Keep Promise to Military Recruits

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

The United States lauds its military members and veterans, only to let them down when it comes to delivering on health care and additional obligations.

President Donald Trump promises strong support for the armed forces and veterans.

“I pledge my unwavering support for you, for your families and your missions. I will always have your back,” Trump said during a Fourth of July military-appreciation speech on the South Lawn of the White House.

A Pentagon recommendation to cancel contracts with thousands of recruits strains that pledge.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis holds the proposal — and the future of legal-immigrant military specialists — in his hands.

The armed forces recruited the specialists for their education, ability and knowledge in particular fields, including medicine, language and computer science. In exchange for military service, the recruits were to become U.S. citizens.

The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, under which they were promised citizenship for service, has fallen out of favor under the Trump administration.

EVE OF DISGRACE

Mattis and Trump should support MAVNI. To do otherwise would make a mockery of the military.

Of 4,200 recruits whose status is uncertain, about 1,000 face deportation if the program is revoked.

The Pentagon and Trump bureaucracies dawdled, allowing residency permits to lapse. Those permits would have been moot, had the government kept its word to put the recruits in service.

The proposal from the Pentagon to Mattis expresses concern over “the potential threat posed by individuals who may have a higher risk of connections to foreign intelligence services,” reports National Public Radio. The Pentagon says this makes the MAVNI program too risky.

The record says otherwise.

Trauma surgeon Kusuma Nio was selected to be part of a U.S. Army Reserve deployment to Afghanistan in May, reports Stars and Stripes. Nio’s citizenship ceremony was postponed April 13, with no new date set. Nio said the Citizenship Immigration Services told him the Department of Defense has suspended all such agreements. He was not allowed to ship out with his unit, the 1st Forward Surgical Team of New York.

Nio was born in Indonesia. He trained in surgery and earned his doctorate at the University of Minnesota. He lives in Springfield, Illinois.

He is trusted and relied upon to carry out civilian emergency-surgery work in a Level 1 trauma center. His medical-trauma abilities match the great need for military surgeons in Afghanistan.

Like Nio, Ameya Kulkarni of Pittsburgh drills with the Army Reserve — in his case, the 340th Engineer Company. Kulkarni is a software engineer for an information-management company in the city.

He enlisted in March 2016 under a MAVNI agreement, reports the Tribune-Review of Warrendale, Pennsylvania.

Progress halted when Kulkarni’s recruiter told him the Army plans to subject him to a counterintelligence review.

That is counterintuitive. Kulkarni told the Tribune-Review that he passed a Tier 5 security-clearance investigation. Tier 5 is the top security level. It includes clearance for critical-sensitive, special-sensitive and top-secret material.

In 2008, Kulkarni traveled from his native India to study computer science at the University of Florida. He graduated with a master’s degree in 2010 and moved to Pittsburgh in 2015.

“I would like to contribute in the field of military intelligence or cybersecurity,” Kulkarni said.

WRONGHEADED CONCERN

The Department of Defense “ordered ‘extreme vetting’ of MAVNIs and told USCIS not to naturalize any MAVNIs until the vetting was complete,” program creator Margaret Stock told the Tribune-Review. USCIS is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“At the same time, DOD says it doesn’t have the resources to do the vetting that was ordered,” Stock said. “Hence, no MAVNI can ship to training and no MAVNI can get naturalized.”

Stock drew up the MAVNI program in 2007, during the administration of President George W. Bush. She presented it to the Pentagon. Stock ran the program in 2008, under the new administration of President Barack Obama. She did so for a one-year pilot with 1,000 recruits, after which the program reached full status. MAVNI has brought in about 10,400 recruits since 2009.

Stock is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and an immigration lawyer in Alaska. She has three degrees from Harvard University and another from the U.S. Army War College. She taught law at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Worry over security risks with MAVNI recruits is exaggerated, Stock told NPR. “If you were a bad guy who wanted to infiltrate the Army, you wouldn’t risk the many levels of vetting required in this program.”

Mattis, the defense secretary who is a retired Marine general, must know that the history of incorporating noncitizens into the armed forces goes back to the nation’s first days. In World War I, 20 percent of those in the military were noncitizens.

