Tag Archives: critics

White House Calls Out Critics of COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

As COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to plateau across the U.S., the White House is beginning to call out elected officials who criticize the national effort to get people immunized.

After South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster tried to block door-to-door efforts to increase vaccinations last week, according to The Associated Press, White House press secretary Jen Psaki challenged the spread of misinformation and fear around vaccines.

“The failure to provide accurate public health information, including the efficacy of vaccines and the accessibility of them to people across the country, including South Carolina, is literally killing people,” she said Friday during a news briefing.

Psaki and top U.S. health officials have voiced their concerns about a divided country with two realities as the pandemic continues: one with high vaccination rates and low COVID-19 cases in Democratic-leaning areas, and one with low vaccination rates, new outbreaks, and emerging variants in Republican-leaning areas.

Last week, President Joe Biden announced renewed efforts to reach the last third of adults who haven’t received a shot, including a grassroots campaign to deploy mobile vaccine clinics and send vaccines to local family doctors and pediatricians.

“Now we need to go community-by-community, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and oftentimes, door-to-door ― literally knocking on doors ― to get help to the remaining people,” Biden said during remarks on Tuesday.

Although the local vaccination campaign has been ongoing since April, last week’s speech provided an opening for conservative leaders to speak out, the AP reported. McMaster asked South Carolina’s health department to stop state and local health groups from using door-to-door tactics, and Missouri Gov. Mike Pearson told his state health department that door-to-door tactics weren’t welcome. Arizona and Ohio officials also condemned Biden’s new strategy.

“The Biden Administration wants to knock on your door to see if you’re vaccinated,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan wrote in a Twitter post on Thursday. “What’s next? Knocking on your door to see if you own a gun?”

In response, Psaki said that door-to-door campaigns have been helpful in states that are lagging, such as Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, where vaccination rates increased in June. She also rebutted allegations that might stoke fear about community-based outreach.

“They are not members of the government. They are not federal government employees,” she said Thursday during a news briefing. “They are volunteers. They are clergy. They are trusted voices in communities who are playing this role and door knocking.”

Ultimately, Biden administration officials said, the ongoing divide and rhetoric are getting in the way of saving lives, the AP reported.

“For those individuals, organizations that are feeding misinformation and trying to mischaracterize this type of trusted-messenger work, I believe you are doing a disservice to the country,” Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said Thursday during a separate COVID-19 news briefing.

They’re also wronging “the doctors, faith leaders, community leaders, and others who are working to get people vaccinated, save lives, and help end this pandemic,” he said.

Sources

The Associated Press: “White House calling out critics of door-to-door vaccine push.”

White House: “Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, July 9, 2021,” “Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, July 8, 2021,” “Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials, July 8, 2021,” “Remarks by President Biden on the COVID-19 Response and the Vaccination Program.”

Twitter: @Jim_Jordan, July 8, 2021

Thelma and Louise: Susan Sarandon on 'offending' male critics – ‘It wasn’t a big deal’

It’s been 30 years since Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise hit cinemas. And this week Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon attended a charity screening of their Oscar-winning movie at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. During the pre-show Q&A, the actresses and screenwriter Callie Khouri reflected on the film’s backlash from some male critics when it first released.

The movie sees Susan’s Louise convince her innocent housewife friend Thelma to take an unplanned road trip.

During one scene, Louise shot dead a man who was trying to rape Thelma at a bar, so the pair flee to Mexico from the police.

While Thelma and Louise was lauded for its depiction of independent women and female empowerment at the time, some male critics were offended by the way men were depicted and the violence inflicted against them.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, screenwriter Khouri remembered being “completely shocked” by some of these responses in the reviews.

Khouri, who won an Oscar for her Thelma and Louise screenplay, said: “With all the murder and mayhem that you see in movies that male critics would be going, ‘They killed the guy.’

“But it was just one guy and he had it coming,” she said of the male character who was shot dead by Louise after his attempted rape on Thelma.

Khouri even remembered one critic, US News and World Report’s John Leo, who called the movie “Neo-fascist”.

The screenwriter said: “ I was like, wow, you really got to have your tighties in a wad to call this movie neo-fascist after all the bulls*** that women have had to put up with in every movie that’s ever been made.”

