only disagreeing with the new study but also contradicting her own conclusions from 2014.

Charles Fain Lehman is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He writes about policy, covering crime, law, drugs, immigration, and social issues. Reach him on twitter (@CharlesFLehman) or by email at lehman@freebeacon.com.

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Republican Senators Press Yellen for Tough Stance on China

Senate Republicans are pushing Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to take an aggressive stance on China.

In a Monday letter, Sens. Mitt Romney (R., Utah), Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said the Biden administration must not fall back into the lax trade and economic policies that allowed China’s “evil empire” to rise. The senators demanded that Yellen act decisively in punishing China for its use of economic warfare to undermine American strength.

“The strategic consequences of continued financial and technological interdependence with Xi Jinping’s evil regime demand deeper and more specific policy prescriptions than what you provided in both your oral and written responses,” the letter to Yellen states. “We remain concerned however about the strategic consequences of any reticence to commit to us[ing] … tools to economically challenge and technologically decouple American financial interests from the CCP.”

Yellen has acknowledged China engages in unfair trade practices and openly disagreed with the longstanding manipulation of currency that Beijing has used to its advantage. However, she has also disagreed with the Trump administration’s approach to curtailing Chinese influence through tariffs and the disruption of international trade.

The Treasury secretary was confirmed in a 84-15 vote on Monday, with only Republicans objecting to the nomination. Cotton blasted the nomination as pushing divisive economic policy despite Biden’s call for unity in his agenda.

“Janet Yellen has served the public for many years, but I will not support nominees who’ve indicated they will advance Joe Biden’s divisive economic vision for our country,” he said in a Monday press release.

Jack Beyrer is a news writer at the Washington Free Beacon. He covers breaking news in national security and domestic politics. Jack previously interned with RealClearPolitics and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and is a graduate of Wake Forest University where he majored in history. He can be reached at beyrer@freebeacon.com.

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Judge Blocks Biden Deportation Freeze Nationwide Following Legal Challenge by Texas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge in Texas on Tuesday temporarily blocked a move by U.S. President Joe Biden to halt the deportation of certain immigrants for a 100-day period, a swift legal setback for the new Democratic president’s ambitious immigration agenda.

U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton, an appointee of former President Donald Trump in the Southern District of Texas, issued a temporary restraining order that blocks the policy nationwide for 14 days following a legal challenge by Texas.

Reporting by Ted Hesson; Editing by Eric Beech

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Biden Education Pick Is Leading Opponent of Return to Classrooms

President Joe Biden’s pick to be deputy secretary of education is still fighting to keep students out of the classroom in San Diego, where she’s school superintendent.

Cindy Marten, the longtime superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, has been a vocal opponent of bringing back in-person instruction for public school students. The district had pledged to give a timeline for reopening on Jan. 13, but Marten failed to follow through, announcing after the deadline that no date for return will be set.

“Despite the progress that is being made and all of the best efforts of all of our employees, it’s important that we recognize that the virus continues to spread and it’s out of control in our communities,” Marten said. “This is not the time to let up on our efforts to defeat this deadly virus.”

Marten’s refusal to set a timeline for schools to reopen is in direct contradiction with Biden, who has vowed to have schools reopen within the first hundred days of his presidency. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, has said the government’s “default position” should be to get kids back in the classroom.

Recent peer-reviewed studies confirm that transmission of COVID-19 in schools is “extremely rare,” but teachers in some of the biggest districts in the country continue to resist going back to the classroom until there is mass vaccination of both teachers and students.

Former San Diego county supervisor Kristin Gaspar, a Republican who lost her district race in November, praised Marten’s “passion” for her work but said she has been hamstrung by her commitment to pleasing the unions.

“Superintendent Marten should be praised for her passion at the reins of San Diego schools,” Gaspar told the Washington Free Beacon. “Unfortunately, Marten has consistently favored the loudest voice at the decision-making table, and that is the teachers’ union. It’s alarming to us as parents to witness the strong influence of labor unions on the continued closure of public schools.”