Security make sense, but not to the point of casting one’s feet in concrete. Consider that citizens and holders of green cards — noncitizens who are classified as permanent residents — can serve in the armed forces without any of the scrutiny proposed for the MAVNI recruits.

Mattis should follow his training and experience. Trump should keep his promise to back up the military.

They should continue the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, with a workable level of security investigation. Any opposing decision would dishonor the military and the nation.

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Nuclear-Safety Secrets Endanger Public

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Our most destructive weapon is the nuclear bomb. Rigorous procedures for care and storage make the complicated weapon difficult to maintain safely.

To protect the nation and set an example for the world, the United States should publicize safety records for nuclear weapons. It should do so as the inventor of the atomic bomb, as the leader in weaponry and to set a verifiable safety standard for the few countries that have nuclear bombs.

The Pentagon has done the opposite.

In March, the office of Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued an instruction to classify the results of nuclear inspections, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The new policy will make certain that “as long as nuclear weapons exist, the U.S. will maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear stockpile,” said the Joint Chiefs’ spokesman, Navy Capt. Greg Hicks.

Nonsense. With the people of the U.S. blocked from knowledge of the military’s nuclear-safety performance, they will have no facts — no leverage — to use when imploring their representatives, senators and president to protect them from dangerous stockpile practices.

WITNESS

History shows the need for keeping the public’s eye on nuclear-weapon safety.

In 1980, a Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile exploded in its underground silo outside of rural Damascus, Arkansas. A crew member working on the missile dropped an eight-pound socket for a wrench. It fell 80 feet before hitting the missile’s fuel tank and puncturing it. Fuel spewed in an incendiary cloud of vapor. Poor communication and disjointed decision-making delayed repair efforts. The missile exploded 8½ hours later. Its 9 megaton nuclear warhead flew 600 feet and landed 100 feet from the compound’s gate. One Air Force member was killed and 21 were injured. In 1978, a large cloud of toxic oxidizer escaped the same silo and drifted over U.S. Highway 65.

In 2011 at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, a promotional effort broke one of the cardinal rules of nuclear safety. Los Alamos Lab created the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb. Despite that history and the deep knowledge of many at the lab, technicians lined up eight plutonium rods side-by-side for a photograph. Such rods must always be kept apart to avoid spontaneous fission that can result in a lethal flash of radiation. Thankfully, a supervisor stumbled across the photo shoot and put a stop to it. However, the manner in which the display was dismantled increased the danger. The lab halted its handling of plutonium in 2013 to retrain its workers on safety standards.

In June, Los Alamos Lab shipped weapon-related nuclear material to California and South Carolina by air transport, reported the National Nuclear Safety Administration. Such shipments should be sent by ground transport to avoid loss of containment. In 1994, an Army depot in California sent plutonium to the lab by FedEx air shipment. In 2005, a FedEx package sent by a Los Alamos Lab researcher to a Pennsylvania lab resulted in radioactive contamination from the americium within.

Many reports about nuclear-weapon materiel not under military control remain open to the public because of oversight by separate governmental agencies. The Pentagon should understand that forthright safety information benefits the public and leads to improved security.

INDEPENDENT STUDY

Many more examples of dangerous circumstances at nuclear-weapon stockpiles and laboratories have been documented. The Pentagon’s secrecy effort will blind the public to future risks.

“Trust and confidence of the people is the coin of the realm for leaders and nations,” former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the AP. “That requires an openness, even on sensitive issues. Certain specifics must always stay classified for national-security reasons but should be classified only when absolutely necessary. When you close down information channels and stop the flow of information, you invite questions, distrust and investigations.”

In 2014, problems with nuclear-weapon safety led Hagel to order an independent study to find solutions.

Despite Hagel’s warnings against secrecy, the new policy classifying safety results has a connection to the study he commissioned.

In conjunction with the study, the Pentagon recommended in 2014 that the Air Force “adopt the Navy’s policy” of classifying the results of nuclear-weapon inspections, said Hicks, the Joint Chief’s spokesman.

Besides Hagel, who commented on governmental secrecy generally, the AP spoke with an independent expert.

