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Blue Mind – Wallace J. Nichols & Céline Cousteau

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Blue Mind

The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do

Wallace J. Nichols & Céline Cousteau

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $3.99

Publish Date: July 22, 2014

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Seller: Hachette Digital, Inc.


A landmark book by marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols on the remarkable effects of water on our health and well-being. Why are we drawn to the ocean each summer? Why does being near water set our minds and bodies at ease? In BLUE MIND, Wallace J. Nichols revolutionizes how we think about these questions, revealing the remarkable truth about the benefits of being in, on, under, or simply near water. Combining cutting-edge neuroscience with compelling personal stories from top athletes, leading scientists, military veterans, and gifted artists, he shows how proximity to water can improve performance, increase calm, diminish anxiety, and increase professional success. BLUE MIND not only illustrates the crucial importance of our connection to water-it provides a paradigm shifting "blueprint" for a better life on this Blue Marble we call home.

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Blue Mind – Wallace J. Nichols & Céline Cousteau

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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Signed Edition) – Michael Lewis

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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Signed Edition)

Michael Lewis

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $14.99

Publish Date: December 6, 2016

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


How a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms. The Undoing Project is about a compelling collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. They became heroes in the university and on the battlefield—both had important careers in the Israeli military—and their research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. Amos Tversky was a brilliant, self-confident warrior and extrovert, the center of rapt attention in any room; Kahneman, a fugitive from the Nazis in his childhood, was an introvert whose questing self-doubt was the seedbed of his ideas. They became one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, working together so closely that they couldn’t remember whose brain originated which ideas, or who should claim credit. They flipped a coin to decide the lead authorship on the first paper they wrote, and simply alternated thereafter. This story about the workings of the human mind is explored through the personalities of two fascinating individuals so fundamentally different from each other that they seem unlikely friends or colleagues. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind’s view of its own mind.

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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Signed Edition) – Michael Lewis

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We broke down Trump’s baffling speech on the “solar wall.”

The nation’s largest privately owned coal company, Murray Energy, just filed a lawsuit against the Last Week Tonight host over the show’s recent segment. Oliver had criticized the company’s CEO, Robert Murray, for acting carelessly toward miners’ safety.

Murray Energy’s complaint stated that the segment was a “meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation” of Murray by broadcasting “false, injurious, and defamatory comments.”

Oliver shouldn’t be too concerned, according to Ken White, a First Amendment litigator at Los Angeles firm, who told the Daily Beast that the complaint was “frivolous and vexatious.”

The lawsuit is hardly a shocking development. Before the show aired, Oliver received a cease-and-desist letter from the company. He noted that Murray has a history of filing defamation suits against news outlets (most recently, the New York Times).

Oliver said in the episode, “I know that you are probably going to sue me, but you know what, I stand by everything I said.”

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We broke down Trump’s baffling speech on the “solar wall.”

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Oil will keep flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline — for now.

The nation’s largest privately owned coal company, Murray Energy, just filed a lawsuit against the Last Week Tonight host over the show’s recent segment. Oliver had criticized the company’s CEO, Robert Murray, for acting carelessly toward miners’ safety.

Murray Energy’s complaint stated that the segment was a “meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation” of Murray by broadcasting “false, injurious, and defamatory comments.”

Oliver shouldn’t be too concerned, according to Ken White, a First Amendment litigator at Los Angeles firm, who told the Daily Beast that the complaint was “frivolous and vexatious.”

The lawsuit is hardly a shocking development. Before the show aired, Oliver received a cease-and-desist letter from the company. He noted that Murray has a history of filing defamation suits against news outlets (most recently, the New York Times).

Oliver said in the episode, “I know that you are probably going to sue me, but you know what, I stand by everything I said.”

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Oil will keep flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline — for now.

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Actually, Apple’s shiny new office park isn’t that cool.

There’s been much high-profile gushing over the spaceship-in-Eden–themed campus that Apple spent six years and $5 billion building in Silicon Valley, but it turns out techno-utopias don’t make great neighbors.

“Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general,” writes Adam Rogers at Wired, in an indictment of the company’s approach to transportation, housing, and economics in the Bay Area.

The Ring — well, they can’t call it The Circle — is a solar-powered, passively cooled marvel of engineering, sure. But when it opens, it will house 12,000 Apple employees, 90 percent of whom will be making lengthy commutes to Cupertino and back every day. (San Francisco is 45 miles away.)

To accommodate that, Apple Park features a whopping 9,000 parking spots (presumably the other 3,000 employees will use the private shuttle bus instead). Those 9,000 cars will be an added burden on the region’s traffic problems, as Wired reports, not to mention that whole global carbon pollution thing.

You can read Roger’s full piece here, but the takeaway is simple: With so much money, Apple could have made meaningful improvements to the community — building state-of-the-art mass transit, for example — but chose to make a sparkly, exclusionary statement instead.

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Actually, Apple’s shiny new office park isn’t that cool.

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The Trump administration may shrink Bears Ears national monument.

There’s been much high-profile gushing over the spaceship-in-Eden–themed campus that Apple spent six years and $5 billion building in Silicon Valley, but it turns out techno-utopias don’t make great neighbors.

“Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general,” writes Adam Rogers at Wired, in an indictment of the company’s approach to transportation, housing, and economics in the Bay Area.

The Ring — well, they can’t call it The Circle — is a solar-powered, passively cooled marvel of engineering, sure. But when it opens, it will house 12,000 Apple employees, 90 percent of whom will be making lengthy commutes to Cupertino and back every day. (San Francisco is 45 miles away.)

To accommodate that, Apple Park features a whopping 9,000 parking spots (presumably the other 3,000 employees will use the private shuttle bus instead). Those 9,000 cars will be an added burden on the region’s traffic problems, as Wired reports, not to mention that whole global carbon pollution thing.

You can read Roger’s full piece here, but the takeaway is simple: With so much money, Apple could have made meaningful improvements to the community — building state-of-the-art mass transit, for example — but chose to make a sparkly, exclusionary statement instead.

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The Trump administration may shrink Bears Ears national monument.

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Trump Is Waiving His Own Ethics Rules to Allow Lobbyists to Make Policy

Mother Jones

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It seems clear now why the Trump administration fought so hard to avoid making public the details of the waivers it granted to White House staffers who might otherwise have been in violation of the president’s self-imposed ethics rules. They show that President Donald Trump, who made “drain the swamp” a campaign battle cry, has enlisted numerous swamp-dwellers—former lobbyists, consultants, corporate executives—to staff key positions in his White House and has granted them broad exemptions to work on issues directly related to their former jobs and clients.

After repeatedly slamming DC lobbyists during the campaign, Trump used one of his first executive orders to lay out ethics rules for his new administration. The January 28 order barred Trump officials from working on issues related to their former employers for at least two years, and these rules applied not only to lobbyists, but to anyone who worked for a business or organization potentially affected by federal policy decisions. The prohibitions were not absolute: Waivers would be available in certain cases.

The Trump administration initially balked when the Office of Government Ethics demanded the White House hand over the waivers it had granted. But after a standoff the administration relented late Wednesday and released about 14 waivers covering White House staffers. They make clear that Trump’s ethics rules are remarkably flexible and that his top staffers don’t need to worry too much about staying on the right side of them. On paper, Trump’s rules are similar to those imposed by President Barack Obama, but it appears that Trump is far more willing to hand out exemptions. At this point in the Obama administration, just three White House staffers had been granted ethics waivers. So far, Trump has granted 14, including several that apply to multiple people.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and adviser Kellyanne Conway were both granted waivers to deal with issues involving their previous employers. In the case of Priebus, this narrowly applies to the Republican National Committee. But Conway is now free to work on issues involving her ex-clients from her previous life as an operative and pollster—clients that included political campaigns, nonprofit activist groups, and corporations.

