The challenge facing libraries in an era of fake news

How can students think critically about information in today’s age? UBC Library Communications Follow, CC BY-NC-ND

Imagine, for a moment, the technology of 2017 had existed on Jan. 11, 1964 – the day Luther Terry, surgeon general of the United States, released “Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States.”

What would be some likely scenarios? Continue reading The challenge facing libraries in an era of fake news

New study: Did America’s growing diversity make voters more xenophobic?

Most whites would say they’re okay with diversity. But is there a threshold? ‘Map’ via www.shutterstock.com

Donald Trump’s presidential victory took many by surprise, and in the weeks since the election, political analysts have attempted to understand who voted for Trump and why election forecasts were so wrong. One might wonder how a country that’s becoming increasingly diversesome projections have the country becoming majority minority by 2060 – could elect one of the most openly xenophobic candidates in recent history. Continue reading New study: Did America’s growing diversity make voters more xenophobic?

Is hunting moral? A philosopher unpacks the question

Three generations of a Wisconsin family with a nine-point buck Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/Flickr, CC BY-ND

Every year as daylight dwindles and trees go bare, debates arise over the morality of hunting. Hunters see the act of stalking and killing deer, ducks, moose and other quarry as humane, necessary and natural, and thus as ethical. Critics respond that hunting is a cruel and useless act that one should be ashamed to carry out. Continue reading Is hunting moral? A philosopher unpacks the question

Dengue virus antibodies may worsen a Zika infection

Revellers at a carnival in Sao Paulo wear mosquito masks in a reference to the _Aedes aegypti_ mosquito, which can spread dengue and Zika on February 4, 2016. Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

The World Health Organization declared in November that Zika was no longer a public health emergency of international concern.

That doesn’t mean concern over Zika is over, but now that a link between Zika and microcephaly has been established, it is viewed as a long-term problem, which requires constant attention. Continue reading Dengue virus antibodies may worsen a Zika infection

Trump Hires an Adviser He Once Called an Untrustworthy Liar

A decade after deriding her as irresponsible and dishonest, Donald Trump has hired the controversial reality star-turned-political operative Omarosa Manigault to advise him in the White House. The incoming Trump administration announced Wednesday afternoon that Manigault will serve as assistant to the president and director of communications for the office of public liaison. Continue reading Trump Hires an Adviser He Once Called an Untrustworthy Liar

Fewer Americans Are Buying Guns Without Background Checks Than Previously Thought

Is the case for background checks for gun buyers gaining momentum? In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Tuesday, public health researchers from Harvard and Northeastern universities found that 22 percent of all gun sales in the past two years around the United States were conducted without background checks—nearly half as many as previously thought. The new study asked 1,613 gun owners about when and where they acquired their most recent firearm, and whether they were asked to show a firearm license or permit, or to pass a background check. Continue reading Fewer Americans Are Buying Guns Without Background Checks Than Previously Thought

Republican Congresswoman Discovers Her Followers Love Obamacare

With Republicans convinced they need to repeal Obamacare ASAP but unsure of how they want to replace it, Rep. Marsha Blackburn issued a public plea for help on Tuesday. The Tennessee Republican—and member of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team—asked the Twitter masses to take a poll on whether they like the law. Turns out Blackburn’s followers are pretty big fans of the Affordable Care Act, with 84 percent of the 7,968 votes opposing a repeal of Obamacare.

Continue reading Republican Congresswoman Discovers Her Followers Love Obamacare

Read Deval Patrick’s Scathing Indictment Against Jeff Sessions for Attorney General

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick—who in 1985 worked on the defense team that represented three black civil rights leaders targeted by Sen. Jeff Sessions in the notorious voter fraud case from Alabama’s Perry County—has penned a scathing letter to Senate Judiciary Committee leaders urging them to reject his appointment as attorney general. Continue reading Read Deval Patrick’s Scathing Indictment Against Jeff Sessions for Attorney General

(2017/01/03) New congress, old war, scandals and the dawn of the climate movement (The best of 2007)