“The new policy fails to distinguish between protecting valid secrets and shielding incompetence,” said Steven Aftergood, who specializes in governmental secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists. “Clearly, nuclear-weapon-technology secrets should be protected. But negligence or misconduct in handling nuclear weapons should not be insulated from public accountability.”

The Pentagon knows that classifying the results of nuclear-weapon-safety evaluations protects no information of value from enemies. It only averts the eyes of those it serves: the people of the United States. In military parlance, this is a CYA maneuver.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Dunford should order all military nuclear-weapon-safety results to be made public.

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Put Independence to Work

John Adams

John Adams

The idea for Independence Day appeared in a three-page letter of July 3, 1776, from John Adams to Abigail Adams.

Adams wrote that the event “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade; with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations; from one end of this continent to the other; from this time forward forever more.”

So it has, on July Fourth. Never mind that John Adams wrote to his wife that the celebrated day should be July Second.

The second would have memorialized the day in 1776 when the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia signed a resolution of independence.

Two days later, Congress signed the Declaration of Independence — on July 4, 1776. The declaration spelled out the rationale for liberating the colonies from Great Britain and going their own way as the “thirteen United States of America.”

The declaration was distributed widely and embraced.

Thus, the holiday date. Happy Fourth of July.

USURPATION

A trend against independence brings no celebration to Americans starting new jobs. Workers are tied down by a rapidly spreading stricture: the noncompete clause.

The purpose is to lock employees into a single company for their type of work in the local region or beyond.

The clause, which also goes by the name of noncompete agreement and covenant not to compete, usually hides within a stack of employment forms. One fills out and signs such paperwork on the first day of a new job.

Sometimes the clause is presented as part of a contract. New owners of a business can foist a noncompete clause on workers during “rehiring,” despite having held the same jobs for years under previous owners without restriction. The clause can apply to permanent or temporary positions.

However presented, a noncompete clause’s trigger mechanism and outcome are the same: Leave one company for a new job with a competing company before a waiting period of six months to two years, and a lawsuit against you and your new employer will arrive before you settle in.

Noncompete clauses are used by 21 percent of companies with more than 5,000 employees and 12 percent of companies with fewer than 25 employees, says a paper by professors at the University of Maryland and the University of Michigan.

The American freedom to choose one’s employment is as old as the nation.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are “unalienable rights” spelled out in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson drafted the declaration at the urging of John Adams. Both were delegates to the Second Continental Congress. Adams was the second U.S. president. Jefferson was the third president.

CEO TO SANDWICH-MAKER

Once, the practice of requiring a noncompete clause was limited to a position such as chief executive officer or membership on a company’s board of directors. These are among several top-of-pyramid roles involved with the strategy of a company, which is often secret. In many companies, those few people are compensated greatly. They are provided a compensatory cushion to depart in luxury and, after a rejuvenating break, flourish elsewhere.

Now, noncompete clauses appear in the paperwork for new employees such as middle managers, fast-food workers and laborers. This restrictive practice has spread to the bottom of the employment pyramid. Neither strategic secrets nor necessity reside in this broad base.

Noncompete clauses result in workers avoiding new jobs, ignoring new opportunities.

Contract-happy employers run rampant over job-needy workers across the nation, except in California. The state bans noncompete clauses. Limitations have been considered by other states but are few.

EXPERIENCE

One might expect a noncompete prohibition to mute competition between companies. History shows otherwise.

Silicon Valley, an area of California south of San Francisco, is known for high-tech innovation and wealth. The valley enables entrepreneurs to establish companies. Some fail, but a good number expand like the big bang.

This approach is not angelic: Apple and Google were caught in a 2005-2009 pay-fixing pact to stop engineers and programmers from switching companies. Nonetheless, Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial companies continue to emerge and blossom under California’s ban on noncompete clauses.

Choosing one’s course and determining one’s future are liberties that define the American Way. Most people make their income from companies. When companies use noncompete clauses, they stifle freedom as a way to make workers dependent.

In the name of liberty, all states — if not Congress or a federal court — should ban noncompete clauses. Nothing could be more un-American than restricting one’s independence.

Adapted from “Protect Liberty of Job Choice.”

