The mission of USRENEW NEWS is to report on policy and programs to rebuild America and renew its spirit. We help our readers make informed choices about the public policy issues that affect their lives.
LATEST USRENEW NEWS
By Scout Burchill
A new experiment in online moderation governance has been taking shape at Facebook over the past two years and its most consequential test is fast approaching. By the end of April Facebook’s Supreme Court, officially called the Oversight Board, will declare a ruling on the company’s permanent ban of Donald Trump from the platform. Facebook’s Oversight Board was first conceived of in 2018 as an independent quasi-legal governing body that would advise Facebook on its content moderation policies and litigate appeals of users over content moderation enforcements. In the years since, Facebook has invested considerably in developing the operational procedures, powers and composition of the Board. The Board abides by an official public charter and currently consists of 20 members from various areas of expertise as well as diverse backgrounds. By design, the Oversight Board only has the authority to review user appeals that involve ‘take-downs’ of content and can rule to either uphold or overrule them. The Board is indirectly funded by Facebook through a trust to the tune of around $130 million.
By Charles A Rubin
Fully autonomous weapons, the stuff of dystopian sci-fi novels, are now approaching reality. The US, China, Israel, South Korea, Russia, and the UK are developing weapons systems with significant autonomy in their critical functions of selecting and attacking targets. If left unchecked the world could enter a destabilizing robotic arms race. These weapons include autonomous submarines, precision bombs and autonomous machine guns similar to the one that Iranians authorities claimed to have killed scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in late November. Unlike drone weapons, which have a human albeit remote handler, Fully Autonomous Weapons Systems (FAWS) decide algorithmically who lives and who dies without further human intervention. FAWS systems cross a moral threshold that lack the inherently human characteristics such as compassion that are necessary to make complex ethical decisions. With a new administration the United States must take a leadership role in banning these weapons worldwide.
By Katherine Cart
I came to Amaknak Island by plane. The mountains the plane passes between were, in June, very green. The visual sense that the Aleutian Chain gives is of a treeless Hawaii – its geology is similar; the landscape is very young, and active volcanoes grow the islands sporadically. Extending like a hooked arm, the Aleutians delineate the southern edge of the Bering Sea. Amaknak rises from the North Pacific, 800 miles south of Anchorage. Around the smidge of land that is the Aleutian Chain, there is very little but sea. Amaknak’s Iliuliuk Bay, where 300 foot vessels dock, offload fish, and fuel, drops dramatically to twenty fathoms. The basalt and andesite flows and pyroclastic rocks that form the cliffs of Mounts Ballyhoo and Split Top, and through which obdurate roads have been blasted, rise nearly two thousand feet from the bay edge. Thin soil, reddish, capped by tall grasses and shrub like a fur, holds tremulous purchase on the volcanic substrate. There is a wildness and fragility to Amaknak. With nearly three thousand residents, Amaknak is the most populous of Aleutian islands, and where Dutch Harbor provides anchorage to the North Pacific fishing and shipping fleets. Billions of dollars pass through each year.
By Katherine Cart
Farmland is lucrative. Acreage denotes wealth and provides multi-generational investment returns. Racial inequity and farm policy, in this country, have long been indivisible; discrimination in agrarian land ownership and by the USDA has made a farce of an already flimsy bid for equality, for financial freedom and freedom to farm and ranch American land with the nonpartisan support of government. The Covid-19 pandemic has both exacerbated and highlighted the racism within the USDA’s treatment of farmers. Two bills, the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act and the Justice for Black Farmers Act seek to begin the remediation of racial disparity in US agriculture.
Brief #38—Technologybr>By Scout Burchill
On Friday, February 12th the Maryland State Senate overrode Governor Hogan’s veto to become the first state in the nation to impose a tax on digital advertising revenue. Even though the new law is already being challenged in the courts, its passage reflects the dire need to plug gaping holes in state and local budgets due to pandemic losses as well as enact innovative new approaches to taxing and regulating big tech companies that have continued to rake in record profits over the past year. Maryland’s Digital Advertising Gross Revenues Tax would impose a 2.5% tax on advertising revenue made by selling digital advertising within the state for companies that make over $100 million a year globally from digital advertising revenues. This tax rate increases to 5% for companies making between $1 billion and $5 billion, 7.5% for companies making between $5 billion and $15 billion and finally 10% for those companies making more that $15 billion, essentially targeting Google and Facebook. The new tax is expected to generate $250 million after the first year, which will be set aside for Maryland’s education system.
Brief #96—Health & Gender
By Justin Lee
There are multiple reports of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (in children, MIS-C) being seen across the world shortly after the onset of COVID-19. Children and teen patients with MIS-C can suffer from inflammation that can limit blood flow throughout the body, exposing danger to major organs such as the heart, kidneys, and other organs. While cases, which have ranged from ages 2 to 15 years, have been considered rare the outcome can be dangerous if left untreated. MIC-C can be treated with drugs that can control the inflammation and prevent prolonged, permanent organ damage.