Paper – ‘I’ve Got Nothing to Hide’ and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy

beSpacific - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 23:47

Solove, Daniel J., ‘I’ve Got Nothing to Hide’ and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy. San Diego Law Review, Vol. 44, p. 745, 2007; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 289. Available at SSRN:

“In this short essay, written for a symposium in the San Diego Law Review, Professor Daniel Solove examines the nothing to hide argument. When asked about government surveillance and data mining, many people respond by declaring: “I’ve got nothing to hide.” According to the nothing to hide argument, there is no threat to privacy unless the government uncovers unlawful activity, in which case a person has no legitimate justification to claim that it remain private. The nothing to hide argument and its variants are quite prevalent, and thus are worth addressing. In this essay, Solove critiques the nothing to hide argument and exposes its faulty underpinnings.”

Categories: Research

Hundreds of rules and proposed regs frozen or jettisoned by Trump administration

beSpacific - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 23:28

The Washington Post – “…The Trump administration said it was pulling or suspending 860 pending regulations. Of those, 469 were being completely withdrawn. Another 391 were being set aside or reevaluated. These proposed regulations could be revisited at some point or dropped altogether…“These rollbacks of critical public protections will leave American workers, consumers and children vulnerable on a daily basis,” said Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, “to risks such as air and water pollution, unsafe products and tainted food, dangerous workplaces and a newly deregulated Wall Street that once again could threaten economic collapse.”

OMB – “The Trump Administration’s Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions provides an updated report on the actions administrative agencies plan to issue in the near and long term. Prepared by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, this Agenda represents the beginning of fundamental regulatory reform and a reorientation toward reducing unnecessary regulatory burden on the American people.  By amending and eliminating regulations that are ineffective, duplicative, and obsolete, the Administration can promote economic growth and innovation and protect individual liberty. Fulfilling longstanding principles to review and assess existing regulations, the Agenda includes the withdrawal and reconsideration of numerous regulatory actions. Agencies have committed to careful assessment of the costs and benefits of each regulatory and deregulatory action, and to prioritizing the maximization of net benefits of regulations…Executive Orders 13771 and 13777 require agencies to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden and to enforce regulatory reform initiatives…

  • Agencies withdrew 469 actions proposed in the Fall 2016 Agenda;
  • Agencies reconsidered 391 active actions by reclassifying them as long-term (282) and inactive (109), allowing for further careful review;
  • Economically significant regulations fell to 58, or about 50 percent less than Fall 2016…”

Public Citizen Report, July 19, 2017 – “…Six months after his inauguration, Trump’s anti-industry bluster has largely dissipated. Trump immediately backtracked on his promised to crack down on lobbyists, choosing to staff much of his administration with them. Likewise, Trump turned to Goldman Sachs, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, OneWest Bank and numerous corporate law firms to fill key posts. In this report, we look at 11 key sectors in which the Trump administration is helping big corporations advance their agenda. This list is not comprehensive, but illustrative of the corporate giveaways now coming to pass…”

Categories: Research

Humans collectively speaks over 7,000 distinct languages

beSpacific - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 22:48

The Conversation: “…People don’t speak one universal language, or even a handful. Instead, today our species collectively speaks over 7,000 distinct languages. And these languages are not spread randomly across the planet. For example, far more languages are found in tropical regions than in the temperate zones. The tropical island of New Guinea is home to over 900 languages. Russia, 20 times larger, has 105 indigenous languages. Even within the tropics, language diversity varies widely. For example, the 250,000 people who live on Vanuatu’s 80 islands speak 110 different languages, but in Bangladesh, a population 600 times greater speaks only 41 languages. Why is it that humans speak so many languages? And why are they so unevenly spread across the planet? As it turns out, we have few clear answers to these fundamental questions about how humanity communicates…”

Categories: Research

One Book Has 40 Metro Maps From Around the World

beSpacific - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 22:30

“The text [in this link] is an excerpt from the book “One Metro World” which [Paris-based architect Jug Cerovic] self-published with a KickStarter Campaign in 2017…Metro systems around the world are strikingly homogeneous. They share common mechanisms and infrastructure characteristics. Most systems are located underground, trains run on tracks and usually serve a fixed route with constant terminal points while lines are colored and named or numbered. The very way one uses and navigates a metro system is similar anywhere around the world. Nevertheless the representation of these systems is multiple and as so much as it may accurately address local particularities or tastes, it fails to provide a clear feel of belonging to a wider community, a global urban community…Maps composed using the INAT graphic language are compact in shape and therefore handy to use on a wide range of media. The language is also easy enough to interpret as it uses a consistent set of symbols and syntax rules. Finally it makes use of schematization and mnemonics to aid the creation of a mental image…”

Categories: Research

Google – Welcome to Outer Space View

beSpacific - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 22:20

Google Blog: “Starting today, you can now explore the International Space Station in Street View in Google Maps. Thomas Pesquet, Astronaut at the European Space Agency (ESA), spent six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a flight engineer. He returned to Earth in June 2017, and in this post he tells us about what it’s like to live on the ISS and his experience capturing Street View imagery in zero gravity.”

Categories: Research

Judge Rules That Government Can Force Glassdoor To Unmask Anonymous Users Online

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 20:45
pogopop77 shares a report from Ars Technica: An appeals court will soon decide whether the U.S. government can unmask anonymous users of Glassdoor -- and the entire proceeding is set to happen in secret. Federal investigators sent a subpoena asking for the identities of more than 100 anonymous users of the business-review site Glassdoor, who apparently posted reviews of a company that's under investigation for potential fraud related to its contracting practices. The government later scaled back its demand to just eight users. Prosecutors believe these eight Glassdoor users are "third-party witnesses to certain business practices relevant to [the] investigation." The name of the company under investigation is redacted from all public briefs. Glassdoor made a compromise proposal to the government: it would notify the users in question about the government's subpoena and then provide identifying information about users who were willing to participate. The government rejected that idea. At that point, Glassdoor lawyered up and headed to court, seeking to have the subpoena thrown out. Lawyers for Glassdoor argued that its users have a First Amendment right to speak anonymously. While the company has "no desire to interfere" with the investigation, if its users were forcibly identified, the investigation "could have a chilling effect on both Glassdoor's reviewers' and readers' willingness to use," states Glassdoor's motion (PDF). The government opposed the motion, though, and prevailed in district court.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Research – Humans produce almost 20,000 plastic bottles every second

beSpacific - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 20:39

We are literally drowning the earth in plastic waste according to numerous studies and research papers that repeatedly document the perhaps insurmountable damage done by human abuse, waste and collective neglect.  From a recent article in the Guardian, just one sentence that you need to genuinely understand, process and engage with: “Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean. [emphasis added]

If you require another fact to consider: “A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change.”

Plastic is in the water we drink, it is thrown onto all of our streets, into the gutters, into the rivers, into landfills, and to the point, it is in our bodies – “93% of Americans Have Plastic in their Blood & Urine: Bisphenol-A BPA” No part of the globe – including the Arctic and Antarctic – are exempt from the impact of plastic waste. When will we address the multiplicity of issues that these facts represent to current and future generations – and how will you participate in the changes that are so desperately required now?

BeSpacific has posts on the health and environmental issues issues of plastic waste going back years (the great plastic tide – and the gyre), and within the past several months: See also Plastic emissions from world’s rivers add 5,000 metric tons of plastic waste every day to oceans and Arctic Ocean as a dead end for floating plastics in North Atlantic.

