While the rest of you were crying into your cruelty-free glasses of vegan pond-water over the repeal of net neutrality, humanitarian and activist Rob Bliss was restoring freedom to American roads. Instead of allowing traffic to rely on government regulations and oversight, Bliss decided the street in front of the FCC building in Washington D.C. needed a fast lane. So he created one. Using his bicycle to ‘throttle’ a lane of traffic, he offered commuters the opportunity to pay a simple $5 fee to take advantage of the newly created “fast lane.” Bliss, like Ajit Pai, isn’t a professional engineer or expert on the flow of traffic, but that didn’t stop either of them from “fixing” problems only they could see.
Issuing the first decision of its kind, a federal judge today blocked enforcement of a Kansas law targeting boycotts of Israel, ruling in an ACLU lawsuit that the First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts. The Kansas law requires that any person or company that contracts with the state sign a statement that they are “not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel.” The ACLU brought the lawsuit in October on behalf of Esther Koontz, a schoolteacher who refused to sign the certification. Today’s decision, an important victory for political speech, will allow her to resume her work. Thanks to the order, Kansas is prohibited from enforcing its law while the case proceeds. This is the first ruling to address a recent wave of laws nationwide aiming to punish people who boycott Israel, and it should serve as a warning to other states with similar provisions, including one we are challenging in Arizona.
Shortly after arriving at the Environmental Protection Agency, Administrator Scott Pruitt took a personal interest in and closely monitored the removal of extensive information from his agency's website that explained to the public the federal effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Power Plan, according to newly released EPA documents. The scrubbing of the information from EPA's website on April 28, 2017, preceded by six months Pruitt's formal proposal to rescind the rule, which had been issued by the Obama administration. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) information from the previous administration is in an archived EPA website. Pruitt was an ardent opponent of the CPP, which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, and the newly released memos reflect his enthusiasm for steps that would thwart it.
On January 23rd an overcrowded smuggling boat capsized off the coast of Aden in Southern Yemen. Smugglers packed 152 passengers from Somalia and Ethiopia in the boat and then, while at sea, reportedly pulled guns on the migrants to extort additional money from them. The boat capsized, according to The Guardian, after the shooting prompted panic. The death toll, currently 30, is expected to rise. Dozens of children were on board. The passengers had already risked the perilous journey from African shores to Yemen, a dangerous crossing that leaves people vulnerable to false promises, predatory captors, arbitrary detention and tortuous human rights violations. Sheer desperation for basic needs has driven hundreds of thousands of African migrants to Yemen.
People around the world are mobilizing for the Days of Action to Free Ahed Tamimi and all Palestinian Prisoners as Ahed herself approaches her 17th birthday behind Israeli bars. Ahed, 16, will turn 17 on 31 January in HaSharon prison, where she is separated from her mother Nariman, also imprisoned there. Ahed’s next military court hearing was scheduled for 31 January, but will now take place on 6 February, the same day as her mother’s next hearing before the military court. The youth activist and participant in the anti-colonial land defense and resistance in the village of Nabi Saleh was seized by occupation forces on 19 December. The pre-dawn raid on the family home by heavily armed occupation forces came days after Ahed confronted and slapped an occupation soldier on her family’s land.
I was first arrested at the White House when I was 10 years old. My hair was pulled off my face by a blue bandana. I drew a penguin on my sign and wrote: “Reagan: Give Kids A Chance to Live.” My brother, a year younger, was arrested too, along with the activist and pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock. The arrest was a novel experience — the police officers were courtly. Jerry and I kept a quiet eye out for the elderly doctor’s pointy ears. It wasn’t until days later that we realized we hadn’t been arrested with Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk’s half Vulcan science officer. Over the years, I’ve been arrested in front of the White House many times. As an adult, I’ve always felt a mixture of tension, excitement and righteousness — which is followed by brief terror, before being swept away amid the cheers and solidarity of supporters.
The decision to postpone the session to swear in Carles Puigdemont as president did not stop thousands of independence supporters from demonstrating outside the Parliament on Tuesday, with a great many skipping the police cordon set up around the chamber. The civil associations, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and the Committees for the Defense of the Referendum (CDR), had called on their supporters to turn out in force outside the Parliament at 3 pm, when the debate was scheduled to begin. Despite the postponement of the plenary session in the morning, the ANC and the CDR maintained their call to demonstrate and thousands of people responded, with the official protest going on till 4 pm.
The Albert Einstein Institution has announced that Dr Gene Sharp passed away peacefully on the 28th January at his home in East Boston. He had recently celebrated his 90th Birthday. For almost seven decades Gene dedicated his life to researching and writing on nonviolent means of struggle that might replace violence and war, his central thesis, that political power is held, not by rulers themselves, but by the willing consent of the people and institutions that support them. By studying techniques to undermine these institutions and pull them over to the democratic side, the ruler could be left powerless. Born on the 21st January 1928 to the Reverend Paul Sharp, a traveling minister and Eva Sharp a school teacher, Gene studied first at Ohio State University where he received his undergraduate and masters degrees in political studies...
