Spend 2 minutes to learn why net neutrality is more important than you think

Website throttling
Your favorite website will be in the “Everyone Else” lane if Net Neutrality is lost Source: Iowa State Daily

Washington Post gives a neat synopsis of what The People stand to lose if Trump appointed Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gets his wish and finds a way to reverse the Obama era protections establishing net neutrality, which WaPo defines as, “the regulations that forbid Internet providers from blocking or slowing Internet traffic.”

The rules, approved by the FCC during the Obama administration, classified Internet providers as “common carriers” — a move that allowed the agency to regulate those companies more strictly than before. In addition to banning the blocking or slowing of Internet traffic, the regulations also gave the FCC the ability to investigate business practices among Internet providers that it deemed potentially anticompetitive.

Supporters of the regulations argue that they are a vital consumer protection that prevents Internet providers from abusing their strategic position between Internet users and the rest of the Web. Without strong regulations, they say, Internet providers will be free to raise costs for consumers — such as charging customers extra to keep their personal data private, or to be able to view certain websites or use certain apps. Meanwhile, advocates say, ISPs could be allowed to charge website owners extra fees to reach consumers’ screens, and determine what apps and services may flourish online. read more

Cosby’s business is private, but the state of America’s democracy is our concern

Cosby punching bag
Source: Randy Bish, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via toursdelaliberte.blogspot.com

I’m a little ashamed of myself. I’ve done to Cosby exactly what I caution people to never do, unless an accused person’s actions have been substantively witnessed and recorded – like the police who killed Eric Garner. Without the benefit of legal discovery or a trial, I had already convicted Cosby in my mind.

Although only a handful of his accusers claim to have been actually raped by Cosby, I had decided in my mind that he is guilty of serially raping almost 50 women. I didn’t bother to learn what these women have actually accused Dr. Cosby of doing to them. And I didn’t question my right or ability to judge him either, until I watched this video last night … and realized that I am a hypocrite, as well as a victim of the fine art of misdirection, which Wikipedia defines as:

Misdirection is a form of deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another.

And perhaps many of us are.

As one of the wealthiest and most admired black men in the world until recently, Cosby’s career and personal power could have seemed like potential challenges to control held by the less than 1% – the few families that currently dominate the world’s wealth and resources. Could they have decided it would be wise to tear Cosby down and then gone about engineering the sexual accusations and the light-speed destruction of an iconic figure’s career, reputation and public influence?

Well, I don’t know. What I do know is, that a presidential election is coming later this year and that concurrently, America and democracy are facing some of the most serious challenges that could possibly exist.

A prominent Republican candidate wants to mark or deport millions of people of color; the American middle class and the public education system are under attack and crumbling. Families like the Bushes have shamelessly benefited from war profiteering; the multi-billionaire Waltons underpay their Walmart workers and teach them how to supplement meager incomes with foodstamps; the ALEC consortium writes legislation for Republican politicians that is being used to erase rights and access for millions of constituents.

The most important democratic tool the world has ever known – the internet – is under constant assault by the super-wealthy who see it as the extreme threat to concentrated wealth, power and mass public ignorance, that it truly is.

The powerful:

  • Will not allow Pres. Obama to repair America’s transportation infrastructure.
  • Have their Congressional allies lobbing continual strikes to disable Obamacare, and quality healthcare for tens of millions of Americans.
  • Want to shut down the United States Postal Service, which is pledged to democratically and impartially facilitate communication to every resident of our country, based on the pretense that it is bankrupt. In fact, the USPS is extremely solvent but skilled financial and public perception manipulators have created the appearance that it is experiencing financial trouble.
  • Are advancing a plan to extract oil from Canada and the US and sell it overseas – making Americans suffer the consequences of earthquakes and pollution from fracking, destruction from laying and using transcontinental pipelines and the destruction of nature which accompanies oil removal – without compensating benefits, which will accrue only to the wealthy.
  • Have privatized essential services which society relies on, on so many levels: nursing homes and elder care; school food service; food production and delivery; transportation industries; military support and strike teams (like Blackwater); energy production and delivery; water systems and infrastructure (in New Jersey, only half of the municipal water systems are still publicly owned – the rest have been privatized); trash and garbage pickup. Prisons. Parks. Communication systems.
  • Control the American people’s right to assemble by shifting communities away from commerce and recreational centers at the street level to enclosed mega shopping malls which give the illusion of being public space, when actually they are well-controlled and monitored, spaces which are privately owned.
  • read more