As she works to keep public schools closed, Marten, who also serves on the board of the California Teachers Association benefits organization, continues to make over $300,000 in the taxpayer-funded role, between salary and benefits. While San Diego’s public schools continue their restrictions on in-person education, a majority of their private counterparts have opened their doors for in-person learning. A November survey found that 84 percent of San Diego students in private schools are attending in person to varying degrees, compared with only 32 percent of those in San Diego public schools.

The actual curriculum of San Diego Unified School District’s classes may pose additional hurdles to Marten’s nomination. A report from the City Journal found that, amid a global pandemic, the district has prioritized abolishing deadlines for homework, mandating diversity trainings where teachers were told they are guilty of “spirit murdering” black children, and instituting an ethnic studies curriculum.

Five years into her tenure as superintendent, a Voice of San Diego report found that “gains have been incremental and difficult to measure” and that “the achievement gap Marten pledged to tackle at the outset has gone virtually unchanged.” Katrina Hasan Hamilton, the local NAACP education chair, criticized Marten’s “historical pattern of allowing the excessive suspension and expulsion of black students in San Diego.”

Marten has received support from her fellow California Democrats, including Tony Thurmond, California’s superintendent of public instruction, who has made institutionalizing sex education a priority from kindergarten onward.

Gaspar said she hopes Marten will reverse course if confirmed as deputy secretary of education and make the well-being of children her top priority.

“The inability to open our schools has led to severe increases in anxiety, depression, higher incidences of child abuse, doubling of child sex trafficking, and a rapidly growing socioeconomic divide,” she said. “As deputy secretary of education, may Cindy Marten find the strength and grace to first prioritize the well-being of students across this country that will be entrusted to her care.”

Marten’s confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled. Neither Marten nor the White House returned requests for comment.

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Huawei Ghostwrote Op-Ed for MIT Scholar

As one American university after another suspended research ties with Huawei for its alleged ties to Chinese espionage, MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte offered a full-throttle defense of the company.

“Don’t ban Huawei,” read a May 2019 column published under Negroponte’s name. “The U.S. should collaborate with leading technology companies and their research labs, rather than banning them.”

Negroponte, however, did not write the column, at least according to Huawei employee Winter Wright, who noted on his LinkedIn profile that he ghostwrote the article on behalf of the MIT scholar, whose research center has received millions of dollars in research funding from the Chinese tech company.

The op-ed is one aspect of the years-long relationship between Huawei and Negroponte, which continued even after MIT cut ties with the company following a 13-count federal indictment. For years, Negroponte praised Huawei and defended it against criticism; Huawei in turn funded the MIT Media Lab, a world-class research institute that Negroponte founded in 1985.

Neither Wright nor Negroponte returned requests for comment.

Negroponte is one of America’s most influential public intellectuals, boasting extensive ties to the tech and government worlds. Negroponte was an angel investor in such prominent U.S. tech companies as Skype, while his brother, John Negroponte, served as the deputy secretary of state for the Bush administration.

The partnership between Negroponte and Huawei is just one example of the extensive monetary ties that exist between China and U.S. colleges. China’s military-industrial complex has funneled $88 million to U.S. universities in recent years, a Washington Free Beacon review of records found. More than 100 American colleges at one point hosted a Confucius Institute, a Chinese government-funded Mandarin program that has received bipartisan criticism for being a threat to academic freedom on American campuses.

Huawei started working with MIT as far back as in 2008, when a research group under the MIT Media Lab listed the Chinese tech company’s U.S. subsidiary as an industry partner. Negroponte’s relationship with Huawei can be traced to 2011, when he gave a presentation at a Huawei-hosted MIT junket praising China for building telecommunication infrastructure in Africa. MIT Media Lab formally listed Huawei as a corporate sponsor between the 2012 and 2017 fiscal years. Corporate sponsorship gave the Chinese company extensive privileges, including “access to all of the research conducted at the Lab” and “full intellectual property rights.”

It is unclear how much money Huawei gave to MIT Media Lab as part of its corporate sponsorship. MIT has publicly acknowledged only $500,000 in Huawei donations, but one MIT Media Lab researcher’s website notes that Huawei donated $1.4 million to fund robotics research at the institution. MIT is currently the subject of a federal investigation for allegedly concealing donations from Huawei and other foreign sources.

