Archive for fcc

FCC extends deadline for public comments on #NetNeutrality

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net neutrality FCC cable John Oliver

Back in June, I posted the video below in my post, "Cable company f*ckery: If you want to do something evil, do it inside something boring." Allow me to repeat some of that post to set up this one. The video comes to us courtesy of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in which he blasts the FCC and explains why net neutrality is so important:

John Oliver explains the controversy and lets viewers know how they can voice their displeasure to the FCC.

(www.fcc.gov/comments, for any interested parties)

Oliver:

Net neutrality is actually hugely important. Essentially it means that all data has to be treated equally, no matter who creates it. It's why the Internet is a weirdly level playing field.

The point is, the Internet in its current form is not broken, and the FCC is currently taking steps to fix that.

Ending net neutrality would allow big companies to buy their way into the fast lane, leaving everyone else in the slow lane...

Consider who would benefit from this change: Cable companies... These companies have Washington in their pockets...

The guy who used to run the cable industry's lobbying arm is now running the agency tasked with regulating it. That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.

Now let's look at what's happened since that broadcast. The first thing is what many of us hoped would happen. Via The Hill: Internet access debate unleashes firestorm. Good! It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a firestorm to raise hell over maintaining net neutrality.

An avalanche of net neutrality comments have been dumped on the Federal Communications Commission, highlighting the passions stirred over whether Internet service providers like Comcast should be allowed to charge companies more money for quicker delivery of their movies and television shows.

The 670,000 comments — many of them laced with profanity — are about half the number of complaints the FCC received when Janet Jackson’s breast flashed across tens of millions of televisions on Super Bowl Sunday.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency is “mining through” the submissions from lawmakers, content providers, public interest groups and citizens who have seen fit to tell the FCC what is on their mind.

The Hill published a second article about Senate Democrats pushing the FCC to regulate the Internets like telephones:

A group of 11 senators are pressuring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider the way it regulates Internet providers.

The FCC should reclassify Internet providers to treat them like more heavily-regulated phone companies rather than proceed with Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to rewrite the agency’s net neutrality rules, the lawmakers said in a letter to Wheeler Tuesday.

Wheeler’s proposal — which critics say would allow Internet providers to charge websites for better access to users — “would end the Internet as we know it,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Tuesday, unveiling the letter.

Other signatories include Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (R-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Corey Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Nice.

I also received an email from DemandProgress.org that included:

Just wanted to make sure you saw this. There's been such an overwhelming response to the FCC's net neutrality proceeding that their website that's supposed to receive comments has CRASHED.

Where's my bell? Ah, here it is:

ding ding dingAnd just as I finished reading that email, this one came in via Politico:

The FCC is extending the deadline for initial public comments on Chairman Tom Wheeler's controversial net neutrality proposal because of trouble with the commission's online comment system, the agency announced Tuesday. The deadline was set for midnight.

See what happens when we use our voices?

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Years of Living Misogynistically

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misogyny

Syllabification: mi·sog·y·ny

Pronunciation: /məˈsäjənē

NOUN

Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women: she felt she was struggling against thinly disguised misogyny

Welcome to 2014 - the year Misogyny went mainstream. Yesterday, the highest court in the land codified women's place as second class citizens into law with its misdirected and horribly wrong decision in the Hobby Lobby case. But the five Christian men on the court took it even a further step by saying that corporations religious rights trump the rights of said corporations' actual living, breathing female employees'!

And this isn't the first time the Roberts-Alito-Scalia-Thomas-Kennedy court has ruled against women's rights, but it just might be the straw that broke the misogynistic camel's back.

Jessica Mason Pieklo, senior legal analyst at RH Reality Check, who joined me on the show this morning to talk about the mansplaining from the bench yesterday wrote about it:

Having firmly established that closely held corporations (and probably publicly traded ones as well) can assert religious objections under the RFRA, the Court turns its attention to the birth control benefit specifically.

And here is where the Court’s deeply ingrained misogyny shines brightest.