Conway’s relationships with these clients were murky to begin with; she was never required to disclose who she worked for. We do know that she repped virulently anti-immigration and anti-Muslim groups. The names of some of her corporate clients also have trickled out, including Major League Baseball, Hasbro, American Express, and Boeing. The waiver may have been granted to help smooth the way for Conway after evidence emerged that she continued to operate own her polling and consulting company even after she’d gone to work in the White House—a possible violation of conflict-of-interest laws that drew the attention of congressional Democrats who have begun probing her relationship with the company.

Conway’s waiver was not retroactive, but there is another that specifically allows White House employees to communicate freely with former employers and coworkers at media organizations—and applies back to January 20. Trump’s executive order didn’t simply prohibit any of his hires from working on matters relating to a former employer—it specifically covered “any meeting or communication relating to the performance of one’s official duties.” This means at least two of Trump’s top aides, former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon and his assistant Julia Hahn, would be prohibited from chatting with their former colleagues at Breitbart about anything work-related—a rule that Bannon appears not to have followed. While not named, it seems likely that protecting the Breitbart alums from ethics complaints was the aim.

Another takeaway from Trump’s waivers is that they appear to be far less restrictive than Obama administration waivers. Many Obama waivers (there were only 10 total granted to White House employees during his administration) were very narrowly tailored. For example, James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser, was granted a waiver to allow him to introduce Bill Clinton at an event for the Atlantic Council, even though Jones had previously worked for the group. John Brennan, at the time one of Obama’s deputy national security advisers, had previously worked for The Analysis Company, and he was granted a waiver to use the company’s data while investigating the so-called “Underwear Bomber” incident. Brennan was not cleared to talk to any of the company’s employees, however.

Trump’s waivers, on the other hand, are broad.

For instance, Trump granted a waiver to Michael Catanzaro, who is the president’s most senior energy policy aide, allowing him to work freely on “broad policy matters and particular matters of general applicability relating to the Clean Power Plan, the WOTUS Waters of the United States rule, and methane regulations.” Catanzaro worked as a registered lobbyist for several oil and gas companies as recently as January, which made the waiver necessary. On his most recent lobbying disclosure form—filed on behalf of one of his clients, natural gas company Noble Energy—Catanzaro wrote that he was working on “EPA and BLM’s proposed and final regulations covering methane emissions from new and existing oil and gas facilities.” Nearly identical language appears in his most recent lobbying disclosure on behalf of another natural gas company, Encana. In other words, Catanzaro is now making policy on the very issues he was paid by corporations to lobby on. There are no restrictions in Catanzaro’s waiver relating to his previous clients.

Another lobbyist turned Trump aide is Shahira Knight, who was previously employed as vice president of public policy for mutual fund giant Fidelity and now serves as Trump’s special assistant for tax and retirement policy. Her waiver grants her permission to work on “matters of general applicability relating to tax, retirement and financial services issues.” Fidelity’s most recent lobbying report—filed while Knight ran its lobbying shop—lists the main issue areas targeted by the company’s lobbyists: finance, retirement, banking, and taxes.

While the Obama administration reluctantly granted waivers for narrow sets of circumstances, the Trump waivers appear to be written to carefully exempt the previous lobbying work done by White House aides.

And this is just the beginning. The administration released only the waivers granted to White House employees—the release does not include waivers granted to administration officials who work for federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the Treasury Department. The White House will turn those waivers over to the Office of Government Ethics on Thursday, but it’s not clear when they will be made public.

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Trump Is Waiving His Own Ethics Rules to Allow Lobbyists to Make Policy

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L.A.’s promise to join the Paris Agreement is a wee bit presumptuous.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority mentioned the leak in an annual report on offshore exploration but revealed no details about who operated the well.

That information came to light on Friday, when Woodside Petroleum — Australia’s largest oil and gas producer, owned by Royal Dutch Shell — admitted to owning the well on the North West Shelf of the country. The leak began in April 2016 and lasted about two months. All told, it spilled nearly 2,800 gallons of oil into the ocean.

