Appeals Court Panel Seems Skeptical That FOSTA Doesn’t Violate the First Amendment

“Among other provisions, FOSTA created the new federal crime of owning, managing, or operating an “interactive computer service” with “the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person.”

In court last week, U.S. attorneys still clung to the argument that FOSTA merely targets illegal conduct, not protected speech.

The government has “essentially made a single argument, which is that FOSTA is essentially just an aiding and abetting statute, despite the language that it uses—it doesn’t use the terms and abetting—and as a result of that, it’s constitutional,” explains Greene. And last week in court, “they got a lot of pushback against that from at least two of the judges,” he says.

“In my mind, it’s not an aiding-and-abetting law. We know how to write ’em when we want to,” Harry Edwards, one of the three judges on the panel, said during the hearing. “This doesn’t look like anything that I understand to be an aiding-and-abetting law.”

“That immediately tells me the government’s got great concern that the statute, as actually written, has problems—so let’s make it something that it’s not,” Edwards continued. He characterized U.S. attorneys’ reasoning as “let’s call it aiding and abetting, and maybe we can cause the court to believe that the reach of the statute is limited because we’ve called it something that it’s not.””

“Greene and his team argue that FOSTA violates the First Amendment “because it’s overbroad [and] can apply to a substantial amount of protected speech,” he explains. “And that’s principally because the language that it uses includes not just things that are in themselves the commission of illegal acts of sex trafficking or prostitution.” Rather, “it uses language like ‘promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person’ without being clear on what that means.”

The language of FOSTA “can be reasonably read to include protected [speech]—and not just protected speech, but speech that’s really highly important, like providing harm reduction, health and safety information to sex workers, to advocating on particular sex workers’ behalf, to advocating for decriminalization, and things like that,” Greene says.

During last week’s hearing, Judge Patricia Millett pushed back on the government’s claims that FOSTA didn’t criminalize advocating for legal prostitution.

“If someone actively promotes on their website the legalization of prostitution … how is that not [promoting prostitution]?” she asked.”

Inside the CDC’s Campaign To Police COVID Speech

“”According to a trove of confidential documents obtained by Reason, health advisers at the CDC had significant input on pandemic-era social media policies at Facebook as well. They were consulted frequently, at times daily. They were actively involved in the affairs of content moderators, providing constant and ever-evolving guidance. They requested frequent updates about which topics were trending on the platforms, and they recommended what kinds of content should be deemed false or misleading. “Here are two issues we are seeing a great deal of misinfo on that we wanted to flag for you all,” reads one note from a CDC official. Another email with sample Facebook posts attached begins: “BOLO for a small but growing area of misinfo.”

These Facebook Files show that the platform responded with incredible deference. Facebook routinely asked the government to vet specific claims, including whether the virus was “man-made” rather than zoonotic in origin. (The CDC responded that a man-made origin was “technically possible” but “extremely unlikely.”) In other emails, Facebook asked: “For each of the following claims, which we’ve recently identified on the platform, can you please tell us if: the claim is false; and, if believed, could this claim contribute to vaccine refusals?”””

New study raises the heat on Exxon’s secret climate research

“The new study includes Exxon’s graphs, models, projections and publications that show it understood how its business would affect the planet, according to the researchers Geoffrey Supran of the University of Miami, Stefan Rahmstorf of the University of Potsdam and Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University. Oreskes previously co-authored the book “Merchants of Doubt,” which detailed the efforts of a small number of scientific researchers who worked to undermine the public’s acceptance of climate science.

“All told, ExxonMobil was aware of contemporary climate science, contributed to that science, and predicted future global warming correctly,” the researchers wrote. “ExxonMobil accurately foresaw the threat of human-caused global warming, both prior and parallel to orchestrating lobbying and propaganda campaigns to delay climate action.”

Exxon spokesperson Todd Spitler rebutted the claims and said the company supports addressing climate change.”

“Exxon’s models aligned with the best science between 1970 and 1990, the paper found. Exxon projected 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.36 Fahrenheit) of warming every decade with a 0.04-degree C margin of error. That figure is close to the 0.19 degrees C rise and 0.03-degree C margin of error derived from 18 government and academic models.

Under one metric, Exxon proved more precise than famed NASA climate scientist James Hansen, who first brought global warming to Congress’ attention in 1988.

“It has been established that, for many years, Exxon’s public affairs strategy was — as a 1988 internal memo put it — to ‘emphasize the uncertainty in scientific conclusions regarding the potential enhanced greenhouse effect,’” the report said. “However, our analysis shows that in their reports and briefings to management, ExxonMobil’s own scientists did not particularly emphasize uncertainty.””