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Turn Democrats Upside Down

Karen Handel, R, winner of Georgia's 6th District U.S. House seat.

Karen Handel, R, winner of Georgia's 6th District U.S. House seat.

Democrats hoped to win special elections for the U.S. House of Representatives this year. Tuesday in Georgia, Republican Karen Handel won the 6th District House seat.

Republicans have skunked Democrats in 2017. During this year of Trump, they have lost four of four special elections for which the previous House members were Republican.

Georgia was the largest Democratic effort, with $23 million spent by the party’s candidate, Jon Ossoff. He did not help by living outside the district. The fact that much of his funding came from outside the area detracted too.

Indeed, Ossoff’s outsider issues reinforced the impression of Democratic smugness. For instance, no law requires a House member to live in the district represented, but common sense says a representative should. Too often, Democrats lord their view of themselves over their view of Republicans, particularly Trump supporters.

Democrats should turn themselves upside down. They should look upward for inspiration — practically speaking — from Republicans and especially from Trump supporters.

Handel’s victory is proof. She won 51.9 percent to Ossoff’s 48.1 percent, a difference of 3.8 points. This was the most expensive House race in history, with more than $50 million spent.

Never mind that the presidency of Donald Trump has been error-prone and unsubstantial since Jan. 20, when the new president insisted that his inauguration’s crowd size was monumental despite photographs showing the opposite.

Among the president’s real troubles are carrying no legislation of note from proposal to approval; staff turmoil; investigations of impropriety, which include a special counsel; and an early morning habit of writing on Twitter. Even within his core, many wish he would lay off the often-contradictory tweets.

The operative words are “never mind.” Despite an overall approval rating in polls of 40 percent or less for the better part of a month, those who support Trump — his core — do so with dedication and enthusiasm.

They do not want to be told what to think about the president or much of anything else. Many beyond the Trump core characterize this outlook as “don’t confuse me with facts.”

These gazes from above simply stiffen Trump’s supporters. The concrete of their foundation is strong down at ground level.

Such faith keeps the Trump movement rolling like a tank against small arms. Day-to-day Democrats should learn from the president’s core. They should discover that it is they as a broad group — not party tiptops — who need to pull the movement together, set its priorities and make its choices.

The Democrats can argue that their losing streak is explainable. Republicans had held all the seats. In the case of the 6th District, Republicans had held it since Newt Gingrich’s victory in 1978.

The arrogance exposed by Ossoff’s outsider problems, however, is not arguable.

It was an easy target for a Trump tweet in which he stated his view on Ossoff’s positions, then nailed him by saying he “doesn’t even live in district.”

Likewise, Handel’s final-week TV ad “About You” packed a powerful punchline in its final three paragraphs:

“My opponent doesn’t live here, doesn’t share our values.

“He’s raised millions outside of Georgia from Nancy Pelosi and outsiders who just don’t share our priorities.

“He wants to make it about them. It should be about you.”

Democrats think they are the teachers. Instead, they should become students. Rather than looking down on Trump’s supporters and other Republicans, they should look up and learn.

The pendulum will swing, as it always has, but time could drag.

If Democrats hope to speed the movement, they will start at the bottom and construct their future from a foundation of shared strength. Momentum will build, as their opponents have shown.

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Trump Digs Presidential Grave

President Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump.

For more than a month, President Donald Trump has dug a legal hole so deep that he has trapped himself. Shovelfuls of self-inflicted errors could cost Trump his office.

With a pledge to testify under oath about the events connected to his firing of FBI Director James Comey, Trump continues to excavate his presidential grave one scoop of dirt after another.

On May 9, Trump fired Comey.

In a letter to Comey that day, Trump wrote he had received “letters from the attorney general and the deputy attorney general of the United States recommending your dismissal as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have accepted their recommendation, and you are hereby terminated.”

On May 10 in the White House, Trump told two top Russian officials that he fired the FBI director to eliminate “great pressure” he faced “because of Russia.” The FBI’s investigation into possible connections between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government was the highest-level case overseen by Comey.

