RU Informed: News Wrap

Local News: VA Beach City Council Discusses 2023-2024 Budget 

The Virginia Beach city council recently met to discuss the 2023-2024 budget and opened the floor to receive feedback from those in attendance. There seemed to be two main trends; lower taxes and better pay for school employees. The council is expected to vote on a proposed budget of 2.9 billion dollars on May 9 and finalize the budget for the upcoming school year. Many residents want to see a break when it comes to city fees and real estate tax. The proposed budget would keep the current tax rate the same although some council members appeared to be open to reducing that rate in the future.  Many teachers also showed up to the meeting looking for better school funding. Teachers are hoping that an increased budget will lead to higher salaries to match the cost of living in VA Beach. After hearing the voices of the people, the city council now must find a way to cut traditional streams of revenue such as fees and taxes and find a way to provide more funding to schools. 

State News: VA Board of Education Revises History Standards

After taking recommendations and encouraging debate for two years, the Virginia Board of Education has approved major changes to history curriculum standards for students in grades K-12. One of the changes made was for Virginia’s labor history to receive a more prominent position in the history curriculum. Labor union supporters were among the main supporters of this change and presented the board with 5,000 petitions supporting the inclusion of labor history in the curriculum. The two-year discussion on revisions has been a subject of debate with some parents accusing the revisions of removing diversity from the curriculum. In response, the board voted to keep some of the diversity lessons which remained in the final revision approved this past Thursday. However,  some parents say that the final revision does not go far enough to tell America’s whole story and continue to petition for further revisions to the curriculum.

National News: Starship Launches Largest Rocket Yet

Elon Musk’s “Starship”  launched Thursday morning after being delayed from the initial takeoff Monday morning. Musk’s company, SpaceX, had planned for the 400-foot tall vehicle to conduct a sub-orbital flight before crashing into the ocean. Instead, Starship experienced what SpaceX called a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” two and a half minutes after liftoff. In a statement, SpaceX said, “The vehicle experienced multiple engines out during the flight test, lost altitude, and began to tumble.” While Starship did not complete its intended test flight, those in mission control were roaring with celebration. Celebrating “failures” has become a tradition at SpaceX and part of its culture. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket had a beginning marked by failures, mishaps, setbacks, and crashes on its long journey to becoming the favored rocket used by NASA, U.S. Space Force, and other agencies. These failures help SpaceX learn, enabling them to build better systems for future launches. SpaceX has big plans for Starship. An earlier prototype of Starship experienced many explosive ends before completing a successful launch and landing in 2021. In 2022, NASA awarded SpaceX with a contract to build a similar spacecraft for lunar missions under the Artemis program. Elon Musk’s ultimate vision for Starship is to establish a human colony on Mars someday.

International News: Pentagon Sending Troops to Evacuate Sudanese Embassy

In response to the days-long conflict in Sudan that has taken the lives of over 330 people and left over 3,000 wounded, the Pentagon has moved more troops to Djibouti for a possible evacuation of embassy staff in case of a civil war. In a statement to White House reporters, National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, said President Joe Biden “authorized the military to move forward with pre-positioning forces and to develop options.” The U.S. State Department has encouraged American citizens to shelter in place during the conflict. The Sudan army commanded by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has battled for days with a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan. Most of the fighting is surrounding the Sudan capital, Khartoum, which has been heavily bombarded by air strikes. Khartoum’s airport and runway have sustained heavy damage as a result of the attacks. While the international community calls for calm, there is a growing fear the conflict may spread to other countries in the region.