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“I mean, they’re taking back our pandas. You know, we should take back all their farmland.”

U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, complaining about China buying up American farmland, which is just one of several recent incidents that show growing tensions between the U.S. and China, several of which have been panda-related. The National Zoo’s three giant pandas are set to return to China in early December with no public signs that the 50-year-old exchange agreement will be renewed or continued. Beijing currently lends out 65 pandas to 19 countries through “cooperative research programs.” If the National Zoo’s pandas do return to China in December, the only giant pandas left in America will be those at the Atlanta Zoo, and their loan agreement expires late next year. (Associated Press — Oct. 3, 2023)

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  • U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, regarding his triggering of a fire alarm in a congressional office building on Saturday afternoon ahead of a spending bill vote. Republicans allege that Bowman was trying to delay the vote and have called for him to be punished, while Democrats insist that Bowman was simply trying to open a closed door that was usually open. (NPR — Oct. 1, 2023)
  • West Des Moines, Iowa, school district spokesperson Laine Buck, regarding the district’s decision to add disclaimer signs, but not remove any Little Free Libraries on school grounds. At least two suburban school districts have placed disclaimers on the free-standing outdoor displays where people are encouraged to share books in response to a new state law that bans books that describe sex acts from libraries and classrooms. Webster Elementary school in the Urbandale school district’s disclaimer on the “little libraries” states that they are not funded, sponsored, endorsed or maintained by the district and are not “in any way part of the Urbandale Schools library program.” (Associated Press — Sept. 29, 2023)
  • U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, regarding the formalization of a Senate dress code after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moved to relax the unofficial dress code just days earlier. The SHORTS Act, introduced by Romney and Joe Manchin, requires business attire, specifying “a coat, tie and slacks or other long pants” for men; the resolution doesn’t say anything about women. Despite the seeming-frivolity of the resolution, Romney did highlight the bipartisan victory, saying that “what may not be a real big problem, but it’s an important thing and makes a difference to a lot of people.” (NPR — Sept. 28, 2023)
  • Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, regarding the need for broadband accessibility nationwide. On Tuesday, Sept. 26, Rosenworcel said that she plans to implement a proposal to reinstate net neutrality rules that were repealed under former President Trump, but that would bar broadband providers from blocking or throttling Internet traffic to some websites and speeding up access to others that pay extra. (The Hill — Sept. 26, 2023)
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