Justice Alito writes that the Hahns and the Greensthe families who, respectively, own Conestoga Wood Specialties and Hobby Lobbyhave a sincere religious belief that life begins at conception and that their religious beliefs provide both that they offer insurance coverage for their employees, but only insurance coverage that conforms to those religious beliefs. Justice Alito takes this as an opportunity to misstate the coverage requirements of the ACA. “Before the advent of the ACA, they were not legally compelled to provide insurance,” wrote Alito, “but they nevertheless did soin part, no doubt, for conventional business reasons but also in part because their religious beliefs govern their relations with their employees.”

Of course, the ACA does not require employers to provide any health insurance coverage for their employees. Instead, the law requires those employers that do provide health insurance coverage offer that coverage equally for both men and women.

This a la carte  type of coverage, where employers maintain ultimate veto authority over the scope of employee benefits, is of course the endgame to all these contraception challenges, and by opening the door to religious objections like Hobby Lobby the Court has set the stage for just that. The parties in Hobby Lobby sincerely, and wrongly, believe that emergency contraception and some forms of intrauterine devices (IUDs) act as abortifacients. But according to Alito, it doesn’t  matter that the Greens and Hahns are wrong. All that matters is that they sincerely believe they are right.

We don't have to go back any further than Thursday of last week to find another anti-female ruling from this court. Unfortunately, in McCullen v Coakely, a unanimous out-of-touch bench found that the first amendment rights of anti-choice protesters to harass, accost and assault any woman attempting to visit the doctor of her choice to have a constitutionally permitted procedure trumps that woman's first amendment rights. Brazenly misogynistic, even if the female members of the court went along with the insanity.

As Jessica Mason Pieklo also wrote, it's as if the women seeking medical care in question didn't exist at all!

The trope of anti-choice protesters as “plump grandmas” helped the media and the U.S. Supreme Court not just gloss over the very real threats of violence that abortion providers and patients face, but also erase providers and patients from the Supreme Court’s analysis almost entirely.

Since 1977, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) has documented eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 181 arson cases, 399 invasions, 100 acid attacks, and 663 bioterrorism threats targeting abortion providers and their facilities. A September 2013 survey of U.S. NAF members found that nearly 90 percent of providers had a patient entering their facility express concerns about their personal safety. At the Daily Beast, Sally Kohn reminds us that within an hour of the 1994 murders of abortion clinic workers in Massachusetts, which led to the eventual creation of clinic buffer zones, a woman called one of the clinics attacked and told the staff person who answered, “You got what you deserved.” Meanwhile, Donald Spitz, the director of Pro-Life Virginia, thanked John C. Salvi publicly for his murders as throngs of supporters cheered along enthusiastically outside the prison holding Salvi.

On Thursday, a unanimous Supreme Court looked past all that history—because, as Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority pointed out, the violent face of the anti-choice movement was not before the Court in McCullen. The “gentle” grandmas were.

It's enough to make you want to scream!

There are just two (among, unfortunately, many) examples of  misogyny coming down from the highest court in the land, both with the backdrop of religion- the oldest bastion of misogyny in the world. And it's not only good old Amerikkan Christianity. Just last week, we saw some good old-fashioned Biblical-type anti-woman action from the M&M's - Mormons and Muslims.

One of the great problems in our world is patriarchy. The late James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, put best in song, “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.”

Patriarchy assumes that men are made to lead and women are simply cooperative and reproductive subordinates.

These assumptions come to light in all kinds of ways, but especially through religion — the various faiths that treat women as though they are not equal to men.

(...)  There is a direct link between Kate Kelly, a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter day-Saints, who was excommunicated on charges of apostasy, and Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death for her supposed apostasy.

And the link is deeper than the charge of abandoning one's faith.

(...)  One dared to say that women could exercise religious authority where men are the “elders” and keepers of the Kingdom.

The other, standing before an all-male court, refused to renounce her faith.

In both cases, men were the judges and held the keys to life and death - literally, in Ibrahim’s case.

