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posted by n1 on Thursday June 01 2017, @04:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the Smart-move!-Very-good-for-America. dept.

President Donald Trump plans to make good on his campaign vow to withdraw the United States from a global pact to fight climate change, a source briefed on the decision said on Wednesday, a move that promises to deepen a rift with U.S. allies.

White House officials cautioned that details were still being hammered out and that, although close, the decision on withdrawing from the 195-nation accord - agreed to in Paris in 2015 - was not finalized.

[...] The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trump was working out the terms of the planned withdrawal with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, an oil industry ally and climate change doubter.

[...] The CEOs of Dow Chemical Co, ExxonMobil Corp, Unilever NV and Tesla Inc all urged Trump to remain in the agreement, with Tesla's Elon Musk threatening to quit White House advisory councils of which he is a member if the president pulls out.

Source: Reuters

On Twitter, Trump indicated that an announcement was coming soon.

"I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days," he wrote. "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

[...] Opponents of the climate deal were concerned after White House economic advisor Gary Cohn told reporters that the president was "evolving on the issue" during his trip overseas.

His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly channelled support for the deal behind the scenes at the White House, encouraging climate change activists that Trump might change his mind. Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon CEO, also supported remaining in the treaty.

Source: Brietbart

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday May 29 2017, @01:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the Drain-The-Swamp dept.

There is a federal law saying that lobbyists need to be granted a waiver to work in the administration. This is overseen by the Office of Government Ethics. Historically, for both Democrat and Republican administrations, the White House has complied with providing these waivers.

The Trump Administration has not provided these waivers. Walter Shaub, the director of the OGE, has set a deadline of June 1 to provide these documents. The White House Council has provided instructions to employees to not provide this documentation, claiming providing them would be an undue administrative burden. This raises the question of why it would be an undue burden: due to the number of people provided waivers or the extent of the waivers granted.

Editorializing a bit, it is both heartening that the head of the office for Ethics is willing to proverbially "walk the talk" by putting his own position at risk to do the right thing, as well as depressing that such behavior is the laudable exception rather than the accepted norm.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday May 29 2017, @05:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the clueless-people-praising-authoritarianism dept.

Common Dreams reports

Speaking to CNBC on Monday [May 22], [Commerce Secretary Wilbur] Ross, who accompanied Trump on the weekend trip to Riyadh, said he found it "fascinating" that he did not see "a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there. Not one guy with a bad placard".

[...] Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in the Center for Middle East Policy, told CNBC afterwards that Saudi Arabia is among the "most repressive" of free speech in the Middle East, adding: "Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy which forbids any political protest or any manifestation of dissent. It is also a police state that beheads opponents."

In Why Were the Saudi Streets So Quiet?, also via Common Dreams, Medea Benjamin adds:

Protest is illegal in the kingdom. It's also against the law to "distort the reputation of the kingdom" or "break allegiance with the ruler". A 2014 anti-terrorism law treats virtually all free expression as acts of terrorism, including "calling for atheist thought"; "contacting groups or individuals opposed to the Kingdom"; and "seeking to disrupt national unity" by calling for protests. People who dare dissent are publicly flogged, tortured in prison, and sometimes publicly beheaded.

U.S. President to Visit Saudi Arabia; Arms Sales Expected

Original Submission

posted by on Sunday May 28 2017, @03:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the why-so-choosy-about-rocks? dept.

The Interior Department is facing a lawsuit from a Christian geologist who claims he was not allowed to collect rocks from Grand Canyon National Park because of his creationist beliefs.

In the suit filed earlier this month, the Australian geologist, Andrew Snelling, says that religious discrimination was behind the National Park Service's (NRS's) decision to deny him a permit to gather samples from four locations in the park.

Snelling had hoped to gather the rocks to support the creationist belief that a global flood about 4,300 years ago was responsible for rock layers and fossil deposits around the world.

NPS's actions "demonstrate animus towards the religious viewpoints of Dr. Snelling," the complaint alleges, "and violate Dr. Snelling's free exercise rights by imposing inappropriate and unnecessary religious tests to his access to the park."

The lawsuit was filed May 9 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. NPS has yet to respond to the allegations.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday May 26 2017, @03:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the sabre-rattling dept.