Thelma and Louise has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 85 per cent positive reviews.

The site’s consensus reads: “Simultaneously funny, heartbreaking, and peppered with action, Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise is a potent, well-acted road movie that transcends the feminist message at its core.”

The Oscar-winning movie has been praised for its feminist overtones, challenging traditional male-female relationships and changing the usual gender roles of a road movie.

However, the New York Post’s Kyle Smith argues that Thelma and Louise actually fails miserably as a feminist film.

Smith wrote that Thelma and Louise is “a misogynist tale about unbelievably ditzy women who lose what remains of their reason under pressure and suffer the ultimate punishment.”

In total, the film was nominated for six Academy Awards, with both Susan and Geena receiving nods in the Best Actress category.

Thelma and Louise was also recognised in the Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editing Oscars categories.

While in 2016, the crime drama was selected by the US Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding the movie “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

READ THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER ARTICLE HERE

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Entertainment Feed

Dragons' Den star Deborah Meaden slams critics after sparking concern from hospital bed

Deborah Meaden, who stars on Dragons’ Den, reacted to a Twitter user after they addressed her recent injury. The 62-year-old revealed she had fractured her wrist after attempting to mount the steed of her horse without a block but admitted “she couldn’t”.

Taking to the micro-blogging site, Deborah posted a photo from her hospital bed, smiling widely as she showed off her plaster cast as the businesswoman heaped praise on the NHS.

In view of her 450,000 followers, she penned: “I know you know but our #NHS is blooming brilliant. Went in with a fractured wrist. Several x rays,manipulation under painkillers with a reassuring voice in my ear and I leave with plastercast and wrist on the mend. Here with Becky and @Lowri_punc19 thankyouxxx.” [sic]

However, a social media user took aim at the entrepreneur as they questioned how the Dragon’s Den star was able to receive treatment so quickly.

The person in question wrote: “The NHS is amazing but I struggle to understand how you have had this procedure done in one day when a man recently on the news with a triple hernia which stops him working has been told it will be two years before his operation. My question is why?”

READ MORE: Eamonn Holmes ‘can’t bear’ BBC Breakfast host’s habit

The Dragon’s Den star fired back: “Good because I wasn’t supposed to be wearing one.”

Meanwhile, celebrity pals and fans alike offered their well wishes to Deborah as they wished her a speedy recovery.

Theo Paphitis wrote: “A speedy recovery to you Deborah – you look like you’re in safe hands.”

GB News presenter Simon McCoy penned: “Wishing you well.”

Labour MP Jess Phillips commented: “Oh no, although tbf you look pretty cheerful. Hope it heals quickly.”

Deborah replied: “Thank you… although that may just be the painkillers. They strong!”

Meanwhile, it was recently announced that Deborah and her Dragon’s Den co-stars would be joined by a newcomer on the BBC series, after Tej Lalvani departed the programme.

Entrepreneur Steven Bartlett made history as the youngest Dragon on the show – and revealed he had been watching the series since he was 12-years-old.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed

Harry and Meghan's critics shut down by James Jordan over royal baby name 'It's respect'

“Her middle name, Diana, was chosen to honor her beloved late grandmother, The Princess of Wales.

“The Duke and Duchess thank you for your warm wishes and prayers as they enjoy this special time as a family.”

Meanwhile, James’ former Strictly co-star recently hit out at Harry and Meghan’s decision to name their daughter Lillibet.

The Strictly professional insisted that he would only be comfortable with the name choice if the Queen is happy about the tribute.

Speaking on Steph’s Packed Lunch, Anton said: “I find it irritating. I don’t find it nice, bearing in my mind what’s gone on.”

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed

Hillicon Valley: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle

The Supreme Court on Monday sided with Google against Oracle in a copyright fight, while vacating a previous ruling involving former President’s Trump use of Twitter. Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he hoped Parler would eventually return to the App Store, and a national labor board concluded that Amazon had illegally retaliated against two workers by firing them for speaking out against company policies.