I invite you to read the entire article - "Hey religion, your misogyny is showing," written by Randal Maurice Jelks,  a professor of American and African-American studies at the University of Kansas and co-editor of the blog The Black Bottom, and published at CNN.com.

Of course, misogyny in American isn't only limited to the Supreme Court and the world's religions. It's apparently ingrained into the sick minds of mass murderers as we learned from the Isla Vista- Santa Barbara massacre  just over a month ago. At least in the aftermath of that sickening tragedy, we had some pushback with the #YesAllWomen hashtag campaign.

Global misogyny is on display in Nigeria, where hundreds of school girls were kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram who believe that girls should not be educated, but are to be used as cooks or sex slaves. Just this week, to little if any fanfare, it was announced that the missing girls may never be found due to the lack of immediate action to find them.

Of course, we need look no further than Washington DC to find the most egregious example of misogyny. It's based on inaction. The fact that women, to this day, have no constitutional right to equality. The Equal Rights Amendment has still not been ratified!

Although on her She's History segment on Thursday mornings Amy Simon has told us the history of the ERA, it's worth reviewing, so I hope you will.

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Those are the few simple words that could change things here for we, the women of the United States of America. It's long past time to do this already.

Also on the show today to discuss this and more, the fabulous female known as GottaLaff of The Political Carnival.

We also checked in on the action outside the FCC, where some street theater was taking place this morning to call attention to the proposed assault on Net Neutrality. I discussed it with FreePress.net's Craig Aaron. BTW, you can still submit your comments on these proposed changes. Just visit SaveTheInternet.com.

Tomorrow, we'll delve into the other decision the Court got wrong yesterday, dealing with public service unions, as AFT president Randi Weingarten guests. We'll also talk with Crooks & Liars' Susie Madrak...  radio or not!

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"Cable company f*ckery: If you want to do something evil, do it inside something boring"

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net neutrality cable John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Cable companies are trying to create an unequal playing field for internet speeds, but they're doing it so boringly that most news outlets aren't covering it.

John Oliver explains the controversy and lets viewers know how they can voice their displeasure to the FCC.

(www.fcc.gov/comments, for any interested parties)

Oliver knocked it out of the park on "Last Week Tonight." He outdid himself in a killer segment about net neutrality, a must-watch. Here are a few excerpts of how he blasted cable companies, monopolies, and those foxes who are looking after our Internet hen house:

Net neutrality. The only two words that promise more boredom in the English language are, "featuring Sting.”

I would rather listen to a pair of Dockers tell me about the weird dream it had.

Net neutrality is actually hugely important. Essentially it means that all data has to be treated equally, no matter who creates it. It's why the Internet is a weirdly level playing field.

The point is, the Internet in its current form is not broken, and the FCC is currently taking steps to fix that.

Ending net neutrality would allow big companies to buy their way into the fast lane, leaving everyone else in the slow lane...

Recently Comcast was negotiating with Netflix. This graph shows Netflix download speeds on various providers:

net neutrality graph comcast netflix

That black line plummeting downwards was their speed on Comcast during the negotiation. See if you can guess when Netflix agreed to Comcast demands.... That has all the ingredients of a mob shakedown.

Consider who would benefit from this change: Cable companies... These companies have Washington in their pockets...

The guy who used to run the cable industry's lobbying arm is now running the agency tasked with regulating it. That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.

... Cable companies are basically monopolies now. ... You could not describe a monopoly more clearly if you were wearing a metal top hat, and driving a metal car, after winning second prize in a beauty contest.

net neutrality cable John Oliver monopoly

The cable companies have found out the great truth of America: If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring...

That's why advocates should not be talking about protecting net neutrality. They shouldn't even use that phrase. They should call it, "preventing cable company fuckery," because that is what it is.

net neutralitypreventing cable company fuckery john oliver

The Big Finale was right up my Twitter alley: Oliver reminded us that "there might be actually something you can still do" about all of this: leave a public comment on the FCC site. He put out the word to Internet trolls everywhere to do their thing.