Edition #1068
Today we take a look back to 2007 in our second annual 10-years-hence retrospective spectacular!
Be part of the show! Leave a message at 202-999-3991

Show Notes

Ch. 1: Opening Theme: A Fond Farewell – From a Basement On the Hill

Ch. 2: Act 1: First female Speaker of the House – Countdown – Aired on BotL 1-9-07

Ch. 3: Song 1: Color in Your Cheeks – The Mountain Goats


Ch. 4: Act 2: First muslim in congress and first female Speaker – The Young Turks – Aired on BotL 1-9-07

Continue reading (2017/01/03) New congress, old war, scandals and the dawn of the climate movement (The best of 2007)

Trump And The Death Of Intelligence, Plus Obamacare Is Going Down Fast, Better Stand Up For Medicare For All Now

From The Pen–
Dear Friends and Activists,

As we prepare to bring you a new year of insights you will hear
nowhere else, if you want to stand up for truth and integrity, why
not consider making a heroic contribution, and you can even make it
recurrent by checking the box for that on this page.

Donations: https://www.utalk.us/?p=donate

The guy who skips out on most of his actual classified intelligence
briefings said over the weekend about the Russian hacks of Democrats,
“It could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people
don’t know.” Continue reading Trump And The Death Of Intelligence, Plus Obamacare Is Going Down Fast, Better Stand Up For Medicare For All Now

Nixon Revisited…pre-swearing treason…

And then, right as rain, you hear, “I really think that Trump will do a lot of great things and I’m all for him. And something something something. He was elected fairly.”

“…won fairly” comes across like the catch phrase – “Repeat This against the false argument that our racist and sexist and inane campaigns worked in conjunction with the racist electoral college and gerrymandering systems. The Constitution doesn’t guarantee  the premise that representation is based upon everyone’s vote counting the same.” It is probably supposed to work as a retort against thaT rump being the 2nd rat bastard in 5 elections to lose the majority of the vote.

They would say, if they had any historical perspective at all, that Nixon won a fair election even though many of us knew then that he had quashed Johnson’s Peace Process while promising a Secret Plan to end the war. Is that when he came up with the Peace with Honor crap? Who cares. We had worked hard to get people off the war, to force the President to change, and what, we get an incredible marketing campaign filled with lies.

Not any silly campaign lies. Lies that caused another million dead Vietnamese, another 20,000 dead and over 100,000 seriously injured Americans, uncounted Cambodian and Laotians dead and maimed, generations of people in all those countries crippled by the effects of Agent Orange, and destroyed infrastructure and the loss of potential for a complete generation…for what? It was obvious that he and the people he surrounded himself with were criminals and now we know that they committed capital T treason in order to get elected.

He and his cronies were known to be crooks and pirates before the 2nd election as well, but that’s not the point of this tirade against the mysoginist,

Then we have Reagan. What we learned from his first weeks in David Stockman’s book, and what we learned from the horrors that his crew committed in our name and with our money is reprehensible. And, let’s not forget that he drove the credit card up in ways that caused economic turmoil worse than what Nixon left us with, in the grand tradition of Republican chiselers. What they want and what they do is take the sweat from the lower classes and money from the middle classes and put it into the pockets of the handful of their junkie supporters. One could go on and on about the number of dead and the humiliation St. Ronnie caused.

Bush I hide his treasons and nefarious exploits quite nicely, as any ex-CIA director plutocrat with a Nazi grandfather should be able to do. Gruesome atrocities in Panama, killing more than died on the sacred 9/11, but in far more inhuman ways. Then there was the event that brought to scourge of Depleted Uranium to Iraq, against yet another friendly dictator that needed a lesson. Death around the world, from Pinochet to the American economy, yet again. His Savings and Loans scandal wouldn’t be matched until his son’s Enron cabal.  I can’t bring myself to write about how Bush I or II was fairly elected. Racism stands up in first place.

So, fuck trump and his backers and those who wish him well. He is just the latest, whether he was elected fairly, or not.