Categories: Research

Apple Flies Top Privacy Executives Into Australia To Lobby Against Proposed Encryption Laws

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 20:05
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Patently Apple: Last week Patently Apple posted a report titled "Australia proposed new Laws Compelling Companies like Facebook & Apple to Provide Access to Encrypted Messages." Days later, Australia's Prime Minister spoke about the encryption problem with the Australian press as noted in the video in our report. Now we're learning that Apple has flown in top executives to lobby Turnbull government on encryption laws. It sounds like a showdown is on the horizon. This is the second time this month that Apple has flown executives into Australia to lobby the government according to a Sydney publication. Apple executives met with Attorney-General George Brandis and senior staff in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's office on Tuesday to discuss the company's concerns about the legal changes, which could see tech companies compelled to provide access to locked phones and third party messaging applications. Apple has argued in the meetings that as a starting point it does not want the updated laws to block tech companies from using encryption on their devices, nor for companies to have to provide decryption keys to allow access to secure communications. The company has argued that if it is compelled to provide a software "back door" into its phones to help law enforcement agencies catch criminals and terrorists, this would reduce the security for all users. It also says it has provided significant assistance to police agencies engaged in investigations, when asked. UPDATE 07/20/17: Headline has been updated to clarify that Apple is lobbying against the proposed encryption laws in Australia.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Citizens unredacted personal data concerning election fraud commission posted by White House

beSpacific - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 19:20

Follow up to resources with previous posting – States reject demand to provide all voter personal info to Trump election fraud commission – via Slate – White House Publishes Names, Emails, Phone Numbers, Home Addresses of Critics – “People who spoke up about their concerns over privacy suddenly found key private details, including their email and sometimes even home addresses, released by none other than President Donald Trump’s administration. The presidential commission charged with investigating alleged fraud that has been plagued by controversy from the start published a 112-page document of unredacted emails of public comment on its work, which to no surprise are largely negative of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. When it published the comments, the White House didn’t remove any of the personal information, meaning many of the comments are accompanied by personal details of the person who wrote it. “This cavalier attitude toward the public’s personal information is especially concerning given the commission’s request for sensitive data on every registered voter in the country,” Theresa Lee, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project, said. Lee was referring to the way the commission sent a letter to all the states requesting lots of personal information about voters. At least 45 states refused to hand over all the requested data…”

Categories: Research

Alleged Dark Web Kingpin Doxed Himself With His Personal Hotmail Address

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 19:20
Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: On Thursday, US authorities announced the seizure of the largest dark web marketplace AlphaBay. Europol and Dutch police also claimed seizure of Hansa, another popular market. In their dark web investigations, law enforcement have increasingly turned to hacking tools, including the deployment of browser exploits on a mass scale. But tracking down the alleged AlphaBay administrator was much more mundane, officials said. Alexandre Cazes, who US authorities say used the handle alpha02 as administrator of the site, allegedly left his personal email in a welcome message to new AlphaBay members, according to the forfeiture complaint published on Thursday. The news echoes the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, the convicted creator of the original Silk Road, who made a similar security mistake. "In December 2016, law enforcement learned that CAZES' personal email was included in the header of AlphaBay's 'welcome email' to new users in December 2014," the complaint reads. Users received this message once they signed up to AlphaBay's forum and entered an email address. Cazes' email address -- -- was also included in the header of the AlphaBay forum password recovery process, the complaint adds. From there, investigators found the address was linked to an Alexandre Cazes, and discovered his alleged front company, EBX Technologies.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Authorities Take Down Hansa Dark Web Market, Confirm AlphaBay Takedown

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 18:00
An anonymous reader writes via Bleeping Computer: Today, in coordinated press releases, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Europol announced the takedown of two Dark Web marketplaces -- AlphaBay and Hansa Market. First to fall was the Hansa Market after Dutch officers seized control over their servers located inside one of the country's hosting providers. Dutch Police seized Hansa servers on June 20, but the site was allowed to operate for one more month as officers gathered more evidence about its clientele. The Hansa honeypot received an influx of new users as the FBI shut down AlphaBay on July 5, a day after it took control over servers on July 4. Europol and the FBI say they collected mountains of evidence such as "usernames and passwords of thousands of buyers and sellers of illicit commodities" and "delivery addresses for a large number of orders." FBI Active Director McCabe said AlphaBay was ten times larger than Silk Road, with over 350,000 listings. In opposition, Silk Road, which authorities seized in November 2013, listed a meager 14,000 listings for illicit goods and services at the time authorities took down the service.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

FCC Says It Has No Documentation of Cyberattack That It Claims Happened

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 17:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) declined to reveal analysis proving that it was the victim of a cyberattack in May. The agency claimed at the time that its Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) did not actually crash because of a large amount of traffic on the site prompted by John Oliver telling viewers to file comments in favor of net neutrality on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight. Instead, the FCC said that the ECFS went down as a result of a DDoS attack. In its response to Gizmodo's FOIA request, the FCC said that the attack "did not result in written documentation." "Based on a review of the logs, we have already provided a detailed description of what happened. We stand by our career IT staff's analysis of the evidence in our possession," an FCC spokesperson said when asked for comment on the matter.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Petitions of the day

SCOTUS Blog - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 11:42

The petitions of the day are:

Hernandez v. Crespo 16-1458

Issue: Whether the Federal Arbitration Act pre-empts a state law that dictates onerous terms and conditions which must be included in private arbitration agreements between physicians and patients, and invalidates all agreements that do not contain those terms and conditions.

Arizona v. Martinez 16-1489

Issues: (1) Whether the Arizona Supreme Court erred in stretching the “overbreadth” test for facial unconstitutionality beyond the First Amendment context to strike down a bail restriction based on an application of the law not present in this case; and (2) whether the Arizona Supreme Court erred in applying heightened scrutiny—one standard among five used in the lower courts—to strike down a state regulatory measure that denies bail if a judge, after a full adversarial hearing, finds clear proof that the arrestee raped a child.

The post Petitions of the day appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

On Trump, transparency and democracy

Sunlight Foundation - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 11:20

Over the first six months of this young presidency, President Donald J. Trump’s approach to the office has been characterized by self-interest, defiance of basic democratic norms, and often incoherent or self-contradictory communications and priorities.

In the face of historic lows in public trust in government and an increasingly polarized electorate, we’ve seen a regression to secrecy in both Congress and the White House. The change has not gone unnoticed around the globe, as our nation’s standing to defend democracy and our government’s ability to advocate for anti-corruption efforts has been precipitously eroded.

In this report, we offer a comprehensive but not exhaustive accounting of the Trump administration’s record on open government to date. More than seven months after we first considered what Trump would mean for open government, the questions we sent to the White House were never formally answered. The actions of this administration, however, speak for themselves.

Whatever transparency the President of the United States is demonstrating by speaking directly to the public on Twitter is outweighed by his refusal to disclose and divest, undermined by the opacity of their authorship, and weighted down by false claims and misleading assertions. This president publicly accused his predecessor of wiretapping his campaign with no evidence. If that’s transparency, the word itself has been devalued.

Our conclusion on the Trump administration’s record on open government at six months is inescapable: this is a secretive administration, allergic to transparency, ethically compromised, and hostile to the essential role that journalism plays in a democracy.

In the following report, organized into sections we consider the record to date, in context. Six months from now, we will compare and contrast the Trump administration’s progress — or further regression — with the Obama administration’s mixed record on open government and reflect further on the way forward.

We welcome your feedback and comment, including from the White House itself, which has declined to answer our queries regarding these issues.


