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Progress So Far:
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Stretch Goal: $1000.00
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posted by takyon on Wednesday August 16, @05:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the pressure-relief dept.

Following a number of CEOs pulling out of President Trump's American Manufacturing Council and Strategic and Policy Forum, President Trump tweeted that the initiatives have been ended:

Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!

The CEOs of Merck, Intel, 3M, and other companies had already left:

3M Co. Chief Executive Officer Inge Thulin stepped down from the White House's manufacturing council, adding to the corporate exodus as the backlash grows to President Donald Trump's ambivalent response to racially-charged violence in Virginia over the weekend.

Thulin joined the White House panel in January "to advocate for policies that align with our values and encourage even stronger investment and job growth -- in order to make the United States stronger, healthier and more prosperous," the CEO said Wednesday in a statement tweeted by 3M. "After careful consideration, I believe the initiative is no longer an effective vehicle for 3M to advance these goals."

Update: The members of the Strategic and Policy Forum reportedly disbanded the group before President Trump's tweet:

The quick sequence began late Wednesday morning when Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group and one of Mr. Trump's closest confidants in the business community, organized a conference call for members of the president's Strategic and Policy Forum. On the call, the chief executives of some of the largest companies in the country debated how to proceed. After a discussion among a dozen prominent C.E.O.s, the decision was made to abandon the group altogether, said people with knowledge of the details of the call.

Also at Bloomberg:

Trump made the announcement on Twitter, less than an hour after one of the groups was said to be planning to inform the White House that it would break up. [...] Trump appeared to be making an effort to get ahead of the news as the councils began to disintegrate. The strategy forum, which is led by Blackstone Group LP's Stephen Schwarzman, planned to inform the White House Wednesday before making the announcement public, according to another person familiar with the matter, who wasn't authorized to discuss the news publicly.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday August 14, @10:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the thugs-and-their-thug-accomplices dept.

We've had multiple submissions on the confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia between white supremacists and counter-protesters. We lead off with a submission about the altercation which culminated with a car driven into a crowd which left 1 person dead and 19 injured. Then we continue with GoDaddy informing dailystormer.com — a white supremacist web site which called for the rally — that they had 24 hours to find another registrar for their site. They signed up with Google's domain registration service. Now there are reports that Google, too, has dropped the registration.

This story could very well cause a lot of heat, but it is my hope we can look beyond the details of this particular situation and focus discussion on the overriding questions of freedom of speech/publication raised by one of the submitters and the implications it may lead to. This saying comes to mind: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

Terrorism in Charlottesville: 1 Dead, 19 Injured

ProPublica reports:

Police Stood By As Mayhem Mounted in Charlottesville, Virginia

At about 10 a.m. [August 12], at one of countless such confrontations, an angry mob of white supremacists formed a battle line across from a group of counter-protesters, many of them older and gray-haired, who had gathered near a church parking lot. On command from their leader, the young men charged and pummeled their ideological foes with abandon. One woman was hurled to the pavement, and the blood from her bruised head was instantly visible.

Standing nearby, an assortment of Virginia State Police troopers and Charlottesville police wearing protective gear watched silently from behind an array of metal barricades--and did nothing.

[...] the white supremacists who flooded into the city's Emancipation Park--a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee sits in the center of the park--had spent months openly planning for war. The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website, encouraged rally attendees to bring shields, pepper spray, and fascist flags and flagpoles. A prominent racist podcast told its listeners to come carrying guns.

[...] the white supremacists who showed up in Charlottesville did indeed come prepared for violence. Many wore helmets and carried clubs, medieval-looking round wooden shields, and rectangular plexiglass shields, similar to those used by riot police.

[...] The police did little to stop the bloodshed. Several times, a group of assault-rifle-toting militia members from New York State, wearing body armor and desert camo, played a more active role in breaking up fights.

[...] The skirmishes culminated in what appears to have been an act of domestic terrorism, with a driver ramming his car into a crowd of anti-racist activists on a busy downtown street, killing one and injuring 19 according to the latest information from city officials. Charlottesville authorities tonight reported that a 20-year-old Ohio man had been arrested and had been charged with murder.

