EU

EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-it-don't-spray-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The European Union recently published plans to ban 31 pesticides containing chemicals linked to testicular cancer and male infertility. Those potential regulations have now been dropped after a U.S. business delegation said they would adversely affect trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. "Just weeks before the regulations were dropped there had been a barrage of lobbying from big European firms such as Dupont, Bayer and BASF over EDCs. The chemical industry association Cefic warned that the endocrines issue 'could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations.'"
United Kingdom

Bank of England Accidentally E-mails Top-Secret "Brexit" Plan To the Guardian 388

Posted by timothy
from the brexit-is-good-with-toast-and-jam dept.
schwit1 writes: The first rule of "Project Bookend" is that you don't talk about "Project Bookend." In retrospect, maybe the first rule should have been "you don't accidentally e-mail 'Project Bookend' to a news agency," because as the Guardian reports, one of its editors opened his inbox and was surprised to find a message from the BOE's Head of Press Jeremy Harrison outlining the UK financial market equivalent of the Manhattan project. Project Bookend is a secret (or 'was' a secret) initiative undertaken by the BOE to study what the fallout might be from a potential 'Brexit', but if anyone asked what Sir Jon Cunliffe and a few senior staffers were up to, they were instructed to say that they were busy investigating "a broad range of European economic issues." And if you haven't heard the term before, "Brexit" refers to the possibility of Britain leaving the EU -- one of the possible outcomes of an upcoming referendum.
Communications

NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate 135

Posted by timothy
from the couldn't-have-happened-to-a-nicer-bill dept.
New submitter Steven King writes with a link to The Daily Dot's report that the U.S. Senate has rejected the controversial USA Freedom Act, thus "all but guaranteeing that key provisions of the USA Patriot Act will expire"; had it passed, the bill would have allowed continued use of some mass data-collection practices, but with the addition of stronger oversight. From the article: The Senate failed to reach agreement on passage of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to reauthorize and reform Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which the government has used to conduct bulk surveillance of Americans' phone records. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, but Senate Democrats, who unified behind the bill, did not get enough Republican votes to assure passage. The linked piece also mentions that the EFF shifted its position on this bill, after a panel of Federal judges ruled that the Feds at the NSA had overstepped their bounds in collecting a seemingly unlimited trove of metadata relating to American citizen's phone calls.
Earth

California Votes To Ban Microbeads 246

Posted by timothy
from the stock-up-now-on-crest dept.
New submitter Kristine Lofgren writes: The California Assembly just passed a vote to ban toxic microbeads, the tiny flecks found in toothpastes and exfoliants. Microbeads cause a range of problems, from clogging waterways to getting stuck in gums. The ban would be the strictest of its kind in the nation. As the article notes, the California Senate would need to pass a bill as well, for this ban to take effect, and if that happens, the resulting prohibition will come into place in 2020. From the article: Last year, Illinois became the first state in the U.S. to pass a ban on the usage of microbeads in cosmetics, approving a law that will go into effect in 2018, and earlier this year two congressmen introduced a bipartisan bill to outlaw the use of microbeads nationwide. And for exceptionally good reason; the beads, which serve as exfoliants and colorants are a massive source of water pollution, with scientists estimating that 471 million plastic microbeads are released into San Francisco Bay alone every single day.
The Media

WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails 231

Posted by timothy
from the tag-this-story-recursive dept.
PvtVoid writes: The Wall Street Journal now has a page up that encourages readers to sift through and tag Hillary Clinton's emails on Benghazi. Users can click on suggested tags such as "Heated", "Personal", "Boring", or "Interesting", or supply their own tags. What could possibly go wrong? I'm tagging this story "election2016."
Businesses

Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States 319

Posted by timothy
from the when-monopolists-attack dept.
New submitter jeffengel writes: The push to regulate services like Uber and Lyft has spread through state legislatures nationwide. At least 15 states have passed ridesharing laws in 2015, joining Colorado, California, and Illinois from last year. More could follow, with bills pending in Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and others. All this activity has led to new clashes with companies, city leaders, and consumers. Ridesharing bills have stalled or been killed off in Texas, Florida, New Mexico, and Mississippi. Meanwhile, Uber has exited Kansas and is threatening to leave New Jersey and Oregon, while Lyft has ceased operations in Houston, Columbus, and Tacoma. How this plays out could affect the companies' expansion plans, as well as the future of transportation systems worldwide.
United States

The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties 607

Posted by samzenpus
from the last-of-their-kind dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Daniel McGraw writes that based on their demographic characteristics the Democratic and Republican parties face two very different futures. There's been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there's been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older and far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, McGraw calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. About 2.3 million of President Barack Obama's voters have died too but that leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats. "I've never seen anyone doing any studies on how many dead people can't vote," laughs William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in demographic studies. "I've seen studies on how many dead people do vote. The old Daley Administration in Chicago was very good at that."

