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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 36,331

About Me

Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Why Everyone Was Wrong About Net Neutrality

Today, the Federal Communications Commission, by a vote of three to two, enacted its strongest-ever rules on net neutrality, preserving an open Internet by prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or slowing content that flows across their pipes. It is a substantial achievement for the Obama Administration and the F.C.C. chairman Tom Wheeler, and also for the many groups that fought hard for the outcome. But it also is a moment to reflect back on the process over the last year that led here, and figure out why what so many people thought they knew turned out to be wrong.

Let’s begin with the most obvious incorrect prediction, namely that passage of a strong rule (a Title II rule in telecom jargon) would be politically impossible. A year ago, Kevin Werbach, a thoughtful and prominent analyst, predicted that “the political and marketplace costs” of strong net-neutrality rules would be just “too great.” He warned, among other things, that Congress would “grind the FCC to a standstill, starve its budget, and do everything in their power to inflict permanent harm on the agency.”

Werbach’s point was echoed by political cynics who believe that federal regulatory agencies like the F.C.C. tend to become captured and obey the bidding of whoever spends the most to lobby them. Money was certainly not on the side of net neutrality. A.T. & T., Verizon, Comcast, and others opposed strong net-neutrality rules, while the richest potential allies, companies like Google and Facebook, mostly sat things out. Some of the only groups in favor of strong rules were little-known activist organizations like Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press; a few startups like Tumblr and Kickstarter; a handful of academics dabbling in public policy; and the narrow segment of the public who actually pays attention to such things. Given that lineup, the outcome seemed about as preordained as what happened when Michael Spinks stepped into the ring with Mike Tyson.

But these predictions were wrong. Why, exactly, is subject to debate. It may have been the unexpected effectiveness of Internet-based activist groups, who protested the F.C.C. and helped convince millions of people to write and send comments about the potential rules. It may have been the White House and the personal involvement of President Obama himself. Or maybe people just misunderstood the character of the F.C.C. chairman Tom Wheeler. Whatever the explanation, the most pessimistic theories of lobbyist power clearly need be revised.


Get out the Butter, Christie is Toast!

by Gail Collins

Chris Christie is political toast.

Cause of his charred presidential prospects: an unreformed state pension system. I know that’s disappointing. Not nearly as exciting as the political near-death experiences that went before. We were hoping the next disaster would be something like Governor Yells at Elmo. Or a reprise of the day he chased a guy down the boardwalk while waving an ice cream cone, this time maybe featuring Tom Hanks or Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Fixing New Jersey’s pension system was supposed to be Christie’s signature achievement. He explained it in his keynote speech at the Republican convention in 2012, right after he told us about his mom, his dad, his wife, his children and his love of Bruce Springsteen. “They said it was impossible to touch the third rail of politics,” he bragged.

By this point some of his listeners were wondering when he’d get to Mitt Romney. But Christie went on about how he had saved New Jersey workers’ pensions and staved off fiscal disaster. Thanks to shared sacrifice and “politicians who led instead of politicians who pandered.”

The politicians in question would be Chris Christie, who appeared to be referring to himself with the royal “we.” No matter. It was still a very big deal because there are crisis-ridden pension plans all over the country in need of rescue.



EPA to probe whether N.C. hog farms violate neighbors’ rights

The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to investigate claims that North Carolina’s regulation of hog farms violates the civil rights of their minority neighbors.

Three advocacy groups filed a complaint with EPA in September. North Carolina’s 2,100 farms produce about 10 million hogs a year, second-highest in the nation.

The groups claim the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ lax regulation of the farms discriminates against the African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans who live near the farms in disproportionate numbers.

Advocates filed the complaint after North Carolina renewed a statewide permit regulating hog farms last year without substantially stiffening standards, the groups say.

The complaint was filed under a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits recipients of federal aid from discriminating on racial or other grounds.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article11206091.html#storylink=cpy

What happened to the lobbyists who tried to reshape the US view of climate change?

In 1998 major fossil fuel companies put $2m behind a plan that would effectively fuel the fires of climate science scepticism among the American public. We reveal where the 12 people behind that plan are now

In early 1998, some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world were hatching a plan to hijack the science of human-caused global warming.

