Major tech and telecommunications companies are answering the president’s call to connect 99 percent of U.S. schools with high-speed Internet within the next five years by pledging more than $750 million in donations.
President Obama will announce Tuesday that Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon are just a handful of the private companies contributing over $750 million worth of services and funds to schools through the White House’s ConnectED initiative.
Apple will pledge more than $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, and other services. Microsoft will make 12 million copies of its signature Office suite available at no cost. Sprint will provide wireless Internet to 50,000 low-income students, and AT&T and Verizon are both committing $100 million to the initiative.
“These companies have recognized the compelling national need for us to have the high-speed broadband that allows us to have the most modern, most effective learning classrooms in our country where every child can learn at their desk and have a world of learning at their fingertips,” National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling said on a press call Monday.
Obama’s statement follows the Federal Communications Commission’s announcement Monday that it is doubling investment in high-speed Internet access for schools from $1 billion to $2 billion through E-Rate, a program established in 1996 that is funded through fees on monthly phone bills.
Obama introduced the ConnectED initiative last summer, and he reiterated his goal to improve technology in U.S. schools during the State of the Union address last week. Without Congress to stand in his way, it has the potential to become one of the bigger accomplishments of his second term.
The education initiative could cost between $4 billion and $6 billion. Even with the infusion of funding from the FCC and the private sector, it’s unclear where the rest of the funding will come from without raising fees on phone bills.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
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Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
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