Last August, Sunlight published principles for transparency and accountability in the transition. The Trump transition not only fell far short of all of those recommendations, but carried out a transition whose missteps and overreaches have developed into scandals of their own during the first six months of the Trump Presidency. Instead of embracing ethics and disclosure to the public, the transition sold access to lobbyists and donors.

In addition to the secret meetings with foreign officials during the transition that now shadow the Trump White House, officials deleted the transition social media accounts this spring. The Trump White House also had blank or missing resources and services online at launch, and made little progress on key appointments for transparency and accountability related positions.

How presidential candidates conduct their campaigns and transitions carries into the White House. Trump is no different. Candidate Trump’s attitudes toward transparency and the press set the tone for the Trump presidency.

After making himself available to the press through late July 2016, Trump set a low bar as one of the least transparent modern presidential candidate in modern history. As president-elect, little changed: he held no press conference until January 12, never disclosed his  tax returns, made no proactive disclosures around the transition or inauguration beyond those required no law, and failed to fully divest from his business interests — decisions that all unfortunately set the tone for the beginning of President Trump’s term.


As Sunlight stated at the beginning of this presidency, Trump’s failure to assume responsibility for running an ethical White House placed his personal and business interests in clear conflict with the office he holds, laying the grounds for unprecedented mistrust, legal risk, and abuse of public power.

Trump’s approach to ethics emphasizes personal impunity and self-promotion at the expense of democratic stability and public trust. This sense of ethics is about personal loyalty — including loyalty oaths, which are anathema to public servants who swear to protect and defend the Constitution, not a head of state.

His comments regarding U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey suggest that he is incapable of understanding recusal’s role in public service or respecting the independence of the Justice Department.

Following is a breakdown of specific ethical failings in this administration.

  • Trump never disclosed his tax returns. Violating with decades of tradition (and promises to the contrary), Trump’s dogged secrecy about his tax returns and the information they contain mean the public does not understand the full extent of his business interests, partnerships, branding arrangements, and debts.  Without tax returns, the public simply cannot know all of the places when Trump’s private interests may be placed ahead of the public interest, especially considering the breadth and scope of Trump’s known conflicts of interest around the world.
  • Trump never fully divested from his businesses. Despite misleading claims to the contrary, Trump never fully divested from his businesses, meaning that he has direct, personal financial interests in his work, which often presents glaring, direct conflicts, like when he visits or promotes his resort properties, directly using the office of the Presidency to promote his and his family’s private interests, from the Trump Hotel in DC to Mar-a-Lago.
  • The Trump White House issued secret waivers issued for administration officials, and then his Office of Management and Budget sought to block the Office of Government Ethics from obtaining them, before finally disclosing them. Even after they were disclosed, the ethics waivers were so widely granted as to make the White House ethics policies hollow.
  • Trump has embraced nepotism at the highest reaches of the White House. By hiring his adult children as senior advisors, Trump has elevated familial loyalty above merit, demonstrating a disdain for the qualifications of public service, and undermining American ideals that seek to move beyond dynastic approaches to state power.
  • The Trump White House has frequently at odds with the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics, whose professional administration of American ethics laws and regulations has otherwise been an uncontroversial and helpful presence. The early resignation of director Walter Shaub from OGE called attention to Trump’s ethical challenges, which are continuing to be revealed in interviews. His resignation, unfortunately, may weaken the work of a crucial federal agency that has been overwhelmed by ethics requests from the public and addressing the complex finances and associated conflicts from Trump’s wealthy nominees.

    As we said in June and told Congress in February, the White House should be embracing OGE’s guidance and collaborating with its staff to shore up public trust in government, not fighting with its dedicated civil servants and issuing secret ethics waivers.


Despite broad consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election, the Trump administration continues to dissemble, mislead, and contradict itself on questions involving both the Russian influence effort and Trump campaign officials’ connections. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance.

On even the most basic question — did the Russians seek to intervene, and how will the White House respond to that intervention? — President Trump switches between transparently evasive non-answers. He has called the story a “hoax” and a “scam,” claimed no one can know the answers, suggested the interference could have been anyone, and then bizarrely presented Putin’s assurance that it wasn’t Russia. Combined, this inconsistency and lack of evidence falls far short of what the situation demands.

The President of the United States has a responsibility to protect the country, and to create trust in national leadership. Instead, on questions of foreign involvement in U.S. elections, the president has chosen disinformation, self-interest, and dissembling. This pattern has reached through his campaign and transition. It is and will be one of the defining scandals of his presidency.

While it may appear naive to some to call on Trump to affirmatively disclose his campaign and transition’s links to the Russians, we and others have still done so. Americans deserve no less, even if that information needs to become public through subpoenas and investigation rather than voluntary disclosure.

President Trump has consistently chosen self-preservation and secrecy at the expense of public trust, even when his decisions were so blatantly self-interested as to lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor.


Where we stand today with open government in the White House briefing room is illustrated by Bill Hennessy sketch, above, commissioned by CNN after recording ban was put in place: a regression to secrecy, obfuscation, opacity and attacks on the men and women assigned to the beat. President Trump has held no solo press conference as the president since February 12th. He has had 10 joint press conferences with other foreign leaders.

Many White House correspondents, however, have reported Trump reaching out to them directly, approaching press on Air Force One, and inviting them into the Oval Office to talk, in a marked departure from President Obama’s practice.

  • Broadly speaking, this White House’s approach to communications in constant state of uncorrected contradiction, with no permanent director nor expectation of response to inquiries. As of today, there has been no on-camera press briefing since June 29 after the White House banned recording at press briefings. As a result, there is no stream of the briefing nor archives of these sessions YouTube, as under the Obama administration. The Trump administration is posting text transcripts of press briefings on its website.
  • Instead of protecting and defending the role of journalists in a democracy, this White House and the president has made delegitimizing journalism as “fake news” a near-daily practice. The Trump White House has vilified the media, discarding the narrative that most Presidents have advanced — that a free press is a troublesome but essential piece of a functioning democracy.  Instead of taking on reports on the merits, the President and press secretary have made petty, vulgar personal insults on media figures and outlets. They have condemning anonymous sourcing while constantly mandating “on background” conditions for interviews or briefings with “senior administration officials.”
  • This White House attempts to create personalized praise for the President and to dismiss any significant bad news. This creates the impression of an insecure President hungry for praise, whose White House is constantly preparing for destabilizing revelations that they need to dismiss. This posture gets reflected in White House coverage, leading to a vicious cycle.
  • Press briefings once contested, are now restricted. It’s no surprise that a candidate who ran so directly against the media would carry that attitude into the White House, and an adversarial relationship is part of the press’s job. Recent restrictions on video in White House press briefings make White House correspondents’ jobs harder, and raise tough questions about responsible journalism in the face of explicit Presidential hostility.
  • The President’s hostility towards the press involved sacrificing White House credibility. Presidential credibility matters enormously in crisis situations, and the Trump White House’s habits toward the press — embracing self-contradiction, rarely issuing corrections, attacking anonymous sources (while issuing anonymous statements) all disempower the press and the public. As a result, the nation is at greater risk in the event of a natural disaster or attack, as statements from the White House can no longer be taken at face value.
  • Statements from the Press Secretary are simply not as trustworthy as they were six months ago, starting with an attack on what the public could see for itself, with respect to how many people were on the Mall for Inauguration Day. The president and his communications staff have offered varying answers to questions about Russian interference, ranging from incoherence to nonresponse to praise.

While the Obama administration’s relationship to transparency and disclosure was complicated, transparency was part of their agenda, even if their failures were sometimes more notable than their successes and the record decidedly mixed, from surveillance to drones to the use of the Espionage Act to pursue leaks.