MIT officially suspended ties with Huawei in April 2019 in response to growing public concerns about the Chinese company’s role in U.S. higher education. Negroponte, however, continued to work with the company. MIT did not respond to questions about why Negroponte was allowed to continue to work with Huawei after the ban.

Negroponte’s ghostwritten op-ed—which appeared roughly a month after MIT severed ties with the tech company—argues that “Huawei has an unblemished 30-year cybersecurity record and more than 500 satisfied telecom customers around the world.” Negroponte’s assertion stands in contrast to disturbing reports about Huawei’s activities in Africa, where the company allegedly helped African governments spy on political opponents and built IT servers in the African Union’s headquarters that transferred data to a Shanghai server every morning.

The op-ed came in handy for Huawei as it tried to convince skeptical western governments across the world. The company cited the column as a voice of reason from an esteemed scholar in its public submissions to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, as well as in its official-position paper on cybersecurity. Chinese propagandists also boosted the op-ed, touting that “MIT scholar opposes U.S. Huawei ban.”

The MIT scholar has continued to help Huawei in its public-relations push against Western scrutiny. Negroponte joined Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei in a high-profile round table the company hosted in June 2019, in which he denounced the U.S. government’s national-security concerns about Huawei as disingenuous. He also appeared on an online panel with Huawei rotating chairman Guo Ping in May 2020.

Negroponte’s decision to court Huawei donations is in line with his aggressive fundraising approach, which recently came under fire after he defended MIT Media Lab for receiving donations from convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

“Epstein is an extreme case,” he told the Boston Globe. “But then do you take Koch money? Do you take Huawei money? And on and on?”

Huawei did not return a request for comment.

Yuichiro Kakutani is a reporter at the Washington Free Beacon. He recently graduated from Cornell University, where he studied government and history. He previously served as editor for The Cornell Daily Sun. He’s a proud New Yorker — and by that he means, New York City. He can be reached at kakutani@freebeacon.com.

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Inside the ‘Diversity Audit’ Conducted at a Top U.S. Prep School

Teachers at one of the nation’s leading independent schools were pressed this past month to assess how their classes advanced students’ commitments to social justice issues, including the “diversity of sexual identity.”

Materials from a diversity audit conducted by an outside consultant for the tony Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles quiz teachers on their compliance with progressive views on six categories of “diversity”: racial identity, religious identity, socioeconomic status, “family structure,” sexual identity, and disability status. For each topic, teachers were told to ask themselves how they address these identities in their courses, what values students are acquiring when learning about these identities, and how the course promotes a social justice understanding of the world more generally.

Teachers were also asked to fill out a worksheet indicating how their classes, regardless of subject, contributed to students’ understanding of “diversity.” The sheet asked teachers to describe how their courses “foster an understanding of systems of power and encourage students to develop tools for equity and justice.”

The materials, which emphasize to teachers the importance of teaching social justice ideology, offer an inside look at the spread of the new progressivism taking root in American high schools and shed light on the sort of advice schools across the country are shelling out for in the wake of the summer’s racial protests.

The worksheet was distributed to all of Harvard-Westlake’s 200-some teachers, according to a source at the school, as part of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) curricular review initiated this summer and conducted by the Glasgow Group, a Maryland-based consultancy that connects independent schools to professional diversity administrators.

Harvard-Westlake declined to comment for this story. The Glasgow Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Glasgow worksheet uses language characteristic of contemporary DEI priorities. Race, for example, is described as “a social construct that is used to group people together in relation to power and privilege.” “Family structure” ostensibly “relates to various aspects of families, the way that they are organized and who makes up a family unit,” with the implication being that different family structures—married, unmarried, or divorced—should be viewed as “diverse,” rather than better or worse.

Such progressive views have become commonplace at schools across the country, with high-priced independent schools like Harvard-Westlake (where tuition runs to $40,000 a year) leading the way. The school has attracted flak for this turn, thanks largely to anonymous social media posts highlighting teachers who use gender-neutral pronouns and apologize for being on native land, presentations that insist climate change and Black Lives Matter are beyond political debate, and administrators who praise prominent progressive anti-Semites. The DEI worksheet adds further to this evidence of a comprehensively “woke” culture.

