2020-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-02-24 18:18:28 UTC
2020-02-25 13:11:03 UTC
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Submitted via IRC for Bytram
It's one thing for most of us to block Twitter users who annoy us, but it's a violation of those users' First Amendment rights for the president to do so, a federal appeals court confirmed.
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday issued an opinion supporting an earlier federal court ruling that as long as Donald Trump is a public official, he cannot block people (which prevents them from reading his feed or responding to his comments) he disagrees with on Twitter.
The opinion (PDF) is narrow, specific, and unanimous, with all three judges concurring. "We do not consider or decide whether an elected official violates the Constitution by excluding persons from a wholly private social media account," the judges write, "Nor do we consider whether private social media companies are bound by the First Amendment when policing their platforms."
But, they continue, "The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.... Once the President has chosen a platform and opened up its interactive space to millions of users and participants, he may not selectively exclude those whose views he disagrees with."
"The irony of all this," the opinion concludes, "is that we write at a time in the history of this nation when the conduct of our government and its officials is subject to wide-open, robust debate. This debate encompasses an extraordinarily broad range of ideas and viewpoints and generates a level of passion and intensity the likes of which have rarely been seen. This debate, as uncomfortable and unpleasant as it frequently may be, is nonetheless a good thing. In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less."
[Update 20190713_080924 UTC: Part of what distinguishes this case from other politician's use of twitter is that on June 6, 2017 it was reported:
At the daily White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said the President's tweets are considered official White House statements, saying the President is the "most effective messenger on his agenda."
[Editor's note: This story has an interesting viewpoint given the proliferation of "Deep Fake" videos we recently covered here. I see it as a portent of discussions to come. How much can we trust reporting? How much slanting and posturing of "reports" and "studies" are going to be promulgated in the lead-up to the next presidential election? Is this item all a bunch of crap or an indication of things we can expect to come? How much can we trust, and how to we go about assessing the veracity of what is presented to us by not only the main-stream media, but also social media, too? We hereby disclaim any assurance as to the credibility of the accusations made here and present it solely as an example of what may be coming -- and an opportunity to practice techniques at validating/corroborating or challenging/refuting it. The story submission appears after the break.]
NOTE TO READERS - this is scummy content and scummy journalism, at best. That said, it is news, as the story has been commented on by two congressional questionings and the president. Ugh.
Congressional testimony and comments by the president are being made on a Project Veritas video/report, which details how Google biases their search results to favor certain political narratives. REP Dan Crenshaw (TX) and SEN Ted Cruz (TX) have made comments on the Google reports (link below). President Trump made the comment "they're trying to rig the election".
Basically, Project Veritas had an internal whistleblower at Google who detailed how they bias content against conservative sources. The leaked internal project documents (which may be fake) present a relatively technical discussion on how to bias existing trained neural networks. These are somewhat correlated with leaked internal E-mails (which may be fake) describing how the algorithms are modified to create more 'fair' results as part of "search engine fairness". The whistleblower was interviewed, but their face was masked and voice changed (may as well be fake). This is then correlated against a certainly-illegally-obtained-and-selectively-edited interview with a Google executive, which appears to be at a hotel bar from Project Veritas "undercover" agent. This was all combined into a report from Project Veritas that indicates that Google is politically biasing search results as a byproduct of algorithmic tampering and human influence. Ugh.
Predictably, the Project Veritas video was banned everywhere (YouTube, Reddit, Twitter), with accounts suspended/banned from certain platforms. Some people would say that it is an attempt to silence the "report". Some other people would say that this "report" is dubious at best. I think reasonable people would say, at a minimum, posting illegally-obtained material to the internet warrants a ban. Personally - if Veritas wants to do this 'reporting' then it needs to *report* - and not produce material that is illegally obtained or fake.
Original Source: https://www.projectveritas.com/2019/06/24/insider-blows-whistle-exec-reveals-google-plan-to-prevent-trump-situation-in-2020-on-hidden-cam/
Washintgon Times: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/jun/24/google-exec-project-veritas-sting-says-only-big-te/
Congressional Testimony: (1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueCMWBixP4Y (2) https://youtu.be/ik_kzn3etsE?t=44
Among other things, the "leaked internal E-mails" indicate that Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, and Dennis Prager are Nazis. At the time of writing, this "story" was picked up by Fox News, TheBlaze, and the Washington Times, according to duckduckgo News ( https://duckduckgo.com/?q=jordan+peterson+nazi&iar=news&ia=news ). This "story" doesn't exist according to Google News ( https://www.google.com/search?q=jordan+peterson+nazi&source=lnms&tbm=nws ). The combination of the report, its details, and my own observations when comparing against DDG results have influenced me to switch my search engine to DDG rather than Google. Something is going on.