On May 11, Trump told Lester Holt of “NBC Nightly News” that, when he fired Comey, he did not rely on the recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “I was going to fire Comey — my decision,” Trump said, adding, “I was going to fire, regardless of recommendation.”

His reason for firing Comey, Trump told Holt: “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.’”

On May 12, Trump wrote on Twitter, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

On June 8, Comey testified under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his firing by President Trump, including related events before and after.

Comey said that at the end of a Feb. 14 counterterrorism meeting in the Oval Office, Trump dismissed the other participants, including Sessions, and spoke with him alone about Michael Flynn. Trump had fired Flynn from his position of national security adviser the day before.

Trump asked him to halt investigation into Flynn’s Russian interactions, Comey said, quoting Trump: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

“I’ve seen the tweet about tapes,” Comey told the committee. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”

“The president surely knows if he taped me,” Comey added. “If he did, my feelings aren’t hurt. Release all of the tapes. I’m good with it.”

On June 9, Trump held a joint news conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in the Rose Garden.

A reporter asked about Comey’s statement that the president told him to let Flynn go. “I didn’t say that,” Trump said.

“So he lied about that?” the reporter asked.

“Well, I didn’t say that. I mean, I will tell you I didn’t say that,” Trump said.

The reporter asked: “So, he said those things under oath. Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of those events?”

“One hundred percent,” Trump said.

The reporter asked, “When will you tell us about the recordings?”

“Over a fairly short period of time,” Trump said.

“Are there tapes?” the reporter asked.

“Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don't worry,” Trump said.

Since his appointment May 17 by Rosenstein, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has stood above the FBI, the House and the Senate, and their investigations.

Friday, Trump wrote on Twitter that he is under investigation: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director! Witch hunt.”

Trump could be right about being investigated but likely is wrong about the investigator — Rosenstein, by implication. In any case, the president can expect scrutiny.

Because of his sworn-testimony promise, Trump faces the prospect of testifying to Mueller about his Russian interactions, as well as any other actions that Mueller deems appropriate.

The president’s wide-ranging comments about the investigations and related goings-on — too often contradictory — are unlikely to escape prosecutorial examination or testimonial untangling.

Most damning is Trump’s conflict of interest in firing Comey who, at the time, oversaw the investigation into connections between Russia, and the Trump campaign and administration.

If Mueller finds truth in Comey’s account of Trump interfering with the FBI’s investigation, the lid on his presidency’s casket will close for good.

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Balance Web for Privacy, Speed

Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president software engineering.

Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president software engineering.

The World Wide Web makes written, photographic and video works available in volume and with ease that has existed for less than a generation.

This opening of media has been double-edged.

Over the past few years, the web’s clear routes of travel across a world of information have been cluttered and slowed by obtrusive advertisements. These ads block webpages and delay their display. Trackers, used by ad companies to build dossiers on readers and bolster advertising, further degrade the web.

Apple announced Monday that its next Safari web browser will include a tracking blocker this fall. This offers hope for a faster, more private web, less cluttered by such intruders. In a similar vein, reports of a Google plan to use industry standards for an ad blocker in a 2018 version of its Chrome browser could lead to reasonable presentation of advertising. This would benefit websites without obscuring the content sought by readers.

The two approaches should be encouraged and adopted by all browser-makers, and embraced by web publishers.

WEB TANGLING

As the web developed in the 1990s, publishers — particularly of printed material such as books, magazines, newspapers and photographs — found their work devalued. Why would one buy a printed version when the same material could be viewed online free and instantly?

As a result of lost income, print publishers have trimmed operations, converted to online operation or have simply gone out of business.

As publishing companies and individuals moved online, advertising appeared on most of their websites, much as they had on the pages of newspapers and magazines.

Now, in a publishing twist of which only the ever-changing internet is capable, online publishing is in the midst of its own wave of income loss.

In the early days of web publishing, ads were static. They looked and acted much like printed ads, with the exception of containing a hyperlink. Click on the linked ad, and the website for the advertiser would appear. That arrangement was simple-and-fair.

Today’s tricks result in ads and trackers that multiply file sizes by many times. As a result, not only do they increase page-load time greatly but data usage, which can be costly on smartphones. Such mobile devices are the predominant means of viewing the web now.