Collaboration with the press and civil society to release data better and to create a more efficient, accountable government has not been a priority in the Trump presidency.

Under President Trump, transparency is rarely mentioned, except in an attempt to help defuse a crisis or scandal. This past month, the president made two notable references to transparency. The first came in praise for his oldest son’s statements regarding an undisclosed meeting with Russians and top Trump campaign officials in the summer of 2016, which were later shown to be well short of full disclosure by subsequent statements.

The second came at this week’s first public meeting of the presidential commision on election integrity — which the president has called a “voter fraud panel” — when Trump claimed that this will be a “very transparent process,” that will “be very open for everybody to see.”  To date, it has been anything but. The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the president, vice president and commission on Election Integrity, alleging the commission lacks transparency and violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

Beyond these public statements, the following list highlights some of the most significant actions and other affronts to disclosure, beginning with one of the most well-known examples: visitor logs.

  • Keeping the White House visitor logs secret. As we said in April, the White House’s failure to disclose visitor logs demonstrated that American leadership on open government would not come from this Presidency. We testified to Congress in 2011 about the flaws of using a security system as a mechanism for public disclosure, including all of the ways the Obama administration evaded accountability, but it was simply incorrect to assert that disclosure of these logs was not a meaningful transparency measure. The contention that this administration has broken new ground on ethics and accountability was a breathtaking assumption of the language of open government without its substance. The White House has made no statement or release of the announcement, simply removing the page that held a broken promise of transparency from its disclosures section of its website, as if the commitment had never existed.
  • Congress voted to remove an anti-corruption rule, which President Trump then signed with fanfare in the White House, abandoning U.S. leadership on transparency of payments by the extractive industries to governments.
  • The Trump administration began with secret gag orders to agencies, with denials continuing to come from the White House even as agency landing team officials told the press that they would be lifted soon.
  • U.S. involvement in key anti-corruption and transparency initiatives has not been affirmed by the White House, including the Open Government Partnership, one of President Obama’s signature good governance initiatives. The State Department, often responsible for U.S. involvement in such global initiatives, has been sidelined. U.S. participation in the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative, perhaps the most important commitment in the U.S. first National Action Plan, is now in question.

At a broad level, the Trump administration has left in place many of the programs and policies that were in force on the morning of January 20, 2017, but utterly neglected hiring or appointing the staff and officials necessary to run them, crippling United States science and technology policy. We have fielded inquiries from around the country asking who chief data officers or technologists should be speaking with at the White House.

Despite Congress making the role of United States chief technology officer permanent, there is no US CTO, nor any evidence of plans for one. Hundreds of key appointees have not been submitted to the Senate, including the U.S. chief information officer, chief science advisor, and dozens of other science and technology policy roles. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy remains small, with no director. In the meantime, challenging public policy decisions regarding autonomous vehicles, civilian drones, artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, genetic engineering, and civil liberties lie ahead.

Those issues aside, we have been both heartened and dismayed about the Trump adminstration’s approach to technology over the past six months.

  • No widespread removal and destruction of public data and support for financial transparency. We are glad to see the Trump administration hosting a roundtable on open data for economic growth in late July — but have yet to see support for data relevant to the use of power or politics.Prior to the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Sunlight joined other transparency advocates in expressing concern about the future of open government data in the United States. We have highlighted the ways an administration could alter government data that fell short of outright removal, from defunding collection to limiting access to altering data sets. Taking open government data offline entirely was the most extreme action we anticipated in this administration.

    To date, we’ve been (relatively) encouraged to see a takedown has only has occurred in one agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s animal welfare data. In June, however, the Trump administration delayed a much-anticipated release of Medicare data with little explanation and a weak justification.

    Sunlight and our open government allies will continue to track confirmed news reports of the Trump administration removing open government data and other major changes to public access to information.

  • The Trump administration has also been a strong supporter of the U.S. Digital Services and 18F, the software development shop in the U.S. General Services Administration, and the implementation of the DATA Act at the U.S. Treasury and White House Office of Management and Budget.While these organizations and these programs had years of momentum behind them, including the force of law, leaving these initiatives largely in place remains one of the best examples of “first, do no harm” in this new administration. The USDS’s 2017 report to Congress provides more insight into the activities and value of the program in this administration. That said, recruiting and talent retention will likely be major challenges in both in the months ahead.
  • The executive order on cybersecurity issued this spring was a sensible policy approach grounded in best practices for risk management that are used the public and private sector.
  • is still missing policy documents in July 2016, with the hosting numerous memoranda, policies and circulars that remain in effect. Executive orders are now being posted in a timely fashion after significant publication lags in the first month. The White House “blog” is nothing of the sort, save for a reverse chronological order of the aggregated statements and releases. There are no posts explaining the complex policy issues before the nation nor soliciting feedback upon proposals. Even basic functions of the website aren’t working today, either through benign or malignant neglect: the public cannot write to the White House through its website today: a link to “write or call” loops back to a broken form.
  • While the White House kept the “We the People” epetition platform on its website operating after January 20, there are no official responses to any of the petitions that passed the threshold at all, including the most popular e-petition in American history.
  • The Trump White House is either ignorant or dismisses the value of open data to ethics disclosures. Instead of posting ethics waivers in January 2017 and on a rolling basis, the administration quietly disclosed a document months later, after massive outcry followed reporting of secret waivers, a data call from the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and then an unprecedented questioning of OGE’s legal right to ask for waivers that should already been public by the White House Office of Management and Budget Director. To release a PDF like this is not precisely opacity by form or format — but it’s not machine-readable nor the same thing as posting text of the waivers on the webpage.
  • The White House released detailed individual staff salary disclosures in a PDF, even though the law only requires more general disclosures of White House staff pay. The Obama administration released the source data behind the salary disclosures as well.

Very few journalists we know were satisfied with the Obama administration’s record on FOIA.  While we have not seen official numbers from the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy or individual agencies about compliance with the Freedom of Information Act in the first six months of 2017, we expect that they will document a rise in the volume of requests, wait times, and lawsuits. The federal FOIA ombudsman at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Office of Government Information Services, reports a rise in their case load due to requestors being informed of their availability.

That said, many open government programs, initiatives, policies, programs and executive actions remain in force and in progress in July 2017, from the Open Government Directive to the 2013 order on open data. We’re still waiting for the Department of Veterans Affairs to publish its 2016 open government plan, progress report and self-assessment, as they promised to us, but other agencies remain committed to the modest reforms advanced over the past decade.

Civil servants continue to meet in working groups and with members of civil society to discuss initiatives and releases, from development of the nation’s new Freedom of Information Act portal to open data to open source.

In the months ahead, we expect the White House to develop a fourth national action plan for open government for our participation in the Open Government Partnership, which we and our allies will push to contain commitments directly responsive to the many issues we have outlined in this report.

The new administration, however, has taken steps that have had chilling effects upon communication, collaboration, and proactive disclosure that would inform the public about actions our government was taking. Following are some of the most important examples of this dynamic:

We welcome your feedback over the next six months (just email us) about more examples that will further add to and balance this report.


