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Environmental Scientist

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FCC Said to Signal It’s Heeding Obama’s Call for Open-Web Rules

The U.S. Federal Communication Commission is signaling that it intends to adopt President Barack Obama’s proposal to keep the Internet open when the independent agency votes on rules next month.

FCC officials working on the issue under Chairman Tom Wheeler are asking questions they would only ask if they were taking the direction Obama is seeking, such as how to regulate wireless service, said one person involved in discussions with the agency.

Obama in November called for “the strongest possible rules” to regulate Internet service, including a ban on so-called fast lanes. In doing so, he joined the ranks of Internet startups, public interest groups and more than 105,000 people who signed a petition to the White House calling for an open-Internet policy. The rules would ensure service providers treat Web traffic equally -- a concept known as net neutrality.

The president’s intervention appears to be driving policy deliberations on net neutrality, Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) said in documents filed in recent weeks with the FCC. The cable-television company, which opposes the proposal and is one of the nation’s largest high-speed Internet providers, suggested steps to soften the blow.

Such an acknowledgment “gives you strong reason to believe it’s headed that way,” said Gene Kimmelman, president of the Washington-based policy group Public Knowledge, who supports Obama’s utility-style rules. “I’m optimistic.”



Toons -The Pen will survive

Republicans target security funding to fight Obama on immigration

Source: Reuters

Republicans in the House of Representatives are pursuing a strategy to choke off funding for President Barack Obama's recent immigration order that could force a shutdown for parts of the Department of Homeland Security.

Republican lawmakers and aides said on Wednesday that a funding measure for DHS, which secures U.S. borders, airports, coastal waters and other critical facilities, as well as controlling the agencies that are to implement Obama's immigration order, could be introduced by Friday and ready for a vote next week.

The sprawling agency was not included in a $1.1 trillion spending bill passed in December so that Republicans could retain leverage to fight Obama's plan to lift the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants.

With Republicans now in control of both the House and Senate, they stand a much greater chance of passing a measure aimed at stopping the immigration order.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/07/us-usa-congress-immigration-idUSKBN0KG23020150107

How the NYPD Came to See Itself As Different From Those It Protects

What are Pat Lynch and his policemen really after? The protests that began theatrically, in rhetoric and gesture — Lynch, the head of New York’s Patrolman's Benevolent Association, roaring that “blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor” after the murders of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, a phalanx of cops turning their backs on the mayor at their funerals — have escalated into a work stoppage so comprehensive that it is hard to find a precedent. Across all precincts, while denying explicit coordination, the police seem to have simply decided to stop enforcing minor crimes, a work stoppage whose cynicism has alarmed even the New York Post. It is hard, too, to find a point; none has been made explicit. Perhaps this is some shrewd tactical play for a better contract or for more control over officer discipline, but the sense of grievance and betrayal voiced by union officials and cops in the city and around the country seems to run deeper than that. If this is an emotional episode and not a tactical one, then the better question to ask is probably not what the policemen are after but what they are dwelling on. More and more, that seems to be their own alienation, and difference.

Yesterday morning, for instance, a New York Post reporter paid a visit to the Rockland County home of Andrew Dossi, one of the police officers injured in a shoot-out at a Chinese restaurant in the Bronx. Mayor de Blasio had made a hospital sympathy call to Dossi, and the Post wanted to know what the encounter had been like. “He wasn’t too happy about the Mayor’s visit,” Dossi’s father Joseph recounted, which almost surely was what the reporter had been hoping for. More striking was the way Dossi described his son’s service. “He deals with some crappy people every day and getting no support , come on. These are the guys in the trenches dealing with anything and everything.”

Sand off the rough edges, develop Dossi’s military metaphor a little more, and you’ve got something very close to the essay the Post columnist Michael Goodwin wrote a week earlier: “NYPD and the military,” the headline ran, “our angels in a time of danger and cynicism.” In the depressing, monthlong conflict between City Hall and the cops — escalated over the past two weeks by what seems to be an ongoing work stoppage — this line has been echoed by the officers’ spokesmen and their supporters, that the cops are different from those they police, that they are agents of good. One of the stranger grievances that is given a central place in the stories of rising police animosity toward de Blasio is the outrage that Bratton, the police commissioner, was compelled by the mayor to participate in a panel on police-community relations with Al Sharpton — as if meeting with political figures with whom you disagree weren’t the kind of thing that public officials had to do as a matter of course, as if Sharpton were somehow intolerably lesser. Lynch seemed to emphasize this kind of difference when addressing a graduating class of Police Academy cadets just before Christmas, when he implored them to work to connect with the community “even if they don’t speak like you.” Which was an interesting thing to tell a graduating class that hailed from 51 separate countries and spoke 59 languages. What was the nature of this difference between cadets and their communities supposed to be, anyway?

