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posted by martyb on Thursday May 30 2019, @09:48PM   Printer-friendly
from the Mandering-the-racist-Jerry dept.

From Slate

If we had a fair Supreme Court not driven by partisanship in its most political cases, Thursday’s blockbuster revelation in the census case would lead the court to unanimously rule in Department of Commerce v. New York to exclude the controversial citizenship question from the decennial survey. Those newly revealed documents show that the Trump administration’s purpose in putting the citizenship question on the upcoming census was not its stated one to help Hispanic voters under the Voting Rights Act, but rather to create policy that would be “a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic Whites.” It’s difficult to produce a greater smoking gun than explicitly saying you are hoping to help the GOP by increasing white voting power. But this revelation, coming from the hard drive of a deceased Republican political operative and made available to Common Cause by his estranged daughter, is ironically more likely to lead the Republican-appointed conservative justices on the Supreme Court to allow the administration to include the question that would help states dilute the power of Hispanic voters.

[...]And here is where Thursday’s revelations fit in. The New York Times reported that the hard drive of the late Republican redistricting guru Thomas B. Hofeller contained documents indicating that the real purpose of including the citizenship question was to allow Republicans to draw new congressional, state, and local legislative districts using equal numbers of eligible voters in each district, not equal numbers of persons, a standard that would greatly reduce the power of Hispanics and Democrats in places like Texas. According to the Times, files on Hofeller’s hard drives, subpoenaed in litigation concerning North Carolina redistricting, show that Hofeller “wrote a study in 2015 concluding that adding a citizenship question to the census would allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats. And months after urging President Trump’s transition team to tack the question onto the census, he wrote the key portion of a draft Justice Department letter claiming the question was needed to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act—the rationale the administration later used to justify its decision.”

[...]Thursday’s revelations should be damning. The ACLU is already seeking sanctions in the trial court in the census case for government officials lying about the real reason for including the citizenship question. But instead the revelations may help to prop up a case that should embarrass government lawyers to argue.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 30 2019, @03:17PM   Printer-friendly
from the comes-from-eating-too-many-Freedom-Fries dept.

US Department of Energy is now referring to fossil fuels as "freedom gas"

Call it a rebranding of "energy dominance." In a press release published on Tuesday, two Department of Energy officials used the terms "freedom gas" and "molecules of US freedom" to replace your average, everyday term "natural gas."

The press release was fairly standard, announcing the expansion of a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal at the Freeport facility on Quintana Island, Texas. It would have gone unnoticed had an E&E News reporter not noted the unique metonymy "molecules of US freedom."

DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg is quoted as saying, "With the US in another year of record-setting natural gas production, I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of US freedom to be exported to the world."

Artist's depiction of this news.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Wednesday May 29 2019, @04:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the pot-meet-kettle dept.

Chinese tech giant Huawei has filed a motion in a US court challenging the constitutionality of a law that limits its sales of telecoms equipment, the latest action in an ongoing clash with Washington.

Huawei's chief legal officer Song Liuping said the firm had filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to rule on whether it is constitutional for the US to implement a military spending provision that bars the government and its contractors from using its equipment.

Mr Song said the "state-sanctioned campaign" against the company will not improve cybersecurity.

"Politicians in the US are using the strength of an entire nation to come after a private company," he said. "This is not normal."


Additional Coverage:

[Ed Note: full disclosure - The submitter is also the author of the linked news story and a junior editor at the web site]

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday May 29 2019, @01:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the saving-you-from-yourself dept.

California lawmakers on Thursday advanced the last major surviving bill in a package aimed at reducing consumption of sodas, approving a measure that would require health warning labels on sugary drinks.

The measure by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) received a bare majority of votes even though some Democrats withheld votes while others in the majority party joined Republicans in opposition.

The latest action follows this year’s shelving of measures that would have put a tax on soda and banned “Big Gulp”-style sodas in an effort to address health risks including obesity and diabetes that are posed by sugary drinks.

“They represent the single leading source of increased bad calories that are being promoted in our communities and pushed on communities of color,” Monning said during the floor debate, citing a “national epidemic” of diabetes.

The label on container would say: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) may contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay.”

[...] The American Beverage Assn. opposed the bill with a strong push by lobbyists and while making major political contributions to state lawmakers.

The industry argued that the bill and its health impact claims went too far.

“There are already more effective ways to help people manage their overall sugar consumption rather than through mandatory and misleading messages,” said Steven Maviglio, a spokesman for the American Beverage Assn.

[...] Legislators are also still considering a bill that would bar the soda industry from offering subsidies including discount coupons that encourage soda consumption.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday May 27 2019, @06:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-all-the-millennials'-fault dept.

The World Socialist Web Site, publication of record of the ICFI (SEP), on May 24th released a report about the grim situation many millennials face:

The stock market is booming, and President Donald Trump is boasting at every turn that the unemployment rate is lower than it has been in five decades.

However, the working class, the vast majority of the population, is confronting an unprecedented social, economic, health and psychological crisis. The same processes that have produced vast sums of wealth for the ruling elite have left millions of workers on the brink of existence.

Perhaps no segment of the population reflects the devastating consequences of these processes so starkly as the generation of young people deemed the "millennials," those born roughly between the years 1981 and 1996. More than half the 72 million American millennials are now in their 30s, with the oldest turning 38 this year.

A recent exposé by the Wall Street Journal noted that millennials are "in worse financial shape than prior living generations and may not recover." The article, "Millennials Near Middle Age in Crisis," [paywalled] concludes by stating that people born in the 1980s are at risk of becoming "America's Lost generation."

