Bandcamp Joins Artists And Tech Companies In ACLU Funding Drive

Ryan Lott, who writes and records under the name Son Lux, is donating the sales of his records to the American Civil Liberties Union. Brenden Beecy/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Brenden Beecy/Courtesy of the artist

The music website Bandcamp will donate the money it earns from music sales that occur this Friday, Feb. 3, to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The move, which amounts to 15 percent of all dollars spent on, was announced in a blog post Tuesday afternoon.

Ethan Diamond, Bandcamp’s founder, writes:

“Like 98% of U.S. citizens (including the President), I am the descendant of immigrants—my great-grandparents came to America from Russia and Lithuania as teenagers and worked in sweatshops until they were able to afford to bring the rest of their families over. Most everyone you speak to in this country has a similar story to tell, because we are, in fact, a nation of immigrants, bound together by a shared belief in justice, equality, and the freedom to pursue a better life. In this context, last week’s Executive Order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Middle Eastern countries from entering the United States is not simply immoral, it violates the very spirit and foundation of America.”

The New York Times reported Monday that the ACLU raised more than $24 million since President Donald Trump signed an executive order affecting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. Part of that spike in fundraising can be traced to musicians. Sia, Grimes, Jack Antonoff and John Legend all donated and encouraged others to donate to the ACLU. “There’s a lot of money and power in this room,” Legend told the Producers Guild on Saturday night, “and I hope you will use it for something good.”

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Legend gave the organization $10,000; Grimes matched $10,000 in fan donations; Sia pledged to match up to $100,000 in donations from fans; Antonoff said he would match $20,000 in donations. Son Lux announced Monday that the next four years of sales from his debut album would go to the ACLU.

Bandcamp isn’t the only tech company contributing to the ACLU. Lyft announced a $1 million donation, while Google said it would, on top of a $2 million baseline donation, match up to $2 million from its employees.

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Space Archaeologist Wants Citizen Scientists To Identify Archaeological Looting

Satellite imagery of Machu Pichu in Peru, taken in June 2016. DigitalGlobal2017 hide caption

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An archaeologist has launched a citizen science project that invites anyone with an Internet connection to help look for evidence of archaeological site looting.

The platform, called GlobalXplorer, presents users with satellite images of Earth’s surface. “Looting is one of the most common ways archaeological sites around the world are destroyed,” explains the archaeologist behind the project, Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“By marking satellites where you think you see looting, you’re helping to protect sites and save our common cultural heritage.”

Parcak is a space archaeologist, meaning she specializes in what satellite images can tell us about past civilizations. The GlobalXplorer project is funded with the $1 million TED Prize that Parcak won last year.

She explained early plans for the project to NPR’s Ari Shapiro last year.

People who log on to the site are shown square satellite images of the Earth’s surface — the current area they are crowdsourcing is in Peru — and are asked to decide whether there is or is not evidence of looting pits on the ground.

A portion of the site of the pre-Columbian Peruvian city of Chan Chan that shows evidence of heavy looting activity. Hasiba Haq/DigitalGlobe 2017 hide caption

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Hasiba Haq/DigitalGlobe 2017

Looters find an area of interest and then dig numerous large holes or even bulldoze whole areas, the website explains. In so doing, looters in search of valuable artifacts destroy the context that helps archaeologists understand past cultures.

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A training video explains how to tell man-made looting pits from other holes in the ground:

  1. Pits always appear in groups
  2. Pits generally have a round or rounded square shape
  3. Pits contrast with the landscape around them and sometimes cast a shadow, depending on the light in the image
  4. Pits are typically 2 to 5 meters in diameter

“Although it may seem like an easy distinction between a large deep hole in the ground and bush, you can actually sometimes be hard to tell them apart,” the training video warns.

Parcak also reminds people who join the project that it’s good to be skeptical.

“It’s just as valuable to mark a tile as negative for looting as it is to identify potential looting because it helps us narrow the search,” she explains. The project is set up such that dozens of people will typically look at each image, mitigating the effects of each layperson’s impressions.

