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The Center for American Progress reports
The Supreme Court held on [May 21] that employers can force their employees to sign away many of their rights to sue their employers. As a practical matter, Monday's decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis [PDF] will enable employers to engage in small-scale wage theft with impunity, so long as they spread the impact of this theft among many employees.
Neil Gorsuch, who occupies the seat that Senate Republicans held open for a year until Donald Trump could fill it, wrote the Court's 5-4 decision. The Court split along party lines.
Epic Systems involves three consolidated cases, each involving employment contracts cutting off employees' rights to sue their employer in a court of law. In at least one of these cases, the employees were required to sign away these rights as a condition of starting their job. In another, existing workers were told to sign away their rights if they wanted to keep working.
Each contract contained two provisions, a "forced arbitration" provision, which requires legal disputes between the employer and the employee to be resolved by a private arbitrator and not by a real court; and a provision prohibiting employees from bringing class actions against the employer.
Writing with his trademarked smugness, Gorsuch presents Epic Systems as a simple application of a legal text. "The parties before us contracted for arbitration", he writes. "They proceeded to specify the rules that would govern their arbitrations, indicating their intention to use individualized rather than class or collective action procedures. And this much the Arbitration Act seems to protect pretty absolutely."
It's the sort of statement someone might write if they'd never read the Federal Arbitration Act--the law at the heart of this case--and had only read the Supreme Court's decisions expanding that act's scope.
[...] Epic Systems means that employers who cheat a single employee out of a great deal of money will probably be held accountable for their actions--though it is worth noting that arbitrators are more likely to favor employers than courts of law, and that they typically award less money to employees when those employees do prevail. The biggest losers under Epic Systems, however, will be the victims of widespread, but small-scale, wage theft.
Via Common Dreams, Public Citizen says Congress Should Overturn Today's U.S. Supreme Court Decision Eroding Workers' Rights
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch, and the courts.
A former employee of Ontario's 407 private freeway quit suddenly Wednesday as a Progressive Conservative candidate in next month's election, barely an hour after the highway confirmed that information on 60,000 customers had been leaked through an "internal theft."
Simmer Sandhu, the candidate for Brampton East, said in an online statement that he had recently been made aware of anonymous allegations against him "pertaining to both my work life and my nomination campaign."
"These allegations are totally baseless. I absolutely deny them," he said on both Twitter and Facebook. "I will vigorously defend myself and reputation and I am confident I will be cleared."
An opinion piece explains the anonymous allegations:
[...] it is alleged that someone stole 60,000 names, addresses and phone numbers from the privately-owned Highway 407 ETR's internal systems and distributed or sold the data to a couple of dozen candidates in GTA nomination races. Those campaigns then sold fake party memberships under the stolen names, mocked up identification that met the party's requirements (which do not include photo ID), and paid international students $200 a pop to vote under these fraudulent identities.
Wikipedia has an article about the Brampton East riding.
In 2015 Ada Colau, an activist with no experience in government, became mayor of Barcelona. She called for a democratic revolution, and for the last two years city hall, working with civic-minded coders and cryptographers, has been designing the technological tools to make it happen.
Their efforts have centred on two things. The first is opening up governance through participatory processes and greater transparency. And the second is redefining the smart city to ensure that it serves its citizens, rather than the other way around.
The group started by creating a digital participatory platform, Decidim ("We Decide", in Catalan). Now the public can participate directly in government as they would on social media, by suggesting ideas, debating them, and voting with their thumbs. Decidim taps into the potential of social networks: the information spreading on Twitter, or the relationships on Facebook. All of these apply to politics — and Decidim seeks to channel them, while guaranteeing personal privacy and public transparency in a way these platforms don't.
"We are experimenting with a hybrid of online and offline participatory democracy," says Francesca Bria, Barcelona's Chief Technology and Digital Innovation Officer. "We used Decidim to create the government agenda — over 70 per cent of the proposals come directly from citizens. Over 40,000 citizens proposed these policies. And many more citizens were engaged in offline collective assemblies and consultations."
A U.S. House of Representatives spending panel voted today to restore a small NASA climate research program that President Donald Trump's administration had quietly axed. (Click here to read our earlier coverage.)
The House appropriations panel that oversees NASA unanimously approved an amendment to a 2019 spending bill that orders the space agency to set aside $10 million within its Earth science budget for a "climate monitoring system" that studies "biogeochemical processes to better understand the major factors driving short and long term climate change."
