Democrats

Clinton Promises 500 Million New Solar Panels 553 553

An anonymous reader writes: Hillary Clinton, widely regarded as most likely to win the Democrat nomination for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has unveiled her campaign climate plan. Speaking at Iowa State University, Clinton said she would set up tax incentives for renewable energy to drive further adoption. She also set a goal of installing half a billion new solar panels within her first term, if elected. Her plan would cost roughly $60 billion over 10 years, and she intends to pay for it by cutting tax breaks to the oil and gas industry. According to The Guardian, "Clinton has promised to make the issue of climate change a key pillar of her campaign platform."
Democrats

Hillary Clinton Takes Aim At 'Gig Economy' 432 432

SonicSpike writes with an excerpt from Marketwatch that says at least one major candidate in the 2016 electoral fight has made the "sharing economy" epitomized by Uber and Airbnb a campaign issue. In a major campaign speech in New York City, the former secretary of state didn't mention the ride-sharing service by name. But it was pretty clear what sort of companies she was talking about when she got to how some Americans earn money. "Many Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car," she said at the New School. But that sort of work comes with its own problems, she said. "This 'on demand' or so-called 'gig economy' ... is raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future," Clinton added.
Democrats

Barney Frank Defends Political Hypocrisy, Game Theory Explains It 191 191

HughPickens.com writes with a link to Steven I. Weiss's Atlantic article which says game theory can shed light both on what is happening in Washington and on how the bargaining power of its negotiating parties may evolve over time and comes to the conclusion that hypocrisy is essential to the functioning of Congress -- in fact, it's the only tool legislators have after they've rooted out real corruption. "Legislators do not pay each other for votes, and every member of a parliament in a democratic society is legally equal to every member," writes Congressman Barney Frank in his new memoir, Frank: A Life in Politics From the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage. For legislators, cooperation is a form of political currency. They act in concert with other legislators, even at the expense of their own beliefs, in order to bank capital or settle accounts."

Game theory sets out conditions under which negotiating parties end up cooperating, and why they sometimes fail to do so. It does so based on analyzing what drives individuals in the majority of bargaining situations: incentives, access to information, initial power conditions, the extent of mutual trust, and accountability enforcement. Instead of seeing political flip-flopping as a necessary evil, Frank suggests it is inherent to democracy and according to Frank if there's any blame to be doled out in connection with political hypocrisy, it's to be placed on the heads of voters who criticize legislators for it, instead of accepting it as a necessary part of democratic politics.
Education

Pew Survey Documents Gaps Between Public and Scientists 278 278

PvtVoid writes: A new Pew Research Study documents an alarming gap between public perception of scientific issues and the opinions of the scientists themselves, as measured by a poll of AAAS scientists. Even worse, the gap is partisan, with clear differences between Republicans and Democrats, and between conservatives and liberals. For example, while 98% of AAAS members agree with the statement that "Human beings and other living things have evolved over time", only 21% of conservatives agree, compared with 54% of liberals. Global warming, similarly, shows an ideological gap: 98% of AAAS scientists agreed with the statement that "the Earth is getting warmer mostly due to human activity", compared with 21% of conservatives and 54% of liberals. Encouragingly, almost everybody thinks childhood vaccines should be required (86% of AAAS members, 65% of conservatives, and 74% of liberals.) Go here for an interactive view of the data.
Government

Video Mayday PAC's Benjamin Singer Explains How You can Help Reform American Politics (Video) 233 233

Larry Lessig's Mayday PAC is a SuperPac that is working to eliminate the inherent corruption of having a government run almost entirely by people who manage to raise -- or have their "non-connected" SuperPACs raise -- most of the money they need to run their campaigns. The Mayday PAC isn't about right or left wing or partisan politics at all. It's about finding and supporting candidates who are in favor of something like last year's Government by the People Act. As we noted in our Mayday Pac interview with Larry Lessig last June, a whole panoply of tech luminaries, up to and including Steve Wozniak, are in favor of Mayday PAC.

This interview is being posted, appropriately, just before the 4th of July, but it's also just one day before the Mayday PAC Day of Action to Reform Congress. They're big on calling members of Congress rather than emailing, because our representatives get email by the (digital) bushel, while they get comparatively few issue-oriented phone calls from citizens. So Mayday PAC makes it easy for you to call your Congressional representatives and even, if you're too shy to talk to a legislative aide in person, to record a message Mayday PAC will leave for them after hours.