"Good evening Monsters. THIS may be the moment you've spent your whole lives training for."

Indeed.

net neutrality cable fcc comments John Oliver

And if anyone can vouch for familiar trolly comments like this one...

net neutrality cable John Oliver troll comment

... 'tis yours truly. John Oliver is on to something. I never thought I'd say this, but, "Go trolls!"

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If you think speaking out is pointless, think again.

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think before speaking out did I just say that

Speaking out is the one thing we can still do of effect change. We are still able to use our voices in print, in letters to the editor, in blogs, on the Tee Vee, Radio, and Internet Machines, and most importantly, at the ballot box. Speaking out is our strength, our peaceful show of force, our (non-lethal) weapon against discrimination, inequality, and oppression.

Yes, it can be frustrating, ineffective, an exercise in futility, and drive us nearly insane when we are ignored. However, occasionally, speaking out leads to victories, big and small. Here is one of the smaller ones that could morph into something huge. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Responding to a sharp public backlash, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler revised his proposed Internet traffic rules as he tries to secure support for the agency to start formally considering them this week. [...]

In a nod to criticism from many Democrats, Internet companies and public interest groups, Wheeler tried to soften the most controversial part of his proposal by allowing broadband providers to charge higher fees for faster delivery of content as long as consumers and competition are not harmed, an agency official said.

We may have a long way to go in this area and so many others, but as I have said repeatedly (scroll), our voices matter.

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Your complete guide to the murder of net neutrality. "Scream bloody murder!"

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net neutrality hands tied

If Internet service providers are allowed to charge content companies more for faster access to their subscribers, then we can kiss net neutrality good-bye. My favorite columnist at the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik (scroll), says as much in his latest piece, which was a little unsettling. And by "a little" I mean extremely.

Tom Wheeler is the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He's also a former telecommunications and cable lobbyist. And now he's proposing to make rich and powerful companies richer and more powerful. And, per Hiltzik, you'll be getting the bill.

Michael Hiltzik defines net neutrality as "the principle that Internet service providers can't discriminate among content providers trying to reach you online -- they can't block websites or services, or degrade their signal, slow their traffic or, conversely, provide a better traffic lane for some rather than others." That about covers it.

He goes on to warn us that the real threat to net neutrality is lack of competition in the ISP market.

And that threat will become a reality unless we fight back. Hard.

Hiltzik:

What makes this plan especially frightening is that it arrives at the same time as another major threat to net neutrality on which the FCC must vote: the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the nation's two biggest Internet service providers. [...]

It's this synergy between two anticompetitive developments that really spells danger for the open Internet, for innovators, for start-ups and for all consumers. As Tim Wu of Columbia Law School asserts, the Wheeler rule will leave bloggers, start-ups and nonprofits in Internet steerage. "They'll be behind in the queue, watching as companies that can pay tolls to the cable companies speed ahead," he wrote recently. The Internet's role as a facilitator of innovation will start to disappear.

Did someone say "bloggers"?

yikes!

The Wheeler plan vividly illustrates how Washington has been taken over by powerful businesses aligned against the public interest.

This whole 1% crushing the 99% thing is getting to be appallingly routine, which, as they say in the vernacular, sucks. What will happen to us peons if this deal goes through?

So here's what's in store for you. If the FCC approves the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, Comcast will have less incentive than ever to bring its customers the fastest Internet connection at the most reasonable price. If the FCC approves Wheeler's net neutrality proposal, Comcast will have more leeway than ever to squeeze content providers, and consequently the public, for more money for barely adequate service. And every other Internet service provider in the nation will take advantage of the rules to the max.

eek

So what are dinky little American like us supposed to do? How do we fight the behemoths? What are our options?

The public's only option is to scream bloody murder.

