2020-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-02-26 12:22:20 UTC
2020-02-26 23:29:09 UTC
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As lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom supported a 2017 bill increasing the state's gas taxes. When running for governor in 2018, he opposed a ballot initiative that would have repealed that same increase. It's 2019, and Newson, now the state's governor, is demanding an investigation into why the state's gas prices are so high.
On Tuesday, the governor sent a letter to the California Energy Commission (CEC) asking that the state agency investigate the Golden State's roughly $4.03 per gallon gas prices, currently the highest in the country (and well above the national average of $2.86 per gallon).
"Independent analysis suggests that an unaccounted-for price differential exists in California's gas prices and that this price differential may stem in part from inappropriate industry practices," wrote Newsom in his letter to the CEC. "These are all important reasons for the Commission to help shed light on what's going on in our gasoline market."
[...] California currently imposes the second-highest gas taxes in the country. A state excise tax currently adds $.417 per gallon, a rate that will increase to $.473 come July. On top of that, the state imposes a 2.25 percent gasoline sales tax.
In addition, California has adopted a low-carbon fuel standard and a cap-and-trade scheme for carbon emissions which together increase the state's gas prices by $.24 per gallon above the national average, according to a 2017 state government report.
That same report maintained that, even after all these state-imposed costs were tallied up, California's gas prices remained above the national average, a finding that both those 19 state legislators and Newsom are using to justify their demands for an investigation.
China's courts have now added 13.5 million individuals to the social-credit punishment list.
People deemed untrustworthy in China have been blocked from the purchase of more than 25 million plane and train tickets, as the country works to build the massive social-credit system designed to monitor and shape the conduct of its citizens
The system covers "19 key areas of dishonesty" such as failing to make court-ordered payments (China has no personal bankruptcy statutes), spending habits, turnstile violations, and filial piety, as well as
spreading online rumours and false information, committing financial fraud, delivering unlicensed medical treatment, evading taxes, cheating on tests and fixing sports matches.
Chinese officials are careful to point out that this is only the beginning of the process of implementing a social-credit system. There are also multiple blacklists involved, not one big blacklist like the United State's 'No-Fly' list.
In total, the number of blacklists in China now likely numbers in the hundreds, said Dai Xin, a professor at Ocean University of China School of Law. But it remains experimental, he said, like many initiatives in China, where "governments just go ahead with some vague assumptions of what may happen if a measure is adopted."
Critics call the system the beginning of a "digital panopticon", while other Chinese scholars and officials defend the system as one that will ease life for those who display good conduct and integrity even as it deprives the untrustworthy of access to services.
Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has won a landslide victory in the country's presidential election, exit polls suggest.
The polls give the political newcomer, who dominated the first round of voting three weeks ago, more than 70% support.
Mr Zelensky, 41, challenged incumbent president Petro Poroshenko who has admitted defeat. The apparent result is being seen as a huge blow to Mr Poroshenko and a rejection of Ukraine's establishment.
"I will never let you down," Mr Zelensky told celebrating supporters on Sunday. "I'm not yet officially the president," he added. "But as a citizen of Ukraine I can say to all countries in the post-Soviet Union: Look at us. Anything is possible!"
From the insides of Business Insider
As a huge fire took hold of Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral on Monday evening, alt-right figures were in no time spreading rumours and disinformation on social media linking the blaze to Muslims and hinting at a sinister cover up.
French officials on Monday night were quick to say that arson was unlikely to be the cause of the blaze as it engulfed the roof of the 12th century cathedral, but far-right activists and propagandists were already all over social media channels pushing conspiracies.
Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec compared the blaze to 9/11, despite no link having made to terrorism by French officials, while alt-right activist Faith Goldy falsely claimed that three days previously "a Muslim jihadis [sic] in Paris was arrested for planning a terrorist attack at Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Funny, there was this little AC scurrying about here on SN yesterday, saying things like this.
...but well countered here, also by an AC:
Police have begun questioning workers who were carrying out renovations at the cathedral. The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an inquiry into "involuntary destruction by fire", indicating they believe the cause of the blaze was accidental rather than criminal.