    Native Americans give no thanks for Columbus’ legacy of destruction and neither should we

    picture from One Cut video
    Screen shot from One Word – Episode 25: Christopher Columbus

    CUT.com invited Native Americans to free-associate one word with Columbus. They got fabulous responses worked into a short video, which made me feel very thoughtful.

    Although American schoolchildren do learn about the destruction Columbus brought to our land and the First Nation people who were already living here, we are also taught to idolize both the destroyer and the destruction Columbus initiated. Which means that from a very young age, our schools are teaching children to idolize cruelty, thievery, genocide and to value the monetization of natural resources. Resources which – when left intact or at least, used sustainably – remain treasures of Mother Earth with the power to nurture and allow us to live surrounded by beauty, in comfort.

    School lessons about Thanksgiving and the “discovery of America” also exercise a subtle, insidious effect on their minds, as these lessons require students to discard accurate perceptions of what fairness is and to replace them with interpretations of reprehensible acts as acts of charity and kindness. Internalizing these fallacies create in students’ minds a state of cognitive dissonance, and may create a mental imbalance that follows them throughout their lives.

    Small wonder that faced with the internet-empowered and growing ability of The People to learn real history, educate others and advocate for serving up authentic lessons delivered by professors who represent gender and cultural diversity, Big Money pushes back by spending massive amounts of lobbying dollars to close the internet down and is intent on destroying public education as well. Educated and digitally empowered democratic citizens are not Big Money’s best customers.

    These powerful, monied interests keep us complicit in the Earth’s destruction by inveigling us to labor at enriching the industries that are destroying it and then spend our leisure hours shopping for the largely useless goods that those industries produce. The industrialists seem hopeful of disabling challenges to the narratives they have injected into and made dominant in our society by limiting our ability to communicate with each other on a mass scale via the internet and by blocking upcoming generations from the acquisition of critical thinking skills by destroying public education.

    Big Money designed narratives to destroy morality, intellect, the love for truth and belief in its innate rightness in order to create generations of confused and frustrated, but compliant laborers and consumers who are easily led … and on both sides of the consumption coin we are enriching them to the point that .1% of society now owns as much as the lower 90%. But truth can be our remedy to this grand manipulation.

    Let’s circle back to truth talk and to life lessons of intrinsic value. I love the truths spoken by Native Americans in CUT’s video and if you do too, please share it widely.

    Please also share your ideas, if you have any, on whether Thanksgiving Day can be transformed from a celebration of wrongdoing into a celebration of goodness … and how. My family’s approach is by supporting Newark’s Share the Harvest and Break Bread With You Celebrations in Newark, where we help to share a festive day and delicious home-cooked food with 3000 plus underserved, elderly and NWNAs (Neighbor With No Address) families and individuals in northern New Jersey.

    Hat tip to Nathaniel Davis for the fantastic find.

    In 84 seconds learn why Cable & Telcos are trying to gut Net Neutrality funding and take it away from you

    Squeezing internet users
    FFTF warns that Big Cable & Telcos want to squeeze more money out of users

    Fight for the Future cautions:

    Net Neutrality is Under Attack. Don't let Congress break the Internet by dismantling Net Neutrality — share this video to raise the alarm.