4 things to know about the gas stove frenzy

“Cooking emits about 13 percent of on-site greenhouse emissions in U.S. buildings, according to the EIA. 68 percent of emissions stem from space heating, while 19 percent comes from water heating.

Some studies, including one published by Stanford University scientists last year, examined methane leaks from gas stoves and concluded that their global warming impact could be far higher than previously believed — equivalent to the emissions of a half-million cars (Energywire, Jan. 27, 2022).

But environmentalists and public health groups most often focus on indoor air quality as the chief problem with gas stoves, rather than greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Last April, researchers at the Institute for Policy Integrity released a report calling for gas stoves to be sold with warning labels and requirements for better ventilation, while pointing to studies concluding that low-income households and people of color were more likely to live in homes with poor ventilation (Energywire, April 25, 2022).
As far back as 2010, the World Health Organization recommended that governments develop guidelines for indoor air quality — which the EPA does not do — while citing studies that linked gas stoves to increased respiratory problems in children.

Gas industry advocates have rejected any connection between health risks and use of gas stoves, at times pointing to a 2013 study based on a 47-country questionnaire that turned up no association between cooking gas and asthma.”

Democrats slough off attacks on Buttigieg

“People who have worked with Buttigieg in recent months say he is proving the problem-solving mettle he honed in his past jobs as a mayor of South Bend, Ind., and at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. — on a national scale.
“I think he’s worked hard across the board on all the aspects of transportation,” said John Porcari, a former deputy transportation secretary under President Barack Obama and former Biden supply chain envoy. “There’s a lot of moving parts, whether it’s aviation or pipelines, or the highway system, or transit, he’s made progress and pushed hard for everyone to do better on all fronts.””

“Some issues — such as the supply-chain crisis, Southwest’s antiquated crew scheduling system and ailing FAA infrastructure — predate his time in office and are not directly Buttigieg’s fault, but they are his responsibility.

As record-high loads of cargo coursed through the nation’s ports in 2021, Buttigieg took a hands-on approach to the obstacles the traffic posed, says Eugene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

“This secretary has been a tireless worker around the supply chain,” Seroka said, adding that “behind the scenes Secretary Pete was the guy that was calling up the railroad CEOs … and encouraging them to continue to work as we got this huge surge in railroad cargo.”

“I’ve been through no less than seven economic shocks, from the [savings and loan] crisis, to the Asia currency crisis, the dot-com bubble, the Great Recession and others in between,” Seroka added. “I’ve seen eight to 10 microtrends within these four years where everybody was just talking about supply chain issues. It’s not one person and it surely is not Pete Buttigieg.”

Beyond demanding that Southwest Airlines compensate customers following the thousands of flights it canceled, he also helped steer a complex set of directives ensuring that airplanes could land safely around airports with newly deployed 5G broadband signals. That last crisis had threatened to ground airplanes at major airports across the country last year.”

What the right’s gas stove freakout was really about

“touches on a real, coast-to-coast crusade by liberal city and state leaders to prohibit gas stoves and furnaces in new buildings, on the grounds that they endanger health and contribute to climate change. But the White House has disavowed enacting any such ban at the federal level. (“The president does not support banning gas stoves,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters after the issue came up repeatedly at Wednesday’s news briefing.)”

“In December, Beyer and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to look at the health risks posed by gas stoves’ methane emissions.
Then a member of that five-person commission suggested to Bloomberg News in a story this week that a ban on new gas stoves could be one of many options to be pursued in the future. But the member, Biden nominee Richard Trumka Jr., had previously failed to get his fellow commissioners to support even regulating stoves, as POLITICO’s E&E News reported Tuesday. Instead, the commission plans to gather “public input” on stoves’ health hazards and possible solutions.

“I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so,” Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric later said in a statement.

By then, though, the issue had escalated to culture-war level — and lawmakers unleashed a barrage of snarky comments.”

“a rising number of studies point to possible health hazards, increasing the urgency of squelch any potential federal ban.

A recently published study nabbed headlines for concluding that gas stove emissions contribute to one in eight cases of childhood asthma — likening it to the dangers posed by second-hand tobacco smoke. And a 2022 report from the American Lung Association that looked at dozens of prior studies found that gas stoves and ovens are major sources of harmful indoor air pollutants that the federal government doesn’t regulate because they occur indoors.”