A DECISION DECADES IN THE MAKING: The Supreme Court on Monday sided with Google in the company’s high-stakes intellectual property fight with Oracle, finding that the search giant’s copying of certain Java lines to develop its Android platform constituted fair use.

In a 6-2 ruling, the justices found that Google’s use of roughly 11,500 lines of code was lawful since the amount was relatively minuscule and because Google programmers used the language as virtual building blocks to develop new and transformative applications.

The court concluded that Oracle cannot claim copyright over these application programming interfaces (APIs), which let different applications communicate.

The battle between Google and Oracle over the use of the code in Android devices has been ongoing for more than a decade.

Read more about the ruling[5]

DISMISSED: On Monday the Supreme Court also vacated a ruling that found that former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden should look to ‘Ostpolitik’ to negotiate with autocrats The Memo: Biden’s bet on taxes Why some Republicans think vaccine passports will backfire on Democrats MORE[7][8][9][10][11][6] violated the First Amendment by blocking his critics on Twitter, with the justices dismissing the case as moot.

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The court’s move came in an unsigned order. But Justice Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasThe Navy’s reading program undermines America’s security Supreme Court revives police shooting victim’s suit against officers Supreme Court explores extent of tribal police authority MORE[13][14][15][16][17][12], the court’s most conservative member, wrote separately to voice concern that Trump’s removal from Twitter reflected a degree of power in the hands of tech platforms that the court would soon need to address.

The lawsuit arose in 2017 after Trump’s social media account blocked seven people who had tweeted criticism of the president in comment threads linked to his @realDonaldTrump Twitter handle, which has since been banned on the platform.

Read more here[18]

A LUKEWARM WELCOME: Tim Cook said he hopes the right-wing social media site Parler will eventually return to Apple’s App Store.

“I’m hoping that they put in the moderation that’s required to be on the store and come back, because I think having more social networks out there is better than having less,” the Silicon Valley giant’s chief executive said during an episode of The New York Times’s “Sway” podcast published Monday.[19]

Parler, which has pitched itself as a free speech alternative platform to Facebook and Twitter, was removed from both Apple’s and Google’s app stores shortly after the violent insurrection at the Capitol in January.

Read more about Cook’s comments[20]

AMAZON UNDER FIRE: Amazon illegally retaliated against two of its workers when it fired them after they publicly criticized the company’s climate policies and supported workers protesting warehouse conditions, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found.

The NLRB found the allegations in the case had merit, and a regional director will issue a complaint if the case does not settle, according to the board.

The board’s determination about the firing of Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa was first reported by The New York Times[21]

A spokesperson for Amazon denied the allegations that the employees were fired for speaking out.

“We support every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against our internal policies, all of which are lawful,” the Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “We terminated these employees not for talking publicly about working conditions, safety or sustainability but, rather, for repeatedly violating internal policies.

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The case is one of many allegations of unfair labor practices Amazon is facing, and the  NLRB is in the process of counting up ballots in the unionization vote at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. If successful, the effort would create the first Amazon union in the U.S.[22]

Read more here[23]

DEMOCRATS QUESTION INSTAGRAM FOR KIDS: Democrats told Facebook on Monday they have concerns about the platform’s plans for an Instagram for children over the company’s “past failures” to protect kids on platforms aimed at youth users.

“Facebook has a record of failing to protect children’s privacy and safety, casting serious doubt on its ability to do so on a version of Instagram that is marketed to children,”  Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyGive Republicans the climate credit they deserve Biden risks first major fight with progressives Five takeaways on Biden’s big infrastructure package MORE[25][26][27][28][29][24] (D-Mass.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorLawmakers wager barbecue, sweets and crab claws ahead of Super Bowl Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports MORE[31][32][33][34][35][30] (D-Fla.) and Rep. Lori TrahanLori A. TrahanLawmakers vent frustration in first hearing with tech CEOs since Capitol riot Lawmakers call for action on first anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death Ethics panel finds Massachusetts Democrat didn’t violate rules MORE[37][38][39][40][41][36] (D-Mass.) wrote in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergCongressional CEO grillings can’t solve disinformation: We need a public interest regulator Google spending M to fight misinformation, fake news in Europe Hillicon Valley: Parler claims it alerted FBI to threats before Capitol riot | Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinfo on Facebook, Instagram | U.S. schools increasingly resuming in-person learning MORE[44][45][46][47][48][43][42]

The Democrats pressed Facebook over concerns about children’s safety in regards to health, well being and data privacy.

Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old to make an account, but Facebook has acknowledged that young users sometimes lie about their date of birth in creating an account. [49]

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“If we can encourage kids to use an experience that is age-appropriate and managed by parents, we think that’s far better than kids using apps that weren’t designed for them,” Stephanie Otway, a Facebook spokesperson, said in response to the letter.

But the Democrats said that if Facebook’s goal is to decrease the number of users under the age of 13 on Instagram, the proposal for an alternative “may do more harm than good.”

Read more here[50]

NETFLIX (NOT) ON TOP: Netflix saw its dominance of the U.S. streaming market slip during 2020 as new competitors emerged and the coronavirus pandemic forced many Americans to remain in their homes.

According to Ampere Analysis data shared with TheWrap, Netflix’s share of the U.S. streaming market fell from 29 percent at the start of 2020 to 20 percent, a drop of 31 percent.[51]

Netflix reportedly still had the most U.S. subscribers of any streaming service — about 67 million — as of January.

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Amazon Prime also saw a drop in U.S. market share, the news outlet noted. The company previously controlled 21 percent of the streaming market and is now down to 16 percent, a drop of 24 percent, according to an analysis. About 54 million Prime users use the video app in the U.S., TheWrap reported.

Lighter click: That’s awkward[53]

An op-ed to chew on: The information superhighway must be accessible and affordable for all[54]

[email protected] (Maggie Miller,Chris Mills Rodrigo and Rebecca Klar)

'No one has the right to tell us to shut up' – Lewis Hamilton blasts anti-activism critics

Lewis Hamilton says no one has the right to silence his views anymore after admitting last year’s push for diversity and equality in the sport was one of the bravest things he’s ever done.
Hamilton, Formula One’s only black driver, led pre-race anti-racism demonstrations last year, taking a knee on the grid with t-shirts supporting the course which were worn by all drivers.

It came after the global outcry following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of US police.

“I would argue that last year was the bravest,” Hamilton explained to Sky Sport F1’s Rachel Brookes.

“For one of the very few people of colour within our sport, to be able to voice out your feelings and be open about experiences you’ve had, not be sure of the criticism or backlash that might come from that if it’s interpreted that way.

“I’m sure you can empathise as a woman in a male dominated sport, I mean I can only imagine the challenges you have faced and you for sure, will have had to have been quiet when you’ve taken certain flack or whatever it might have been.

JUST IN:
Lewis Hamilton wrestles with ‘positive’ reason he ‘could quit’ F1

He continued: “It doesn’t come easy. I think naturally people probably work hard to make things maybe look, or they appear easier than they are.

“But with great difficulty, and I’ve got a great team around me, but I would say I’m a lot busier than any drivers’ ever been.

“And finding the right balance is probably the hardest thing. You never want to arrive and people say, oh the reason you didn’t perform is because you’re too distracted by all these other things, which is an easy cop out for people to attack you with.

“If you look at along the way, all of the different things I’ve done, when I was in New York doing a fashion show, and then I flew over, everyone – even Niki [Lauda] was like you can’t do that.

“And then I put in that qualifying lap which kind of breaks that mould and everyone was like actually, oh yes you can. It’s what I really think it’s about, breaking the mould.

“I care to do the job, I wouldn’t be able to do all of these other things if it wasn’t for racing.

“There’s so much I want to do, but it almost feels like there’s not enough time, even though there is time. But like everyone they want everything now.

“You’ve just got to plan it out and be patient.”

Hamilton, the only active F1 driver to be knighted, also explained how it feels to now be a Sir, after receiving the highest honour on the Queen’s New Year’s list last year.

“I think I’m weird. It’s the same thing as when I got home, and I think my dad told me we’d got a call from Ron Dennis asking to sponsor [me] at 13 and I just went up to my room to do my homework,” Hamilton laughed.

“I think it’s definitely overwhelming, if you really think about it, and then you forget about it and then I walk around and don’t remember that I’m a sir. I think it’s more from the outside what it looks like.”