    Why not also call your elected federal officials and ask them to protect net neutrality on your behalf? Calling is a powerful action to make sure net neutrality doesn’t go away. Call using this convenient tool.

    white house net neutrality letter
    President Obama endorses net neutrality

    The White House defines net neutrality:

    More than any other invention of our time, the Internet has unlocked possibilities we could just barely imagine a generation ago. And here’s a big reason we’ve seen such incredible growth and innovation: Most Internet providers have treated Internet traffic equally. That’s a principle known as “net neutrality” — and it says that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and that access to a high school student’s blog shouldn’t be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money. read more

    Just 6 companies control 90% of the US media – and your perceptions

    6 companies own 90% of media
    Infographic by Jason of Frugal Dad

    Seeing similarities in the news you read, view and hear – that’s no mistake. In fact, it might be inevitable, being that only six companies own 90% of all US media and all of the information we receive from it.

    the 6 companiesDC Clothesline comments:

    Today, ownership of the news media has been concentrated in the hands of just six incredibly powerful media corporations. These corporate behemoths control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day. They own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites. Sadly, most Americans don’t even stop to think about who is feeding them the endless hours of news and entertainment that they constantly ingest. But they should. read more

    Why the TPP’s so bad, and why you should care

    EFF on TPP
    Info on TPP found at the EFF website

    You know the part where they teach you that we are citizens of a democracy – which means free speech, civil rights for all and fairness in our justice and commerce systems?

    No matter what we might be duking out on United States soil in regards to what that means for People of Color, women, transgender folk and whatnot .. what would our lives be like if those rights were permanently taken away from all of us, permanently .. and control over them were given not even to foreign governments, but to major corporations instead of any government at all?

    That’s what the TPP is.

    The EFF shares a lot more. Is EFF a credible source of information? I think so. Learn more about them at Technopedia (this is just a snippet of the info they serve up) and make up your own mind:

    The group’s objective is to confront cutting-edge digital rights issues by defending privacy, free speech, consumer rights and invention.

    EFF is a partner in Our Fair Deal coalition, which explains how international law affects you:

    The changes to copyright required by the TPP would reduce our access to information and restrict our ability to innovate, both on and offline.

    Changing our copyright laws in ways that restrict the open Internet and economic opportunity are unfair to citizens, businesses, creators, and civil society organizations. Not only could such changes raise prices for users of copyright works, but they could also stifle our knowledge economy and chill innovation. read more

    Giving up our fantasy addiction is how we will make life good

    This 8 minute film shows us the value of being alive at a time when communication is possible on a scale never before experienced. Yet, while the world is being destroyed and monetized we pay more attention to our screens than everything else around us.

    But, we are not in a movie where everything is decided in advance. In real life, WE write the script. Let’s give up our addiction to fantasies that are being fed us and script our own … beautiful future … together. All power to the people!

    And by the way, always remember we must work to keep the internet open always.

    Hat tip to Dox Diggla for the great find

    OK John Oliver, I made my comment to the FCC on net neutrality. Happy now?

    John Oliver on Net NeutralityI’ve made comments to the FCC about net neutrality in previous comment periods but not this one. Enter John Oliver, who made such a convincing argument about the need to take advantage of our bloody rights as US citizen to make a positive difference in this matter, that I felt shamed enough to submit another comment today.

    If you too wish to be motivated to get off YouTube, Facebook or whatever you’re on for a while and use your computer for the God-given purpose it was clearly designed for (that is: the protection and furtherance of global democracy) then you too NEED to watch John Oliver’s segment on Last Week Tonight about Net Neutrality. Go on, I dare you to watch and come away uninspired.

    I hope you’re happy now @iamjohnoliver and you’ll stop implying that I would be stupid and sleazy – not to mention lazy – to not fulfill my democratic obligation by making this comment. Granted, the topic is an issue that I care more about than almost any other matter besides eating and my family. But name-calling to motivate me to take an almost sinfully easy action to protect my rights? Well, that was an extremely low blow, even if an utterly effective one.