House Republicans Ditch Plan to Weaken Congressional Ethics Office

Following intense backlash, House Republicans on Tuesday voted to abandon a plan to significantly curtail the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics. The reversal comes less than a day after news that Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) was introducing the ethics amendment.

Shortly before the amendment was officially dropped, President-elect Donald Trump criticized the timing of the effort, saying there were more important priorities to consider. He did not, however, say he opposed the amendment’s intention to gut the independent office.

This is a breaking news post. We will update when more news becomes available.

Source: Mother Jones Politics

Will Obama’s offshore drilling ban be Trumped?

Activists in Seattle practice for demonstrations against Royal Dutch Shell's plans to drill in the Arctic, April 17, 2015. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

President Obama gave environmental advocates a Christmas present when he announced in late December that he was banning oil and gas drilling in huge swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. This action “indefinitely” protects almost 120 million acres of ecologically important and highly sensitive marine environments from the risks of oil spills and other industrial impacts.

President Obama acted boldly to conserve important ecological resources and solidify his environmental legacy. But by making creative use of an obscure provision of a 1953 law, Obama ignited a legal and political firestorm.

Republicans and oil industry trade groups are threatening to challenge the ban in court or through legislation. They also contend that the Trump administration can act directly to reverse it. But a close reading of the law suggests that it could be difficult to undo Obama’s sweeping act.

The power to withdraw

Congress passed the law now known as the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act in 1953 to assert federal control over submerged lands that lie more then three miles offshore, beyond state coastal waters. Section 12(a) of the law authorizes the president to “withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf.”

Starting in 1960 with the Eisenhower administration, six presidents from both parties have used this power. Most withdrawals were time-limited, but some were long-term. For example, in 1990 President George H. W. Bush permanently banned oil and gas development in California’s Monterey Bay, which later became a national marine sanctuary.

Kelp forests in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary support many marine species.
Chad King, NOAA/Flickr

President Obama used section 12(a) in 2014 to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay, one of the most productive wild salmon fisheries in the world. In 2015 he took the same step for approximately 9.8 million acres in the biologically rich Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

Obama’s latest action bars energy production in 115 million more acres of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas – an area known as the “Arctic Ring of Life” because of its importance to Inupiat Peoples who have lived there for millennia. The order also withdraws 3.8 million acres off the Atlantic Coast from Norfolk, Virginia to Canada, including several unique and largely unexplored coral canyons.

Why Obama acted

In a Presidential Memorandum on the Arctic withdrawals, Obama provided three reasons for his action. First, he asserted, these areas have irreplaceable value for marine mammals, other wildlife, wildlife habitat, scientific research and Alaska Native subsistence use. Second, they are extremely vulnerable to oil spills. Finally, drilling for oil and responding to spills in Arctic waters poses unique logistical, operational, safety and scientific challenges.

In ordering the Atlantic withdrawals, Obama cited his responsibility to “ensure that the unique resources associated with these canyons remain available for future generations.”

Market forces support Obama’s action. Royal Dutch Shell stopped drilling in the Chukchi Sea in 2015 after spending US$7 billion and drilling in what proved to be a dry hole. Since 2008 the Interior Department has canceled or withdrawn a number of sales in Alaskan waters due to low demand. Shell, ConocoPhillips, Statoil, Chevron, BP and Exxon have all to some degree abandoned offshore Arctic drilling.

The Beaufort and Chukchi seas are zones of the Arctic Ocean off the coast of northern Alaska.
Mohonu/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Low oil prices coupled with high drilling costs make business success in the region a risky prospect. Lloyd’s of London forecast this scenario in a 2012 report that called offshore drilling in the Arctic “a unique and hard-to-manage risk.”

What happens next?

Critics of President Obama’s action, including the state of Alaska and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, say they may challenge Obama’s order in court, in hopes that the Trump administration will opt not to defend it. But environmental groups, which hailed Obama’s action, will seek to intervene in any such lawsuit.

Moreover, to demonstrate that they have standing to sue, plaintiffs would have to show that they have suffered or face imminent injury; that this harm was caused by Obama’s action; and that it can be redressed by the court. Market conditions will make this very difficult.