Woodside gave a statement to the Australian Broadcasting Company claiming the spill caused no damage: “Due to the composition of the fluid, small quantity released, water depth at release site, and distance from environmentally sensitive areas, there was no lasting impact to the environment.”

Offshore oil safety expert Andrew Hopkins told the Guardian that the Australian regulator’s failure to identify who was responsible for the spill is concerning, as it spares reckless firms from justice via “naming and shaming.”

“Companies that know they will be named in the case of an incident like this,” Hopkins said, “are going to be less likely to do it.”

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L.A.’s promise to join the Paris Agreement is a wee bit presumptuous.

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This Tech Company’s Anti-Censorship Stance Is Helping Hate Speech

Mother Jones

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This story originally appeared on ProPublica.

Since its launch in 2013, the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer has quickly become the go-to spot for racists on the internet. Women are whores, blacks are inferior and a shadowy Jewish cabal is organizing a genocide against white people. The site can count among its readers Dylann Roof, the white teenager who slaughtered nine African Americans in Charleston in 2015, and James Jackson, who fatally stabbed an elderly black man with a sword in the streets of New York earlier this year.

Traffic is up lately, too, at white supremacist sites like The Right Stuff, Iron March, American Renaissance and Stormfront, one of the oldest white nationalist sites on the internet.

The operations of such extreme sites are made possible, in part, by an otherwise very mainstream internet company—Cloudflare. Based in San Francisco, Cloudflare operates more than 100 data centers spread across the world, serving as a sort of middleman for websites—speeding up delivery of a site’s content and protecting it from several kinds of attacks. Cloudflare says that some 10 percent of web requests flow through its network, and the company’s mainstream clients range from the FBI to the dating site OKCupid.

The widespread use of Cloudflare’s services by racist groups is not an accident. Cloudflare has said it is not in the business of censoring websites and will not deny its services to even the most offensive purveyors of hate.

“A website is speech. It is not a bomb,” Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a 2013 blog post defending his company’s stance. “There is no imminent danger it creates and no provider has an affirmative obligation to monitor and make determinations about the theoretically harmful nature of speech a site may contain.”

Cloudflare also has an added appeal to sites such as The Daily Stormer. It turns over to the hate sites the personal information of people who criticize their content. For instance, when a reader figures out that Cloudflare is the internet company serving sites like The Daily Stormer, they sometimes write to the company to protest. Cloudflare, per its policy, then relays the name and email address of the person complaining to the hate site, often to the surprise and regret of those complaining.

This has led to campaigns of harassment against those writing in to protest the offensive material. People have been threatened and harassed.

ProPublica reached out to a handful of people targeted by The Daily Stormer after they or someone close to them complained to Cloudflare about the site’s content. All but three declined to talk on the record, citing fear of further harassment or a desire to not relive it. Most said they had no idea their report would be passed on, though Cloudflare does state on the reporting form that they “will notify the site owner.”

“I wasn’t aware that my information would be sent on. I suppose I, naively, had an expectation of privacy,” said Jennifer Dalton, who had complained that The Daily Stormer was asking its readers to harass Twitter users after the election.

Andrew Anglin, the owner of The Daily Stormer, has been candid about how he feels about people reporting his site for its content.

“We need to make it clear to all of these people that there are consequences for messing with us,” Anglin wrote in one online post. “We are not a bunch of babies to be kicked around. We will take revenge. And we will do it now.”

ProPublica asked Cloudflare’s top lawyer about its policy of sharing information on those who complain about racist sites. The lawyer, Doug Kramer, Cloudflare’s general counsel, defended the company’s policies by saying it is “base constitutional law that people can face their accusers.” Kramer suggested that some of the people attacking Cloudflare’s customers had their own questionable motives.

Hate sites such as The Daily Stormer have become a focus of intense interest since the racially divisive 2016 election—how popular they are, who supports them, how they are financed. Most of their operators supported Donald Trump and helped spread a variety of conspiracy theories aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton. But they clearly have also become a renewed source of concern for law enforcement.

In testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chief Will D. Johnson, chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Human and Civil Rights Committee, highlighted the reach and threat of hate on the Internet.

“The internet provides extremists with an unprecedented ability to spread hate and recruit followers,” he said. “Individual racists and organized hate groups now have the power to reach a global audience of millions and to communicate among like-minded individuals easily, inexpensively, and anonymously.

“Although hate speech is offensive and hurtful, the First Amendment usually protects such expression,” Johnson said. “However, there is a growing trend to use the Internet to intimidate and harass individuals on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or national origin.”

A look at Cloudflare’s policies and operations sheds some light on how sites promoting incendiary speech and even violent behavior can exist and even thrive.

Jacob Sommer, a lawyer with extensive experience in internet privacy and security issues, said there is no legal requirement for a company like Cloudflare to regulate the sites on their service, though many internet service providers choose to. It comes down to a company’s sense of corporate responsibility, he said.

For the most part, Sommers said, a lot of companies don’t want “this stuff” on their networks. He said those companies resist having their networks become “a hive of hate speech.”

Jonathan Vick, associate director for investigative technology and cyberhate response at the Anti-Defamation League, agrees. He said that many of the hosts they talk to want to get hate sites off their networks.

“Even the most intransigent of them, when they’re given evidence of something really problematic, they do respond,” he said.

Cloudflare has raised at least $180 million in venture capital since its inception in 2009, much of it from some of the most prominent venture capital firms and tech companies in the country. The service is what’s known as a content delivery network, and offers protection from several cyber threats including “denial of service” attacks, where hundreds of computers make requests to a website at once, overwhelming it and bringing it down.

Company officials have said Cloudflare’s core belief is in the free and open nature of the internet. But given its outsize role in protecting a range of websites, Cloudflare has found itself the target of critics.

In 2015, the company came under fire from the hacker collective Anonymous for reportedly allowing ISIS propaganda sites on its network. At the time, Prince, the company’s CEO, dismissed the claim as “armchair analysis by kids,” and told Fox Business that the company would not knowingly accept money from a terrorist organization.

Kramer, in an interview with ProPublica, reiterated that the company would not accept money from ISIS. But he said that was not for moral or ethical reasons. Rather, he said, Cloudflare did not have dealings with terrorists groups such as ISIS because there are significant and specific laws restricting them from doing so.

In the end, Kramer said, seedy and objectionable sites made up a tiny fraction of the company’s clients.

“We’ve got 6 million customers,” he told ProPublica. “It’s easy to find these edge cases.”

One of the people ProPublica spoke with whose information had been shared with The Daily Stormer‘s operators said his complaint had been posted on the site, but that he was “not interested in talking about my experience as it’s not something I want to revisit.” Someone else whose information was posted on the site said that while she did get a few odd emails, she wasn’t aware her information had been made public. She followed up to say she was going to abandon her email account now that she knew.

“The entire situation makes me feel uneasy,” she said.

Scott Ernest had complained about The Daily Stormer‘s conduct after Anglin, its owner, had used the site to allegedly harass a woman in the town of Whitefish, Montana. After his complaint, Ernest wound up on the receiving end of about two dozen harassing emails or phone calls.

“Fuck off and die,” read one email. “Go away and die,” read another. Those commenting on the site speculated on everything from Ernest’s hygiene to asking, suggestively, why it appeared in a Facebook post that Ernest had a child at his house.

Ernest said the emails and phone calls he received were not traumatizing, but they were worrying.

“His threats of harassment can turn into violence,” he said of Anglin.

Anglin appears quite comfortable with his arrangement with Cloudflare. It doesn’t cost him much either—just $200 a month, according to public posts on the site.

“Any complaints filed against the site go to Cloudflare, and Cloudflare then sends me an email telling me someone said I was doing something bad and that it is my responsibility to figure out if I am doing that,” he wrote in a 2015 post on his site. “Cloudflare does not regulate content, so it is meaningless.”

