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The Center for American Progress reports
Last month, the NFL announced a new policy for its players during the national anthem: Players are permitted to stay in the locker room during the anthem, but if they go out onto the field during it, they must stand. If any of the players takes a knee, the team will be fined.
Soon afterwards, a Wall Street Journal report confirmed what most have long suspected: That President Donald Trump's public outrage about NFL players protesting police brutality and systemic racism during the national anthem at football games heavily influenced NFL owners to change the rule, and discouraged them from signing players who would protest.
It's all terrible news for those in favor of free speech and peaceful protest, and for those against white nationalism and police brutality.
However, Mark Geragos, the lawyer representing Kaepernick in his collusion lawsuit against the NFL, [...] believes [...] that Trump's direct influence over NFL owners on this issue violates federal law. U.S. Code 227 [which] says that members of Congress or the executive branch cannot "wrongfully influence a private entity's employment decision ... solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation".
A few revelations from the last couple of weeks strongly support Geragos' case here, and it's important to remember that Geragos knows much more about the case than we do--he has taken the depositions of more than a dozen NFL owners, while the public only knows about the depositions that have leaked.
[...] Of course, influencing the private hiring decisions of a company isn't the only part of U.S. Code  that needs to be proved; it would also have to be shown that Trump did it for partisan political purposes.
That sounds trickier to prove, but in this case, that's not necessarily true. First of all, Trump's comments were made at a political rally supporting an Alabama Republican candidate for US Senate--an expressly partisan environment. And according to the WSJ, Trump told Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in private conversations that the issue was a "winning" one for him.
White Americans' fear of losing their socioeconomic standing in the face of demographic change may be driving opposition to welfare programs, even though whites are major beneficiaries of government poverty assistance, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University.
While social scientists have long posited that racial resentment fuels opposition to such anti-poverty programs as food stamps, Medicaid and Temporary Aid to Needy Families, this is the first study to show the correlation experimentally, demonstrating a causal relationship between attitudes to welfare and threatened racial status.
"With policymakers proposing cuts to the social safety net, it's important to understand the dynamics that drive the welfare backlash," said study lead author Rachel Wetts, a Ph.D. student in sociology at UC Berkeley. "This research suggests that when whites fear their status is on the decline, they increase opposition to programs intended to benefit poorer members of all racial groups."
The findings, to be published May 30 in the journal Social Forces, highlight a welfare backlash that swelled around the 2008 Great Recession and election of Barack Obama.
Notably, the study found anti-welfare sentiment to be selective insofar as threats to whites' standing led whites to oppose government assistance programs they believed largely benefit minorities, while not affecting their views of programs they thought were more likely to advantage whites.
"Our findings suggest that these threats lead whites to oppose programs they perceive as primarily benefiting racial minorities," said study senior author Robb Willer, a professor of sociology and social psychology at Stanford University.
[...] "Overall, these results suggest whites' perceptions of rising minority power and influence lead them to oppose welfare programs," Wetts said.
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.
Also at BBC.
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:
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.
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."