The Paris prosecutor's office said it was treating the fire as an accident, ruling out arson and possible terror-related motives, at least for now.
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang revealed this week that he's planning to use a 3D hologram to hold campaign rallies in multiple cities at the same time. Yang discussed the hologram during an appearance on TMZ Live. The segment showed off a hologram version of Yang dancing and performing with the famous Tupac hologram that appeared at Coachella in 2012.
[...] Yang plans to use the hologram, broadcast from the back of a truck, to deliver a recorded version of his stump speech to crowds in battleground states. Yang would set up in a studio and remotely beam into the rally to answer questions live and in real-time after the speech finished. The technique could save Yang, a longshot for the Democratic nomination at this point, a considerable amount of travel costs while helping to rally supporters and generate interest in key areas.
In the future, all politicians will attend events exclusively as holograms, beamed from their studios in Elysium.
Australian Cate Faehrmann may be the world's first politician to admit to having used the illicit drug MDMA. The reaction in Australia, and globally, has surprised her, she tells Gary Nunn in Sydney.
Ms Faehrmann's admission, made in January, has come amid a fierce debate about introducing "pill testing" services in New South Wales (NSW). Five music festival-goers have died from suspected drug overdoses in NSW since September. It has prompted passionate calls for action - but state lawmakers are divided on what should be done.
Ms Faehrmann, 48, from the Greens party, argues that her opponents have a "limited understanding of the people they're needing to connect with". She says she has taken MDMA (known as ecstasy when in pill form) "occasionally" since her 20s. "I'm sitting here as a politician with more experience than anyone else in the building," she says, adding: "Maybe not - maybe I'm the only one being honest."
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is opposed to pill testing. She has said that "no evidence [has been] provided to the government" that it saves lives, and that testing would give drug users "a false sense of security".
[*] MDMA: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine:
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly known as ecstasy (E), is a psychoactive drug primarily used as a recreational drug. The desired effects include altered sensations and increased energy, empathy, and pleasure. When taken by mouth, effects begin after 30–45 minutes and last 3–6 hours.
Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica reports that the House Energy And Commerce committee approved the Save The Internet Act, which rolls back the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC)* 2017 repeal of its 2015 order on network neutrality[PDF].
The Ars Technica article states:
Democrats in the US House of Representatives yesterday rejected Republican attempts to weaken a bill that would restore net neutrality rules.
Commerce Committee Republicans repeatedly introduced amendments that would weaken the bill but were consistently rebuffed by the committee's Democratic majority. "The Democrats beat back more than a dozen attempts from Republicans to gut the bill with amendments throughout the bill's markup that lasted 9.5 hours," The Hill reported yesterday.
Republican amendments would have weakened the bill by doing the following:
- Exempt all 5G wireless services from net neutrality rules.
- Exempt all multi-gigabit broadband services from net neutrality rules.
- Exempt from net neutrality rules any ISP that builds broadband service in any part of the US that doesn't yet have download speeds of at least 25Mbps and upload speeds of at least 3Mbps.
- Exempt from net neutrality rules any ISP that gets universal service funding from the FCC's Rural Health Care Program.
- Exempt ISPs that serve 250,000 or fewer subscribers from certain transparency rules that require public disclosure of network management practices.
- Prevent the FCC from limiting the types of zero-rating (i.e., data cap exemptions) that ISPs can deploy.
[amendment links above are all PDF]
Another Republican amendment [PDF] would have imposed net neutrality rules but declared that broadband is an information service. This would have prevented the FCC from imposing any other type of common-carrier regulations on ISPs.
The committee did approve a Democratic amendment [PDF] to exempt ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers from the transparency rules, but only for one year.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) claimed that the Democrats' bill "is not the net neutrality that people want" and is "actually more government socialism," according to The Hill.
But the primary opponents of the FCC's net neutrality rules were broadband providers and Republicans in Congress, not the people at large. Polls showed that the FCC's repeal was opposed by most Americans: "Eighty-six percent oppose the repeal of net neutrality, including 82 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats," the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland reported last year after surveying nearly 1,000 registered voters.