And when asked what he’d like to see after his name, away from his Formula One achievements, he continued: “I don’t really know, I haven’t really thought about it.

“Maybe game changer or voice for equality or something like that.”

‘For the haters to dry their tears with’: Golf influencer Spiranac plugs merchandise in latest rebuttal to ‘cleavage critics’

Paige Spiranac was once told “no one will ever take you seriously if you keep posting pictures with cleavage” but that doesn’t seem to be advice she is following too closely judging by the new range of racy towels she is selling.

Ex-pro turned Instagram model Spiranac is one of the social media platform’s more outspoken sporting figures, frequently using the service to make known her thoughts on a range of matters, from her dislike to Bryson DeChambeau to the extensive range of ‘d*ck pics’ she says get sent her way on a daily basis.
Also on rt.com ‘I was shunned by stuffy golfing world because of my cleavage,’ says social media favorite Paige Spiranac
Her notoriety online has led to an Instagram following of more than 3 million people and just like any good influencer, she is making inroads in monetizing that audience – with the latest offering from Spiranac being a range of TOWELS which show her sporting the famous Masters green jacket, and very little else.

“‘No one will ever take you seriously if you keep posting pictures with cleavage‘” she wrote in jest along with the post.

So here’s to continuing doing what I want. I made some towels with this image and other prints inspired by The Masters! Link in bio if you want to buy or for the haters to dry their tears with.”

Now, Spiranac’s social media following – all three million of them – will likely disagree with the assertion that posting cleavage photos online means that “no one will take her seriously“.

Paige’s stance is likely a pushback to frequent trolling online, with some nasty figures online hitting out at her online persona.

In recent days, Spiranac also told Australian commentator Francis Leach to “f*ck off” after he slammed her for appearing in a skimpy, low-cut top in a television commercial in a since-deleted tweet.

She also responded to a fan who noted that she “wants to be taken seriously, but wants to show off [her] cans“, telling him: “I’m sorry I was born with tits. I’m not going to hide them because your pea brain can’t comprehend the fact a woman can be smart, strong, and sexy.”

As ever though, this type of online rancor only serves to increase Spiranac’s online profile and as she continues to make money off of her image online, one suspects that it is Spiranac – and indeed her bank manager – who will be having the last laugh. 
Also on rt.com ‘Guys, it’s not a build a bear workshop’: Golfer Paige Spiranac hits out at social media trolls who claim her boobs are ‘too big’

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Texas lawmakers want to prevent another power crisis

Both the Texas Senate and House have written bills that attempt to prevent another massive power failure in extreme temperatures. But parts of their legislative proposals are drawing criticism for not going far enough to prepare electricity infrastructure for increased risks posed by climate change.

And critics are also wary that some measures would leave enforcement of the mandated upgrades to the Public Utility Commission without increasing its funding or resources to do the job.

House Bill 11[2], sponsored by State Rep. Chris Paddie[3], R-Marshall, was part of a package of bills that the lower chamber preliminarily approved Tuesday. It defines extreme weather conditions in the winter as a time when temperatures remain below 10 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a day and are expected to remain that low for the next 24 hours. For the summer, it defines it as when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory.

Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at University of Texas at Austin, said the House legislation importantly provides a target for regulators and industry to design around, rather than leaving it too broad. He said it’s a step in the right direction because it provides more clarity than the current weatherization measure in Senate Bill 3, the omnibus electricity legislation the upper chamber sent to the House this week.

“[The temperature threshold] is not as extreme as what we just experienced, and it could go further,” said Webber, “but, it’s something.”

Jeffrey Jacoby, deputy director of Texas Campaign for the Environment, opposed HB 11 because he said it would not have required power plants to be weatherized to a degree that would have prevented disruptions during the February storm.

“It doesn’t go far enough to truly protect Texans from the next winter weather calamity,” Jacoby said during a committee hearing on the bill on March 18.