The five specific pieces of legislation Mayday PAC currently supports are listed at the RepsWith.US/reforms page. Two are sponsored by Republicans, two by Democrats, and one by an Independent. That's about as non-partisan as you can get, so no matter what kind of political beliefs you hold, you can support Mayday PAC with a clear conscience. (Note: the transcript has more information than the video, which is less than six minutes long.)
Democrats

Trade Bill Fails In the House 413 413

schwit1 writes: President Obama suffered a major defeat to his Pacific Rim free trade initiative Friday as House Democrats helped derail a key presidential priority despite his last-minute, personal plea on Capitol Hill. "In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority — the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress — before it could even come to a final vote." This was after Silicon Valley heavyweights made a last minute push to pass the bill and the White House got personal with many Democratic lawmakers.
Democrats

Microsoft Will Help Iowa Caucuses Go High-Tech 71 71

jfruh writes: Poltical party caucuses are one of the quirkier aspects of American political life: local party members gather in small rooms across the state, discuss their preferences, and send a report of how many delegates for each candidate will attend later county and statewide caucuses to ultimately choose delegates to the national convention. It's also a system with a lot of room for error in reporting, as local precinct leaders have traditionally sent in reports of votes via telephone touch-tone menus and paper mail. In 2016, Microsoft will help both Democrats and Republicans streamline the process in a fashion that will hopefully avoid the embarrassing result from 2012, when Mitt Romney was declared the winner on caucus night only for Rick Santorum to emerge as the true victor when all votes were counted weeks later.
Democrats

Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping 389 389

mi writes: President Obama has asked the Senate to renew key Patriot Act provisions before their expiration on May 31. This includes surveillance powers that let the government collect Americans' phone records. Obama said, "It's necessary to keep the American people safe and secure." The call came despite recent revelations that the FBI is unable to name a single terror case in which the snooping provisions were of much help. "Obama noted that the controversial bulk phone collections program, which was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, is reformed in the House bill, which does away with it over six months and instead gives phone companies the responsibility of maintaining phone records that the government can search." Obama criticized the Senate for not acting on that legislation, saying they have necessitated a renewal of the Patriot Act provisions.
Education

Clinton Foundation: Kids' Lack of CS Savvy Threatens the US Economy 208 208

theodp writes: As the press digs for details on Clinton Foundation donations, including a reported $26+ million from Microsoft and Bill Gates, it's probably worth noting the interest the Clintons have developed in computer science and the role they have played — and continue to play — in the national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis that materialized after Microsoft proposed creating such a crisis to advance its 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy, which aims to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas. Next thing you know, Bill is the face of CS at the launch of Code.org. Then Hillary uses the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference to launch a Facebook, Microsoft, and Google initiative to boost the ranks of female and students of color in CS, and starts decrying woeful CS enrollment. Not to be left out, Chelsea keynotes the NCWIT Summit and launches Google's $50M girls-only Made With Code initiative with now-U.S. CTO Megan Smith. And last December, the Clinton Foundation touted its initiatives to engage middle school girls in CS, revamp the nation's AP CS program, and retrain out-of-work Americans as coders. At next month's CGI America 2015, the conference will kick off with a Beer Bust that CGI says "will also provide an opportunity to learn about Tech Girls Rock, a CGI Commitment to Action launched by CA Technologies in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America that helps girls discover an interest in tech-related educational opportunities and careers." On the following days, CGI sessions will discuss tech's need for a strong and diverse talent pipeline for computer and information technology jobs, which it says is threatened by "the persistent poor performance of American students in science, technology, engineering, and math," presenting "serious implications for the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. economy." So what's the long-term solution? Expanding CS education, of course!
Communications

NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate 135 135

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.
United States

The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties 609 609

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

Interviews: Fark Founder Drew Curtis Answers Your Questions 45 45

A week ago you had the chance to ask Fark Founder Drew Curtis about wasting hours at work reading stories about Florida, and his Kentucky gubernatorial campaign. We'll be checking back with Drew as the race proceeds, but for now you can read his answers to your questions below.
Government

Senators Demand CIA Director Admit He Lied About Spying On Senate Computers 148 148

blottsie writes with a link to a story at The Daily Dot which begins: CIA Director John Brennan lied when he denied ordering agency employees to search Senate computers to trace a leak. Frustrated with his unwillingness to admit the obvious, three Senate Democrats on Friday called on Brennan to admit that his agency crossed the line. The Senate Intelligence Committee was preparing a report on the CIA's Bush-era torture programs when the spy agency discovered that the committee had somehow acquired an internal CIA report on the program. To determine how the report had leaked, Brennan ordered CIA officers to pry into the computers used by committee staffers. The heart of the story is in the letter in which the Senators call for Brennan to 'fess up, also linked from the story. Drawing from that letter: When you were asked publicly about the CIA's search in March 2014, you denied that any improper access had occurred, stating that "As fas the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, that's -- that's just beyond the -- you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we could do." The reports of both the Inspector General and your review board demonstrate that this denial was at odds with the facts.