PRIVACY

Readers have taken back their web access by installing ad blockers in their browsers.

More than 1 in 10 use ad blockers worldwide and more than 1 in 6 use them in the United States. Internationally, usage grew 30 percent in 2016. Many ad blockers also block trackers.

Whether motivated by desperation or greed, publishers that overindulge in web ads and trackers find their income plummeting. These poor decisions also have diminished well-behaved websites. Readers have blocked the ads and trackers of gluttonous sites, or moved on.

Information is vital for readers, but ease of use is paramount.

Monday, Apple announced intelligent tracking prevention for the next version of its Safari browser. The updated browser is scheduled to arrive in new mobile and computer operating systems this fall, the company announced during its World Wide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. Safari is the second-most-popular web browser. It is used in iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch mobile devices, and in Mac computers.

“Have you ever had this experience where you go to buy something on the web? You even complete the purchase, and then it seems like everywhere you go on the web, it just follows you around,” said Craig Federighi, senior vice president software engineering. “It kind of feels like you’re being tracked. That’s because you are.”

Apple’s approach is to find trackers on webpages and halt their movement. Using machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence that allows computers to draw their own conclusions and act upon them, Safari will prevent tracking beyond the website viewed, protecting privacy.

In our testing, we found popular websites with over 70 such trackers, all silently collecting data on users.
— John Wilander, Apple browser-security engineer

Another Apple engineer explained the steps.

“Imagine a user who first browses example-products.com for a new gadget and later browses example-recipies.com for dinner ideas,” said John Wilander, an Apple browser-security engineer, Monday on the WebKit blog. WebKit is an open-source organization created by Apple. It develops the foundational programing code on which Safari runs and makes it available to others.

Under many circumstances, Wilander said, “the owner of example-tracker.com has the ability to know that the user visited both the product website and the recipe website, what they did on those sites, what kind of web browser was used” and more.

“In our testing, we found popular websites with over 70 such trackers, all silently collecting data on users,” he said.

Additionally, Apple said Monday that it will block automatic playing of videos in the fall version of Safari.

STANDARDS

Google is planning not only to build an ad blocker into its Chrome browser in 2018 but also to base its ad blocking on a set of industry standards, reported The Wall Street Journal on April 19. Chrome, the most popular web browser, is available for nearly all mobile devices and computers.

Google is expected to follow standards released March 22 by the Coalition for Better Ads, The Journal reported. The coalition contains advertisers, ad providers and ad associations.

Among the ad types rejected by the standards are “pop-up ads, prestitial ads, ads with density greater than 30 percent, flashing animated ads, autoplay video ads with sound, poststitial ads with countdown, full-screen scrollover ads and large sticky ads.” A prestitial ad, usually full-page, loads before the home page. A poststitial ad, usually full-page, loads at the end, during credits. A scrollover ad is full-page and must be scrolled through completely before the website can be seen.

The Journal reported June 1 that Google has told publishers it will give them notice of six months before releasing its built-in ad blocker and will provide a program to test ads to see if Chrome will block them.

Skepticism over Google’s ad blocker, and its motivation for it, is reasonable. Google is one of the web’s top advertising companies. Advertising made up 88 percent of the revenue for Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, in 2016. Chrome’s ad blocker will not stop ad trackers or all types of ads, The Journal reported. Most add-on blocking programs are comprehensive. Also, skepticism is warranted for the ad-industry makeup of the Coalition for Better Ads.

Nonetheless, the standards are a good start.

All makers of web browsers — especially Microsoft with its Edge browser and Mozilla with its Firefox browser — should follow the lead of Apple by blocking trackers and autoplay videos. Google should follow through on its standard-based ad-blocking effort, as should other browser-makers, including Apple.

Advertisers cannot be relied upon to stop their race to the bottom. Nor can publishers that allow outlandish, counterproductive ads and trackers on their websites. Stave-off-the-creditors desperation is understandable but not an excuse. Greed is unacceptable. Advertisements that turn away readers or lead them to block all ads must be eliminated for production of useful web content to thrive.

Balanced-but-firm standards must be used in web browsers and by advertisers to strike a useful balance between web users and web publishers.

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