Peruvian archaeologist Luís Jaime Castillo is coordinating with the Peruvian government about potential findings from the project, should it turn up actionable evidence of archaeological looting in the country, according to National Geographic, which is supporting the project

“Most people don’t get to make scientific contributions or discoveries in their everyday lives,” Parcak told National Geographic. “But we’re all born explorers, curious and intrinsically interested in other humans.”

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Washington State Sues Trump, Seeking A Stay On Immigration Ban

Washington state has filed a lawsuit seeking to block President Trump’s order on immigration from Muslim-majority countries. The ban prompted protests over the weekend in Seattle and other cities. Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images

Officials in a number of states have spoken out against President Trump’s recent executive actions on immigration. On Monday, Washington state became the first to file a lawsuit against the administration, seeking a restraining order to stop enforcement of the ban.

“If successful it would have the effect of invalidating the president’s unlawful action nationwide,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said of the lawsuit, according to member station KNKX.

Citing the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data (from 2015), the suit says Washington is currently home to more than 7,200 noncitizen immigrants from Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — the seven nations listed in Trump’s immigration ban.

An exhibit in Washington state’s lawsuit cited President Trump’s plan to ban Muslims, a pledge made in December of 2015. Washington District Court Filing hide caption

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Washington District Court Filing

In its court filings, the attorney general’s office included statements Trump made as a candidate dating back as far as December of 2015. That’s when his campaign issued a statement titled, “Donald J. Trump Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration,” which called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Trump’s immigration ban, the lawsuit says, “is separating Washington families, harming thousands of Washington residents, damaging Washington’s economy, hurting Washington-based companies, and undermining Washington’s sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees.”

Over the weekend, Ferguson was among more than a dozen Democratic attorneys general who signed a statement in which they pledged to fight what they called an “unconstitutional order.” Other states are likely to take action against the ban, either on their own or by joining Washington’s suit.

In Massachusetts, for instance, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office says she is planning to challenge the order; in New York, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office is filing to join a federal lawsuit against President Trump that was originally filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.

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The Washington suit names as defendants President Trump, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Acting Secretary of State Tom Shannon, along with the federal government.

The Washington lawsuit also includes several media reports and interview transcripts about Trump’s ban, including his interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that was promoted under the headline, “Brody File Exclusive: President Trump Says Persecuted Christians Will Be Given Priority As Refugees.”

Filed in federal court in Seattle, the Washington documents include an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order, saying irreparable harm will result from Trump’s executive action that bans travel from the seven Muslim-majority countries and suspends the U.S. refugee admissions program.

Announcing his lawsuit against the immigration ban, Ferguson said, “We are a country based on the rule of law and in a courtroom it is not the loudest voice that prevails, it’s the Constitution.”

When it imposed the immigration ban, the Trump administration cited concerns about potential terrorism threats; it has also noted that only a portion of the world’s majority-Muslim countries are on the banned list. But as NPR’s Greg Myre reported, the executive order “doesn’t include any countries from which radicalized Muslims have actually killed Americans in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001.”

Trump’s action on Friday set off a weekend of protests, legal challenges and confusion as travelers and border security personnel tried to adjust to a new set of rules. And on Monday, after the acting attorney general refused to defend the order, she was fired.

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Commentary: Trump Travel Ban On Syrians Should Exempt Kids Under 10

A child drags a crate at a refugee camp for Syrians and Kurds north of Athens. Children under age 14 make up nearly half of the Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor at The George Washington University, where he is director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies. He is the author of many books, including The Active Society.

Here’s a test as to whether the Trump administration’s travel ban on refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries is truly driven by security concerns or if it reflects a prejudice.

As I see it, the Trump ban on travel and immigration to the U.S., which is permanent for Syrians, should exempt children 10 years of age or younger. Nearly half of Syrian refugees already resettled in the U.S. are children under 14.

