#California, #Cars, #Government, #Headlines, #politics, #random, #TheNewz

EPA seeks end of California’s authority over auto emissions, report says

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A draft Trump administration proposal to ease automobile efficiency standards calls for revoking California’s unique authority to set its own limits, a move that would set off an explosive battle with the nation’s most populous state, Bloomberg…

Source: http://www.autonews.com/article/20180601/OEM11/180609977/trump-california-epa-revoke-emissions-regulation

#Congress, #Government, #Headlines, #Internet, #politics, #ScienceTech, #TechNews, #TheNewz

Our “modern” Congress doesn’t understand 21st century technology

Robert BjarnasonContributor

Robert Bjarnason was formerly a game company executive in Silicon Valley. He is now the President and CEO of Iceland’s Citizens Foundation.

When Facebook’s Founder Mark Zuckerberg testified before House and Senate panels earlier this month, he explained how his company uses the data of millions of Americans. This particular set of hearings was urgent because our elected leaders have realized the power that lies in Facebook’s hidden trove of networked knowledge — its potential to violate privacy and the</span> menace it poses to the integrity of our democratic institutions.

Facebook is a business that sells social connection, its algorithms are made for targeted advertising.  The data that we users provide via friends, likes and shares makes their model lucrative. But connecting a person to a pair of shoes cannot be the same engagement algorithm that we use to build a cohesive democratic society.  Watch any hearing on Capitol Hill.

It’s a durable, if old fashioned bridge between leaders and citizens. Informed deliberation could be a lot more compelling, but it can never compete on the same turf with funny GIFs and targeted videos.   Algorithms optimized for commercial engagement do not protect public goods like democratic discourse. They are built for shareholders, not citizens. To the contrary, they can exploit and damage democracy’s most precious resource– civic trust.

One hundred cardboard cutouts of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stand outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, April 10, 2018. Advocacy group Avaaz is calling attention to what the groups says are hundreds of millions of fake accounts still spreading disinformation on Facebook. (Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Congress is the world’s most powerful representative assembly.  Yet, like much of the US government, it does not have adequate 21st century technology knowledge, nor modern digital infrastructure for citizen input, much less interaction.  Until we have an alternative that protects civic engagement data, the prevailing business models that rely on selling social connection will continue to be the equivalent of strip-mining democracy.  

If we think we can use a corporate profit model for civics, we will get an increasingly coarse and volatile public life. Malevolence is cheap and conspiracy scales quickly. Junk news costs little compared to credible journalism.  When clicks are the currency, the shortest path to a sale is vulgarity or shouting, which often stops inclusive participation altogether. It’s true that crowds are sometimes rowdy. But our democratic institutions are supposed to moderate this behavior and they are decades behind the private sector who themselves are struggling with online civility standards.

Another challenge is the scant institutional capacity our democracy has for coping with a digital world.  For decades, Congress has purged its own expertise, especially on technology.  The result is that it can’t match the White House when it comes to policy and it relies on the narrow perspectives of lobbyists more than ever.  Congress does make available a great deal of information but–like a banana republic of data-– it lacks the resources to purchase the analysis products for its own workflow, or to create a competitive version for itself.

The longer we wait to build modern engagement capacity for our democracy, the more citizens will pay the price. In a political system awash with anonymous money,  Congress is not building an integrity engine to audit the supply chain of data into policy.  It is not optimizing the underused capacity of public serving knowledge already on Capitol Hill. It’s actually not far beyond  hot lead type. Even the computer science interns still carry around 3 ring binders full of hard copy letters to sign.

Congress got a lot of attention for the Facebook hearings–much of it negative.  But instead of focussing on the inadequate interrogation of Mark Zuckerberg, Americans should consider creative possibilities to enrich democratic discourse.  

What if ⅓ of the committee hearing questions were open to colleagues with subject matter expertise from either party in either the House or the Senate? How about a preparatory “question challenge” to the verified citizens of the districts of the committee members? What about a curation platform to vet and incorporate audience feedback within the hearing itself?  How about a stack exchange for the fresh questions so the rest of us watching from afar could rank them? And, why doesn’t Congress already have a computational intelligence capacity for every committee– one that could assist human staff with complex input in real time or asynchronously?

This future-dream is a steep hill, but it is not impossible.  Until our governing institutions develop public-serving standards and systems,   let’s follow the lead of truly modern democracies and put the civic engagement data of our nation where it will be safe and not for sale – in our collective hands. The urgent task for Congress and the rest of us is to restore civic trust.  How about a series of follow-up hearings on who should be the information intermediaries for 21st century democracy?

Given the current international political climate, multi-lateral talks are another steep hill to climb.  But we’ve looked abroad for common good norms in the past. We can start now by recognizing that open democratic standards are a modern source of power and influence. Iceland created a civic non profit to engage citizens and protect their data.  

Estonia already gives a digital identity to online businesses.  Starting next month,  Facebook will adhere to the European Union’s privacy rules for the US, Europe and Canada. Identifying and upholding these promising practices is vital in a world where the reputation of democracy is at stake.  

In an unfortunate step backward, the Facebook hearings returned us to the old familiar Russia vs. the West framework.  But it is worth remembering how –in the last century– democracy won the Cold War because of off-shored norms.