“It’s intrusive and completely inappropriate that Harvard-Westlake is demanding teachers get involved in indoctrinating students about things like ‘family structure,’ and it shows how pervasive and revolutionary the goals are,” a member of the Harvard-Westlake community, who declined to be named for fear of reprisal, told the Washington Free Beacon. “This isn’t really about George Floyd and ‘racial justice’—it’s about creating a new, extremist mission for the school that attacks our society and indoctrinates students with radical political views that are presented to them as uncontroversial and mainstream.”

That transformation has been facilitated by an ever-growing workforce of DEI professionals—Harvard-Westlake employs five administrators—and consultants. In the case of Harvard-Westlake, its letter to the community this past summer detailing an expanded “antiracism” agenda promised to employ four outside consultancies, including the Glasgow Group.

The Glasgow Group is typical of such organizations: It brings together 12 diversity professionals who can earn cash on the side granting their imprimatur to independent schools like Harvard-Westlake. The group has emphasized the need for its services amid recent upheavals, publishing guides to responding to social media accusations of racism and responding to the 2020 election. In the latter, it encourages schools to “create a culture of dialogue, not debate,” and “anticipate a range of emotional responses to the outcomes of the election. Validate the range of emotions and provide outlets for processing.”

Charles Fain Lehman is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He writes about policy, covering crime, law, drugs, immigration, and social issues. Reach him on twitter (@CharlesFLehman) or by email at lehman@freebeacon.com.

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Supreme Court Puts An End To Corruption Cases Against Trump

The Supreme Court on Monday effectively ended several lawsuits alleging that former President Donald Trump violated anti-corruption provisions in the Constitution.

The cases, from New York City and Washington, D.C., argued Trump was violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause by taking money from foreign and domestic political entities at his restaurants and hotels while in office. The justices said Monday that the disputes are now moot, and they instructed two lower courts to erase earlier decisions that went against the former president.

The emoluments cases were the opening salvo of four years of hard-fought lawfare with the Trump family. The suits attracted support from Democrats in Congress, blue state attorneys general, progressive lawyers, and famous legal scholars. In the end, after years of litigating, the courts never definitively answered whether Trump’s singular arrangement was unlawful, and Monday’s order wiped away the few precedents developed for a little-known provision of the Constitution.

The lawsuits were bedeviled with difficult questions from the start. One was foundational: Federal courts had never actually defined what an emolument is, so it was unclear whether the emoluments clause covered Trump’s business transactions. Even if it did, there were other hard questions, like what judges could do to stop it, or who could challenge Trump in court. Much of the legal battle focused on the latter question.

In the New York case, a group of hoteliers and restaurant owners claimed Trump encouraged foreign powers and government officials to patronize his businesses. That undercut their ability to compete with Trump properties, they said, and hurt their bottom line.

A federal judge said the connection between Trump and the alleged lost business was “too tenuous” in 2017 and dismissed the case for lack of standing. A federal appeals court revived the suit a year later, but the case ultimately floundered with Monday’s order.

The oversight group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) was also involved in the New York and D.C. cases. CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder said the real victory is the awareness CREW raised along the way.

“This important litigation made the American people aware for four years of the pervasive corruption that came from a president maintaining a global business and taking benefits and payments from foreign and domestic governments,” Bookbinder said. “Only Trump losing the presidency and leaving office ended these corrupt constitutional violations and stopped these groundbreaking lawsuits.”

The disputes inspired deep disagreements and sharp exchanges among judges. In May 2020, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote a no-holds-barred dissent after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived the D.C. emoluments lawsuit, saying the case was a means of harassment that had no business in federal court.

“We are reaching the point of solving political differences increasingly through litigation rather than through legislation and elections,” Wilkinson wrote. “This is a profoundly anti-democratic development pressed in a suit whose wrongfulness and transparently political character will diminish the respect to which courts are entitled.”

The justices also declined to hear an emoluments lawsuit from Democratic members of Congress in October. Monday’s cases are No. 20-330 Trump v. CREW and No. 20-331 Trump v. District of Columbia.

Kevin Daley covers the Supreme Court for the Washington Free Beacon. He has covered the Supreme Court since 2016. His email is daley@freebeacon.com.