Billionaire’s scion and Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts set a high watermark for controversy during his first six years in office. There was his “crazy” refusal to lock down the state despite a surge of COVID-19 cases, the unearthed racist messages from his former campaign field director, and his maskless gabfest at a sports bar on election night 2020. (The restaurant worker who filmed the governor was fired.)
Yet in recent months the nuttiness quotient has somehow metastasized. Over the summer, the governor fueled a far-right conspiracy that claimed that some of President Biden’s conservation efforts were in fact a private land grab.
Then Ricketts dived head first into the culture wars, assailing critical race theory, the playing of the “Black national anthem” at a University of Nebraska basketball game, and other anti-racism efforts at the college.
“That document is basically saying the University of Nebraska is systematically racist. I don’t believe it,” Ricketts said of the anti-racism proposals on Nov. 22.
On Wednesday the Omaha NAACP published a statement imploring the governor to back off.
Ricketts’ provocations are likely calculated, local politicos say. His second term ends in just over a year, and he’s mimicking the latest right-wing playbook in pursuit of higher office.
“I think he’s gunning for either a cabinet office when a Republican president takes over in ’24 or a vice presidential slot,” said John McCollister, a Republican member of the Nebraska Legislature who was previously the executive director of Ricketts’ think tank, the Platte Institute for Economic Research.
“It’s ironic because he [initially] didn’t support Trump, but he’s embracing Trumpian types of policies now,” McCollister added. “I’d say during his first term, when I was in the legislature, he wasn’t embracing so many of these cultural issues.”
“I don’t think he is being sincere.”
— A source who spent years working with Ricketts
Another former Republican official, who knows Ricketts well, says the governor’s professed outrage feels performative: “The only thing I can think of is that he expects Donald Trump to be a factor in the next election, whether he is a nominee or whether he anoints somebody else… and I think [Ricketts] is trying to appeal to the Trump faction of the party.”
Speculation is growing that Ricketts may run for president himself, even just in the hopes of landing a high-profile gig when he likely loses.
“At least within the state, there isn’t an obvious next office to run for,” said Kevin Smith, chair of the department of political science at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. “Both of our senators,” Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer, “seem pretty well ensconced.”
Ricketts’ office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The 57-year-old governor owes at least some of his success to his parents, Joe and Marlene, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars backing his first campaign in 2014, filings show.
The family, which collectively owns a majority stake in the Chicago Cubs, owes much of its wealth to the online brokerage TD Ameritrade. Joe Ricketts founded the predecessor to the business in 1975; Forbes pegs his net worth at $4.5 billion.
Roughly five years ago, before Pete Ricketts channeled Trump’s tactics, the family spent millions of dollars during the Republican primaries funding a Super PAC that tried to keep The Donald out of office—prompting Trump to tweet that they “better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”
Pete Ricketts ultimately endorsed Trump, who infamously launched his campaign by calling many Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists.”
Now, as the governor seems to be contemplating a similar presidential bid, he is fanning flames of his own. It’s a strategy playing out in a number of right-wing races, including the Senate campaigns of J.D. Vance and Blake Masters.
Last month Ricketts assailed the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, after its basketball program played “Lift Every Voice and Sing”—also referred to as the Black national anthem—in addition to the Star Spangled Banner.
The college’s athletic director said the gesture was intended as a display of “unity and education.”
Soon after, Ricketts’ office released a statement on Nov. 5 proclaiming that there is “only one national anthem for the United States.”
He followed that with an attack on the university’s chancellor, Ronnie Green, over UNL’s diversity and inclusion proposals, which included efforts to recruit underrepresented students and staff and a commitment to address “institutional barriers that perpetuate equity gaps.”
Ricketts declared in a press conference that he had “lost all faith” in Green.
Meanwhile, university president Ted Carter published an open letter defending the proposals.
“We will not impose critical race theory, nor any theory, upon students. We will not hire candidates based on their skin color. We will not close our doors to any qualified student. We will not limit the free, robust exchange of ideas on campus—one of the most cherished ideals in higher learning,” he wrote.
There is a sense among some observers that the governor’s indignation is just a naked political calculation.
“I don’t think he is being sincere,” a person who spent years working with Ricketts told The Daily Beast. Instead, the person said, the governor seems to believe that political wedge issues offer his best shot at national office.