Selected bullet points from the WSWS article:

  • Millennials have taken on 300 percent more student debt than their parents' generation. [Source: The College Board, Trends in Student Aid 2013]
  • By 2014, 48 percent of workers with bachelor's degrees are employed in jobs for which they're overqualified. [Source: Labor Economist Stephen Rose, published by Urban Institute.]
  • The number of workers in the United States participating in the gig economy is expected to triple to 42 million workers by 2020, and 42 percent of those people are likely to be millennials. [Source: Freshbooks]
  • Between 1978 and 2017, according to the EPI, CEO compensation rose in the US by 1,070 percent, while the typical worker's compensation over these 39 years rose by a mere 11.2 percent.
  • In the 40 years leading up to the recession, rents increased at more than twice the rate of incomes. [Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.]
  • One in 5 millennials say they cannot afford routine healthcare expenses. Many of these millennials are uninsured because of the cost. An additional 26 percent say they can afford routine health-care costs, but only with difficulty. [Source: Harris Poll]
  • Men and women in their thirties are marrying at rates below every other generation on record. [Source: The Atlantic, "The Death (and Life) of Marriage in America"]
  • It is predicted that most millennials will not be able to retire until age 75. [Source: NerdWallet analysis of federal data]

The report concludes, "Far from becoming the 'Lost Generation' predicted by the Wall Street Journal, this generation of workers carries within it an enormous source of revolutionary potential."

[Ed. Note. I debated whether or not to run this story given the partisan source for the article, but the list of references suggested it was more than a simple opinion piece. So, are things really as grim as portrayed here? I'm too old to be a millennial, but have both personally experienced as well as witnessed many others facing the same trends listed here. Where do things go from here?]

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday May 24 2019, @02:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the May-won't-any-more dept.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May Will Resign, Pass the Brexit

Theresa May has announced that she will resign as UK's Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party:

Mrs. May announced on Friday that she would be stepping down as leader of her Conservative Party and then as Britain's prime minister, after repeatedly failing to win Parliament's approval for a deal to withdraw the country from the European Union.

A successor to Theresa May will be chosen before Parliament's summer break, the Conservative Party chairman said. She will continue as prime minister until the leadership contest is finished.

[...] Standing in front of 10 Downing Street, Mrs. May said it was in the "best interests of the country for a new prime minister" to lead Britain through the Brexit process. She announced plans to step down as the leader of the Conservative Party on June 7, with the process to replace her beginning the following week.

Previously: Theresa May: UK's Next Prime Minister?

UK PM Theresa May announces resignation amid fury over Brexit handling

May spoke outside 10 Downing Street after a meeting with Graham Brady, the head of the 1922 Committee of Conservative Party backbenchers. She said she will step down on June 7. Her resignation will trigger a party leadership contest, and whoever wins that contest will take over as prime minister.

[...] Her announcement could complicate the upcoming June 3 state visit by President Trump to London to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, where he will also meet with Queen Elizabeth II.

May will still be in office during that visit, meaning it will nix the chance for a new prime minister to forge ties with the American president at a time where such relations are vital. A U.S.-U.K. trade deal is a top priority for the U.K. as it looks to depart from the European Union and begin making its own trade agreements -- and Trump has said "the potential is unlimited" for such a deal.

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday May 08 2019, @10:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the next-up-is-the-unicorns-pooping-skittles-act dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Search engine and consumer privacy advocate DuckDuckGo has announced the "Do-Not-Track Act of 2019," a piece of draft legislation that would legally require sites to honor users' tracking preferences.

[...]If the act picks up steam and passes into law, sites would be required to cease certain user tracking methods, which means less data available to inform marketing and advertising campaigns.

The impact could also cascade into platforms that leverage consumer data, possibly making them less effective. For example, one of the advantages of advertising on a platform like Google or Facebook is the ability to target audiences. If a user enables DNT, the ads displayed to them when on browsing[sic] those websites won't be informed by their external browsing history.

[Ed Note: By proposed they mean "That's why we're announcing draft legislation that can serve as a starting point for legislators in America and beyond. "]

-- submitted from IRC

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday May 07 2019, @11:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the full-of-electric-eels dept.

Amsterdam's head of transport has announced plans to ban petrol and diesel cars in the city by 2030.

The clean air action plan aims to make the Dutch capital a "world leader in emission-free transport".

Transport chief Sharon Dijksma said residents "live a year less on average due to dirty air" and that the plan should "prolong the health of the average Amsterdammer by three months."

But the plan has already incited strong reactions in the Netherlands with one motoring organisation branding it "bizarre" and wondering how normal people would afford electric cars.

The plan, which would be applied 20 years before the Paris Agreement aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions, would require up to 23,000 electric charging points by 2025. The city currently has 3,000.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday May 01 2019, @06:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the no-comment dept.

Venezuela Crisis Live Updates: Clashes Erupt After Opposition Leader Calls for Uprising

• Clashes between anti-government protesters and law enforcement officers erupted in Caracas on Tuesday after the Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, appeared alongside soldiers at a military base and called for the population to rise up against the president, Nicolás Maduro.

• Mr. Guaidó has urged the Venezuela military to join his side since he declared himself interim president more than three months ago. But it was a new step for him to make the declaration with men in uniform by his side. Still, it is unclear how much of the military supports him.

• The Trump administration, which has backed Mr. Guaidó since he first declared himself interim president in January, expressed immediate support for his latest move. President Trump tweeted, "The United States stands with the People of Venezuela and their Freedom!"

• Video and photos showed at least one instance where an armored vehicle rammed protesters. It was not immediately clear how many people were injured.

See also: Venezuela's Guaidó accused of coup attempt by government

Previously: Turmoil in Venezuela Surrounding Aid Deliveries

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday April 28 2019, @01:23AM   Printer-friendly
from the sense-no-makes dept.

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.

Original Submission

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