And you know what that means: Call your Congress members. Call the White House. President Obama has come out strongly in favor of "incredible equality" on the Internet. Let's remind him of that by doing as he has asked us to do so many times: Hold him accountable and urge him to go to bat for us. As Al Franken so aptly put it, "Net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time."

net neutrality 2

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Sunday Talkers Shame Themselves

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Sunday Talk Shows

The only thing missing from yesterday's Sunday talk show openings was the Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton singing the duet of, "Baby It's Cold Outside." It's actually quite a good rendition. You can see it here.

But are these chatfests, Meet the Nation, Face the Nation, This Week, Fox News Sunday, etc. really doing their jobs -- providing a public service? Bringing us unfiltered news? I think not.

Yesterday they all began with a moment about the cold weather, then immediately went into full Chris Christie coverage. What everyone of these shows ignored was this:

HUFFPO:

The emergency began Thursday following complaints to West Virginia American Water about a licorice-type odor in the tap water. The source: the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, which had leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank at a Freedom Industries facility along the Elk River.

Here it is, Sunday, four days later, and over 300,000 West Virginians were still without clean tap water. They can't drink the contaminated water, can't bath in it, can't cook with it, can't do wash in it, and yet how much coverage did it get on the public service shows? Zilch.

But doesn't this crisis meet national standards? If a spill like this can happen in W.V. it can happen anywhere. Should we be investigating how it happened and seek out safeguards? Evidently not if the victims are in West Virginia.

The network news talkers are treating this less than a throw-away story. If mentioned at all, it's like "Entire neighborhood all paint their houses the same color of grey." What they leave out is that all of these houses were painted in lead-based paint and everyone in the neighborhood is going to die of cancer. If it's not a Republican or Democratic attack, it's not worthy of the Sunday talkers. And that's why these supposed news shows should be embarrassed and reprimanded. They owe everyone an apology for spitting on the urgent and legitimate problems of one of our fifty states. A chemical spill effecting so many IS NEWS.

Now the EPA is constantly coming under attack on Sunday GOP talkers as an example of over-regulation. Republicans use this ruse almost almost as much as the concern over voter fraud in their Red states or the damage same-sex marriage is causing their "normal" marriage. Yet when a disaster strikes, why the crickets? Why not demonstrate what the EPA does? If it wasn't for them, these innocent people, victims of a dangerous chemical spill might be glowing in the dark or have three ears by now.

What's equally startling is that there isn't even an adequate clean-up plan in force to allow such a vast sum of people to be provided with bottled water and food to get them through this crisis time. This Elk River, where the chemicals spilled, runs for hundreds of miles, reaching both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. We're talking potentially half of our nation being affected.

To me that's news. Grumpy Chris Christie playing dumb or lying about his part or knowledge in his bridge-gate scandal is news, and should be covered, but so should the plight of the victims half of our nation. When a hurricane displaces and damages vast swaths of land, the press is all over it. But in old West Virginia, not so much.

Beltway news is noisy, to say the least. But is it urgent or more important than pressing news about half our nation facing a possible poisoning? Hardly.

Maybe next time stations come up for licensing, lets remember that Meet the Press and the other talkers are just paid political content masquerading as public service. Maybe locally qualifying shows should be produced, (improving local economies) and demanded in their place if they're being done to meet the FCC public licensing obligations.

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Net Neutrality Rules Published, Lawsuits Soon to Follow

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Gaw, this is obviously bad for "job creators". From Wired, h/t to Boing Boinb.

The FCC has finally officially published long-delayed rules prohibiting cable, DSL and wireless internet companies from blocking websites and requiring them to disclose how they slow down or throttle their networks.

The so-called Net Neutrality rules (.pdf), passed along party lines in late December last year in a 3-2 vote, were published in the Federal Register Friday and will go into effect on November 20.

The basic outlines of the rules, which differentiate between fixed broadband (e.g. cable, fiber and DSL) and mobile broadband (the connection to smartphones and mobile hotspot devices):

The Commission adopts three basic protections that are grounded in broadly accepted Internet norms, as well as our own prior decisions.

First, transparency: fixed and mobile broadband providers must disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of their broadband services.
Second, no blocking: fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or block applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services.
Third, no unreasonable discrimination: fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.

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