That sounds almost identical to the work that NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) was doing before the Trump administration targeted the program, which was getting about $10 million annually, for elimination this year. Critics of the move said it jeopardized numerous research projects and plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords.
"Likely" because it is part of a larger spending bill that needs to be voted on by the full House, and reconciled with the Senate's version.
Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956
Update 5/17/2018: The FDA has now launched the website listing the names of brand name drugs and their makers who have stood in the way of generic drug companies trying to make more affordable alternatives. You can view the list here. It includes notable medications, such as Accutane (for acne), Methadone (used for opioid dependency), and Tracleer (to treat high blood pressure in the lungs). The brand name drug makers to be shamed includes big hitters such as Celgene Corp, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Gilead Sciences Inc, and Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd, now a Johnson & Johnson company. Our original story, published May 16, is unedited below.
The Food and Drug Administration plans this week to effectively begin publicly shaming brand-name drug companies that stand in the way of competitors trying to develop cheaper generic drugs.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told reporters on Monday and Tuesday that the agency will unveil a website on Thursday, May 17 that names names of such companies. More specifically, the website will publicly reveal the identity of 50 branded drugs and their makers that have blocked generic development. The website will also be updated "on a continuous basis" to list additional names.
In fielding questions from reporters, Gottlieb denied that the effort was a form of public shaming. "I don't think this is publicly shaming," Gottlieb said, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. "I think this is providing transparency in situations where we see certain obstacles to timely generic entry."
Veteran spy Gina Haspel will become the first female director of the CIA after six Democrats joined Republicans in a Senate confirmation vote that overrode concerns about her role in the spy agency's harsh interrogation program after 9/11.
Thursday's 54-45 vote split both parties, and the margin was the closest for a CIA nominee in the nearly seven decades that a nod from the Senate has been required. Haspel, who has spent nearly all of her 33-year CIA career in undercover positions, is the first career operations officer to be confirmed since William Colby in 1973.
Haspel, 61, is a native of Kentucky but grew up around the world as the daughter of an Air Force serviceman. She worked in Africa, Europe and classified locations around the globe and was tapped as deputy director of the CIA last year.
Source: Fox News
At theGrio, Spike Lee blasted Trump for not condemning the Klan and Alt-Right:
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman was well received at the Cannes Film Festival, and the prolific director did not hold back giving his take on how President Donald Trump has contributed to a hateful, divisive culture.
In the movie, about a black man (John David Washington) who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan, Lee inserted a moving documentary montage at the end of the film about the conflict in Charlottesville, reports Vulture. The movie included a powerful ending messaging about Heather Heyer, the young woman [who] was killed when a white nationalist ran her over with a car during the protests.
“It’s an ugly, ugly, ugly blemish on the United States of America,” Lee said at the press conference for the film.
The story contains a link to a YouTube video of Spike Lee's comments at Cannes, as well as a transcript of that video.
[Note: Emphasis was in the source. -Ed]
In recent years [...] satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet's flows of carbon. Now, President Donald Trump's administration has quietly killed the CMS, Science has learned.
[janrinok] For those of you who do not want to read about the 'extremes' of US politics (alt-right or left-wing) I suggest that you skip this story and wait for the next one. If you feel that we shouldn't publish any story that does not accord with your own, probably less extreme, views then perhaps you should remind yourself that we try to give everyone in our community the benefit of free speech and we do not intentionally censor or promote any particular view or political leaning. Of course, you are welcome to contribute your own comments in the subsequent discussion that will follow.
On Tuesday, The New York Times’ Bari Weiss appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss her new in-depth piece on the so-called Intellectual Dark Web – an agglomeration of thinkers from all sides of the political aisle who have been cast out by political correctness and now converse with one another regularly and publicly (full disclosure: I’m a charter member, along with friends including Sam Harris, Eric Weinstein, Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, and others). The entire premise of the IDW is that many on the Left refuse to acknowledge good-natured disagreement; instead, all disagreement must be due to nefarious evil on the part of those who disagree.