  • A record of antagonism to government statistics, science and evidence. President Trump repeatedly said federal jobs numbers were “phony.” He has now become the world’s leading denialist of humanity’s role in climate change, even as ice continues to melt at the poles, casting doubt upon the scientific consensus that his agency’s own scientists validate.
  • President Trump often has incoherent or self-contradictory positions. Unlike other modern presidential candidates, Trump came to office with broad themes — build a wall on the southern border, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, restrict immigration flows — but few developed plans to achieve those goals. The apparent lack of clear positions on fundamental matters of public policy make adjudicating what is true or not difficult for beat reporters, analysts and officials, much less the general public, with respect to what the president actually believes about election integrity, vaccines, climate change, or the right ways to approach reforming the U.S. health care system or create economic growth. Avoiding clear-cut policy positions also creates difficulty for transparency and accountability. When your position is about your negotiating position, and not your policy position, to what can you be held accountable?
  • Lies. After beginning the presidency with 100 days of lies and misleading statements, this President has accumulated an unprecedented record mendacity in office, undermining public faith and trust in the integrity of the president’s words and statements. Dishonesty is nothing new in politics, to be sure, but the low regard in which President Trump holds self-consistency and accuracy is unprecedented in US politics.
  • President Trump has no regard for the separation of powers. His attacks on the judiciary, whether racially motivated or out of spite for losing a case suggest a President who doesn’t appreciate the balance of power between the institutions responsible for the stability of American democracy.
  • President Trump praises authoritarian leaders. President Trump clearly respects authoritarian leaders, praising their style and impact, while ignoring human rights violations and the gross abuses of power that these leaders represent. Trump’s uncritical embrace of foreign authoritarian leaders suggest weak concern for democratic values and an attraction to concentrated power instead of democratic accountability.

The Watergate scandal led to Congress enacting a raft of new laws, from the Ethics in Government Act and Federal Election Campaign Act to a stronger Freedom of Information Act. While we cannot know today how the remainder of Trump’s administration will play out, the past six months has made it clear that our ethics and accountability laws — guardrails for democratic stability — are being tested by the Trump administration.

While the country’s problems with polarization, social cohesion, and democratic function are bigger than governance reforms alone, the Trump administration and our broader circumstances should lead to a new series of reforms. We should reaffirm the institutions and processes that represent what our democracy should be, and prevent the worst of what it shouldn’t.

We will continue to take stock of the state of our union and what is needed to strengthen the foundations of American democracy. In that light, we will publish our initial recommendations for democratic reforms tomorrow and update this report accordingly. We hope they serve as the basis for a new legislative agenda that is proportional to our deepening governance crises.

Categories: Research

US Ends Controversial Laptop Ban On Flights From Middle East

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 10:00
The United States has ended a four-month ban on passengers carrying laptops onboard US-bound flights from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa, bringing to an end one of the controversial travel restrictions imposed by President Donald Trump's administration. From a report: Riyadh's King Khalid international airport was the last of 10 airports to be exempted from the ban, the US department of homeland security (DHS) confirmed in a tweet late on Wednesday local time. Middle East carriers have blamed Trump's travel restrictions, which include banning citizens of some Muslim-majority countries from visiting the United States, for a downturn in demand on US routes. In March, the United States banned large electronics in cabins on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa over concerns that explosives could be concealed in the devices taken onboard aircraft. The ban has been lifted on the nine airlines affected -- Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Royal Jordanian , Kuwait Airways, EgyptAir and Royal Air Maroc -- which are the only carriers to fly direct to the US from the region. A ban on citizens of six Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, -- remains in place, though has been limited after several US court hearings challenged the restrictions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Today in OpenGov: Off script

Sunlight Foundation - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 08:14

Today's look at open government news includes the firestorm of headlines sparked by President Trump's comments to the New York Times, new research on open data's impact in the developing world, how one reporter boosted accountability in Georgia by opening data on their own, the return of pork-barrel spending in Washington, and much more. 

On the Record

Yesterday, in a wide ranging interview with the New York Times, President Donald Trump

  • said that he wouldn't have appointed Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General if he had known that Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russian investigation
  • accused former FBI Director James Comey of perjury before Congress and of using that infamous dossier as leverage
  • insinuated that special counsel Robert S. Mueller would cross a red line if he looked at Trump's finances beyond their relationship to Russia

The President's frank comments to a paper of record appear to have caught White House staff by surprise. They certainly have our attention.