Donald Trump has become the first sitting US president to set foot in North Korea, after meeting Kim Jong-un in the area dividing the two Koreas. Mr Trump and the North Korean leader posed for handshakes before talking for nearly an hour in the heavily fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ). Both countries agreed to set up teams to resume stalled nuclear talks. Their last summit broke down in February with no progress on denuclearisation in North Korea.
[...] In a meeting apparently arranged after Mr Trump invited Mr Kim on Twitter on Saturday, they shook hands across the demarcation line between the Koreas before Mr Trump briefly crossed into North Korea, a symbolic milestone.
"Good to see you again. I never expected to meet you at this place," a smiley Mr Kim told Mr Trump through an interpreter in an encounter broadcast live on international television. "Big moment," Mr Trump said, "tremendous progress." Looking relaxed, Mr Kim crossed into South Korea and alongside Mr Trump said: "I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future."
But analysts have questioned whether the meeting will result in any substantive progress. "This whole meme is just another Trump snow-job of flim-flam. Does anyone seriously believe Kim will give up even one warhead [because] Trump is his bud?," said Robert Kelly, professor of political science at Pusan University in South Korea.
Sue Mi Terry, who served as a US National Security Council aide specializing in Korean affairs, said the meeting could result in progress if Mr Trump shows he is willing to accept a partial accord rather than a comprehensive deal. "I do think Kim could offer just enough on the negotiating table such as the Yongbyon nuclear facility plus yet another suspected nuclear facility in order to secure an interim deal with Trump and at least some sanctions relief," she told the New York Times.
takyon: Kim Jong-un was also invited to visit the White House.
Also at The Guardian.
The US is looking to cap the number of H-1B visas granted to India due to recently enacted "data localization" laws.
India, which has upset firms such as Mastercard and irked the U.S. government with stringent new rules on data storage, is the largest recipient of these temporary visas, most of them to workers at big Indian technology firms. India receives about 70% of all US H-1B visas, but would be limited to between 10% and 15% of the annual quota.
[...]Most affected by any such caps would be India’s more than $150 billion IT sector, including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys Ltd, which uses H-1B visas to fly engineers and developers to service clients in the United States, its biggest market. Major Silicon Valley tech companies also hire workers using the visas.
Shares in Indian IT firms fell in early trade on Thursday after the Reuters story. Wipro Ltd fell around 4%, while Infosys and TCS fell more than 2% each. The broader Nifty IT index’s 1.8% fall was its biggest intraday percentage decline in over five weeks.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam vowed on Monday to push ahead with amendments to laws allowing suspects to be extradited to mainland China a day after the city's biggest protest since its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Riot police ringed Hong Kong's legislature and fought back a hardcore group of several hundred protesters who stayed behind early on Monday after Sunday's peaceful march that organizers said drew more than a million people, or one in seven of the city's people.
"I don't think it is (an) appropriate decision for us now to pull out of this bill because of the very important objectives that this bill is intended to achieve," a somber Lam told reporters while flanked by security and justice chiefs.
Also at NYT.
An Ohio jury has ordered Oberlin College to pay $11 million to a bakery which said it was libeled and wrongfully accused of racially profiling students.
The case stems from the November 2016 arrests of three black Oberlin students at Gibson's Bakery and market near the college's campus in Oberlin, Ohio. One student, Jonathan Aladin, was accused of attempted robbery for allegedly trying to "steal wine or otherwise illegally obtain wine" from the bakery, according to a defamation lawsuit. He would eventually confess in a written statement to buying alcohol illegally. Two other suspects, Cecelia Whettston and Endia J. Lawrence, were arrested and accused of misdemeanor assault, court documents state.
After that, Oberlin staff members tried to discredit the family-owned bakery, the lawsuit says. Oberlin College staff -- including deans and professors -- and students engaged in demonstrations in front of Gibson's Bakery following the arrests of the three students, the lawsuit stated. The suit also said Oberlin Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo and other college staff members "handed out hundreds of copies" of a flier to the community and the media stating that Gibson's Bakery and its owners racially profiled and discriminated against the three students.