A US Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, the first such challenge to Beijing in the strategic waterway since US President Donald Trump took office.

The US patrol, the first of its kind since October, marked the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday the USS Dewey traveled close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands - among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbours.

The move angered Beijing, which reiterated its position that China has "indisputable sovereignty" over the Spratly Islands and their surrounding waters.

[...] One US official said it was the first operation near a land feature that was included in a ruling last year against China by an international arbitration court in The Hague. The court invalidated China's claim to sovereignty over large swathes of the South China Sea.

The US has criticised China's construction of man-made islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea and expressed concern they could be used to restrict free movement.

[...] US-based South China Sea analyst Greg Poling, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said [...] the key question was whether the US warship had engaged in a real challenge to the Chinese claims by turning on radar or launching a helicopter or boat - actions not permitted in a territorial sea under international law.

Otherwise, critics say, the operation would have resembled what is known as "innocent passage" and could have reinforced rather than challenged China's claim to a territorial limit around the reef.

War brewing with North Korea, picking fights with China. Good times.

Original Submission

posted by on Thursday May 25 2017, @07:25AM   Printer-friendly
from the careful-plotting dept.

The Washington Post reports Supreme Court rules race improperly dominated N.C. redistricting efforts

The Supreme Court ruled [May 22] that North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature relied on racial gerrymandering when drawing the state's congressional districts, a decision that could make it easier to challenge other state redistricting plans.

The decision continued a trend at the court, where justices have found that racial considerations improperly tainted redistricting decisions by GOP-led legislatures in Virginia, Alabama, and North Carolina. Some cases involved congressional districts, others legislative districts.

[...] [The justices] were unanimous in rejecting one of the districts and split 5 to 3 on the other.

AlterNet reports

Republican legislators used surgical precision to pack black voters into just two districts, the tentacular 1st and the snake-like 12th. The lower court found that these districts targeted voters on the basis of race in violation of the constitution, a move that effectively prevented black voters from electing their preferred candidates in neighboring seats. map

[...] This now-invalidated congressional map was one of, if not the very most, aggressive partisan gerrymanders in modern history. North Carolina is a relatively evenly divided swing state--Donald Trump won it by just 3 points last year--yet these lines offered Republicans 10 safe districts while creating three lopsidedly Democratic seats. Amazingly, all 10 Republican districts hit a perfect sweet spot with GOP support between 55 and 60 percent, a level that is high enough to be secure yet spreads around Republican voters just carefully enough to ensure the maximum number of GOP seats possible.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday May 23 2017, @12:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the closing-the-barn-door dept.

If anyone knows how important Twitter is to Donald Trump, it's the president.

“Without the tweets, I wouldn't be here,” he told the Financial Times last month.

To which Twitter's co-founder says: Sorry about that, world.

Evan Williams, who still sits on the company's board of directors, recently told The New York Times that he wants to repair the damage he thinks Twitter and the broader Internet have wrought on society in the form of trolls, cyberbullies, live-streamed violence, fake news and — yes — Trump.

“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place,” Williams told the Times. “I was wrong about that.”

“If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry,” he said.

Is Twitter responsible?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday May 20 2017, @07:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the shouting-questions-in-a-crowded-hallway dept.

John M. Donnelly, a senior writer at CQ Roll Call, said he was trying to talk with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly one-on-one after a news conference when two plainclothes guards pinned him against a wall with the backs of their bodies.

Washington Post

“Not only did they get in between me and O’Rielly but they put their shoulders together and simultaneously backed me up into the wall and pinned me to the wall for about 10 seconds just as I started to say, “Commissioner O’Rielly, I have a question,” Donnelly said Friday.

Donnelly said he was stopped long enough to allow O’Rielly to walk away.

Los Angeles Times

Donnelly, who also happens to be chair of the National Press Club Press Freedom team, said he was then forced out of the building after being asked why he had not posed his question during the news conference.

O'Rielly apologized to Donnelly on Twitter, saying he didn't recognize Donnelly in the hallway. "I saw security put themselves between you, me and my staff. I didn't see anyone put a hand on you. I'm sorry this occurred."


According to the publication for which the reporter works (archived copy),

Senators, including Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, are warning the Federal Communications Commission about its treatment of reporters after a CQ Roll Call reporter was manhandled Thursday.