The Energy Information Administration currently projects that crude oil prices, which averaged about $43 per barrel through 2016, will rise to only about $52 per barrel in 2017. Whether these areas will ever be commercially viable is an open question, especially since rapid changes are taking place in the electricity and transportation sectors, and other coastal areas are open for leasing in Alaska’s near-shore waters and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig Kulluk broke loose and ran aground near Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska as it was being towed to Seattle for winter maintenance in December 2012. This Coast Guard overflight video shows the harsh conditions along Alaska’s coast in winter.

Alternatively, Donald Trump could issue his own memorandum in office seeking to cancel Obama’s. However, section 12(a) does not provide any authority for presidents to revoke actions by their predecessors. It delegates authority to presidents to withdraw land unconditionally. Once they take this step, only Congress can undo it.

This issue has never been litigated. Opponents can be expected to argue that Obama’s use of section 12(a) in this manner is unconstitutional because it violates the so-called “nondelegation doctrine,” which basically holds that Congress cannot delegate legislative functions to the executive branch without articulating some “intelligible principles.”

However, one could argue that Obama’s action was based on an articulation of intelligible principles gleaned from the stated policies of the OCSLA, which recognizes that the “the outer Continental Shelf is a vital national resource reserve held by the Federal Government for the public.” The law expressly recognizes both the energy and environmental values of the OCS. Thus President Obama’s decision reflects a considered judgment that the national interest is best served by protecting the unique natural resources of these areas, while at the same time weaning the nation from its dangerous dependence on fossil fuels.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2012 after signing an agreement with Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft. The companies’ joint venture to develop energy resources in Russia’s Arctic waters has been blocked by U.S. sanctions on Russia since 2014.
AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service

The section 12(a) authority is similar in some respects to the authority granted by the Antiquities Act, which authorizes the president to “reserve parcels of land as a part of [a] national monument.” Like the OCSLA, the Antiquities Act does not authorize subsequent presidents to undo the designations of their predecessors. Obama has also used this power extensively – most recently, last week when he designated two new national monuments in Utah and Nevada totaling 1.65 million acres.

Some laws do include language that allows such actions to be revoked. Examples include the Forest Service Organic Administration Act, under which most national forests were established, and the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which sets out policies for managing multiple-use public lands. The fact that Congress chose not to include revocation language in the OCSLA indicates that it did not intend to provide such power.

What can the new Congress do?

Under Article IV of the Constitution, Congress has plenary authority to dispose of federal property as it sees fit. This would include the authority to open these areas to leasing for energy development. Members of Alaska’s congressional delegation are considering introducing legislation to override Obama’s drilling ban. But Democrats could filibuster to block any such move, and Republicans – who will hold a 52-48 margin in the Senate – would need 60 votes to stop them.

On the other hand, Congress may be content to let President-elect Trump make the first move and see how it goes in court. If Trump attempts to reverse the withdrawal, environmental groups contesting his decision would face some of the same obstacles as an industry challenge to Obama’s action. It could be especially challenging for environmental groups to show that the claim is “ripe” for judicial review, at least until a post-Obama administration acts to actually open up these areas for leasing. That may not occur for some time, given the weak market for the oil in these regions.

In the meantime, this decision is a fitting capstone for a president who has done everything within his power to confront the existential threat of climate change and rationally move the nation and the world onto a safer and more sustainable path.

The Conversation

Patrick Parenteau does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Source: The Conversation

Trump’s immigration policies will pick up where Obama’s left off

In 2017, the Trump administration will likely continue and expand the Obama administration’s focus on removing immigrants convicted of crimes. Whether Trump will break ground for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico is far less certain.

Ramping up immigration enforcement by focusing on the criminal justice pipeline for removals has proven to be an efficient strategy. Immigrants in jail are not hard to find. And, removing criminals raises far fewer civil rights concerns than, for example, locating and removing laborers through the use of workplace raids.

Immigrants with criminal arrest records and convictions have few political allies and defenders. Resistance to their removal has not been as great as resistance to removing other groups of immigrants, such as undocumented college students.