Forty three years ago, 35 national leaders gathered in Finland to collaborate on reducing tensions with the eastern bloc, then dominated by the Soviet Union. The resultingHelsinki Accords championed Rule of Law and Human Rights. These western democratic norms became the guide posts of eastern Europe’s dissidents.  In Czechloslovakia, the Charter 77 movement drew strength from exposing the hypocrisy of their government, a signatory to the Accords.  The norms were ultimately successful in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Democratic societies require trusted connection in order to survive. They also need credible, capable institutions.  If we Americans want to rebuild our national confidence, we’ll need a digital engagement system that optimizes for human dignity, not corporate dollars.  The first step is for Congress–our most democratic institution– to fund its own digital capacity. Even then, it will need trusted, privacy protecting partners.

There is no IPO that monetizes engaged citizens, there’s just a society that sticks together enough to keep talking, even when a lot of people are fed up and angry.  Once we decide to protect the public trust, we can succeed and even lead again. But to be cautiously hopeful andparaphrase Benjamin Franklin,  let’s offshore our democracy’s civic data norms until we can keep them ourselves.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/dBJPCnj0_DE/

#Government, #Headlines, #Investigation, #OpEd, #TheNewz, #Trump

Trump throws Giuliani under the bus

On the heels of Rudy Giuliani’s string of disastrous interviews with cable and print outlets, President Trump sought to do some damage control, and in the process threw his new attorney under the bus.

During two brief question-and-answer sessions with reporters on Friday morning, Trump didn’t try to explain the disconnect between Giuliani’s claim that Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for a hush payment made just before the 2016 election to a woman who says she had an affair with Trump, and Trump’s own previous denial that he knew anything about the payment. Instead, Trump repeatedly asserted that Giuliani simply didn’t know what he was talking about.

“He started yesterday. He will get his facts straight,” Trump said while leaving the White House on his way to the NRA convention in Texas. “Virtually everything that’s been said has been said incorrectly.”

Later, while boarding Air Force One, Trump was asked why he’s changed his story about the Daniels payment. He lashed out at a reporter for asking the question — “I didn’t change any story. I’m telling you this country is growing so fast and to be bringing up that kind of crap and witch hunt all the time…that’s all you want to talk about” — before again suggesting that Giuliani is ignorant of the facts.

“When Rudy made the statement, he had just started and wasn’t totally familiar with everything. And Rudy, we love Rudy, he is a special guy. What he really understands is this is a witch hunt,” Trump said.

Giuliani claims to be better informed than Trump. In a phone interview with NBC, he said there are documents proving that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment, which may have violated federal law.

“I don’t think the president realized he paid him [Cohen] back for that specific thing until we [his legal team] made him aware of the paperwork,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani told NBC that the president responded to the news by saying, “‘Oh my goodness, I guess that’s what it was for.’”

When asked how many payments Trump had made, Giuliani told NBC News the president started paying Cohen back in January 2017 and that altogether there were “about 12 installments of $35,000 each.”

The money, totaling an estimated $420,000, also covered other expenses and fees for Cohen, Giuliani said, but he was unable to provide details.

While Trump is now trying to dismiss Giuliani’s explanation of the Daniels payment, Giuliani told The Washington Post that Trump was “very pleased” with his first interview as the president’s attorney on Hannity.

“He felt that somebody finally stood up and defended him, particularly with how this investigation is going,” Giuliani said.


Source: https://thinkprogress.org/trump-dismisses-giuliani-interviews-witch-hunt-3d2767b522e7/

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Over 1,000 economists warn Trump his trade views echo mistakes of 1930s

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President’s ‘economic protectionism’ harkens back to errors that fueled Great Depression, say experts including 14 Nobel winners

Over a thousand economists have written to Donald Trump warning his “economic protectionism” and tough rhetoric on trade threatens to repeat the mistakes the US made in the 1930s, mistakes that plunged the world into the Great Depression.

The 1,414 economists, including 14 Nobel prize winners, sent the letter on Thursday amid an escalating row over trade between the US and the European Union. Trump has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports but has granted temporary reprieves to the EU, Australia and other countries.

Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/may/03/donald-trump-trade-economists-warning-great-depression

#California, #environment, #Government, #Headlines, #Pollution, #TheNewz

California and other states sue EPA over auto emissions rollbacks

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California and more than a dozen other states are suing EPA over Administrator Scott Pruitt’s recent decision to roll back greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars.

“My message to the EPA and Administrator Pruitt is simple: Do your job. Regulate carbon pollution from vehicles,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a press conference Tuesday. “We are not looking to pick a fight with the Trump administration, but we are ready for one.”

The lawsuit comes just days after sources said the Department of Transportation is planning to propose freezing fuel economy standards at model year 2020 levels. That could pave the way to a lower EPA greenhouse gas standard as well as an effort to block California from enforcing its own more stringent greenhouse gas standards.

“This move by Pruitt with the help and encouragement of Trump is not going to make America great. It’s going to make America second-rate,” said California Gov. Jerry Brown. “This is a science-based attack that we make on these characters in Washington.”

Pruitt told lawmakers last week that he did not plan to go after California’s ability to enforce its standards, and said he was looking to work with the state on the program. Democratic lawmakers are now calling those statements into question.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/01/california-states-sue-epa-auto-emissions-561792

#Government, #Headlines, #Immigration, #politics, #SouthAmerica, #TheNewz, #Trump, #WorldNews

US starts processing asylum seekers slammed by Trump