“The Federal Communications Commission needs to take a hard look at why this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. As The Washington Post pointed out, it’s standard operating procedure for reporters to ask questions of public officials after meetings and news conferences,” the Iowa Republican said. “It happens all day, every day. There’s no good reason to put hands on a reporter who’s doing his or her job.”

Additional coverage:

Related stories:
Reporter Arrested for "Yelling Questions" at HHS Secretary Tom Price
FCC to Make Proposals Public, Rescinds Net Neutrality Claims
ISPs “Reminded” to Not Use Government Money for Alcohol and Vacations
Buyer's Remorse on Net Neutrality
FTC V. AT&T to be Reheard
Bot Floods the FCC's Website with Anti-Net Neutrality Comments
John Oliver Leads Net Neutrality Defenders to Crash FCC Website. Again.
Crowdfunded Billboards Shame Four Members of Congress Who Sold Out Your Online Privacy
Trump Signs Bill Allowing ISPs to Share or Sell Customers' Browsing History
"Dig Once" Bill Could Bring Fiber Internet to Much of the US
US Congress is Trying to Roll Back Internet Privacy Protections [UPDATED]
Rally Marks Anniversary of Net Neutrality Rule as New FCC Chair Puts It in Crosshairs
FCC Lets "Billion-Dollar" ISPs Hide Fees and Data Caps, Democrat Says
With Net Neutrality Pretty Much Dead in the US, Your Privacy is Next
Ajit Pai to Become New Head of the FCC
FCC's Tom Wheeler Accuses AT&T and Verizon of Violating Possibly Short-Lived Net Neutrality Rules
After Setback, FCC Chairman Keeps Pushing Set-Top Box and Privacy Rules
Facebook in Talks With U.S. Government About Bringing "Free Basics" to America
Verizon to Disconnect Unlimited Data Users Who Use "Extraordinary" Amounts of Data
U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Net Neutrality Rules in Full
Netflix Slows Data Transmission for Certain Customers
Facebook Moves in to Make the Web a Facebook Monopoly
The Dragonslayer: An Interview with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
How a DIY Network Plans to Subvert Time Warner Cable's NYC Internet Monopoly
Six Senators Show Stupidity
FCC Had "Productive" Net Neutrality Talks With Comcast and T-Mobile

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Saturday May 20 2017, @06:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the free-beer dept.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Oscar López Rivera has been freed and has returned to Chicago:

Lopez was considered a top leader of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN, an ultranationalist Puerto Rican group that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings at government buildings, department stores, banks and restaurants in New York, Chicago, Washington and Puerto Rico during the 1970s and early '80s.

[...] former President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January. Since then he has been on house arrest in Puerto Rico.

The National Review reports that he is to lead the Puerto Rican Day parade in June in New York City, and that

He’ll be granted the title of “National Freedom Hero,” a designation never before bestowed on anyone.

additional coverage:

related stories:
Chelsea Manning Released from Prison, Remains on Active Duty Pending Appeal
Puerto Rico Files for Biggest Ever U.S. Local Government Bankruptcy
Chelsea Manning Reportedly on Obama's Short List for Commutation; Assange Offers Himself in Trade
Puerto Rico: 1 Substation Fire; All 3.5 Million People Lose Power

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday May 19 2017, @05:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the embassy-bed-no-more dept.

Swedish prosecutor has decided to discontinue the investigation against Julian Assange, who has been accused of sex crimes in Sweden. If this means that Julian is free to leave the embassy to go to Ecuador or not remains to be seen.

takyon: It does not mean that Assange is free to leave the embassy at this time, although his lawyer is asking for an arrest warrant to be dropped:

The London Metropolitan Police, however, made it clear in a statement that there is an outstanding arrest warrant for Assange. "Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012. The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy," it read.

The maximum penalty for breaching bail is up to a year in prison or a fine.

The police also recognized that Assange is now "wanted for a much less serious offense" and said they would "provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense."

It remains unclear whether there is a standing U.S. extradition order for Assange. The policy of Britain's Home Office is to neither confirm nor deny extradition orders until such time as a person has been arrested in relation to an order. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was stepping up efforts to arrest Assange as part of a broader fight against those who leak secrets into the public domain.

Also at BBC and The Guardian.

Original Submission

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