As fall semester begins, educators in red states prepare for a brave new world

Plus, Elon’s gesticulating geopolitics and the second death of Ronald Reagan.


North Dakota schools are bracing for the first semester since the state’s Legislative Assembly passed a series of anti-LGBTQ bills. They include:

House Bill 1522, which compels transgender students to use bathrooms that do not align with their gender identity and disallows teachers from being mandated to use the preferred pronouns of students.

HB 1297, which bans (and makes no exceptions for) students from updating the gender on their birth certificate.

HB 1474, which, according to Human Rights Watch, “would prohibit LGBTQ+ people from bringing claims of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in areas of law including employment, housing and public accommodations.”

Education professionals across the state are concerned that the implementation will result in an uptick in teen suicide. Research has time and time again indicated that policies like gender-affirming care can greatly reduce mental health problems amongst transgender people — and are detrimental to their well-being when denied.

One such educator, Grand Forks Superintendent Terry Brenner, told Prairie News Service that his districts will have to abide by the new laws, but that he believes the consequences could prove fatal. “My concern is that the suicide rate was high among transgender students previous to the law being enacted,” Brenner said, “and there’s concern that that metric will rise moving into the future.”

But down south, despite the recent passage of the LEARNS Act in Arkansas, multiple high schools in the state have said they will not respect a provision in the bill that essentially excludes AP African American Studies classes from being taught.

A coalition of Little Rock School District’s Central High, North Little Rock High School, Jacksonville High, the Academies at Jonesboro, North Little Rock Center for Excellence and eStem Public Charter High School announced they will continue to offer the curriculum.

Arkansas’ state Department of Education responded last Friday by claiming that the course would not count towards the number of credits required for a student to graduate.

Elon Musk has been playing both sides of the Ukraine invasion for his own personal gain

A new profile by New Yorker journalist Ronan Farrow has revealed that tech mogul and X (formerly known as Twitter) owner Elon Musk has a direct line of communication with Vladimir Putin, all while providing crucial internet communication to the Ukrainian military.

The former variable might be the most unnerving aspect of the piece, wherein it was reported that Musk’s seemingly charitable deployment of his Starlink satellite to the Ukrainian battlefield was a double-edged sword: On one hand, Ukrainian commanders were able to effectively communicate in a conflict zone; on the other, Musk exerts tremendous control over the system.

And that singular influence proved detrimental. It appears that Musk at one point greatly diminished the Starlink network during moments of intense combat, leaving Ukrainian soldiers unable to exchange crucial information.

“More alarmingly,” Farrow writes, “SpaceX had recently given the Pentagon an ultimatum: if it didn’t assume the cost of providing service in Ukraine, which the company calculated at some four hundred million dollars annually, it would cut off access.”  

Furthermore, Musk claimed to have had a “great conversation” with Russian president Vladimir Putin, all while advocating on X for a pro-Russian peace plan that would cede the Crimean peninsula to the Russian state.

Fellow Silicon Valley titan and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman — both a colleague and critic of Musk — summed it up nicely for Farrow. What Musk isn’t doing isn’t so much political as it is pure narcissism.

“Elon desperately wants the world to be saved,” Altman said. “But only if he can be the one to save it.”


As the German hair metal band the Scorpions once crooned, “The future's in the air, I can feel it everywhere I'm blowing with the wind of change.”

Not even twenty years ago, the GOP was very much still the party of Reagan. And while there’s clearly been a paradigmatic pivot, you’d think there’d be a little bit of ideological consistency. Per a combination Pew Research-New York Times poll, Republican voters are no longer wed to neoconservative, deficit hawkery.

And, yes, while they may not be too focused on gay marriage (it was 2005, after all), they’ve moved on to other culture war quackery.

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Jamie Larson