EPA’s ‘Secret Science’ Rule Meets With An Outpouring Of Protest

As the deadline approached for public comment on a controversial “transparency” rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, 39 top scientific organizations and academic institutions joined together on Monday to warn that if finalized, the regulation would greatly diminish the role of science in decisions affecting the environment and the health of Americans.

In a letter submitted to the EPA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society, and a wide array of other professional groups and universities, strongly opposed the rule, which they said is “not about strengthening science, but about undermining the ability of the EPA to use the best available science in setting policies and regulations.” 

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US Banks Make A Quick $10 Billion Processing Government Loans

Banks have earned a quick $10 billion processing US government loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis, according to a new report.

The $350 billion rescue program aims to funnel cash to small businesses distressed by the economic blows of the COVID-19 crisis.

In two weeks, banks including JP Morgan, Bank of America, and PNC Bank vetted thousands of applications for federal loans of up to $10 million. Transaction charges start at 5% for loans under $350,000, reducing to 1% for loans between $2 and $10 million, according to NPR.

The loans are guaranteed by the government, and the guidelines issued by the Treasury Department indicate that they require less vetting than regular loans. There is no risk to the banks which are merely the middlemen.

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Scheer Intelligence: Governments Are Using Coronavirus To Usher In A New Era Of Mass Surveillance

On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” host Robert Scheer speaks with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Adam Schwartz. The civil rights lawyer, who spent two decades at the ACLU, explains why Americans should be incredibly alarmed at how the pandemic could be used to chip away at whatever is left of their civil liberties under the excuse of contact-tracing. 

“You’ve raised some cautions about the blank check we’re giving every government in the world to engage and increase surveillance, to track down people on the contact list, and so forth,” Scheer tells Schwartz, “But what I don’t understand is the basic justification of keeping this all secret rather than transparent. Because we don’t have an enemy, this ‘invisible enemy’ that Donald Trump talks about, that cares to translate, to read, to break codes.”

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Lebanese Protesters Return To Streets

The car convoys formed across the capital, the northwestern city of Tripoli, and the southwestern city of Sidon on Tuesday.

In Beirut, cars thronged around the UNESCO Palace, which was chosen by Speaker Nabih Berri to host the parliament’s first reconvention since the legislature was shut down for contagion fears.

The pandemic has so far infected 677 people and killed 21 in the country.

Cars were seen draped in Lebanese flag, with drivers honking their horns and protesters shouting slogans while leaning out in facemasks.

The lingering protests receded to some extent in January, when the country swore in a new government. They, however, resumed Friday in Tripoli, where locals reportedly showed up in their hundreds.

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Will US’s Corruption End On A Ventilator Or In A Mushroom Cloud?

Little by little, Americans are understanding just how badly our government has let us down by its belated and disastrous response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and how thousands more people are dying as a result. But there are two other crises we face that our government is totally unprepared for and incapable of dealing with: the climate crisis and the danger of nuclear war.

Since 1947, a group of scientists with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have warned us about the danger of nuclear war—using their Doomsday Clock to symbolize just how close we are to destroying human civilization on Earth. Over the years, the minute hand on the clock has gone back and forth, measuring the rising and falling risks. 

Unbeknownst to most Americans, in January 2020, just before the Covid-19 crisis broke…

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South Africa: Lives Over Profits! Bread Not Bullets!

The C19 People’s Coalition was born a month ago and includes 250 organisations from across civil society in all provinces, including community-based organisations, social movements, non-governmental organisations, research institutions, faith-based organisations and others. It is the broadest grouping of civil society that has come together to address the current crisis. We have developed a Programme of Action (POA). 

Our rationale is that government alone cannot combat a health crisis of this scale; community and wider societal participation is critical if the measures that medical science requires us to undertake are to implement in a just and equitable manner. The failure of government and the state to fully align itself with this approach has shone a light on acute societal problems that as a matter of urgency now need to be addressed.  

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Another Method Of US Censorship: Media Minders

The United States government often criticizes other countries for controlling their media, but over the past thirty years, it is the US media that has become tightly controlled. We speak with Kathryn Foxhall with the Society of Professional Journalists who explains how government agencies from the local to the national levels, educational and scientific institutions and police departments restrict access by media to officials and uses minders to monitor what those officials say. Foxhall describes how this lack of access to information hinders ethical journalism, how it has impacted the stories we read and what people are doing to push back. This is particularly important during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic because reporters are being denied access to health officials.

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Settler Governments Are Breaking International Law, Not Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, Say 200 Lawyers, Legal Scholars

As lawyers and legal academics living and working on this part of Turtle Island now called Canada, we write to demand an end to the ongoing violations of Indigenous nations’ internationally recognized right to free, prior, and informed consent — for example, with the Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink pipelines routed through unceded Indigenous lands, including Wet’suwet’en lands.

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Global Poll Finds Majority Believe Capitalism More Harmful Than Good

A global survey out Monday ahead of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos shows that over half of respondents believe capitalism in its current form does “more harm than good.”

“Welp, glad that’s settled then,” mused one Twitter user.

The findings are from the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, which polled over 34,000 respondents in 28 markets to measure trust in government, business, NGOs, and media. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they agree with statement, “Capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good in the world.” That belief was expressed by a majority across age group, gender, and income level divides. In fact, there were just six markets were the majority of respondents did not agree—Australia, Canada, the U.S., South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan.

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Governor Orders Mauna Kea Stand Down

The Thirty Meter Telescope will not be built atop Mauna Kea at this time. Hawai’i Governor David Ige announced in an internal memo this morning that law enforcement personnel will be leaving the site. The telescope, an object of controversy, is still slated to be built. The construction will now be delayed. “They are not abandoning Hawai’i,” Gov. Ige said in a press conference this afternoon. “We believe at this point in time, it made sense for us to bring our state law enforcement home.”

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How Does China Evaluate And Choose Its Leaders? Understanding China’s University System

Few Westerners are aware that China also has a system of bar examinations which every graduate lawyer must pass in order to practice law in China. These are even more severe, requiring not only high intelligence but deep knowledge of the laws and a broad understanding of all matters legal, these exams being so difficult that many refuse to even attempt them. Of about 250,000 graduate lawyers who sit the exam, only about 20,000 will pass and obtain qualifications to actually practice law in China.

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Media Ignore Unmasking Of Twitter Exec As British Psyops Officer

A recent investigation from independent news outlet Middle East Eye (9/30/19) uncovered that a senior Twitter executive is, in fact, an officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to psychological operations (psyops), propaganda and online warfare. Gordon MacMillan, who joined the social media company in 2013, is its head of editorial for the Middle East and North Africa. While both Twitter and the British Army attempted to distance themselves from the implications of the report, it is unclear why MacMillan would have this role if not to manipulate and propagandize the public.

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