[...] A good strategy, [said Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor who has worked on police reform efforts in Los Angeles], is to make clashes less likely by separating the two sides physically, with officers forming a barrier between them. "Create a human barrier so the flash points are reduced as quickly as possible."

GoDaddy Stomps 'Daily Stormer' -- Site Moves to Google

The Washington Post reports GoDaddy bans neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer for disparaging woman killed at Charlottesville rally:

After months of criticism that GoDaddy was providing a platform for hate speech, the Web hosting company announced late Sunday that it will no longer house the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that promotes white supremacist and white nationalist ideas.

[...] We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service.

— GoDaddy (@GoDaddy) August 14, 2017

[...] In the Daily Stormer post[1], [Andrew] Angelin characterized [victim Heather] Heyer as dying in a "road rage incident." He said she was a "drain on society" and disparaged her appearance. "Most people are glad she is dead," he wrote.

"@GoDaddy you host The Daily Stormer — they posted this on their site," Twitter user Amy Siskind said in an appeal to the Web hosting company. "Please retweet if you think this hate should be taken down & banned."

[...] GoDaddy has previously said that the content, however "tasteless" and "ignorant," is protected by the First Amendment. The company told the Daily Beast in July that a Daily Stormer article threatening to "track down" the family members of CNN staffers did not violate Domains by Proxy's terms of service.

[1] https://www.dailystormer.com/heather-heyer-woman-killed-in-road-rage-incident-was-a-fat-childless-32-year-old-slut/

After the incidents in Charlottesville it seems GoDaddy have decided, one can gather from and after a massive amount of pressure, to no longer provide Domain name access to the Daily Stormer. While a private company is free to do whatever they like, I wonder if there will or might be further implications. I think the interesting question here isn't what happened in Charlottesville or what kind of stories they provide over at the Daily Stormer -- they might be or are a complete shitfest filled with neo-nazi-news for all I know. The interesting aspect is if companies should now monitor their customers, which it seems the Daily Stormer has been one for years, and ban or block customers that no longer align with company beliefs or that other customers find offensive. It seems the Daily Stormer has previously posted "tasteless" and "ignorant" stories that one can only assume have not aligned with GoDaddy policy or Terms of Service, but this one was somehow over the line and the straw that broke the camel's back?

I'm fairly sure the Daily Stormer won't be knocked offline or anything, there will always be someone willing to host them somewhere. So today they try to knock a neo-nazi site offline, I doubt many people will lose any sleep over that, but who is going to be next? Is this part of the ramping up of the current online-twitter-socialweb-culture? Is there a slippery slope here?

Google Domains, GoDaddy blacklist white supremacist site Daily Stormer

Ars Technica is reporting that Google Domains and GoDaddy have blacklisted white supremacist site Daily Stormer:

The article prompted a response from the site's domain registrar, GoDaddy. "We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service," GoDaddy wrote in a tweet late Sunday night.

On Monday, the Daily Stormer switched its registration to Google's domain service. Within hours, Google announced a cancellation of its own. "We are cancelling Daily Stormer's registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service," the company wrote in an statement emailed to Ars.

[...] A lot of outlets covering this controversy described GoDaddy, somewhat misleadingly, as the Daily Stormer's hosting provider. But GoDaddy wasn't storing or distributing the content on the Daily Stormer website. It was the Daily Stormer's registrar, which is the company that handles registration of "dailystormer.com" in the domain name system, the global database that connects domain names like "arstechnica.com" to numeric IP addresses.

GoDaddy has faced pressure for months from anti-racist groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League to drop the Daily Stormer as a customer. But until this weekend, GoDaddy resisted that pressure.

"GoDaddy doesn't host The Daily Stormer's content on its servers," the investigative site Reveal reported in May. "Because it provides only the domain name, the company says it has a higher standard for terminating service."