What the city’s police have done in this work stoppage is take it upon themselves to rebalance public safety and police safety — to protect the public a little bit less, at the margins, in order to protect themselves a little bit more. The language of union officials has sometimes suggested that the cops see the city right now as an enemy camp: “We’re being very cautious — we don’t want to enrage the public,” one told the New York Times. And yet, it isn’t as if police are getting murdered left and right: As Radley Balko at the Washington Post has documented, the proportion of police murders per capita was at its lowest rate in a century in 2013, and “you’re more likely to be murdered simply by living in about half of the largest cities in America than you are while working as a police officer.” Ismaiiyl Brinsley increasingly seems to be a lone, deranged maniac rather than part of some cascading threat to cops. It wasn’t too long ago, of course, that New York cops were in much more danger than this. But to suggest that a single attack means that police are suddenly so vulnerable is to summon ghosts. It is to turn back time.



Charles P Pierce - Death In Paris

Well, I guess nous sommes Charlie Hebdo now. At least for a while.

The barbaric assault on the French satirical publication truly is an attack on everyone who thinks and writes and, yes, snarks for a living. CH is a French institution -- albeit one that went out of business for a flat decade a while back. It made a meal of anyone and everyone. Thanks to the BBC -- which possesses an attention span surpassing that of the average flea, as opposed to most of our American media, which already is rounding into Eek, Monsters! mode -- we learn that CH took nothing seriously, and treated every institution in French society as scabrously as an angry drunk in an alley full of bricks.

Drawing on France's strong tradition of bandes dessinees (comic strips), cartoons and caricatures are Charlie Hebdo's defining feature. Over the years, it has printed examples which make its representations of Muhammad look like mild illustrations from a children's book. Police would be shown holding the dripping heads of immigrants; there would be masturbating nuns; popes wearing condoms - anything to make a point. As a newspaper, Charlie Hebdo suffers from constant comparison with its better-known and more successful rival, Le Canard Enchaine. Both are animated by the same urge to challenge the powers-that-be. But if Le Canard is all about scoops and unreported secrets, Charlie is both cruder and crueller - deploying a mix of cartoons and an often vicious polemical wit.

This is a publication that took a shot at Charles deGaulle the day the guy died.

In 1970 came the famous moment of Charlie's creation. Two dramatic events were dominating the news: a terrible fire at a discotheque which killed more than 100 people; and the death of former President Gen Charles de Gaulle. Hara-Kiri led its edition with a headline mocking the General's death: "Bal tragique a Colombey - un mort", meaning "Tragic dance at Colombey - one dead." The subsequent scandal led to Hara-Kiri being banned. To which its journalists promptly responded by setting up a new weekly - Charlie Hebdo.

I think we can all imagine in the abstract the reaction of the American right to a French (eek!) publication that ran cartoons of masturbating nuns and of the pope sporting a condom. However, the 12 people who were slaughtered there were killed by the right people, so the masturbating nuns are long forgotten, and the dead likely now are conscripted into involuntary martyrdom by our professional keyboard warriors and green-room commandos, people whom the murdered cartoonists would have drawn with condoms on their heads, had they lives. Steve M has the gory instant reaction from FoxWorld, which is baptizing itself in borrowed blood again. (I especially like the way Elisabeth Hasselbeck hangs this on...wait for it...Bill de Blasio. Unless NYPD officers are allowed to strangle people in broad daylight, the terrorists in France will kill us all in our beds. To borrow once again from the great Dan Jenkins -- if Elisabeth had a brain, she'd be outside playing with it.) I think it's important to point out that we don't know what any of these murderers actually look like yet. We know what they yelled, and we are entitled to suspect that CH's lampooning of Islam was the cause of this butchery, since it seems to have inspired someone on a previous occasion to firebomb the publication's offices. But we don't know yet what they look like -- they were wearing ski masks -- so we don't know yet what "political correctness" has to do with anything. Unless it has to do with masturbating nuns.

