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2018-03-07 13:13:16 UTC
2018-03-07 13:41:24 UTC
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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has chosen to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the agency evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations.
The move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises EPA's key scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity. All of the members being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.
EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in an email that "no one has been fired or terminated," and that Pruitt had simply decided to bring in fresh advisers. The agency informed the outside academics on Friday that their terms would not be renewed.
[...] These moves came as a surprise to the agencies' outside advisers, with several of them taking to Twitter to announce their suspensions.
Members of EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors had been informed twice — in January, before Barack Obama left office, and then more recently by EPA career staff members — that they would be kept on for another term, adding to their confusion.
We cannot allow Beijing's air quality to beat ours.
Emmanuel Macron has been declared the President of France after early vote counts:
France has a new president. Emmanuel Macron – an independent centrist who has never held elected office – has won a resounding victory over far-right, nationalist Marine Le Pen in the most important French presidential race in decades, according to early vote counts by the French Interior Ministry.
In early returns, Macron had won an estimated 65 percent of the vote to Le Pen's nearly 35 percent, according to the French Interior Ministry. Le Pen has already called to congratulate Macron and conceded defeat to a gathering of her supporters in Paris.
From CNBC: Euro hits six-month high on Macron victory
CNN editorial: Why Macron's victory is reassuring ... and yet not
BBC has an article about Macron's potential choice of Prime Minister.
On college campuses, outrage over provocative speakers sometimes turns violent.
It's becoming a pattern on campuses around the country. A speaker is invited, often by a conservative student group. Other students oppose the speaker, and maybe they protest. If the speech happens, the speaker is heckled. Sometimes there's violence.
In other cases — as with conservative commentator Ann Coulter at the University of California, Berkeley last week — the event is called off.
Now, a handful of states, including Illinois, Tennessee, Colorado and Arizona, have passed or introduced legislation designed to prevent these incidents from happening. The bills differ from state to state, but they're generally based on a model written by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Arizona.
The model bill would require public universities to remain neutral on political issues, prevent them from disinviting speakers, and impose penalties for students and others who interfere with these speakers.
The author of the model bill argues that the neutrality stipulation is necessary for public institutions funded by tax dollars, "who shouldn't be forced to subsidize speech that they disagree with." In response to the legislation, a Democratic North Carolina legislator criticized the bill as an unnecessary "regulation of a constitutional right." The story also mentions that "Critics say this kind of legislation could hinder a university's ability to regulate hate speech on campus," but the bill author responds that hate speech is "not well-defined in the law."
Although the proposed legislation varies by state, the model bill linked above recommends a number of initiatives, from clear campus policies on protecting free speech to severe disciplinary actions for students who interfere with that right. Perhaps the strongest section of the model bill would require that "Any student who has twice been found responsible for infringing the expressive rights of others will be suspended for a minimum of one year, or expelled" (Section 1.9).
In other free speech news, USA Today reports that the FCC is launching an investigation into an "obscene" joke by Stephen Colbert concerning Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, which caused a Twitter firestorm and led to a trending #FireColbert hashtag. While the joke was sexually explicit, the offensive word was bleeped in broadcast. CNN has argued that the FCC is merely doing its job in investigating "a number" of complaints, but Slate notes the high legal threshold that would be necessary for a fine in this case, given the late hour of the broadcast and the three-pronged test for obscenity.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey appeared before a U.S. Senate panel on May 3rd to defend his agency's conduct under his leadership during the 2016 elections:
Comey acknowledged that the realization the bureau could have affected the election's outcome left him feeling "mildly nauseous." But, he added, "honestly, it wouldn't change the decision." Comey has been transformed into an unusual kind of political celebrity over the past year, his decisions coming in for sharp criticism from almost every point of the political spectrum.
News reports have cited anonymous sources within the intelligence community casting him as too fond of the spotlight, despite his repeated insistence to the contrary. Whether he sought it or not, Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing was yet another center-stage moment for the FBI director. Cable networks carried virtually uninterrupted coverage of his testimony from the moment he took his seat before a scrum of news photographers.
Comey explained his reasoning behind the decision to inform Congress about Clinton emails discovered during an investigation into Anthony Weiner, and said that he had made the right choice. One event that factored into the decision and his earlier July 2016 announcement about the Hillary Clinton investigation was Bill Clinton's meeting with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. At Wednesday's hearing, Comey faced criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike on topics including the FBI's delay in disclosing an investigation into the Trump campaign and the decision to not charge Huma Abedin for mishandling classified information. On the day before the hearing, Hillary Clinton blamed the FBI Director for her loss, while President Trump tweeted that "FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!"
Comey appeared to confirm that the FBI is investigating whether its agents leaked information to Rudy Giuliani, a Trump ally. He also took the time to denigrate WikiLeaks by calling it "intelligence porn", and alleging that WikiLeaks acted as a "conduit for the Russian intelligence services or some other adversary of the United States just to push out information to damage the United States". Here's what Julian Assange had to say in response. Comey did not confirm whether or not the government is planning to charge Julian Assange with crimes related to his organization's recent activities. CNN reported in April that the U.S. is preparing to charge Assange with... something, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently called WikiLeaks a "non-state hostile intelligence service".
Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956
Guns are not a part of the culture of my homeland, except perhaps for the occasional Bollywood movie in which the bad guy meets his demise staring down the wrong end of a barrel.
My childhood in India was steeped in ahimsa, the tenet of nonviolence toward all living things.
The Indians may have succeeded in ousting the British, but we won with Gandhian-style civil disobedience, not a revolutionary war.
I grew up not knowing a single gun owner, and even today India has one of the strictest gun laws on the planet. Few Indians buy and keep firearms at home, and gun violence is nowhere near the problem it is in the United States. An American is 12 times more likely than an Indian to be killed by a firearm, according to a recent study.