Representatives from major fossil fuel corporations and industry groups had joined forces with operatives from major conservative think tanks and public relations experts to draft what they called their Global Climate Science Communications (GCSC) plan.

In a memo the plan boldly declared its goal would be to convince “a majority of the American public” that “significant uncertainties exist in climate science”.

Earlier this week it was revealed that major US coal utility Southern Company had paid scientist Dr Willie Soon, an aerospace engineer based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, more than $400,000 in recent years for science research.


Hundreds of illicit oil wastewater pits found in Kern County California

Water officials in Kern County discovered that oil producers have been dumping chemical-laden wastewater into hundreds of unlined pits that are operating without proper permits.

Inspections completed this week by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board revealed the existence of more than 300 previously unidentified waste sites. The water board’s review found that more than one-third of the region’s active disposal pits are operating without permission.

The pits raise new water quality concerns in a region where agricultural fields sit side by side with oil fields and where California’s ongoing drought has made protecting groundwater supplies paramount.

Clay Rodgers, assistant executive officer of the water board’s Fresno office, called the unregulated pits a “significant problem” and said the agency expects to issue as many as 200 enforcement orders.



Friday TOON Roundup 3 - The Rest







Friday TOON Roundup 2 - Repubs

Friday TOON Roundup 1 - Oh Oh Oh'liely

The FCC’s net neutrality ruling is awesome because…

By Mark Morford
on February 26, 2015 2:58 PM

Do you understand the basics of net neutrality, and the FCC’s (sort of astounding) ruling? What it actually means? Here’s how 14 of the major media outlets describe it. But more than that, this historic vote is awesome for a number of reasons, not the least of which is:

1 Republicans hate it

2 So does big telecom. You know when Verizon, Comcast, AT&T are all against something, it’s got to be good

3 You will not have to pay more for any ‘tiered’ service or BS bundled deals, which is another way of saying you won’t get screwed if you don’t

4 Obama did good

5 Obama did good, in the face of a sneering, leering, anti-everything white-male GOP congress that despises him and which supposedly controls everything right now and OMG how totally embarrassing for them, again, not a few days after Keystone XL and Obamacare’s continued, undeniable success…



Charles P Pierce- Watching Scotty Blow, Cont'd: The Gotcha Problem

The potential Republican presidential candidate writes an op-ed in which he explains why ignorance is wisdom, why cowardice is courage, and why he is a serious man of ideas.

Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, and current Republican presidential flavor of the month, has seen an op-ed published under his byline by which he explains why ignorance is wisdom, why cowardice is courage, and why he is a serious man of ideas. And, in the Beyond, George Orwell gets out of the business and starts selling reverse mortgages.

(Two things before we deal with the purported substance of the piece published under Walker's name. It's very possible that the column is meant to send Walker into CPAC this weekend with added momentum. Also, it never should be forgotten that torture-porn enthusiast Marc Thiessen ghosted Walker's campaign biography. This column reeks of the unique brand of meretricious nonsense that recommended Thiessen to Fred Hiatt so highly.)

Americans believe our nation is facing some substantial challenges. Government spending is out of control. Terrorists seek to destroy our way of life. Our economic recovery has been slow. Our borders aren't secure. The federal government has usurped powers that rightly belong to our states. And every day across Wisconsin, and as I travel the nation, I hear from people who share with me their worries about - and their hopes for - our country.

The people in Wisconsin, for example, are concerned that their state is bleeding jobs, that their state is 44th in job growth, that their state budget is almost $300 million out of balance, that their jewel of a public higher education system is being riddled by a know-nothing governor and a know-nothing legislature, and that it has fallen behind neighboring Minnesota by any economic measure worth mentioning. (Mark Dayton For President!) Walker would know this if he didn't confine himself to carefully chosen audiences around the state.

One thing we've learned in Wisconsin through all our challenges and successes over the past four years, is when we keep our focus on what matters to the people, we earn their respect, if not always their agreement. And, in a purple state that hasn't gone to a Republican presidential candidate in 30 years, our approach has translated into three wins in four years.

Which have enabled us to run the state even further into the fking ground. See above.


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