Elsewhere in trumpland
  • Trump Jr., Manafort, Kushner to appear before Senate next week. "Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, were asked to testify July 26 before the Senate Judiciary Committee as the panel expands its scrutiny of potential links between the president’s associates and Russia," according to this report by Steven T. Dennis and Shannon Pettypiece. Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner will meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors two days earlier. (Bloomberg
  • Who pays for counsel as Trump's team lawyers up? Noting that President Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Vice President Mike Pence have all retained outside retained outside counsel, Peter Overby asked "Who is paying for all those lawyers?" (NPR)
  • Reporter breaks White House rules, live-streams audio of briefing. Kesnija Pavlovic, who covers the White House for her news site Pavlovic Today used the Periscope app to stream audio from yesterday's White House press briefing, defying White House restrictions. (Washington Post)
  • CREW seeks visitor logs from Trump's New Jersey golf getaway. Following their recent, successful efforts to secure visitor logs from Mar-a-Lago, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a FOIA request for similar logs that detail the President's meetings at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. (The Hill)
states and cities
  • This Alabama journalist mapped closed data, boosted accountability. This story in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution about a broken promise on affordable housing has an important sub-part that should not go unnoticed: "an interactive map that informs that public about where housing was funded. That meta story is a reflection of how public access to data about public housing is limited in American communities, and what it takes for a young, determined journalist to use modern technology to inform the public about our own communities." We talked to Stephanie Lamm, the journalist behind the map. (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Chattanooga has a new open data app. "The City Insider application uses data from the Chattanooga Public Library's Open Data Portal and puts it in an interactive map. On the map, users can see the number of crime incidents and non-emergency municipal calls, as well as locations for parks and public schools all over the city." (Government Technology)
washington watch
  • Pork-barrel spending is back according to one watchdog group. A new report by Citizens Against Government Waste identifies more than 160 earmarks worth nearly $7 billion in the 2017 federal budget, despite a declared moratorium on such spending. (Washington Post)
  • The importance of Inspectors General in the federal government. Alan P. Balutis and Don Upson discuss the need for balance between independence and accountability when it comes to the federal government's Inspectors General. They post that "In the minds of many, the envisioned IG independence/accountability balance today is skewed too much in favor of Congress…" engendering suspicion in the executive branch and not serving anyone well. (Federal Computer Week)
  • Proposed bill would open information on federal pensions to FOIA. "The legislation, which is being sponsored by Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, would make information about pension recipients subject to the federal Freedom of Information Act. The information subject to public review would include the retiree’s name, monthly annuity amount, the retiree’s total contribution to the annuity, total wages earned and retirement date, according to a draft of the bill." ( Our take? This sort of data release should be sure to balance the public interest with the need to protect individual privacy. 
  • Senator Menendez seeks dismissal of his bribery trial citing recent court rulings. "Lawyers for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez are trying again to have political corruption charges against him thrown out, citing a 2016 Supreme Court decision and recent rulings they say narrow the scope of the federal bribery statute." The lawyers cite last week's appeals court ruling that reversed the corruption conviction of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. (Bloomberg)
around the world
  • New report assesses the impact of open data on the developing world. The report, authored by Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew Young aims "to map and assess the current universe of theory and practice related to open data for developing economies, and to suggest a theory of change that can be used for both further practice and analysis." Read the report and learn how open data is changing the world at
  • Lobbyists look to cash in on tension between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. "Washington lobbyists are looking to cash in on the standoff between Qatar and a Saudi Arabia-led bloc of countries as the two sides scramble for influence with Congress and the Trump administration." (POLITICO)
  • Failed military coup leads to a very bad year for Turkish media.  Özgür Öğret and Nina Ognianova report that, following last year's failed coup attempt, "Turkey jailed more journalists than any other country had in any year since the Committee to Protect Journalists began keeping records in the early 1990s. The government purged the police, the judiciary, academic, and government institutions. The Turkish news media were hollowed out. More than 100 outlets were closed. Journalists were jailed or pushed into exile to avoid retaliation for their work. Hundreds of media workers were left unemployed…" and more.  (Committee to Protect Journalists)
  • The problem with requiring personal information to file an information request. Ariel Kogan and Fabiano Angelico explain that, "according to the Brazilian Information Access Law, which has been effective for five years this May, the information requesting party – either an individual or an entity – needs to inform the government authority of its name and a document number. This obligation has shown to be problematic, especially for journalists and activists who search for information that might uncover cases of corruption or misappropriation of public resources." (Open Knowledge)
save the dates
  • July 10th through 24th: e-Forum Discussion on the Agriculture Open Data Package, virtual. "The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Global Open Data on Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) are inviting interested individuals to participate in this forum discussion on 'Agriculture Open Data Package' to be held on the e-Agriculture Platform. The initial target audience for this forum are policy-makers, researchers, open data experts, and/or agricultural experts – however, any one interested is invited to attend." Learn more about the forum and how to participate here.
  • July 20th, 5:00 PM EST. Webinar: The Power of Data Visualization in Cities. The Civic Analytics Network (CAN) will host a webinar, “The Power of Data Visualization in Cities,” Thursday July 20th, from 5pm to 6pm ET. The public webinar will be moderated by Stephen Goldsmith, Director of CAN and the Innovations Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the presentation will highlight some of the best data visualization products created by city governments across the country. Learn more here.
  • July 20th – 22nd, The Thursday Network's Un-Hack the Vote 2017 Hackathon, Washington, DC. This hackathon aims to "Inspire young professionals to protect the voting rights of racial minorities…[and push them] to learn about redistricting and gerrymandering and propose data and technology-driven solutions that increase public awareness." Learn more and register to attend here
  • July 27th, 10 am: Chief FOIA Officers Council Meeting in Washington, DC. "OGIS and the Department of Information Policy (OIP) at the Department of Justice are happy to announce that the next meeting of the Chief FOIA Officers Council will be held on Thursday, July 27th from 10 am to noon. You can register to join the audience in the William G. McGowan Theater beginning on July 26. You can also plan on watching the livestream via the National Archives’ YouTube Channel."
  • July 27th, 6:00 to 9:00 PM: New FOIA tactics and FOIA Karaoke with Michael Ravinsky, in Washington, DC. Join MuckRock and the DC chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists "for a fun, informative talk given by FOIA expert Michael Ravnitzky, followed by a few rounds of FOIA Karaoke…Ravnitzky will be sharing a bunch of new FOIA tactics and research tools – including new ways of thinking about FOIA and strategies for learning about the current administration – that have never before been shared publicly." Learn more and RSVP!
  • August 1st: DKAN Summit in Washington, DC. Part of Drupal GovCon 2017, the DKAN Open Data Summit will feature open data leaders discussing how DKAN can be used to facilitate government open data efforts. Learn more and register here
  • September 11th and 12th: Civic Tech Fest and TicTec@Taipei in Taipei. "TICTeC@Taipei is the first ever conference about the influence of civic tech to be held in Asia. We’ve invited members of academia, business, politics, NGOs, education to participate, and discuss their research. We hope through this event, we can build a global network of civic tech enthusiasts." The event is being held during #CivicTechFest 2017. The agenda is up now and you have until July 21st to sign up for early bird tickets!
  • September 13th: Civic and Gov Tech Showcase in San Jose, California. "Innovate Your State, in partnership with Microsoft and the City of San Jose, is bringing the 3nd Annual Civic & Gov Tech Showcase to the Capitol of Silicon Valley. The Civic & Gov Tech Showcase is an opportunity to connect with civic minded entrepreneurs, potential investors, and government leaders to showcase the great work that is being done to improve government and governance. The goal of the event is to encourage collaboration and the support of new technologies to improve government and public participation." Learn more and get your tickets here.
  • September 14th – 16th: Digital Humanities and Data Journalism Symposium, in Miami, Florida. "Digital humanists and data journalists face common challenges, opportunities, and goals, such as how to communicate effectively with the public. They use similar software tools, programming languages, and techniques, and they can learn from each other. Join us for lectures and tutorials about shared data types, visualization methods, and data communication — including text visualization, network diagrams, maps, databases and data wrangling. In addition to the scheduled content, there will be opportunities for casual conversation and networking." Learn more and register here.
  • September 28th: Powering Sustainable Development with Access to Information, Paris, France. "The 'IPDCtalks' will be held to highlight and elaborate on the importance of Access to Information for all sustainable development efforts around the world. It will consist of a series of attractive and dynamic talks from global public leaders, top journalists, young intellectuals and community leaders. While some of the speakers will elaborate on the key role of Access to Information for the achievement of a particular Sustainable Development Goal, others will reflect on the essential role of Access to Information for our society and future." You can learn more and request an invitation on the event website. If you're interested, but can't attend the event will be broadcast live on the web.
  • October 13th – 14th: 2017 FOI Summit, Nashville, Tennessee. "Music City USA becomes home for NFOIC, state FOI coalitions and open government advocates for the 2017 FOI Summit on Friday and Saturday, October 13-14, 2017.The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and our host, the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government will convene the annual summit at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University." You can learn more and register here


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Categories: Research

Thursday round-up

SCOTUS Blog - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 07:30

Yesterday the Supreme Court left in place a district judge’s ruling allowing entry into the United States by close relatives of people in the U.S., such as grandparents, but put a hold on the portion of the judge’s order that loosened the government’s restrictions on entry by refugees, pending disposition of the government’s appeal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Amy Howe covers the Supreme Court’s order for this blog. Additional coverage comes from Brent Kendall at The Wall Street Journal, Josh Gerstein at Politico, Adam Liptak in The New York Times, Richard Wolf at USA Today, Robert Barnes in The Washington Post, Greg Stohr at Bloomberg, Lyle Denniston at his eponymous blog, Lawrence Hurley at Reuters, Pete Williams at NBC News, Ariane de Vogue at CNN, and Gary Gately at Talk Media News. In The Economist, Steven Mazie observes that the “paper-and-ink volley” in the parties’ briefs was not “fought in polite, lawyerly terms.” At Take Care, Joshua Matz argues that “[t]he Supreme Court is now a co-owner and co-author of the travel ban,” and that “with that position comes major institutional risk to the Supreme Court’s public legitimacy.”


  • In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Ben Feuer argues that the “level of speculation, fear and dramatic suspense” sparked by Supreme Court retirement rumors “is a sign that the stakes of Supreme Court appointments are simply too high,” and endorses a proposal “that Supreme Court justices should serve 18-year terms, with a new judge appointed every two years.”
  • At Supreme Court Brief (subscription required), Tony Mauro reports on turnover at the U.S. solicitor general’s office, noting that [t]wo lawyers are leaving … for private practice, two have joined from private firms, and more departures and hires are likely before the fall term begins in October.”
  • In an op-ed for The Hill, Samuel Green weighs in on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the “critical civil rights case” of “a cake artistnamed Jack Phillips who politely declined to create a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage because of his Christian beliefs about marriage”; Green argues that “freedom-lovers of all political stripes and orientations should root for Jack in his struggle against tyranny.”
  • In an op-ed for The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse considers Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, in which the justices held that “a church had a constitutional right to be considered on the same basis as secular institutions for a state grant to improve the safety of its preschool playground,” noting that the effect of an “odd” footnote seeming to limit the court’s holding “that doesn’t even speak for a majority of the nine-member court” “depends on what the lower courts make of it.”