It's no wonder then that every time I visit India, my friends and family want to know more about America's "love affair" with guns.
I get the same questions when I visit my brother in Canada or on my business travels to other countries, where many people remain perplexed, maybe even downright mystified, by Americans' defense of gun rights.
I admit I do not fully understand it myself, despite having become an American citizen nearly a decade ago. So when I learn the National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention here in Atlanta, right next to the CNN Center, I decide to go and find out more.
[...] Confederate generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy [...]
The other monument
[...] was erected in 1891 to honor the 16 members of the White League who died during an insurrection against the integrated Reconstructionist government in Louisiana, which was based in New Orleans at the time.
Various news outlets are reporting that the latter monument, an obelisk, has been dismantled at the behest of the city government, and that the others are also set to be dismantled.
The Center for American Progress reports
On [April 29], Donald Trump marks the 100th day of his presidency, and finds his approval ratings much lower than any of his modern predecessors.
One reason for this could be perceptions about his accountability. To become president, Trump made a lot of promises to a lot of people--663, in fact. In just 100 days of what would be 1,461 days of a first term, Donald Trump has broken 80 promises he made before he was sworn in.
[...] A close analysis of the 663 promises Trump made on the campaign trail shows how few he has kept, and how many more he has broken.
Trump's promises about what he would accomplish in his first 100 days are not the first vows pegged to a key milestone that were summarily ignored or broken. As a candidate, Trump made several pledges about the first paper he would sign, as well as what would he would do during his first minute and first hour as president. He kept none of them. On his first day in office, Trump failed to keep 34 different promises of what he said he would do on Day One in the White House--and fulfilled just two.
In total, during his first month in office, Trump broke 64 promises. He kept just seven of his promises in that first month.
Including those from the first month, Trump has broken 80 promises and kept seven in the first hundred days. Three promises have been addressed with some caveats in a separate category below.
[...] When the AP's Julie Pace asked Trump about the 100-day plan, Trump replied, "I'm mostly there on most items."
The reality shows the opposite.
[...] Trump promised he won't let countries steal our jobs anymore.
"We'll put our people back to work, we will not let other countries steal our jobs. It it is not going to happen anymore." Worcester, MA, 11/18/15 [Video]
According to a ThinkProgress analysis of Labor Department data, at least 11,934 American jobs have been lost or are in the process of leaving the United States since Inauguration Day.
In going to a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to celebrate his amazing string of accomplishments over the last 100 days, Trump avoided the White House Correspondents Association dinner where he was sure to have been the butt of about a billion squarely-on-target jokes.
As for Trump's claim that "No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days", Politifact notes
The 15 major bills [which Franklin Roosevelt signed in his first 100 days] included those that created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Tennessee Valley Authority (both of which still exist) and the Home Owners Loan Corp. He signed the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which established farm subsidies, and the National Industrial Recovery Act, which started public-works efforts to reverse the Great Depression. He signed legislation to legalize the manufacture and sale of beer and wine, and he issued executive orders to establish the Civilian Conservation Corps and to effectively take the United States off the gold standard.
The National Security Agency said Friday that it had halted one of the most disputed practices of its warrantless surveillance program, ending a once-secret form of wiretapping that dates to the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 expansion of national security powers.
The agency is no longer collecting Americans' emails and texts exchanged with people overseas that simply mention identifying terms — like email addresses — for foreigners whom the agency is spying on, but are neither to nor from those targets.
The decision is a major development in American surveillance policy. Privacy advocates have argued that the practice skirted or overstepped the Fourth Amendment.
The change is unrelated to the surveillance imbroglio over the investigations into Russia and the Trump campaign, according to officials familiar with the matter. Rather, it stemmed from a discovery that N.S.A. analysts had violated rules imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court barring any searching for Americans' information in certain messages captured through such wiretapping.
Though I'm personally wondering why now.
Officials in Xinjiang will deny benefits to children with certain Islamic or Islam-related names:
Many couples fret over choosing the perfect name for their newborn, but for Muslims in western China that decision has now become even more fraught: pick the wrong name and your child will be denied education and government benefits.
Officials in the western region of Xinjiang, home to roughly half of China's 23 million Muslims, have released a list of banned baby names amid an ongoing crackdown on religion, according to a report by US-funded Radio Free Asia.
Names such as Islam, Quran, Saddam and Mecca, as well as references to the star and crescent moon symbol, are all unacceptable to the ruling Communist party and children with those names will be denied household registration, a crucial document that grants access to social services, healthcare and education.
Muhammad, Jihad, Medina, Mujahid, Arafat, Imam, Hajj, and Yultuzay are also banned.
Related: West Facing 'Payback' for Colonialism, says China's State-run Paper
China's Xi Jinping Negotiates $46bn Superhighway to Pakistan
Facebook's Zuckerberg Meets With China's Propaganda Chief, Social Media Mocks Facebook Block
Various news outlets are reporting on an announcement by the Venezuelan government that it will leave the Organization of American States (OAS), a process that takes two years. The country will stop participating in OAS meetings immediately. No country has left the OAS since its founding in 1948.
According to Venezuela-based teleSUR, the move comes in response
[...] to a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States to discuss Venezuela scheduled for Wednesday, which violates the rules of the organization because it does not have the consent of the affected country.
[The foreign minister] indicated that there is also a group of countries with right-wing governments working under U.S. imperialist orders against Venezuela.
Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets demanding [President Nicolás] Maduro hold elections and denouncing his government as being responsible for triple-digit inflation, food shortages and a rise [in] crime.
It also says that 29 people have been killed in connection with the protests.