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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn has unveiled plans for a net neutrality law she professes will "protect the open internet," but is far more likely to do the exact opposite. We just got done noting how ISPs like Comcast have begun pushing hard for net neutrality legislation. Why? Comcast knows the FCC's recent repeal of net neutrality rests on shaky legal ground thanks to the numerous instances of fraud and bizarre FCC behavior during the proceeding.

The FCC will also struggle to prove the broadband market changed so substantially in just two years to warrant such an unpopular reversal, which could nullify the repeal as "arbitrary and capricious" under the Administrative Procedure Act. read more


It was the kind of sitdown that China had long resisted: Top US officials telling Chinese counterparts how American troops would enter North Korea if the hermit regime collapsed. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's recent revelation that such a discussion took place would -- if true -- suggest a major shift in Chinese policy as Beijing comes under pressure to rein in its Korean War ally. For years Beijing had refused US entreaties to discuss the possible collapse of its neighbor, but top US and Chinese military officials have finally met to discuss the once-taboo topic, Tillerson said last week. Some stark topics were broached, Tillerson said: Refugees flooding across the Chinese-North Korean border, US troops entering the hermit country -- and leaving again once they had prevented nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands.


President Donald Trump is trying out a new campaign slogan: "How's your 401(k) doing?" The answer for more than half of Americans is that they don't have one. Trump has tested out the line this month at a fundraiser, a campaign rally and in a White House meeting, predicting that the rising U.S. stock market will help him win re-election. But only about 45 percent of private-sector workers participate in any employer-sponsored retirement plan, and the lower-income workers in Trump's political base are the least likely to hold money in such an account, according to the Government Accountability Office. read more


In the three and a half years since news broke of a major scandal at the Department of Veterans' Affairs, the public has heard a depressing story of dysfunction, pettiness, and malfeasance at the heart of the VA health system.

Employees manipulated their computer scheduling system to make it look like veterans were being served in a timely fashion, for which the staff was then able to collect bonuses. Veterans, meanwhile, waited months and years without being able to see a doctor. Some died as a result.

But the sting of that scandal was only one of many. There were plenty more to come from the vipers' nest that was the VA. Benefit applications from troops returning from war were being hoarded and unprocessed, whistleblowers faced retaliation, staff stole money, and others committed felonies and kept their jobs. read more


Sea-level rise is one of the more challenging effects of climate change to project. It's not that the direction of the change is unclear -- sea level will rise as the planet warms -- but it's extraordinarily difficult to know when which sections of which glaciers will slide into the sea. Many factors are involved besides temperatures, including ocean currents and the topography of the bedrock below ice sheets.

As a result, the projections of sea-level rise presented to entities like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been heavily caveated and have changed significantly over time. The 2013 IPCC report, for example, projected considerably higher sea-level rise than the 2007 report, which explained that it was leaving out important ice-sheet processes that needed more research. And the recent 2017 US National Climate Assessment again increased projections of sea-level rise based on the current state of the science. read more


Comments


Democrats Prepare to Run Against the GOP ‘Tax Scam' in 2018
www.bloomberg.com

Shortly before passing a far-reaching but unpopular bill on a party line vote, the Speaker of the House assured critics that people would like it once they felt its benefits.

That was 2010, and it didn't work out for Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat in charge of the House at the time, or for the Obamacare health-care bill. It remained unpopular, even after health coverage was extended to millions of people. Democrats lost the House that November and the Senate four years later.

Now, Pelosi and her party will try to turn the tables, targeting the GOP's main achievement of 2017: tax legislation that, so far, rates poorly with the public. Republicans are pitching its middle-class benefits and potential economic growth to win over wary voters, but Democrats have united in labeling it a "tax scam" that benefits the wealthy and corporations....



It's not over yet...

Court tosses out one-vote victory in recount that had briefly ended a Republican majority in Virginia
www.washingtonpost.com

...A three- judge panel declined to certify the recount of a key House race today, saying that a questionable ballot should be counted in favor of the Republican and tying a race that Democrats had thought they had won by a single vote.

"The court declares there is no winner in this election," said Circuit Court Judge Bryant L. Sugg, after the judges deliberated for more than two hours. ...

In the case of a tie in a House race, state law says the winner is chosen by lot – essentially, a coin toss, according to Virginia state law. ...

But it doesn't end there. If the loser of the coin toss is unhappy with that result, he or she can seek a second recount. ...


@#8 ... As others have pointed out, it's not at all surprising when you figure how much money is thrown at them. ...

In the case of Rep Blackburn, Net neutrality is not the only thing it appears she has sold out for.

Tennessee congresswoman defends role in passing opioid law that critics say undercut DEA
www.usatoday.com

...Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a key player in the passage of a federal law that critics say has made it more difficult to restrain the deadly opioid epidemic, insists she has seen no evidence to back up those accusations....

Blackburn co-sponsored the legislation and at one point even led the debate on the House floor. Her role is under scrutiny because she was pushing the bill at the same time that opioid abuse was sharply on the rise in Tennessee....

What's more, Blackburn has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the prescription drug industry. A USA TODAY review of campaign finance reports shows that, since 2012, she has collected at least $96,000 in campaign contributions from political-action committees affiliated with the largest manufacturers and distributors of opioids and from groups representing drug makers and distributors....


... It is surprising how many people keep voting for them. ...

That is something of an amazement.


The latest in the GOP's ceding control of the Internet to the big ISP corporations:

GOP net neutrality bill would allow paid fast lanes and preempt state laws
arstechnica.com

...A Republican lawmaker is proposing a net neutrality law that would ban blocking and throttling, but the bill would allow ISPs to create paid fast lanes and prohibit state governments from enacting their own net neutrality laws. The bill would also prohibit the FCC from imposing any type of common carrier regulations on broadband providers....

The bill text is available here. It would amend the Communications Act "to prohibit blocking of lawful content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices, [and] to prohibit impairment or degradation of lawful Internet traffic."

Unlike the net neutrality rules repealed by Pai's FCC last week, the bill would not prohibit ISPs from charging websites or online services for prioritization....

Blackburn's bill would define broadband Internet access as an "information service," preventing the FCC from ever regulating home and mobile Internet providers as common carriers. This prohibition would prevent the reinstatement of numerous consumer protections besides the net neutrality rules.

State governments would also be limited in their ability to regulate, as Blackburn's bill would preempt states from imposing "any law, rule, regulation, duty, requirement, standard, or other provision" related to net neutrality....

CEO Craig Aaron of consumer advocacy group Free Press offered a similar reaction:

...This bill's true goal is to let a few unregulated monopolies and duopolies stifle competition and control the future of communications....




It amazes me how the GOP members of Congress can lie to such an extent, doing disservice to those who voted for them.


... and the sun revolves around the earth.

Galileo Affair
en.wikipedia.org

...In 1610, Galileo published his Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger), describing the surprising observations that he had made with the new telescope, namely the phases of Venus and the Galilean moons of Jupiter. With these observations he promoted the heliocentric theory of Nicolaus Copernicus (published in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543). Galileo's initial discoveries were met with opposition within the Catholic Church, and in 1616 the Inquisition declared heliocentrism to be formally heretical. Heliocentric books were banned and Galileo was ordered to refrain from holding, teaching or defending heliocentric ideas. ...


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