More than 4.8 million customers in Texas were left without power during a winter storm that plunged large parts of the state into single-digit temperatures in February. At least 111 people died — more than half of them from hypothermia.[4]

The series of standalone bills the House gave an initial OK to Tuesday include legislation that mandates that power plants prepare for extreme weather, reform the governance of the state’s grid operator, ban wholesale index electricity products, pursue the creation of an emergency alert system and form a new disaster electricity committee.

Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan[5], R-Beaumont, called the slate of bills “important first steps” in the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri.

“The actions taken by the house will help restore confidence in our critical infrastructure after the catastrophic mismanagement of our electric grid last month,” he said in a statement.

The House is scheduled to give final approval to its package of standalone bills on Wednesday. The two chambers’ legislation is collectively similar, but not identical. So, each chamber could soon have a chance to tweak the others’ bills. But members of both chambers will at some point have to iron out the differences in their respective bills before anything can become law.

Jacoby remained opposed to HB 11, although he said in an interview with the Tribune that the group supports the intent of the legislation.

“Under this definition of an extreme weather emergency, these mandates would not apply,” Jacoby said during the committee meeting. “Frankly, most of the state would not have actually been experiencing an extreme weather emergency during the recent freeze.”

Other environmental groups, meanwhile, including the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club and Environment Texas, endorsed the bill, alongside industry groups including the Texas Association of Manufacturers and the Advanced Power Alliance, which represents the renewable power industry.

Rep. Gina Hinojosa[6], D-Austin, proposed an amendment to require the weatherization rules be based on information from the National Weather Service and the office of the state climatologist regarding climate variability and projected changes in weather, but withdrew it. She told the Tribune that she withdrew it because the bill already references the National Weather Service and the weatherization rules would be regularly reviewed.

Critics of the quickly moving legislation were also concerned that the burden of enforcing any potential new mandates on weatherization will fall on the Public Utility Commission, which in 2020 disbanded its oversight and enforcement division[7]. The PUC also does not have any field inspectors.

Michelle and Stan Brannon, whose son, Will, was killed by a fallen power line in 2017, warned legislators in a prior committee meeting that they believed the bill to weatherize power plants did not go far enough. They said that in the years since another piece of legislation was passed in response[8] to their son’s death to require utilities to inspect power lines, they found that the Public Utility Commission did little to enforce the requirement.

In response to the concerns, Andrew Barlow, a spokesperson for the PUC, said that the agency’s enforcement function was enhanced by the change by increasing the number of attorneys available to work on enforcement matters. He also said the agency “admires and respects the Brannons for the courage and passion for change they have shown,” and added that the agency is in the process of auditing the reports for the purpose of reporting violations.

But the gaps identified by the Brannons caused them to warn legislators that keeping regulators accountable for enforcing the mandates will be as important as passing them.

“We do not believe that new laws requiring utilities to winterize their infrastructure will solve the issues that caused the winter storm failures without having a Public Utility Commission empowered to monitor and enforce compliance with these laws,” said Michelle Brannon during a House State Affairs Committee hearing on March 18. “The utilities cannot be trusted to follow standards unless there are strict requirements.”

Emergency communications

In the days leading up to February’s winter storm and during the widespread blackouts that left millions of people with no access to electricity or drinking water in subfreezing temperatures, Texans were never warned or notified by the state about the disaster[9]. The same agency — the Texas Division of Emergency Management — that failed to deliver that critical emergency information to Texans would be responsible for studying the feasibility of establishing a statewide alert system, and then implementing it, under House Bill 12[10], which also got preliminary approval in the House on Tuesday.

“A lot of people didn’t know what was happening and I think sometimes the fear of not knowing what’s going on is just as bad as the crisis itself,” said state Rep. Gene Wu[11], D-Houston. Wu also added an amendment to the legislation, which was approved, to ensure that if the alert system is created, it would include languages other than English.

The House unanimously gave initial approval to the legislation, though members were disappointed that they had to create the legislation in the first place.

“Regrettably, had it been in place previously, it might have helped a lot of people in the state of Texas and save a lot of lives,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchía[12], D-Dallas.

Lawmakers Tuesday also gave an initial OK to House Bill 16[13], which would prohibit retail electric providers from selling products based on wholesale power prices in the market and House Bill 10[14], which would restructure ERCOT’s board of directors.