"It's embarrassing watching telecom shills in these committee votes attempt to turn this into a partisan issue when it's actually quite simple: no one wants their cable company to control what they can see and do on the Internet, or manipulate where they get their news, how they listen to music, or what apps they can use," Deputy Director Evan Greer of advocacy group Fight for the Future said.
The now-repealed net neutrality rules prohibited ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful content and from charging online services for prioritization. The Democrats' bill would reinstate those rules and other consumer protections that used to be enforced by the FCC. For example, Pai's repeal vote also wiped out a requirement that ISPs be more transparent with customers about hidden fees and the consequences of exceeding data caps.
*The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the United States government that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The FCC serves the public in the areas of broadband access, fair competition, radio frequency use, media responsibility, public safety, and homeland security.
Submitted via IRC for Bytram
In 2017, criminals stole the personal data of about 143 million people from the credit rating system Equifax. It was a huge embarrassment for the company and a headache for the millions of people affected. Equifax's then-57-year-old CEO Richard Smith retired in September 2017, weeks after the breach was discovered, with a multi-million dollar pay package.
Massachusetts US Senator turned Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren wants to make sure that CEOs who preside over massive data breaches in the future don't get off so easily. On Wednesday, she announced the Corporate Executive Accountability Act, which would impose jail time on corporate executives who "negligently permit or fail to prevent" a "violation of the law" that "affects the health, safety, finances or personal data" of 1 percent of the population of any state.
A CEO could get up to a year in prison for a first offense. Repeat offenders could get three years.
The penalty only applies to companies that generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue—Equifax had $3.4 billion in revenue in 2017. It also only applies to companies that are either convicted of violating the law or settle claims with state or federal regulators. Equifax may qualify on this score, too, since the company signed a consent decree with state regulators last year.
With that said, it seems that most data breaches probably wouldn't trigger criminal penalties under the proposed new law. A CEO would only face jail time if a data breach was the result of illegal activity by the company and if prosecutors can show that the CEO was negligent in failing to prevent it. And under current law, merely being the victim of a data breach isn't a crime.
April 2, 2019
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, announced today that he would soon release a proposal to eliminate massive tax breaks enjoyed by the wealthy on their capital gains income. If successful, the proposal would ensure that income from wealth is taxed just like income from work.
His plan, which he has promised to flesh out in a white paper in the coming weeks, would tax the appreciation of assets owned by the very wealthy as income each year, an approach known as mark-to-market taxation. It would also subject that income to ordinary tax rates rather than special, lower income tax rates that apply to capital gains.
Step by step over the years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey sought to ensure nobody could challenge him. He marginalized adversaries. He purged the army, the police and the courts. He cowed the press. He strengthened his powers in the Constitution. And he promised Turks a bright economic future.
So it was a huge surprise when the outcome of weekend municipal voting showed on Monday that Mr. Erdogan's party had not only lost control of Ankara, the political center, but maybe Istanbul, the country's commercial center, his home city and longstanding core of support. Even if the results were not final, they amounted to the most momentous political earthquake to shake Mr. Erdogan in nearly two decades of basically uncontested control at the helm of Turkey, a NATO ally and critical linchpin of stability in the region.
What was different this time was the rapidly tanking economy and a highly disciplined opposition. It deployed monitors to not only scrutinize the vote tallies but also sleep on sacks of sealed counted ballots to guard against possible tampering by members of Mr. Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP. "We think they were not able to rig the election," said Ilayda Kocoglu, 28, vice president of the Istanbul branch of the opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, who slept on some sacks herself. "They were not expecting us to be that organized, or that resolved."
The results do not mean that Mr. Erdogan, whose term as president lasts for four more years, will change his behavior, which includes promoting Islamic religious values over secularism, closer ties to Russia and chillier relations with NATO. But the election showed Mr. Erdogan has weaknesses. "It's a catastrophe for him," said Asli Aydintasbas, a senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. "We now know he is not invincible."