Either way, as Ricketts competes in the Outrage Olympics, his statements are taking a toll.
“It does feel a bit like some of the politicians and [the governor] included are sort of digging through university business to find ways of fighting a culture war,” one University of Nebraska professor told The Daily Beast. “And it does create an additional sense of fear and dread on campus.”
Major crypto exchange mulls Russia expansion despite looming ban
The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, wants to expand to Russia despite a proposed crypto ban in the country.
According to Binance Eastern European Director Gleb Kostarev, expansion to Russia is strategically important for the growth of the crypto exchange.
“Our goal is to obtain a license and conduct legal business where the regulation allows,” Kostarev told Reuters, noting that Binance is expecting to see a progressive regulatory approach from Russia that could also set a precedent for similar regulations in neighboring states.
Russia has been eager to regulate its growing crypto market.
According to the central bank, the country’s annual volume of cryptocurrency transactions is near $5 billion.
The regulator, which has been increasingly critical of cryptocurrencies for the past several years, recently proposed a complete ban on crypto trading and mining in the country.
ALSO READ: Russia set for complete ban on cryptocurrencies
The proposal, however, has been met with opposition from both the public and other government ministries; who called for a more moderate approach, and regulation instead of prohibition.
The Ministry of Finance said this week that regulations of this kind are already in the works; noting that crypto technologies “should get a chance to develop.”
Kostarev called the ban proposal “harsh,” but noted that “for now, we consider this as an invitation to dialogue with the regulator.”
He also said that the course Russia takes in regulating crypto may impact its neighbors.
“In Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan they are more loyal to cryptocurrencies and are taking steps towards liberalization, rather than restriction. But local regulators are taking these steps with an eye on Russia.”
Cryptocurrencies are for now largely allowed in Russia and can be used for financial transactions; but their use for purchasing goods or services is prohibited.
Policemen taking bribes from ‘Yahoo boys’ will die – Ibiyeomie
Pastor David Ibiyeomie has said any policeman that takes a bribe from internet fraudsters popularly known as Yahoo Yahoo boys will die.
Ibiyeomie, while speaking at a recent service in his church, said the activities of Yahoo boys have led to the death of many.
He said: “Let me tell us these Yahoo boys. Stop! I am a man of God. You kill people every day. When you Yahoo somebody, it is stealing. Don’t quote it anyhow. It is stealing. Most people, all their retirement benefits, you take it and people die. I curse you in the name of Jesus.
“It is a demonic, satanic way of getting money. Which kind of money is that? You are a thief. No matter how you colorise it, you are a thief. You love stealing! I curse the root of it. Do you know how many people you have killed? Scam kills people. Some people, the whole of their retirement benefit. You scam them and say you are buying car. What nonsense? You will get an accident with that car!”
On policemen who take bribes from fraudsters, the clergyman said: “To the police, all the Yahoo boys, jail them, arrest them. If you take a bribe from Yahoo boys, that money kill you! That blood money that you take will kill you. You know why? They stole from somebody who died. You now collect money and release them. You and your family die with it. Police stop taking that kind of money.”
The clergyman also lashed out at traditional rulers who bestow chieftaincy titles on internet fraudsters.
He said such persons should be regarded as armed robbers.
Watch the trending video of Ibiyeomie below:
Anambra NUJ gets new Excos
From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
The Editor (South East) of The Authority Newspapers, Dr Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, has won the 2022 election of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra State Council.
Odogwu, who is also a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, defeated his two rivals to win the poll.
He polled 110 votes out of the 213 votes cast in the keenly contested election which was held at the Godwin Ezeemo International Press Centre, Awka on Friday.
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Odogwu’s rivals, Mr Abuchi Onwumelu, a reporter with FIDES Newspaper polled 103 votes, while the immediate past state secretary of the union, Mr Emma Udeagha, who also contested for the chairmanship position got zero vote.
Also, an editor with the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), Mrs Ngozi Obileri, emerged as the Vice Chairman of the council after polling 142 votes. She defeated her rival, Mrs Betty Onuchukwu, who polled 71 votes.
Other officers of the council elected are: Mr Aloy Ofordile (Secretary), Mr Ogemdi Ozoemena (Treasurer), Mrs Ifeyinwa Iloanya ( Auditor), John Ndu (Financial Secretary) and Mr Okechukwu Onuegbu (Assistant Secretary).
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