Frey points out that, since Republicans are getting whiter and older, replacing the voters that leave this earth with young ones is essential for them to be competitive in presidential elections. "Millennials (born 1981 to 1997) now are larger in numbers than baby boomers ([born] 1946 to 1964), and how they vote will make the big difference. And the data says that if Republicans focus on economic issues and stay away from social ones like gay marriage, they can make serious inroads with millennials." Exit polling indicates that millennials have split about 65-35 in favor of the Dems in the past two elections. If that split holds true in 2016, Democrats will have picked up a two million vote advantage among first-time voters. These numbers combined with the voter death data puts Republicans at an almost 2.5 million voter disadvantage going into 2016.
The Internet

Kim Dotcom Calls Hillary Clinton an "Adversary" of Internet Freedom 276

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-attention-to-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes: CNET reports that Kim Dotcom views Hillary Clinton as "an enemy of online freedom." Hilary's candidacy came up when Kim was asked about a tweet he made in which he called himself "Hillary's worse nightmare in 2016." He says now that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would probably be a bigger headache for Clinton. "I'm aware of some of the things that are going to be roadblocks for her," he added. Dotcom said he hoped to expand the influence of the Internet Party and provide some transparency. Brietbart adds that a conflict between Assange and Clinton may have personal motivations, but it also seems inevitable. Hillary is obsessive about maintaining control of information. She created a personal server in her home to handle her emails as Secretary of State and then deleted all the contents after self-selecting the emails she believed were work-related. Assange is famous for parceling out secret information."
Canada

Canadian Prime Minister To Music Lobby: Here's Your Copyright Term Extension 121

Posted by timothy
from the plenty-more-where-that-came-from dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Canadian government's decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings in the budget may have taken most copyright observers by surprise, but not the music industry. The extension will reduce competition, increase costs for consumers, and harm access to Canadian Heritage, but apparently all it took was a letter from the music industry lobby to the Prime Minister of Canada. Michael Geist reports on a letter sent by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the music lobby on the day the change was announced confirming that industry lobbying convinced him to extend the term of copyright without any public consultation or discussion.
Government

House Science Committee Approves Changes To Space Law 103

Posted by timothy
from the wildcat-days dept.
schwit1 writes: In a series of party line votes, the House Science Committee has approved a number of changes to the laws that govern the private commercial space industry. Almost all of the changes were advocated by the industry itself, so in general they move to ease the regulatory and liability burdens that have been hampering the industry since the 2004 revisions to space law. While it is very unlikely commercial space can ever get free of strong federal regulation, these changes indicate that they can eventually get some of the worst regulations eased.
Privacy

House Votes To End Spy Agencies' Bulk Collection of Phone Data 142

Posted by timothy
from the big-brother-has-his-eye-on-you-just-the-same dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a story at Reuters that gives a rare bit of good news for the Fourth Amendment: The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would end spy agencies' bulk collection of Americans' telephone data, setting up a potential showdown with the U.S. Senate over the program, which expires on June 1. The House voted 338-88 for the USA Freedom Act, which would end the bulk collection and instead give intelligence agencies access to telephone data and other records only when a court finds there is reasonable suspicion about a link to international terrorism.
Transportation

British Pilots: Poll Data Says Public Wants Strict Rules For Drones 110

Posted by timothy
from the are-new-rules-actually-needed? dept.
According to the Guardian, a survey of members of the British public conducted on behalf of the British Airline Pilots Association reveals support among those surveyed for strict rules governing drone flights in urban areas, and (probably less surprising) calling for serious consquences in the form of jail sentences for those who endanger passenger aircraft with drone flights. A slice: The study, which will be presented on Monday at a drone safety summit organised by UK pilots, revealed that about a third of those polled think no one should be able to fly drones over urban areas.
Businesses

FWD.us To Laid-Off Southern California Edison Workers: Boo-Hoo 612

Posted by timothy
from the versus-what-alternative-exactly? dept.
theodp writes: Speaking at a National Journal LIVE event that was sponsored by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us and Laurene Powell Jobs' Emerson Collective, FWD.us "Major Contributor" Lars Dalgaard was asked about the fate of 500 laid-off Southern California Edison IT workers, whose forced training of their H-1B worker replacements from offshore outsourcing companies sparked a bipartisan Senate investigation. "If you want the job, make yourself able to get the job," quipped an unsympathetic Dalgaard (YouTube). "Nobody's going to hold you up and carry you around...If you're not going to work hard enough to be qualified to get the job...well then, you don't deserve the job." "That might be harsh," remarked interviewer Niharika Acharya. Turning to co-interviewee Pierre-Jean Cobut, FWD.us's poster child for increasing the H-1B visa cap, Acharya asked, "Do you agree with him?" "Actually, I do," replied PJ, drawing laughs from the crowd.
Facebook