"We need to evaluate what level of effect we can actually have on the abuse that's actually going on," said Ben Butler, director of GoDaddy's digital crimes unit, in a May interview with Reveal. "As a domain name registrar, if we take the domain name down, that domain name stops working. But the content is still out there, live on a server connected to the Internet that can be reached via an IP address or forwarded from another domain name. The actual content is not something we can touch by turning on or off the domain name service."

But GoDaddy abruptly changed its stance on Sunday evening. What changed GoDaddy's mind? In a statement to Techcrunch, GoDaddy said: "given this latest article comes on the immediate heels of a violent act, we believe this type of article could incite additional violence, which violates our terms of service."

Reading GoDaddy's terms of service, this seems to support their stance that they could suspend the domain registration:

9. RESTRICTION OF SERVICES; RIGHT OF REFUSAL

[...] You agree that GoDaddy, in its sole discretion and without liability to you, may refuse to accept the registration of any domain name. GoDaddy also may in its sole discretion and without liability to you delete the registration of any domain name during the first thirty (30) days after registration has taken place. GoDaddy may also cancel the registration of a domain name, after thirty (30) days, if that name is being used, as determined by GoDaddy in its sole discretion, in association with spam or morally objectionable activities. Morally objectionable activities will include, but not be limited to:

  • Activities prohibited by the laws of the United States and/or foreign territories in which you conduct business;
  • Activities designed to encourage unlawful behavior by others, such as hate crimes, terrorism and child pornography; and
  • Activities designed to harm or use unethically minors in any way.

As of the time of this being written, it appears that the Daily Stormer domain (dailystormer.com) is still being hosted by Google:

Domain Name: dailystormer.com
Registry Domain ID: 1787753602_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.google.com
Registrar URL: https://domains.google.com
Updated Date: 2017-08-14T14:51:45Z
Creation Date: 2013-03-20T22:43:18Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2020-03-20T22:43:18Z
Registrar: Google Inc.
Registrar IANA ID: 895
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.8772376466
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited https://www.icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited


Original Submission #1   Original Submission #2

posted by martyb on Monday August 14, @04:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the would-not-be-good dept.

[Ed note: Let's preface this story with the reality that this is, in reality, a question that cannot be answered - how may warheads will be fired, where will they land, what are the weather conditions? That stated, it is an interesting thought experiment and understanding the actual science behind the question can take us away from emotional appeals to a more nuanced understanding of the actual risks. --martyb]

There's an interesting pair of articles over at The Conversation which discuss the potential impacts of smaller scale nuclear conflicts, the perceptions of them, and the risks involved in even localised conflicts.

Initially Mattia Eken argued in March that the threat is often exaggerated and overhyped:

Claims exaggerating the effects of nuclear weapons have become commonplace, especially after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. In the early War on Terror years, Richard Lugar, a former US senator and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, argued that terrorists armed with nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to the Western way of life. What he failed to explain is how.

It is by no means certain that a single nuclear detonation (or even several) would do away with our current way of life. Indeed, we're still here despite having nuked our own planet more than 2,000 times – a tally expressed beautifully in this video by Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto).

While the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty forced nuclear tests underground, around 500 of all the nuclear weapons detonated were unleashed in the Earth's atmosphere. This includes the world's largest ever nuclear detonation, the 57-megaton bomb known as Tsar Bomba, detonated by the Soviet Union on October 30 1961.

Tsar Bomba was more than 3,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. That is immense destructive power – but as one physicist explained, it's only "one-thousandth the force of an earthquake, one-thousandth the force of a hurricane".

He concluded that:

nuclear weapons are here to stay; they can't be "un-invented". If we want to live with them and mitigate the very real risks they pose, we must be honest about what those risks really are. Overegging them to frighten ourselves more than we need to keeps nobody safe.

More recently a response was published by Professor David McCoy, discussing research modelling the impact on environment and climate which indicates more significant long term impacts globally. Highlighting the impact of a limited conflict between India and Pakistan he discusses the worldwide impacts on global food production:

The greatest concern derives from relatively new research which has modelled the indirect effects of nuclear detonations on the environment and climate. The most-studied scenario is a limited regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan, involving 100 Hiroshima-sized warheads (small by modern standards) detonated mostly over urban areas. Many analysts suggest that this is a plausible scenario in the event of an all-out war between the two states, whose combined arsenals amount to more than 220 nuclear warheads.