A mass email sent by Oberlin College's Vice President and General Counsel to school alumni criticized the decision of the jury, despite the trial not being over. The email was sent ahead of a punitive damages hearing, which may triple the amount Oberlin College has to pay.
Also at Inside Higher Ed.
China has defended the crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in a rare public acknowledgement of events. Defence Minister Wei Fenghe told a regional forum that stopping the "turbulence" was the "correct" policy.
[...] [After] a wide-ranging speech about trade and security at a regional forum in Singapore, General Wei Fenghe was asked about Tiananmen by a member of the audience. Mr Wei questioned why people still said China had not handled the events properly.
"That incident was a political turbulence and the central government took measures to stop the turbulence, which is a correct policy," he told the forum. "The past 30 years have proven that China has undergone major changes," he said, adding that because of the government's action at that time "China has enjoyed stability and development".
Thirty years ago, from April 15 to June 4, 1989, the world was gripped by coverage of some of the largest protests in modern Chinese history. As many as a million people occupied the central Tiananmen Square in Beijing in protest against inflation, government corruption, and restrictions on freedom of speech and political participation. There are no official reports on the actual number of dead, though they are estimated to be in the thousands.
In the time that has passed, the uncensorable Usenet is no longer widely used and rarely even available. Mainland Chinese censors have come down hard and heavy on the rest of Net and, later, the Web since then in an ongoing attempt to rewrite a false history. Sometimes this censorship even has the help of the social control media giants who know which side their bread is buttered on.
In commemoration of those events and in particular the massacre culminating the events thirty years ago, here is a partial news round up:
The New York Times: Twitter Takes Down Accounts of China Dissidents Ahead of Tiananmen Anniversary
TechCrunch: Twitter takes down 'a large number' of Chinese-language accounts ahead of Tiananmen Square anniversary
Reuters: Online encyclopedia Wikipedia blocked in China ahead of Tiananmen anniversary
The South China Morning Post: Wikipedia blocked in China ahead of Tiananmen Square anniversary
CNN: 30 years after Tiananmen massacre, Taiwan shows another way for China
The Straights Times: 'Tank man' video for Leica sparks outcry in China ahead of Tiananmen anniversary
CNN: The story behind the iconic 'Tank Man' photo
New York Times: Photos of the Tiananmen Square Protests Through the Lens of a Student Witness
Reuters: China's robot censors crank up as Tiananmen anniversary nears
Artnet: Chinese Authorities Have Detained an Activist Filmmaker for Posting a Picture Referencing the Tiananmen Square Massacre
The Epoch Times: In Memory of the Tiananmen Square Massacre
The Epoch Times: Photographer Releases Never-Before-Seen Tiananmen Protest Photos
The Daily Beast: Tiananmen Square: Why China's Leaders Want to Erase 'May 35'
Business Insider: China's internet censors are on high alert ahead of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests
CNN: Inflatable 'Tank Man' appears in Taiwan ahead of Tiananmen Square crackdown anniversary
University World News: Tiananmen Square a topic that still can't be studied
The South China Morning Post: 30 years on from Tiananmen Square crackdown, why Beijing still thinks it got it right
Hong Kong Free Press: The Tiananmen Massacre, 30 years on: The troubled history of the Goddess of Democracy
Quartz: Tiananmen Square photos China never wanted the world to see, 30 years later
The Ottawa Citizen: Glavin: Tiananmen Square – China's 30 years of denial and suppression
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow4463
Maine lawmakers have passed a bill that will prevent internet providers from selling consumers’ private internet data to advertisers.
The state’s senate unanimously passed the bill 35-0 on Thursday following an earlier vote by state representatives 96-45 in favor of the bill.
The bill, if signed into law by state governor Janet Mills, will force the national and smaller regional internet providers operating in the state to first obtain permission from residents before their data can be sold or passed on to advertisers or other third parties.
[...] the ACLU — which along with the Open Technology Institute and New America helped to draft the legislation — praised lawmakers for passing the bill, calling it the “strongest” internet privacy bill of any state.
“Today, the Maine legislature did what the U.S. Congress has thus far failed to do and voted to put consumer privacy before corporate profits,” said Oamshri Amarasingham, advocacy director at the ACLU of Maine, in a statement. “Nobody should have to choose between using the internet and protecting their own data,” she said.
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.
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."