They also gave preliminary approval to House Bill 13[15] which would create a new committee made up of leaders from the PUC, ERCOT, Texas Railroad Commission (which regulates the oil and gas industry) and Texas Division of Emergency Management. The committee, modeled after an existing voluntary body, would meet semi-annually to coordinate power, natural gas companies and utilities for reliable electric service. The body would be required to convene as soon as possible prior to or during a disaster to address extended power outages, said Paddie, lead author on the bill.

Disclosure: Advanced Power Alliance and the University of Texas at Austin have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here[16].

References

  1. ^ Sign up for The Brief (www.texastribune.org)
  2. ^ House Bill 11 (capitol.texas.gov)
  3. ^ Chris Paddie (www.texastribune.org)
  4. ^ least 111 people died — more than half of them from hypothermia. (www.texastribune.org)
  5. ^ Dade Phelan (www.texastribune.org)
  6. ^ Rep. Gina Hinojosa (www.texastribune.org)
  7. ^ disbanded its oversight and enforcement division (www.dallasnews.com)
  8. ^ another piece of legislation was passed in response (www.news-journal.com)
  9. ^ never warned or notified by the state about the disaster (www.texastribune.org)
  10. ^ House Bill 12 (capitol.texas.gov)
  11. ^ Gene Wu (www.texastribune.org)
  12. ^ Rafael Anchía (www.texastribune.org)
  13. ^ House Bill 16 (capitol.texas.gov)
  14. ^ House Bill 10 (capitol.texas.gov)
  15. ^ House Bill 13 (capitol.texas.gov)
  16. ^ list of them here (www.texastribune.org)

Erin Douglas and Mitchell Ferman

Jeremy Clarkson slams Union Jack critics saying flag should make us feel ‘warm and gooey'

Jeremy Clarkson, 60, has weighed in after it was announced government departments were told to fly the Union Jack every day. The Grand Tour presenter hit back at critics of the news, saying Britons should be proud of their flag.
Jeremy praised the new policy imposed by government departments as a “proud reminder of our history”.

He gave an impassioned defence of the flag and Winston Churchill amid claims we should not write off our history.

The presenter spoke of how the Union Jack “should be a symbol” which makes us “feel warm and gooey inside when we see one.”

The star was replying to those against the new government policy as well as those who dismiss Winston Churchill.

READ MORE: Jeremy Clarkson was biggest fear for Jordan Banjo before Millionaire

He wrote in his column in The Sun: “We’re told that it’s a symbol of Britain’s dark-hearted past and that anyone who wells up and bursts into a spontaneous rendition of Rule Britannia when they see one is basically a closet Nazi with a cellar full of swastikas and a head full of jackboot fantasies.

“But hang on. Lots of countries have dodgy histories.”

Jeremy continued his impassioned defence, going on to point out Britain’s historic successes.

He continued: “I’m not saying British history is a fairytale full of nothing but pink unicorns and goodness. We had our moments, for sure.

“And for a long time, we alone stood up to Hitler and his fascist dreams.

“The Union Jack should be a symbol, then, that reminds us of all this and makes us feel warm and gooey inside when we see one.”

Jeremy’s defence comes after it was announced on Friday how government buildings in England, Wales and Scotland will fly the union flag every day.

The new policy was brought in by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport department.

Hillicon Valley: Lina Khan to get FTC nomination

Today: President BidenJoe BidenAstraZeneca says COVID-19 vaccine found 79 percent effective in US trial with no safety concerns The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden: Back to the future on immigration, Afghanistan, Iran This week: Senate works to confirm Biden picks ahead of break MORE[6][7][8][9][10][5] announced his intention to fill one of the two open roles on the Federal Trade Commission with prominent antitrust scholar, Lina Khan. And a broad coalition of groups in the technology came together to launch a coalition with its sights set on ending “surveillance advertising.”

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BIG TECH CRITICS GET THEIR PICK: President Biden on Monday announced his intention to nominate influential antitrust scholar Lina Khan to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Khan, a 32-year-old associate professor at Columbia Law School, would be the youngest FTC commissioner if confirmed by the Senate.

She is best known for a paper written while a law student at Yale titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” which laid out how the e-commerce giant could be violating antitrust law.