Remember, we rely exclusively on our readers to send us links for our round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at]

The post Thursday round-up appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

The Connective Tissue of Our Movements for Change [Guest Post]

Rockwood Leadership - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 21:30


“But I would like to advance the radical notion that providing care is work. By work, I mean it’s just that: work. I would like to state for the record that we are building and maintaining movements when we are texting to make sure someone is ok, talk on the phone for hours, talk shit on the couch, drop off a little care. Those things are not a sideline or an afterthought to our movements. They are our movements.” ~ Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, “A Modest Proposal For A Fair Trade Emotional Labor Economy: A Proposal About Care Labor For Everyone”

Seven years ago, at the Art of Leadership for Women in Racial Justice & Human Rights, I stood in front of a room of leaders from all over the United States and delivered my Vision Stand speech.

The speech went okay, and my cohort was supportive, but I didn’t feel like I’d “nailed it.”

The truth was that I did not yet know what my vision was. However, later that day, I found out.

Our next assignment was to organize a party to celebrate the training’s end. We designed a talent show, selected songs, and made up games. I enthusiastically took on the role of strategic planner and space creator.

At the party, Rockwood’s president Akaya Windwood took me aside and said, “When you were giving your speech, it was as though you were somewhere else. But now, I see you. Here you are, and what a gift you are!”

Creating healing space and facilitating sacred connection is one of my greatest gifts. Until my Rockwood training, however, this superpower was largely invisible to me. Why?

The truth is, systems of oppression value a certain kind of leadership, and too often we reinforce this value in our movements for change.

Many of us do not fit into the role of community organizer, charismatic leader at the rally, or activist linking arms in front of the capital. In fact, that type of work can be inaccessible, particularly to those of us who have experienced trauma, have families, or have disabilities.

But valuing certain kinds of leadership over others doesn’t just affect who shows up for protests:

  • Racism and white supremacy devalue and silence the leadership, experience, and history of people of color. In our movements, this manifests as a leadership gap, a lack of anti-racism training for white leaders, and the over-reliance on people of color to bring attention to issues of racism.
  • Capitalism encourages disconnecting our work lives from our personal lives. This looks like a staff retreat with zero time to rest and relax, or a shared organizational value that self-care should happen outside of the workday.
  • Patriarchy contributes to the invisibilization of historically unpaid “women’s work,” like emotional labor, time/attention spent on group dynamics or process, and domestic/physical needs (like food and childcare). This shows up as a group never taking time out to celebrate birthdays or acknowledge grief, or a work environment that makes it dangerous or uncomfortable to show weakness or emotion.

Our leadership and our movements need love, song, connection, poetry, dance parties, spiritual sustenance, accountable partnerships, healing, and so much more. When we ignore the value of this type of leadership within our movements, we remain inflexible, limited in our imaginations, and unable to move through the real divides that a world of oppression boxes us into.

There are many examples of leadership that values these things alongside direct action. Fannie Lou Hamer sang to weary civil rights workers. Septima Clark and Bernice Robinson organized citizenship schools in the south. In my own town of Louisville, KY, Elmer’s social justice ministry holds spiritual care space for immigrant families who are being targeted by ICE. Tufara Waller Muhammad, one of my mentors, influences thousands of organizers to center spirit, culture, and art in how we show up for collective liberation.

These women and men, and the many others doing similar work, are the connective tissue of our movements for change.

Let’s expand the definition of how we show up for liberation and the idea of what kind of leadership is needed. Let’s bring our full selves to our words, exchanges, relationships, and work, inside and out.

More Resources:


Do you center care, provide healing space, center spirit, art, and/or love in your work for change? Join us at Liberation School, a nine-month holistic healing school for changemakers who believe care and love are central for how we must lead. Applications are due by July 1, so apply now.

Jardana Peacock directs Liberation School. She is a spiritual teacher and writer. She has worked with thousands of changemakers globally to address trauma individually and collectively through healing from an anti-oppression lens. Stay connected:

Categories: Research

Alum News Round-Up: June 2017

Rockwood Leadership - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 16:36

Rockwood has thousands of alums doing incredible work all over the world, so it’s no surprise they often pop up in the news. If you’re an alum, keep us updated!

  • Andrea Cristina Mercado was named Executive Director of the New Florida Majority:

    “Andrea is the kind the extraordinary leader that NewFM needs to build on Gihan’s groundbreaking legacy. In her work at NDWA and throughout her career, Andrea has demonstrated deep political and ideological alignment with NewFM, including a strong focus on racial justice. She has proven experience as an organizational leader, manager and fundraiser, with an ability to build and lead at a significant scale and get real results.”

  • Linda Sarsour was a guest on Comedy Central’s The President Show (requires login to view).
  • Cristina Jimenez and Nikki Fortunato Bas co-wrote a piece for Colorlines, “No, The Anti-Immigrant Border Wall Isn’t the Infrastructure Project Americans Voted For”:

    “Building a wall and expanding the deportation machine is not the infrastructure our country’s working families voted for or need. Three major polls have shown that the wall is wildly unpopular among Americans. At least 13 companies have publicly said they will not compete for the wall project, including five of the largest 25 design-build firms in the country. And officials in at least eight states and four cities have proposed legislation to keep local funds from going to companies that support construction of the border wall. Despite this clear objection to dividing families, Trump is using the budget fight happening now to push Congress to devote still more money to detention centers and deportations.”

  • Ai-Jen Poo wrote a response in The Atlantic to its hugely viral piece “My Family’s Slave” by the late Alex Tizon, titled “Lola Wasn’t Alone”:

    “But I can tell you, having worked with domestic workers since the mid-1990s, that extraordinary acts of cruelty are unfortunately not limited to people of any one culture. To the contrary, completely ordinary people can be incredibly cruel when they have a decided power advantage and no checks on their power. There is a known pattern of abuse with foreign diplomats and professionals who import “help” from their home countries, but Americans enslave people too. There is a deep history of these arrangements among families at the U.S.-Mexico border where U.S. citizens regularly exploit the insecure citizenship status of workers by forcing them to clean, cook, and take care of children and elders. And across the country, community organizers have encountered enslaved and exploited domestic workers in city after city.”

  • Julia Bacha gave the commencement speech for Columbia University’s School of General Studies:

    “Remind yourself of the power that you all carry inherently inside of you and the responsibility that comes with it. Where you turn your attention every day has consequences for the world you live in,” she said. “We all carry the power to bring that forth. By changing the way we look at the world, we can change it.”

  • Opal Tometi wrote a piece for Time, “Trump Admin’s Haiti Emails Perpetuate the Myth of the ‘Black Criminal’”:

    “The U.S. has long characterized Haitian immigrants as criminals. Haitians are subjected to a U.S. immigration policy that is particularly unusual. The tradition of labeling Haitians as lawbreakers began in 1963 when the first boat of Haitians seeking political asylum was summarily rejected by U.S. immigration officials, while at the same time the U.S. admitted thousands of Cubans as refugees and political asylum-seekers. This practice continues with the detaining and deporting of Haitians in disproportionate numbers. The U.S. has exported these punitive, anti-Haitian practices throughout the Caribbean by training immigration enforcement officers in the region and directly supporting the building of border walls and detention centers in the Dominican Republic. The U.S.’ refusal to acknowledge the plight of displaced Haitians and maintaining inhumane practices of neglect, disrespect and violence amounts to a gross violation of human rights.”