In this event, an estimated 20m people could die within a week from the direct effects of the explosions, fire, and local radiation. That alone is catastrophic – more deaths than in the entire of World War I.

Such an exchange would likely cause wide-spread fires casting megatons of soot into the stratosphere:

According to one study, maize production in the US (the world's largest producer) would decline by an average by 12% over ten years in our given scenario. In China, middle season rice would fall by 17% over a decade, maize by 16%, and winter wheat by 31%. With total world grain reserves amounting to less than 100 days of global consumption, such effects would place an estimated 2 billion people at risk of famine.

So much for a limited exchange. What if the US and Russia went at it?

A large-scale nuclear war between the US and Russia would be far worse. Most Russian and US weapons are 10 to 50 times stronger than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima. In a war involving the use of the two nations' strategic nuclear weapons (those intended to be used away from battlefield, aimed at infrastructure or cities), some 150m tonnes of soot could be lofted into the upper atmosphere. This would reduce global temperatures by 8°C – the "nuclear winter" scenario. Under these conditions, food production would stop and the vast majority of the human race is likely to starve.

The DPRK {North Korea) currently has nowhere near the nuclear stockpiles of Russia or the US or any of the other nuclear powers. It was not long ago that they had none at all. Were the DPRK to enter into battle with its entire current arsenal, it would be a calamity, yes. As time passes, even more weapons are being added to its arsenal. Do we accept that a limited exchange is necessary, now, to preclude an even more catastrophic exchange later? What about all the refugees that would stream north into China? What would happen to Seoul in South Korea from which so many high tech as well as heavy industry products come (think Samsung, Hyundai, etc.)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday August 11, @02:10PM   Printer-friendly
from the hurry-up-and-stop dept.

Google is struggling to discuss the recent diversity memo controversy internally:

Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, canceled a scheduled all-hands staff meeting—moments before it was scheduled to begin—meant to address concerns over a controversial essay published by former employee James Damore.

In an email to staff, Pichai explained that questions from employees had been leaked and that, in some cases, specific employees' identities were revealed, exposing them to harassment and threats. Instead of today's large-scale meeting, which was to be livestreamed to Google's 60,000 employees worldwide, smaller groups will meet sometime in the future.

"We had hoped to have a frank open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward. But our Dory questions appeared externally this afternoon, and on some websites Googlers are now being named personally," Pichai said in the email.

Also at CNET.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday August 11, @04:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the glass-half-full-or-half-empty dept.

According to a poll conducted by two academic authors and published by The Washington Post, 52 percent of Republicans said they would back a postponement of the next election if Trump called for it.

If Trump and congressional Republicans proposed postponing the election to ensure only eligible citizens could vote, support from Republicans rises to 56 percent.

Pollsters found 47 percent of Republicans think Trump won the popular vote.

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/346000-poll-about-half-of-republicans-would-back-postponing-2020-election-if-trump


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Tuesday August 08, @08:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the conversation-starter dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Alphabet Inc.'s Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company's diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley. James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for "perpetuating gender stereotypes." He said he's "currently exploring all possible legal remedies."

[...] Earlier on Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees that said portions of the memo "violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace." But he didn't say if the company was taking action against the employee. A Google representative, asked about the dismissal, referred to Pichai's memo.

[...] After the controversy swelled, Danielle Brown, Google's new vice president for diversity, integrity and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Damore's views and reaffirmed the company's stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him, according to postings viewed by Bloomberg News.

"We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company," Brown said in the statement. "We'll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul."

Source: Bloomberg.

[Update: Apparently Julian Assange has offered James Damore a job, saying that "Censorship is for losers". - Fnord666]

Previously: Googler's Memo on Culture of Diversity Extremism Goes Viral Inside Google


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday August 07, @09:54AM   Printer-friendly
from the diversity-of-opinion-department dept.