In 2015, Republicans argued that Syrian refugees pose a security risk and hence they opposed President Obama’s efforts to allow a few thousand of them into the U.S. They argued that we should learn from Europe that terrorists hide among these immigrants. In response, Democrats argued that any such limitations would violate our shared ideals as Americans, and that prolonged vetting can ensure that these refugees will not endanger us.

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To leapfrog this debate, I suggested that the United States should invite 25,000 Syrian families to each send one of their children under the age of 10 to the United States. Here, they would stay in foster homes until the end of the war. Their parents could reclaim them at any time and would be asked to leave instructions about whether their children should be claimed by relatives or adopted if the parents perished in the war.

I took it for granted that nobody could claim that young kids pose a security risk.

I pointed out that there is a precedent for this sort of action. During Operation Peter Pan, also known as Operation Pedro Pan, a large number of unaccompanied Cuban minors were brought to the United States between 1960 and 1962. The program was created by the Catholic Welfare Bureau.

Initially, the children were required to have a visa in order to enter the United States. However, on Jan. 3, 1961, the State Department announced that Cuban minors no longer needed such visas. Several major American corporations helped finance the accommodation of these children. One of those children was Mel Martinez, who grew up to become a U.S. senator and the first Latino chairman of the Republican Party.

As a Jewish child who escaped Nazi Germany, I also pointed to the Kindertransport program, which allowed Jewish children to leave Germany if other nations would take them. Britain agreed to shelter about 1,000 of these children from 1938 to 1940, on the assumption that the children would leave the country once the war was finished.

In 2016, I wrote to 10 law firms in Washington, D.C., and asked them if they would, as part of their pro bono program, turn this idea into a draft bill. Covington & Burling responded, and their attorney did the job. He also sent the draft bill to several members of Congress and I wrote to others.

In the last hours of the 114th Congress, Rep. Mike Honda, a Democrat from California, introduced The Save the Children Act of 2016. It would grant temporary visas to 25,000 Syrian children between the ages of 3 and 10.

These visas would expire six months after our government determines that hostilities have ceased and a durable peace process has begun. The grace period will allow time for the families of the children to re-establish their households in Syria before the children return. The State Department would determine when the war is over, and the Department of Health and Human Services would ensure that the foster homes are safe for children.

Bills, of course, die when a Congress expires. Rep. Honda lost his seat in last November’s elections. I hence visited with the staff of some senators and met with a House member to see if they would introduce the bill into the current Congress. In the few days that have followed, no action has been taken so far.

The main issue, I was told, was who will pay for the costs involved. I recently wrote to nine major charities to ask if they would foot the bill. I had done this once before, when I served as a senior advisor to the Carter administration, and sought to raise funds for taking care of the 125,000 Marielitos who suddenly arrived in Florida from Cuba in 1980. At that time, the charities were more than willing. Indeed, Catholic Charities took care of most of these immigrants.

The new ban on travel suggests that waiting for Congress to act may be the wrong way to proceed. I see no reason, if the Trump administration is sincere that its concern is security, that it would not make an exception for Syrian children.

Otherwise, one cannot but conclude that it is acting mainly on ideological or political grounds. Indeed, given the harsh rhetoric and flood of harsh measures, making an exemption for children would help the new Trump team to show that somewhere, under all this bluster and swagger, there is a functioning heart.

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Republican EPA Chief Speaks Out On Looming Environmental Cuts


January 31, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency is bracing for major changes under the Trump administration. During the campaign, Trump said he wanted to eliminate the EPA entirely. He later backed off that proposal.

His nominee to lead the agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, was part of a coalition of state attorneys general suing to stop the agency’s Clean Power Plan, one of the key parts of former President Obama’s strategy to combat climate change.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks about the transition with Christine Todd Whitman (@govctw), former governor of New Jersey and administrator of the EPA from 2001 to 2003 under president George W. Bush.

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