Nevertheless, and despite the fact that the witnesses make the murderers sound like Bond villains straight from central casting, this was unquestionably an assault on the right of free expression, probably committed in the name of religious fanaticism. It was an act of medieval, anti-Enlightenment barbarism, and the fact that a lot of people who aren't usually so tender toward France and its leftists -- or towards the Enlightenment itself, for that matter -- have attached themselves to the horror in order to proclaim their righteousness atop a pile of corpses ought not to obscure the truth of it. There are genuine values -- honored only in the breach by some, but no less genuine for that -- under armed assault here. Charlie Hebdo's staff was murdered to stifle the publication's voice, no less than Elijah Lovejoy was murdered to stifle his. This is the mass, unbridled, brainless Id of the barbarian at war with modernity in all its expressions. This is where anti-science leads, where a contempt for education leads, where the suppression of women leads, where marrying political fanaticism to religious fervor almost always leads. This is where theocracy brings us, over and over again. In 1572, in Paris, on St. Bartholomew's Day, 3000 French Huguenot Protestants were butchered by Catholic mobs. (The death toll throughout France is thought to have been over 70,000.) None of this is new. It rises from the same foul ground it always has. This is why Mr. Madison believed that the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire by Constantine to be one of the worst things that ever happened to both religion and government. Official religions end in blood, always. That's why we don't have one here. Nous sommes Charlie, I guess, but, deep in us all, in that part of us that reeks of stale incense and the smell of old and guttering candles, nous sommes des barbares, aussi. And "political correctness," that empty, impotent phrase, is inadequate to account for the monsters that lurk in the shadows there.


Dems Respond To McConnell Taking Credit For Economic Growth: 'Hahahahahahahahahahaha'


The way Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sees it, recent good news on the American economy is directly linked to the fact that there's a new Republican majority in Congress.

"After so many years of sluggish growth, we're finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope; the uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration's long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress," McConnell said on Wednesday. "So this is precisely the right time to advance a positive, pro-growth agenda."

The comment provoked snide chuckles from Democrats. The Democratic National Committee emailed out a statement with the subject line "DNC to McConnell: Hahahahahahahahahahaha."

Here's the statement from DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee:
Hahahahahahahahahahaha. That Mitch McConnell is one funny guy. He likes to remind people all the time that he’s not a scientist. Now we know he’s not a mathematician or an economist either. The fact is, under President Obama we’ve had 57 straight months of private sector job growth leading to nearly 11 million jobs added. All Republicans have given us is a government shutdown that cost the economy $24 billion. I get why he wants to take credit for the economic recovery. But maybe he should first do something to help contribute to it.


Elizabeth Warren: 8 ways to restore the middle class

"The average family not in the top 10% makes less money than a generation ago," said Warren, a Harvard bankruptcy law professor who was elected to the Senate in 2012.
Here's what Warren says should be done about it:

1 Raising the minimum wage so no one should work full-time and still live in poverty
2 Supporting the right for workers to bargain together
3 Enforcing labor laws so workers get overtime pay and pensions that are fully funded
4 Giving equal pay for equal work
5 Protecting Social Security, Medicare and pensions
6 Investing in roads, bridges, power grids, education and research to create good jobs in the short run and help build new opportunities over the long run
7 Making sure all Americans and corporations pay a fair share to build a future for all
8 Having trade policies and tax codes to strengthen the American economy, raise living standards and create jobs



Meet the new Gang of Six

McConnell finds his go-to Dems

Senate Republicans are reaching out to about nine Democrats they see as crucial swing votes in the new Congress.

With his 54-seat majority, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is six votes short of overcoming Democratic filibusters, making bipartisan support a necessity for getting most legislation to President Obama’s desk.

Republicans have identified six go-to centrists: Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mark Warner (Va.), Tim Kaine (Va.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats.

Several other Democrats, including Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Chris Coons (Del.), Tom Carper (Del.) and Martin Heinrich (N.M.), are also targets, though they are seen as riskier partners.
“If Republicans want a minimum of six or more Democrats to work with them and they’re sincere about policy and good policy moving forward, they’re definitely going to reach out, and I’ve reached out to them,” Manchin told reporters Tuesday.



Warren takes swipe at Reagan, trickle-down economics

Sen. Elizabeth Warren savaged trickle-down economics and took a swipe at President Ronald Reagan on Wednesday, blaming both parties for policies she said have devastated U.S. workers while propping up the wealthy.
The Massachusetts Democrat, who many on the left are pressing to run for president as an alternative to Hillary Clinton, also praised President Barack Obama for efforts she said were aiding the economic recovery, but said most Americans still weren’t seeing their lives improve.

“The trickle-down experiment that began in the Reagan years failed America’s middle class,” Warren said in her fiery keynote address to an AFL-CIO conference on raising wages.

“Pretty much the whole Republican Party, and if we’re going to be honest, too many Democrats, are overly cozy with the financial industry and make decisions that benefit the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans while leaving others to struggle, she said. Over the past 32 years, she added, every penny of America’s economic growth has benefited the top 10 percent of earners, while the bottom 90 percent has been squeezed.

“We know that democracy does not work when congressmen and regulators bow down to Wall Street’s political power,” she said. “And that means it’s time to break up the Wall Street banks and remind politicians they don’t work for the big banks, they work for us.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/elizabeth-warren-criticism-trickle-down-economics-114032.html

Wednesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest








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