Welcome back to another sweltering Wednesday. As we head into the July 4th weekend (at least, if you’re a stateside AN reader), remember to stay safe, shaded, and hydrated.
Here’s what you need to know today:
The House of Representatives approves removing Confederate monuments from the U.S. Capitol
Yesterday, June 29, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill to remove statues of Confederate figures from the U.S. Capitol complex. That also includes former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision declaring that no one of African descent, whether enslaved or free, were United States citizens.
The measure passed by 258-to-120, with 67 Republicans breaking ranks to vote with Democrats for the removal of the monuments. Although the legislation is likely to pass in the Senate and reach President Biden’s desk, similar efforts reportedly stalled out last year in the then-Republican-controlled Senate.
H/t to CBS News
London’s V&A East Museum opening delayed even further by the pandemic
The opening of the latest offshoot of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has been delayed again. Originally slated to open in 2023, then delayed to 2024 earlier this year, the V&A East Museum has now been pushed back even further to 2025. Designed by Irish firm O’Donnell + Tuomey, the newest outpost for the museum has reportedly been delayed by COVID-related construction slowdowns and falling revenue as a result of lockdowns.
H/t to The Art Newspaper
Developers reveal plans to rezone a large section of Astoria, Queens
New towers are reportedly on the docket for Astoria, Queens, according to an Environmental Assessment Statement filed by three developers (MDM Development Group LLC, 2441 Astoria Associates, and 31 Neptune LLC). Located along 31st Street, 24 lots in all will be affected and combined into four new properties; an 11, 12, and 14-story tower, and a new residential building whose height has yet to be revealed.
H/t to New York YIMBY
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute turns recycled water bottles into outdoor eateries
Following up on design prototypes initially unveiled back in 2018 that turned interlocking plastic bottles into disaster shelters, researchers and students at the Troy, New York-based Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) have now used empty bottles to realize new “Friendship Cabins.” Using grooved bottles created by Virginia-based Friendship Products (intentionally designed for reuse as structural material), the RPI team has installed two outdoor dining areas at Peaches Kitchen & Bar in Brooklyn. Each Friendship cabin can seat up to four diners, withstand winds of over 105 miles per hour, and are easy to break down and reassemble elsewhere thanks to their modular structure.
This massive new highway project drove Montenegro into massive debt, and it isn’t even done yet
A 270-mile-long new highway was supposed to link Montenegro’s Port of Bar to Belgrade, Serbia, but loans on a 25-mile stretch of the project have forced the entire country into crippling debt. In fact, with only that small section built, the coastal Balkans nation can no longer afford to build the remaining 245 miles of road, leaving that piece stranded.
The problem stems from a $1 billion loan issued by the Export-Import Bank of China (the China Road and Bridge Corporation is building the project). Initially signed in 2014, the terms of the loan are now due with interest, and Montenegro now owes 100 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP)—about $5.5 billion USD. If the country is unable to pay the loan back in full, the contract actually stipulates that China can seize parts of Montenegro.
H/t to NPR