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posted by martyb on Thursday May 31 2018, @12:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the reports-of-my-death-are-greatly-exagerated dept.

'Murdered' Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko turns up alive

A Russian journalist and critic of the Kremlin, reported to have been shot dead in Ukraine, showed up alive at a press conference on Wednesday to declare that his murder was faked by Ukrainian security services in an effort to foil an assassination plot against him.

In a stunning development, Arkady Babchenko, 41, walked into a room of journalists in Kiev who had been expecting to get an update on his murder.

He apologized to his wife Olechka -- who on Tuesday was reported to have found him bleeding to death at his apartment -- for the "hell" she had gone through. Ukrainian officials offered a jaw-dropping explanation for his so-called death -- to expose a Russian plot against him.

Script flipped.

Also at BBC.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday May 29 2018, @07:40PM   Printer-friendly
from the generational-attitude-shift dept.

Al Jazeera reports

Polls have closed in an Irish referendum on abortion that could represent a change in the path of a country that was once one of Europe's more socially conservative.

Voters turned out in large numbers on [May 25] to have their say on whether to repeal the country's Eighth Amendment, which outlaws abortion by giving equal rights to the unborn.

An exit poll, conducted for the Irish Times by Ipsos/MRBI, suggested that the country voted by a landslide margin to change the constitution so that abortion can be legalised.

The vote to repeal the constitutional ban was predicted to win by 68 percent to 32 percent, according to the poll of 4,000 voters, the Irish Times said.

[...] If the proposal to repeal the Eighth Amendment is defeated on [May 25], the country will not have a second referendum and it could be another 35 years before voters have their say on the matter again, [Prime Minister Leo] Varadkar said.

[...] 78 percent of the Irish population is Catholic

[...] Thousands of people living abroad returned home to vote. Ireland is one of the few countries in the European Union that does not allow those abroad to vote via post or in embassies.

Those away for less than 18 months remain eligible to vote at their former local polling station. Those living on the Atlantic islands cast their ballot a day early to help prevent delays in transportation and counting the ballot papers.

When the constitutional amendment to instate the ban was voted on in 1983, 66.9 percent voted "yes," and 33.1 percent voted "no".

Widely reported, including:


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday May 26 2018, @10:38AM   Printer-friendly
from the free-speech dept.

Al Jazeera reports

The National Football League (NFL) announced a new policy that will fine teams an undetermined amount if players on the field fail to stand during the national anthem.

[...] The new policy does not require players be present during the anthem, allowing those who wish to protest and not attend the ceremonial act to remain in the locker room.

Players said they were not consulted and threatened to challenge the policy in the courts. A statement by the NFL Players Association said its athletes had shown ample patriotism by way of their social activism and community support initiatives.

[...] New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said he supported the measure out of obligation to the membership, but said players can take a knee or perform another type of protest without fear of repercussion from the team. He will pay their fines.

"If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organisation, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players," Johnson said.

New York Magazine notes

The monetary risk to Johnson isn't huge, since no Jets players took a knee last season. [...] Johnson is currently acting as owner of the team while his brother, Woody Johnson, serves as Trump's ambassador to Britain.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the no-one-was-surprised dept.

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.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday May 22 2018, @01:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the insider-threats dept.

The National Post reports:

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.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday May 22 2018, @10:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the by-the-people-for-the-people dept.

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."


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday May 21 2018, @03:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the so-there dept.

That NASA climate science program Trump axed? House lawmakers just moved to restore it

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.

Previously: Trump White House Quietly Cancels NASA Research Verifying Greenhouse Gas Cuts


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday May 20 2018, @01:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the dishonor-on-you,-dishonor-on-your-cow dept.

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."

Source: https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/05/fda-to-start-naming-names-of-pharma-companies-blocking-cheaper-generics/


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday May 19 2018, @06:09PM   Printer-friendly

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

Also at the New York Times, CNN[warning: autoplay video], and Vox among others.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday May 18 2018, @04:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the no-punches-pulled dept.

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]


Original Submission

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