In June 2014, senior officials from the FBI, NSA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence all testified that it would be inappropriate for their agencies to secretly search Senate files without external authorization. To date, however, there has been no public acknowledgement from you or any other CIA official (outside the Office of Inspector General) that this search was improper, nor even a commitment that the CIA will not conduct such searches in the future. This is entirely unacceptable.
Government

Senate Advances "Secret Science" Bill, Sets Up Possible Showdown With President 355 355

sciencehabit writes: Republicans in Congress appear to be headed for a showdown with the White House over controversial "secret science" legislation aimed at changing how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses scientific studies. A deeply divided Senate panel yesterday advanced a bill that would require EPA to craft its policies based only on public data available to outside experts. The House of Representatives has already passed a similar measure. But Democrats and science groups have harshly criticized the approach, and the White House has threatened a veto.
United States

US Started Keeping Secret Records of International Telephone Calls In 1992 81 81

schwit1 writes Starting in 1992, the Justice Department amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries. The now-discontinued operation, carried out by the DEA's intelligence arm, was the government's first known effort to gather data on Americans in bulk, sweeping up records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime. It was a model for the massive phone surveillance system the NSA launched to identify terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks. That dragnet drew sharp criticism that the government had intruded too deeply into Americans' privacy after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked it to the news media two years ago. More than a dozen current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials described the details of the Justice Department operation to USA TODAY. Most did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the intelligence program, part of which remains classified. The operation had 'been approved at the highest levels of Federal law enforcement authority,' including then-Attorney General Janet Reno and her deputy, Eric Holder.
Earth

Obama Says Climate Change Is Harming Americans' Health 304 304

HughPickens.com writes: The Washington Post reports on new comments from President Obama, who says global warming isn't just affecting the weather — it's harming Americans' health. He has announced steps government and businesses will take to better understand and deal with the problem. Obama said hazards of the changing climate include wildfires sending more pollution into the air, allergy seasons growing longer, and rising cases of insect-borne diseases. "We've got to do better in protecting our vulnerable families," said Obama. "You can't cordon yourself off from air."

Speaking at Howard University Medical School, Obama announced commitments from Google, Microsoft and others to help the nation's health system prepare for a warmer, more erratic climate. Google has promised to donate 10 million hours of advanced computing time on new tools, including risk maps and early warnings for things like wildfires and oil flares using the Google Earth Engine platform, the White House said. Google's camera cars that gather photos for its "Street View" function will start measuring methane emissions and natural gas leaks in some cities this year. Microsoft's research arm will develop a prototype for drones that can collect large quantities of mosquitoes, then digitally analyze their genes and pathogens. The goal is to create a system that could provide early warnings about infectious diseases that could break out if climate change worsens.
Crime

Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US 1089 1089

HughPickens.com writes CNN reports that when asked how to offset the influence of big money in politics, President Barack Obama suggested it's time to make voting a requirement. "Other countries have mandatory voting," said Obama "It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything," he said, adding it was the first time he had shared the idea publicly. "The people who tend not to vote are young, they're lower income, they're skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups. There's a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls." At least 26 countries have compulsory voting, according to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Failure to vote is punishable by a fine in countries such as Australia and Belgium; if you fail to pay your fine in Belgium, you could go to prison. Less than 37% of eligible voters actually voted in the 2014 midterm elections, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. That means about 144 million Americans — more than the population of Russia — skipped out. Critics of mandatory voting have questioned the practicality of passing and enforcing such a requirement; others say that freedom also means the freedom not to do something.
Privacy

Senator: 'Plenty' of Domestic Surveillance We Still Don't Know About 107 107

An anonymous reader writes: In a recent interview, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has complained about the Obama administration's failure to shut down the NSA's bulk collection of phone metadata. This program and most other programs we've heard of were disclosed by Edward Snowden. But Snowden couldn't tell us everything. When asked if there were further domestic surveillance programs about which the public knows nothing, Senator Wyden said, "Yeah, there's plenty of stuff." The ones he knows about are classified, so he couldn't elaborate. "Even in cases where the public has been informed of government practices, Wyden warned the government still collects far too much information on millions of citizens with virtually no accountability."
Communications

Clinton's Private Email System Gets a Security "F" Rating 315 315

Penguinisto writes According to a scan by Qualys, Hillary Clinton's personal e-mail server, which has lately generated more than a little controversy in US political circles, has earned an "F" rating for security from the security vendor. Problems include SSL2 support, a weak signature, and only having support for older TLS protocols, among numerous other problems. Note that there are allegations that the email server was possibly already hacked in 2013. (Note: Mrs. Clinton plans on Giving a press conference to the public today on the issue.)
Government

White House Threatens Veto Over EPA "Secret Science" Bills 517 517

sciencehabit writes The U.S. House of Representatives could vote as early as this week to approve two controversial, Republican-backed bills that would change how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses science and scientific advice to inform its policies. Many Democrats, scientific organizations, and environmental groups are pushing back, calling the bills thinly veiled attempts to weaken future regulations and favor industry. White House advisers announced that they will recommend that President Barack Obama veto the bills if they reach his desk in their current form.