This past year in Louisiana’s St. John the Baptist Parish, a small group of residents began organizing their community to compel the state to protect them against an invisible menace: the air they breathe. Their parish, the Louisiana equivalent of a county, is situated in what’s known as Cancer Alley, an industrial corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that hosts more than 100 petrochemical factories. At the helm of the battle is the Concerned Citizens of St. John, a diverse group of parish residents pushing back against the area’s historically bad — and worsening — industrial pollution. “One thing we all have in common is a desire for clean air,” the group’s founder, Robert Taylor, told me. Next year, the burgeoning group plans to get political and broaden its reach by banding together with similar groups in the region.
As President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address Tuesday, pay close attention to his next big priority—an infrastructure plan—which, over time, could eclipse the trillion-dollar giveaway to the rich in the GOP’s just-passed tax plan. And track the response from Democrats, who will have to decide if they will back a plan drafted by privatization proponents, or if Democrats will represent the public and say no to years of paying off infrastructure bonds sold by Wall Street—tax free to investors—but eating up future tax revenues while imposing new user fees like highway tolls. “[The GOP-passed] tax cuts have slowly opened the door to Wall Street, construction giants, and global water companies, who see enormous potential for profits,” wrote Donald Cohen, president of In the Public Interest, an anti-privatization advocacy group.
Let’s look at the Labor Force Participation (LFP) Rate, which shows the percentage of the working-age population currently working, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data… In Jan. 2000, the LFP Rate was 67.3% In Jan. 2018, the LFP Rate was 62.7% So the Labor Force Participation Rate declined 4.6%, yet the unemployment rate stayed the same… hmm… It gets much worse when you consider that roughly 12 million well-paying full-time jobs have been eliminated and replaced with either part-time or below “living wage” full-time jobs that do not provide healthcare benefits. Also consider this… In 2000, there were 168 million more people than full-time jobs (282 million population, 114 million full-time jobs). In 2018, there are 201 million more people than full-time jobs (327 million population, 126 million full-time jobs). To be fair & balanced...
The Trump administration’s plans to rebuild infrastructure in the United States have been leaked, and it appears to be as bad as feared. At least three-quarters of intended funding will go toward corporate subsidies, not actual projects. It is possible that no funding will go directly toward projects. There’s no real surprise here, given that President Donald Trump’s election promise to inject $1 trillion into infrastructure spending was a macabre joke. What is actually happening is that the Trump administration intends to push for more “public-private partnerships.” What these so-called partnerships actually are vehicles to shovel public money into private pockets. These have proven disastrous wherever they have been implemented, almost invariably making public services more expensive. Often, far more expensive.
The sobering assessment at the end of 2017 by Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, concerning the 40+ million Americans living in poverty, left a question unasked: Why have there been so few effective grassroots political revolts against inequality and material deprivation in the United States? The seeming lack of class consciousness is even more surprising when we consider that economic insecurity doesn’t just affect those below the poverty level: over 215 million Americans–which I count as 66 percent of the population–couldn’t cover a $1000 emergency with the money in their savings account. That’s over five times as many of us who technically live in poverty, and it suggests that economic insecurity is now an intrinsic feature of the American identity.
Last month, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Education held a workshop in Washington, DC. The topic was “Student Privacy and Ed Tech.” We at EFF have been trying to get the FTC to focus on the privacy risks of educational technology (or “ed tech”) for over two years, so we eagerly filed formal comments. We’ve long been concerned about how technology impacts student privacy. As schools and classrooms become increasingly wired, and as schools put more digital devices and services in the hands of students, we’ve been contacted by a large number of concerned students, parents, teachers, and even administrators. They want to know: What data are ed tech providers collecting about our kids? How are they using it? How well do they disclose (if at all) the scope of their data collection?
"Jerry Brown has refused to start turning off the oil spigot as donations and lobbying dollars continue to flowfrom Big Oil,” said Liza Tucker, Consumer Advocate for Consumer Watchdog. “It’s time for his actions to match his words decrying the existential threat of climate change. Politicians should say no to money from Big Oil and Brown should say no to any new permits for Big Oil drilling and other infrastructure.” Amidst predictably fawning media coverage, California Governor Jerry Brown delivered his sixteenth and final State of the State address at the State Capitol in Sacramento on January 25. Brown proclaimed that the "bolder path is still our way forward" on climate change, cap-and-trade and infrastructure investment, including the implementation of the water bond of 2014 and the construction of his Delta Tunnels, and an array of other issues.