CA Legislators Want Russian Election Influence Taught to High Schoolers

hacking-skill-for-future.w654In the wake of a turbulent election season and a disturbing new study on the credulity of many political news consumers, a handful of California legislators have put forward new bills designed to ensure the state’s public schools make students aware that not everything purporting to be factual reportage is as true or unbiased as it seems. Although “fake news” has swiftly become a recognized problem, it has also become a political football — a label with which to swiftly discredit opponents or undermine criticism.

Wave of worry

“A bill from Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, will ask the state to adopt high school history curricula based on a recent national intelligence assessment that Russia tried to influence the election by producing fake news and hacking into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” the San Jose Mercury News reported. “Another bill, introduced last week by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would require schools to teach children ‘media literacy’ — including how to tell the difference between ‘fake news’ and real news.”

“During the final, critical months of the 2016 presidential campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax websites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions and comments on social media,” SB135 read, according to the paper.

Additionally, lawmakers will consider a companion “fake news” bill, AB155, introduced by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, which “would require the state to establish curriculum standards and frameworks to teach ‘civic online reasoning’ to middle- and high-schoolers,” as the Washington Post reported.

“Ordinary people once relied on publishers, editors and subject matter experts to vet the information they consumed, but information shared on the internet is disseminated rapidly and often without editorial oversight, making it easier for fake news to reach a large audience,” his bill suggested. “When fake news is repeated, it becomes difficult for the public to discern what’s real,” Gomez said in a statement, according to the paper. “These attempts to mislead readers,” he warned, “pose a direct threat to our democracy.”

From bias to ignorance

The line has blurred in recent years between factual reporting and deliberately misleading or partial content, with partisans on opposite ends of the ideological divide hurling contending accusations. In addition to fears that outside propaganda could impact voting patterns at home, the credibility of both mainstream and alternative outlets — online and off — has come under question.

So too has the responsiveness of American schools and universities to the problem and its sources, which reach deeper than partisan preferences or agendas. “In November, a Stanford University study found that 82 percent of high school students surveyed could not distinguish between a reported news story and an advertisement,” the Guardian observed. “During last year’s election, rumors and false reports spread widely, and in the aftermath of the vote partisans began to accuse each other of propagating ‘fake news.’” In introducing his legislation, Gomez invoked the Stanford report as reason for action:

“President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump have both denounced ‘fake news’ in recent weeks, to different purposes. In November, Obama warned that democracies would be threatened by the spread of misinformation and false reports, and by the discrediting of once trusted news sources. This week, Trump seized on the phrase ‘fake news’ to characterize unsubstantiated allegations about him, blaming BuzzFeed and CNN in particular.”

The debate over what counts as fake news, and who gets to decide, has helped ensure that California’s new bills won’t sail through the Legislature without at least some criticism. State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, for instance, called Levine’s bill “petty” and “showmanship.”

“I’d just be happy if we taught kids how to read and write and do arithmetic,” he told the Mercury News.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

CA Democrats Want to Unionize and Regulate Models

modelsMarin County Democrat Assemblyman Marc Levine is moving forward legislation aimed at unionizing models and having the Labor Commission regulate their bodies.

Despite strong objections from state theatrical talent and modeling agencies, Levine sponsored Assembly Bill 2539, referred to as “Promoting Healthy Images,” which recently passed out of Committee on Labor and Employment on a five-to-two vote and is headed to the State Assembly floor.

Although Levine claims his legislation is part of the “struggle” to protect women’s health, the real struggle he is focused on is the “struggle” to rescue the collapsing union movement. Levine’s legislation is aimed at converting models from independent contractors into employees of modeling agencies licensed by the California Labor Commission.

California, with 2.4 million union members out of a population of 38.8 million, has the largest number of unionized workforce members in the United States, and the second largest unionized percentage of the workforce at 16.3 percent, second only to New York at 24.6 percent.

When 36.1 percent of California’s workforce was unionized fifty years ago, there were almost no government union members. But the state’s public sector union membership now equals 1.3 million, while private sector union membership has fallen to just 1.1 million.

According to the “On Labor blog,” which represents “workers, unions, and their politics,” there is a “current crisis in the traditional union movement” that can only be turned around with “new and contested forms of worker organization that are filling the labor union gap.”

That “contested form of worker organization” is the effort to unionize so called “gig economy,” which has been revolutionizing employer/employee relationships by shifting what has traditionally been considered full-time work into a series of short-term engagements filled by legally contracted individuals as “free agents.”

Unions have been the main supporters of class-action litigation in northern California, O’Connor v. Uber, that seeks to eliminate Uber Technologies Inc.’s contract arbitration agreements, with the goal of unionizing 240,000 Uber drivers.

Models have always been part of this “on demand economy,” because their “work” is structured into small projects of limited duration. Although only about one percent of U.S. adults are engaged in “gig jobs,” a study by tax experts at Intuit suggests that with employee benefit costs exceeding 46 percent of wages, and workplace litigation spiking, gig employment will rise to 40 percent of employment.

At the committee hearing, Assemblyman Levine paraded through a group of ex-models who told horror stories about the use laxatives and diuretics; binging and purging; exercising to exhaustion; eating only one rice cake per day; or swallow cotton balls soaked in orange juice to fill their stomachs and stop their hunger pains.

Levine argued that fashion models face widespread and dangerous occupational demands to maintain extreme and unhealthy thinness. He stated, “We want to make sure we are able to protect people in the workplace and make sure, quite frankly, that the images that young people see are healthy images.”

Opponents of the proposed legislation include a number of modeling agencies and the Association of Talent Agents. The group argues that their member agencies are already committed to promoting the health and well-being of all artists, but that the bill “creates major disruption and legal confusion for state licensed talent agencies, doesn’t resolve the real issue, and is unworkable.”

Originally published by Breitbart.com