Is Facebook Keeping You In a Political Bubble? 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-me-what-I-want-to-hear dept.
sciencehabit writes: Does Facebook make it harder for people with different political views to get along? Political scientists have long wondered whether the social network's news feed selectively serves up ideologically charged news while filtering out content from different camps. Now, a study by Facebook's in-house social scientists finds that this does happen, though the effect seems to be very small. "There's a growing concern that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow us to more precisely engineer our informational environments than ever before, so we only get info that's consistent with our prior beliefs," says David Lazer, a political and computer scientist who authored a commentary on the paper.
Social Networks

Export Ban Drives Cuba To Non-US Analytics Software To Boost Tourism 84

Posted by timothy
from the keepin'-it-hostile dept.
dkatana writes with some crucial lines from an article at InformationWeek: Currently Cuba receives around 2.8 million visitors every year, half of them from Canada. Mintur, the Cuban Tourist Ministry, estimates that if Americans were free to travel to Cuba today, the number of visitors would increase by two million the first year. Last year the Cuban government was interested in getting its hands on analytics software to process the data generated by visitors on social networks. ... Because of the existing ban on American companies supplying technology to Cuba, Havana had to look somewhere else and found SocialVane, a small Spanish company on the island of Menorca, which has been working with the local tourist sector to analyze issues, trends, and potentials of the tourism industry.
Government

Voting With Dollars: Politicians and Their Staffers Roll With Uber 132

Posted by timothy
from the al-franken's-demonstrated-preferences dept.
The Center for Public Integrity, an anonymous reader writes, has conducted an analysis of the relationship between one interesting group of riders (275 federal politicians and political committees) and ride-sharing services like Uber. From their report, it seems this group "together spent more than $278,000 on at least 7,625 Uber rides during the 2013-2014 election cycle." That's a roughly 18-fold spending increase from the previous election cycle, when federal committees together spent about $15,000 on Uber services. It represents a veritable monopoly, too: Almost no political committee used Uber's direct competitors, Lyft and Sidecar, according to the analysis, and traditional taxi use declined precipitously. Bipartisan love of Uber abounds, with politicos of all stripes composing a de facto Uber caucus, voting with their money for a wildly popular but controversial company.
Government

Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the gee-that's-a-shame dept.
schwit1 writes with news that political support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is drying up because of the secrecy involved in developing it. Members of Congress can read the bill if they want, but they need to be located in a single room within the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, and they can't have their staff with them. They can't have a copy, they can't take notes, and they can only view one section at a time. And they're monitored while they read it. Unsurprisingly, this is souring many members of Congress on the controversial trade agreement.

"Administration aides say they can’t make the details public because the negotiations are still going on with multiple countries at once; if for example, Vietnam knew what the American bottom line was with Japan, that might drive them to change their own terms. Trade might not seem like a national security issue, they say, but it is (and foreign governments regularly try to hack their way in to American trade deliberations)."
United States

House Panel Holds Hearing On "Politically Driven Science" - Without Scientists 347

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-got-politics-in-my-science dept.
sciencehabit writes: Representative Louie Gohmert (R–TX) is worried that scientists employed by the U.S. government have been running roughshod over the rights of Americans in pursuit of their personal political goals. So this week Gohmert, the chair of the oversight and investigations subpanel of the U.S. House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee, held a hearing to explore "the consequences of politically driven science." Notably absent, however, were any scientists, including those alleged to have gone astray.
Republicans

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Announces Bid For White House 553

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
seven of five writes: According to Reuters, "Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive Carly Fiorina announced on Monday she is running for president, becoming the only woman in the pack of Republican candidates for the White House in 2016. ... Fiorina registers near the bottom of polls of the dozen or so Republican hopefuls and has never held public office. But she has already attracted warm receptions at events in the early voting state of Iowa where she is positioning herself as a conservative, pro-business Republican highly critical of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Fiorina was forced by HP to resign in 2005 as the tech company struggled to digest Compaq after a $19 billion merger."

As part of her announcement, she said, "I think I'm the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works. I understand the world, who's in it, how the world works." I'm sure we'll soon begin hearing from all the HP employees, current and former, who have nothing but love for Carly F.