Proving the point on MSNBC was guest Eddie Glaude Jr., chair at the Center for African-American Studies at Princeton. When Weiss cited the discussions between me and Sam as evidence for the diversity of the movement, Glaude responded, “What allows you to describe these folks as intellectuals of sort? Let me say it differently. They’re connected intellectually by what common commitments? So you might have different ideological spaces, but when you talk about Sam Harris and Ben Shapiro in one sentence, I can see the connection between those two.” Weiss responded, logically enough, “Which is?” And Glaude explained:
Having something to do with how they think about race, having something to do with how they think about diversity in the country and the ways in which diversity is talked about, right? The way in which they think about political correctness. Weiss responded, “Yeah, they’re anti-identity politics, for sure.”
To which Glaude launched into a full defense of identity politics: “Identity politics is a phrase that kind of is a red herring. Identity politics is just simply questions of justice, right?”
At this point, Joe Scarborough jumped in and hit the nail directly on the head:
Eddie, you have just made Bari Weiss's point, that you disagree with the way Bari Weiss views the world, so you're going to help her view the world more the way you view the world. The entire purpose of the exercise is to have honest conversations with people, and to not question their morality, or their wisdom just because they don't view the world exactly the same way that you do.
Bari Weiss, an opinion writer and editor at the New York Times, created a stir this week with a long article on a group that calls itself the "Intellectual Dark Web." The coinage referred to a loose collective of intellectuals and media personalities who believe they are "locked out" of mainstream media, in Weiss's words, and who are building their own ways to communicate with readers.
The thinkers profiled included the neuroscientist and prominent atheist writer Sam Harris, the podcaster Dave Rubin, and University of Toronto psychologist and Chaos Dragon maven Jordan Peterson.
Some assertions in the piece deserved the ridicule. But Weiss accurately captured a genuine perception among the people she is writing about (and, perhaps, for). They do feel isolated and marginalized, and with some justification. However, the reasons are quite different from those suggested by Weiss. She asserts that they have been marginalized because of their willingness to take on all topics and their determination not to "[parrot] what's politically convenient."
The truth is rather that dark web intellectuals, like Donald Trump supporters and the online alt-right, have experienced a sharp decline in their relative status over time. This is leading them to frustration and resentment.
[janrinok] And another contribution from Ari reviews Amanda Marcotte's new book:
Interview at Salon with author Amanda Marcotte:
I had no role in editing Amanda Marcotte's new book, which bears the amusing and highly appropriate title, "Troll Nation: How the Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set on Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself." None of it previously appeared in Salon, to be clear;
But "Troll Nation" is not about the election of Donald Trump. Amanda and I have certain areas of cheerfully-expressed political disagreement, but I think we share the view that Trump was the culmination of a long process, or is the most visible symptom of a widespread infection. Amanda's analysis is, as always, calm, sharp-witted and clearly focused on available evidence. American conservatives, she says, used to make rational arguments and used to present a positive social vision. Did those arguments make sense, in the end? Did that "Morning in America" vision of the Reagan years conceal a vibrant undercurrent of bigotry?
[...] How we got from the supercilious, upper-crust conservatism of William F. Buckley Jr., the dictionary definition of an elitist -- the dude could read and write Latin, for God's sake -- to the delusional ignorance of Alex Jones and #Pizzagate, the small-minded hatred of Charlottesville and the unquenchable thirst for "liberal tears" is one of the darkest mysteries of our time. It's also the story of "Troll Nation."
Two bits of news from Asia, widely covered elsewhere. However, are we beginning to see a peace dividend as a result of the thawing in relationships between North and South Korea?
"Three American prisoners held in North Korea have been released and are en route to the U.S. after a surprise diplomatic mission by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Trump announced Wednesday. " foxnews.com/politics/2018/05/09/american-prisoners-held-in-north-korea-on-their-way-home-after-pompeo-visit-trump-says.html
[Ed Note: They should be back in the US by now although I have not seen any direct reporting of this at the time of editing this story. Anyway, welcome back guys!]
"China, South Korea and Japan have begun their first trilateral summit in more than two years.
[...] They are expected to take up the recent flurry of developments on the Korean peninsula. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Moon on April 27 and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week.
Abe said he hopes North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons in a complete and irreversible way.
Li said China is willing to work with Japan and South Korea to maintain regional stability.
The three-way summit is supposed to happen annually, but hasn't been held since November 2015 because of tense relations between Japan and China." foxnews.com/world/2018/05/08/latest-china-japan-south-korea-open-three-way-summit.html