A previously withheld video has been released showing the near-constant heckling of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a moderated talk about the economy at UCLA. The university initially balked at releasing the video, saying that Mnuchin "subsequently withdrew" his agreement for it to be posted online. The video shows audience members hissing at Mnuchin throughout the Feb. 26 event in Los Angeles. The hissing was so loud the secretary barely spoke a sentence without commenting about it. Seven minutes into Mnuchin's opening remarks, three different women shouted at him and were either carried or escorted out of the room by police after they ignored warnings to stop. They yelled that the U.S. is bullying North Korea and criticized President Trump's tax legislation.
The Air Force has decided it needs to be much more secretive since a Gazette story last month on the National Space Defense Center in Colorado Springs triggered a public relations "stand down." In an email, the Pentagon confirmed the existence of a memo that bans most Air Force public relations worldwide until airmen are trained on operational security. "In line with the new national defense strategy, the Air Force must hone its culture of engagement to include a heightened focus on sound operational security," says the memo, obtained by The Gazette. A PowerPoint presentation sent out after the memo cited The Gazette's story as one that "inadvertently identified a national center of gravity to adversaries."
By Staff for Associated Press. Manning's second public appearance since being released from a military prison in May. "I believe I did the best I could in my circumstances to make an ethical decision," she told the crowd when they asked if she was a traitor. The 29-year-old Manning is a transgender woman who was released from a military prison in May after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by President Barack Obama in his final days in office. Several audience members said they were intrigued to hear from Manning. Sara O'Reilly, a Nantucket resident who has attended several past conferences, said the speakers are typically a "little edgy." She said she doesn't judge Manning and other people have done "far worse" things. Manning said Harvard's decision signaled to her that it's a "police state" and it's not possible to engage in political discourse in academic institutions. "I'm not ashamed of being disinvited," she said. "I view that just as much of an honored distinction as the fellowship itself."
By Celia Wexler for Who What Why - A few decades ago, the details of trade deals might not have mattered to the public at large since what was at stake was mostly tariffs and quotas. But the multi-country megadeals of the 21st century will directly affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people — in ways that may come as an unpleasant surprise to many of them. The outcome of current negotiations will shape a broad range of pocketbook and health issues
By Adam Klasfeld in Courthouse News. MANHATTAN (CN) – Drafts of the “vast, sweeping” trade agreement that the United States is secretly negotiating with 11 other world powers are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge ruled. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed trade agreement between 12 countries bordering the Pacific Rim setting international standards over labor, the environment, agriculture, medicine, labor, the Internet, human rights, intellectual property rights and many other issues. By Adam Klasfeld for Courthouse News Service. Though first announced to Congress in 2009, a confidentiality agreement that the participating countries reached protects their proposals from public disclosure until there is a final agreement. Most information about the deal has come to light through leaks to the press.
The Obama administration set a record again for censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press. The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn't find documents and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy. It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged. Its backlog of unanswered requests at year's end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000. It also cut by 375, or about 9 percent, the number of full-time employees across government paid to look for records. That was the fewest number of employees working on the issue in five years.
In early 2011, after years of study, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration moved to reduce the permissible levels of silica dust wafted into the air by industrial processes like fracking, mining or cement manufacturing. The move came after years of public comment and hearings, and reflected emerging science about the dangers posed by even low levels of dust. OSHA predicted the rule would save 700 lives annually and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis, an incurable, life-threatening disease. The proposal stirred fierce opposition from an array of industries, which argued that the costs of reducing silica levels far outweighed the potential benefits. When OSHA pushed ahead, the lobbyists took their arguments to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a division of the Office of Management and Budget. Few people have ever heard of OIRA even though it is part of the White House and has broad authority to delay or suggest changes in any draft regulation. OIRA's deliberations on the silica rule began in February 2011, and lasted two and a half years. During that time, records show, its officials held nine meetings with lobbyists and lawyers for the affected industries, but sat down only once with unions and once with health advocates. Last August, the office sent a revised version of the rule back to OSHA; the worker protection agency has yet to act.
Protesters gathered outside the Delta Hotel in Ottawa Thursday morning where trade talks are underway among Trans-Pacific Partnership members. Protesters held signs that said, “secret deal being negotiated here” and “stop the TPP,” while the Raging Grannies, an Ottawa-based satirical singing group, performed outside the hotel. Canada is one of 12 countries involved in the talks, with meetings held behind closed doors. The Citizen reported Monday it was believed at least some of the talks were being held at the John G. Diefenbaker Building, where the government’s international trade offices are located. The Council of Canadians told the Citizen it believes there is too much secrecy around the talks, which were initially planned for Vancouver but moved to Ottawa at the last minute. Negotiators are meeting to discuss agreements on intellectual property, investment, state-owned enterprises and rules of origin.
“I submitted a FOIA and it basically destroyed my entire career,” Scudder said. “What was this whole exercise for?" His request set in motion a harrowing sequence. He was confronted by supervisors and accused of mishandling classified information while assembling his FOIA request. His house was raided by the FBI and his family’s computers seized. Stripped of his job and his security clearance, Scudder said he agreed to retire last year after being told that if he refused, he risked losing much of his pension. In an interview, Scudder, 51, cast his ordeal as a struggle against “mindless” bureaucracy, but acknowledged that it was hard to see any winners in a case that derailed his CIA career, produced no criminal charges from the FBI, and ended with no guarantee that many of the articles he sought will be in the public domain anytime soon.
Here’s a riddle: How do you make it easier to push through legislation in Congress that is overwhelmingly opposed in the public without any political consequences? SecrecyAnswer: Keep the votes secret. That’s exactly what’s happened to an Obama administration plan to provide weapons directly to the Syrian rebels. The Senate committee that approved the plan was, unusually, allowed to classify their votes, presumably in order to insulate themselves from any repercussions from their constituents. Because really…why should elected representatives have to tell the people they supposedly represent how they are doing the job they were elected to do!?