That may explain why Donald Trump began his presidential campaign by claiming that Mexico was sending criminals to the United States, and promising to deport them en masse.

To increase crime-based removals, the Trump administration will probably seek greater state and local assistance in federal immigration enforcement. Under President Obama, these efforts led to the removal of a disproportionate number of Latino immigrants. My scholarship sheds light on how Trump’s immigration proposals may similarly affect Latinos.

‘Latino removal system’

President Obama’s administration prioritized removing immigrants who had been convicted of crimes. However, the U.S. criminal justice system is notorious for producing racially disparate results. African-Americans and Latinos continue to be disproportionately criminalized and incarcerated as they have throughout U.S. history, as described in Michelle Alexander’s powerful book “The New Jim Crow.”

As a result, the U.S. immigrant removal system yields similarly unequal results.

The Obama administration created programs that allowed state criminal justice systems to directly feed immigrants into the federal immigration removal system. That, in turn, made it possible for his administration to set removal records. In some years as many as 400,000 people were removed. During the eight years of his presidency, more than 2.5 million noncitizens were deported – more than during any other U.S. presidency.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement data show that, in fiscal year 2016, crime-based removals represented more than 90 percent of the noncitizens removed from the interior of the United States.

Under a program called Secure Communities, state and local law enforcement agencies shared arrest information with federal immigration authorities, and detained immigrant criminal offenders. Criminal offenders were then taken into custody by federal immigration authorities. In November 2014, the Obama administration replaced Secure Communities with the Priority Enforcement Program, which was somewhat narrower in scope.

Today, more than 95 percent of removals in the United States are of Latino noncitizens, despite the fact that the total immigrant population in the United States is much more diverse. Latino immigrants comprise only about 50 percent of lawful immigrants, and around 70 percent of undocumented ones. Because removals are so heavily skewed toward Latinos, some refer to the modern U.S. removal system as the “Latino removal system.”

Mandating state and local assistance

Trump is likely to encounter the same resistance that Obama did in working with state and local governments on immigration enforcement.

The Trump administration may seek to mandate state and local assistance in federal immigration enforcement. To do so, it might challenge “sanctuary cities,” as Donald Trump has done rhetorically. However, there is no firm definition of what sanctuary cities are – only the suggestion that they are not fully cooperating in enforcing immigration laws. Trump has threatened to defund such cities, a step that would seemingly require congressional authorization.

If Congress were to pass such legislation, state and local governments may be able to challenge it as infringing on the constitutionally protected authority of the states.

Needless to say, any challenge to sanctuary cities is likely to meet formidable resistance from some quarters. The California legislature already has been preparing a game plan for a showdown with the Trump administration on immigration enforcement. For example, legislators have proposed legislation that would limit information sharing with the federal government about immigrants.

Some state and local law enforcement leaders worry that immigrants lose trust in local police when they are perceived to be deeply involved in federal immigration enforcement. Loss of trust, in turn, can reduce the willingness of immigrants to help authorities combat crime. This concerns local police who say they need the cooperation of all people in the community, including lawful and undocumented immigrants, in reporting crime and aiding criminal prosecutions.

To that end, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Order 40 limits police inquiry into the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses and suspects. The idea is to separate criminal law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement. Such separation is consistent with the Supreme Court’s finding in Arizona v. United States in 2012 that the federal government has the authority to admit and remove immigrants. And, ordinary law enforcement primarily is handled by local law enforcement agencies.

The new administration will also need to grapple with how local police involvement in immigration enforcement impacts the civil rights of Latinos. Such impacts are real. This year, a federal court found the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department in Arizona, in the guise of assisting federal immigration enforcement, had engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination.

These civil rights abuses show the potential costs of state and local law enforcement assistance in federal immigration enforcement efforts. The same risks will exist for the new Trump administration in 2017.

The Conversation

Kevin Johnson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Source: The Conversation

Fighting Corporate Socialism Since Reagan Confused Catsup and Trees