More recently, Khan served as an aide to the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee during its investigation into the monopoly power of major digital platforms.

Who’s happy about this: Progressive critics of big tech have been pushing for Khan’s nomination.

“A champion of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and working people, Professor Lina Khan is an extraordinary choice for the Federal Trade Commission,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project.

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Read more.[11]

NEW COALITION: Thirty-plus privacy, consumer and anti-monopoly groups are coming together to stop big tech platforms from tracking and categorizing individuals for the purpose of narrowly targeting advertising.

The broad coalition, launched Monday, is calling for a ban[12] on the practice they term “surveillance advertising.”

What is “surveillance advertising”? “Behavioral advertising, targeted advertising, what Facebook has tried to describe as personalized advertising, really feels like they’re trying to describe it as if they’re doing us a favor, when in reality they are extracting our data, they’re exploiting us and they’re selling us to advertisers,” said Rishi Bharwani, director of partnerships and policy at Accountable Tech, one of the member groups.

“So we just thought it was a more appropriate term,” he explained to The Hill.

The coalition argues that the data collection and advertising practices of the biggest platforms — specifically Facebook and Google, which are the two dominant players in the digital advertising space — increase the spread of misinformation, hate speech and extremism by incentivizing the companies to try to keep users engaged and online as much as possible.

Read more.[13]

MICROSOFT REOPENING: Microsoft will begin allowing more workers back into its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the company announced Monday.

Nonessential on-site workers will be given the option to work from the office, from home or a hybrid of both.

Any worker who does choose to go to the office will continue to have to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

The company’s reasoning: “Our goal is to give employees further flexibility, allowing people to work where they feel most productive and comfortable, while also encouraging employees to work from home as the virus and related variants remain concerning,” Microsoft executive vice president Kurt DelBene said in a blog post Monday.

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The company is describing the latest update in its recommendations as step four on a six-step dial.

Read more.[14]

UNFORTUNATELY, NFT NEWS: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first post on the social media platform was sold as a non-fungible token for $ 2,915,835.47 on Monday after a two-week open bid.

Dorsey said he would convert the winning bid into bitcoin and donate it to the charity GiveDirectly’s Africa Response.

What’s in the tweet: The tweet, “just setting up my twttr,” was sent March 21, 2006.

The winning bidder is Sina Estavi who, according to his Twitter, is the CEO of a blockchain company called Bridge Oracle.

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A non-fungible token, more commonly known as an NFT, is a unique kind of digital asset that has skyrocketed in popularity this year.

Read more.[15]

CASE DISMISSED: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Facebook’s appeal to scale back a $ 15 billion lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of illegally tracking its users’ internet activities.

The lawsuit alleges Facebook violated the Wiretap Act by tracking users’ online activities that utilize features such as the platform’s “like” button without their consent between April 2010 and September 2011.

A blow to Facebook: The justices declined to take up Facebook’s appeal of a lower court ruling allowing the class-action lawsuit against the company to move forward.

Read more.[16]

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SURPRISE! TIKTOK OK: The source code for Tik Tok and its Chinese counterpart Douyin is no more intrusive than that of other social media apps, a report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab found.

In the report, released Monday[17], researchers found no evidence that either app collects user data without the permission of its users.

The popular video-sharing app came under legal jeopardy during the Trump administration after the White House moved to ban it, citing national security reasons. However, that ban never went into effect while the company vowed to fight it in court.

Read more.[18]

ICYMI – CYBER CZAR PRESSURE: President Biden is coming under increasing pressure from lawmakers and other officials to nominate a White House cyber czar as the government starts formulating its response to two major foreign cyberattacks.

More than halfway through his first 100 days in office, Biden has yet to name his pick for national cyber director, a Senate-confirmed position that comes with a 75-member staff.

The absence of a leader to coordinate federal policy on cybersecurity is becoming glaring as the administration works to quickly respond to both the Russian SolarWinds hack and the Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilities exploited by Chinese hackers.

Read more.[19]

Lighter click: You learn something new every day[20]

An op-ed to chew on: Are space SPAC IPOs a regulator’s dilemma?[21]