Gizmodo got their hands on an internal memo gone viral at Google that criticizes extreme biases and blind promotion of diversity. The memo's author confronts the practice of silencing such minority opinions through shame:

"Despite what the public response seems to have been, I've gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change."

Are these hints of the writing on the proverbial wall? One fears the diversity pendulum will break rather than be allowed to swing back.

[Update: Google has written a memo to its employees about the document. - ed]

Also at Motherboard and BBC.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday August 06, @05:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the an-arresting-development dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Venezuelan security agents arrested two key opposition leaders in a midnight raid on their homes, making good on President Nicolas Maduro's promise to crack down on dissent following a vote that gave him broad authoritarian powers.

In the middle of the night, armed men took Leopoldo Lopez and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma from their respective homes in the capital. The leaders had been highly critical of Maduro and had only recently been released from jail on politically motivated charges. The two, however, remained under house arrest.

The wife of Leopoldo posted a video on Twitter showing flak-jacketed agents bundling her husband into a vehicle marked "Sebin" — the name of Venezuela's intelligence agency — and then speeding off.

[...] Tuesday night, President Trump condemned "the actions of the Maduro dictatorship."

"Mr. Lopez and Mr. Ledezma are political prisoners being held illegally by the regime. The United States holds Maduro – who publicly announced just hours earlier that he would move against his political opposition – personally responsible for the health and safety of Mr. Lopez, Mr. Ledezma, and any others seized. We reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners."

On Monday, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Maduro himself, marking only the fourth time that the U.S. has sanctioned the sitting leader of another country.

Source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/01/540790886/venezuela-agents-arrest-opposition-leaders-in-midnight-raids

Previously: Voting Company Finds Manipulation in Venezuela Election.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 05, @07:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the donning-my-asbestos-suit dept.

I don't know if this is appropriate for SoylentNews - I'll leave that to the editors. It's a blog entry that does the best job I've seen, explaining a difficult issue: How do those of us originally from flyover territory perceive the progressive politics that dominates the left coast, and indeed most of the big cities.

Anyone from a red county will read this article and nod. Anyone from a blue county really ought to try to understand the article, because it explains why Trump won, and also explains the rise of the alt-right as a response to progressive politics.

[Ed. note: The linked article is rather long. Contrary to long-standing tradition, I did RTFA. On occasion, stories are submitted where it is not clear to me whether or not our community would find it appropriate or interesting. This is one of those occasions. So, consider this an experiment... of course, please comment on the story itself, but please also indicate whether or not you would like to see more stories like this, and why. Thanks! --martyb]


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday August 05, @06:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the just-kidding dept.

A lawsuit by Rod Wheeler has linked the President and the White House to the publication of a retracted Fox 5 DC story about the Seth Rich murder case:

The Fox News Channel and a wealthy supporter of President Trump worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story about the death of a young Democratic National Committee aide, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The explosive claim is part of a lawsuit filed against Fox News by Rod Wheeler, a longtime paid commentator for the news network. The suit was obtained exclusively by NPR.

Wheeler alleges Fox News and the Trump supporter intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration's ties to the Russian government. His suit charges that a Fox News reporter created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him to propel her story. Fox's president of news, Jay Wallace, told NPR on Monday that there was no "concrete evidence" that Wheeler was misquoted by the reporter, Malia Zimmerman. The news executive did not address a question about the story's allegedly partisan origins. Fox News declined to allow Zimmerman to comment for this story.

[...] On April 20, a month before the story ran, Butowsky and Wheeler — the investor and the investigator — met at the White House with then-press secretary Sean Spicer to brief him on what they were uncovering. The first page of the lawsuit quotes a voicemail and text from Butowsky boasting that Trump himself had reviewed drafts of the Fox News story just before it went to air and was published. Spicer now tells NPR that he took the meeting as a favor to Butowsky. Spicer says he was unaware of any contact involving the president. And Butowsky tells NPR that he was kidding about Trump's involvement.


Original Submission