  • Rajasvini Bhansali shared stories from Thousand Currents’ (formerly IDEX) partners with Alliance Magazine:

    “Raising resources is not easy. Building alliances and deepening relationships takes time. Our artists remind us if we emphasize joy, then we will move forward and more creatively with our work. Being vulnerable means being open to change. It means we can see the magic unfold.”

  • Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, with their Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, were awarded the Sydney Peace Prize:

    “Last year’s recipient, Naomi Klein, said Cullors, Garza and Tometi “embody the core principle of the Sydney peace prize: that there will never be peace without real justice”.

    “This is an inspired, bold and urgent choice – and it’s exactly what our moment of overlapping global crises demands,” Klein said.

  • Malkia Cyril was featured in a Washington Post article on activists and smartphone surveillance:

    “Their fears go beyond the change in the White House. The Justice Department’s announcement in April that it would review police reform agreements reached during the Obama administration has heightened concerns that the federal government is sharply curtailing its oversight of state and local police forces. Many departments in recent years have expanded their capacity to track cellphones, collect massive troves of video and analyze social-media postings, yet these police forces often operate with fewer restrictions than those in effect at the federal level.”

  • Victor Narro was featured in the Los Angeles Times for his work teaching self-care practices activists across the country:

    “The project director at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center, who has organized immigrants on the front lines for decades, lately has dedicated himself to spreading the gospel of self-care to legions of overextended protesters, lawyers and outreach workers.“If you’re going to be at your best for the people you’re trying to help,” Narro tells them, “you have to take care of yourself.”

  • Kristin Schafer was named Executive Director of Pesticide Action Network North America:

    “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to lead this amazing organization,” said Schafer. “Now more than ever, PAN’s work to create meaningful change in the food and farming system is critically important. Our firm grounding in the value of independent science and our longstanding commitment to working in coalition with partners on the frontlines of industrial agriculture sets PAN apart in these challenging times.”

  • Alicia Garza gave the commencement speech at San Francisco State University:

    “Were it not for Black women, there would be no Underground Railroad, no one to campaign against Black bodies swinging from trees like strange fruit, there would be no protest songs like the ones that came from the toes through the womb up through the lungs and out of the brilliant mind and mouth of Nina Simone.”

  • Ben Jealous announced his candidacy for governor of Maryland:

    “We can grow our state, create opportunity, and leave a better future for our children,” Jealous told about 75 supporters outside Baltimore Blossoms, a Baltimore City flower shop in the Northwest neighborhood where his grandparents live. “It will not be easy, but no great undertaking ever is. But we don’t fear the challenge, rather we are up to it, we are inspired by it. . . . It is time for us to dream again and to make big dreams real again.”

  • Heather McGhee was a featured panelist on Meet The Press:

    “This is a moment of the people of the UK where they are experiencing a heightened sense of fragility walking into bars and concerts and crossing the street on the bridge and yet at the same time I know that people in the communities of color in this country are also seeing that the president and the right wing are ignoring domestic extremism in the United States … I think that there is a broad conversation to have about an administration that is tolerating right-wing extremism and hate, as well as continued threat of a war that we are continuing to not prosecute well overseas.”

Categories: Research

Alum News Round-Up: April 2017

Rockwood Leadership - Thu, 05/04/2017 - 19:47

Rockwood has thousands of alums doing incredible work all over the world, so it’s no surprise they often pop up in the news. If you’re an alum, keep us updated!

The latest from the Rockwood network:


  • Alice Horn was recently appointed to the Commission on the Status of Women by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and selected to be a Soros Equality Fellow on Racial Justice.
  • Ann Beeson wrote an op-ed about Texas politics for The New York Times:

    “Republicans have controlled all three branches of government in my home state for more than a decade. Many policies now being championed by President Trump and Congressional leaders seem old hat to Texans: defunding public education, going after immigrants, shredding the safety net. But rather than resting their boots on the table, political leaders in Texas have moved farther to the right.”


  • Eveline Chang was honored with a campus-wide UC Berkeley leader award:

    “Chang was one of the campus leaders to be named a recipient of the 2017 RISE Leader Award, which recognizes “exceptional endeavors and efforts to empower women in the Berkeley community.” The evening’s event, sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Gender Equity Resource Center, included performances, speakers, dinner and an awards ceremony at the campus’ Anna Head Alumnae Hall.”


  • Vanita Gupta was named President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:

    “At a time when our nation’s ideals and progress are being threatened in such fundamental ways, The Leadership Conference is a vital nerve center of the broad swath of civil and human rights organizations that are fighting for justice, fairness, and equality around the country,” Gupta said. “Civil and human rights work has never been easy, and these unprecedented times demand a clarity of vision, strategy, and solidarity that the Leadership Conference coalition is uniquely positioned to champion. I am honored and humbled to take on this essential work to guarantee that justice and equality apply to every individual as we struggle to be a more perfect union and remain a beacon for hope in the world.”


  • Tracy Van Slyke, Taryn Higashi, and the team at Unbound Philanthropy announced Pop Culture Collaborative, a new philanthropic resource to expand the landscape of pop culture narratives of people of color, immigrants, refugees, & Muslims:

    “We need to raise the bar for what we want narratives to do in our culture and to offer audiences new ways of experiencing stories and each other. Together, we have the power to help audiences and our nation imagine the more humane and just future we want to live in.”


  • Heather McGheeAlicia GarzaCarmen BerkleyLinda Sarsour, and Opal Tometi were all included on the Essence Woke 100 Women list.
  • Jennifer Lentfer wrote a piece for The Guardian about the need to rethink the term “international development,” and explored American exceptionalism in US resistance movements for the blog The Development Set:

    “Around the world, people have been fighting authoritarian governments and oligarchic regimes for lifetimes, and in some cases, for generations. Citizens in the United States have an opportunity to learn from the visionary leadership of women, youth, and Indigenous people around the world.”


  • Ai-Jen Poo and Alicia Garza co-wrote “Women Will Fight Trump’s Agenda for the Next 100 Days , Too” for Cosmopolitan:

    “Women of color are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and women are the fastest-growing group of incarcerated people in this country. But rather than continuing vital reforms in our criminal justice system, Trump has continually touted a return to “law and order,” an agenda that would expand laws that criminalize black families while letting police departments off the hook. Some families face double jeopardy — they are criminalized for being black and immigrant.”


  • Amy Hagstrom Miller was quoted in an article about the reopening of three Texas abortion facilities after last year’s ruling by the Supreme Court:

    “Austin is where Whole Woman’s Health got our start in 2003, and we are grateful that our win in the Supreme Court last year on behalf of all Texans has allowed us to take the lead in reopening Texas clinics.”


  • Linda Sarsour was named one of Time‘s “100 Most Influential People” for her work as one of the Women’s March co-chairs.
  • Aaron Dorfman and Cathy Cha co-wrote a piece with Jacqueline Martinez Garcel and Lateefah Simon about the questions philanthropy should ask in the Trump era for the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

    “This is a time to consider increasing our investments in institutions led by women and people of color and in efforts to bring more of the people most affected by structural and institutional racism into the leadership of our movement for social change. As the country’s demographics continue to shift, it is critical that foundations take stock of who, not just what, we’re investing in.”


  • Rajasvini Bhansali was interviewed by Philanthropy Women:

    “Typically, a non-profit will itself try to measure whether it is meeting its program objectives and goals, or have a third party conduct such an audit. But [Thousand Currents] took a different approach. “We had our grantee partners evaluate our effectiveness as an organization,” says Bhansali.”


Categories: Research