Representatives from Rackspace and GoDaddy, two popular web hosts, said they try to regulate the kinds of sites on their services. For Rackspace, that means drawing the line at hosting white supremacist content or hate speech. For GoDaddy, that means not hosting the sort of abusive publication of personal information that Anglin frequently engages in.

“There is certainly content that, while we respect freedom of speech, we don’t want to be associated with it,” said Arleen Hess, senior manager of GoDaddy’s digital crimes unit.

Both companies also said they would not pass along contact information for people who complain about offensive content to the groups generating it.

Amazon Web Services, one of the most popular web hosts and content delivery networks, would not say how they handle abuse complaints beyond pointing to an “acceptable use” policy that restricts objectionable, abusive and harmful content. They also pointed to their abuse form, which says the company will keep your contact information private.

According to Vick at the ADL, the fact that Cloudflare takes money from Anglin is different from if he’d just used their free service.

“That’s a direct relationship,” he said. “That raises questions in my mind.”

Some companies offering other services vital to success on the web have chosen not to do business with Anglin’s The Daily Stormer. Google, PayPal and Coinbase, for instance, have chosen to cut off his accounts rather than support his activities. Getting booted around from service to service can make it hard to run a hate site, but Cloudflare gives the sites a solid footing.

And, by The Daily Stormer‘s account, advice and assurances. In a post, the site’s architect, Andrew Auernheimer, said he had personal relationships with people at Cloudflare, and they had assured him the company would work to protect the site in a variety of ways—including by not turning over data to European courts. Cloudflare has data centers in European countries such as Germany, which have strict hate speech and privacy laws.

Company officials offered differing responses when asked about Auernheimer’s post. Kramer, Cloudflare’s general counsel, said he had no knowledge of employee conversations with Auernheimer. Later, in an email, the company said Auernheimer was a well-known hacker, and that as a result at least one senior company official “has chatted with him on occasion and has spoken to him about Cloudflare’s position on not censoring the internet.”

A former Cloudflare employee, Ryan Lackey, said in an interview that while he doesn’t condone a lot of what Auernheimer does, he did on occasion give technical advice as a friend and helped some of the Stormer‘s issues get resolved.

“I am hardcore libertarian/classical liberal about free speech—something like Daily Stormer has every right to publish, and it is better for everyone if all ideas are out on the internet to do battle in that sphere,” he said.

Vick at the ADL agrees that Anglin has a right to publish, but said people have the right to hold to task the Internet companies that enable him.

“Andrew Anglin has the right to be out there and say what he wants to say. But the people who object to what he has to say have a right to object as well,” he said. “You should be able to respond to everybody in the chain.”

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This Tech Company’s Anti-Censorship Stance Is Helping Hate Speech

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Walmart just pledged to eliminate a billion tons of greenhouse gas.

That’s as much as Germany’s yearly emissions.

It’s hardly the first example of a business charging ahead on climate change mitigation while governments dither. Pretty much every giant corporation has made a commitment to reduce its emissions: food titan Unilever, everything maker General Electric, and IKEA (where you get your OMLOPPs), and on and on.

But what Walmart does matters. The company is such a behemoth that its policy changes trigger transformation around the globe. Walmart is the 10th largest economic entity in the world, after Canada, so this effort, dubbed “Project Gigaton,” is akin to every Canadian signing on to a strict sustainability plan.

Most of Walmart’s environmental footprint comes from other businesses extracting raw materials to manufacture Walmart’s products. So it will be pushing its suppliers to clean up their act, aiming to slash a gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain.

The Environmental Defense Fund has been working with Walmart to cut its emissions for years, and so there’s a track record here. In 2010, Walmart pledged to cut 28 million metric tons (like removing 6 million cars from the road), then surpassed that goal in five years. Now, they’re aiming to meet a goal 35 times larger, by 2030.

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Walmart just pledged to eliminate a billion tons of greenhouse gas.

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