    FYI, this is my comment:

    14-28 Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet:
    My college students sons and I believe in net neutrality, and we want it for all the good it provides us: information access, easy and open communication, streaming videos & movies, activism portal, access to the knowledge of the world!, translations. The internet was built with funds from users. I’m a user, my sons are users … everybody’s a user. Companies that provide point of access do not have the right to limit our access in any way. Do the right thing for the people, not for the corporations trying to dominate and control our lives. Use Title II to protect the open internet and net neutrality for all. Forever!

    This is where you go to enter a comment to the FCC of your own: fcc.gov/comments.

    And then if you were feeling super-motivated, you might amble over to Battle for the Net and use their easy tool to write and call your congressman and senators to tell them that Net Neutrality’s important to you. You could even send another one here. Why stop when you’re on a role?

    Free press defender Joe Torres speaks at BCC Oct 2

    Joe Torres @ BCC

    Joe Torres @ BCCThere are times in history when the story of current events – what we know as news – enters a state of flux. New voices emerge to tell the stories of people and our world that are happening in real time. Today, we see this with YouTube, blogging, social media, community radio and TV. Periods of change can also be times of danger. People’s right to know must be protected and reporters must hold themselves responsible for present facts and truth without embellishment as far as they are able to discern them … in other words, the principles of expository journalism must be upheld.

    Protectors of truth and ethics emerge to serve the people, and one high profile protector is Hispanic-American journalist, author and Eyewitness News reporter, Joe Torres. Mr. Torres will share his life and career experiences with students and the community at Bergen Community College on Thursday, October 2 2014 at 11am in the Ciccone Theater. Come and hear his story and thoughts.

    Wikipedia tells us:

    Joe Torres is senior adviser for government and external affairs for Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund (an advocacy arm of Free Press), a non-governmental organization for research and policy lobbying related to media reform. Free Press lobbies in Washington, DC and in the states, with the goal of supporting diversity and independence in US media. Torres was also deputy director of communications and media policy at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and was a journalist for eight years.

    …Torres is co-author, with Juan González, of “News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media” (2011, ISBN 978-1-84467-687-3), a history of the American media with special focus on media outlets owned and controlled by people of color, and how they were suppressed—sometimes violently—by mainstream political, corporate and media leaders. read more

    Have we become a society of grandmotherly news clippers?

    news clipping

    news clippingMy grandmother and aunt used to read several newspapers each day and clip out articles they wished to share with friends and other family members. I would occasionally open up an envelope delivered by the postal service and find an article inside with a very brief note written on or paper-clipped to it …

    “Isn’t this a fascinating development? Love, Aunt June” or “Thought this would interest you. Love, Nana”.

    This morning, I realized that the internet and social media have turned us into a society of article-clipping grannies and aunts. The cost and ease of tech enables article sharing on a scale and volume that neither Nana or Aunt June dreamed possible. I do this myself, many times every day. Wouldn’t they have loved Facebook and Twitter?

    Google’s word look-up

    Have you tried Google’s awesome word look-up feature? I love it, and use it often.

    In a Google search window, type a word followed by meaning, or significance and hit search (or the enter key) to get back a complete dictionary definition. Try it and let me know how you like it.

    For example, type: intransigent significance or intransigent meaning and get this back:
    Google definition of intransigent

    Verizon pushes court to rule that “free speech” equals suppression

    Verizon’s stunning challenge to the FCC rule that dictates that the internet should be open, is that its (Verizon’s) “free speech” rights will be violated if it is not allowed to,

    “…suppress someone else’s ability to transmit or receive information.

    …Here’s the twist: Verizon clearly knows better. Its joint statement with Google about the prospect of open-Internet rules in early 2010 stated: “The minute that anyone, whether from the government or the private sector, starts to control how people access and use the Internet would be the beginning of the end of the ‘net as we know it.”

    …While Verizon’s free-speech claim might seem too loony to be taken seriously, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 landmark Citizens United ruling brought corporate rights to a new level. In that case, the high court struck down campaign laws that restricted the ability of corporations, labor unions and other groups to spend money on ads promoting or opposing candidates. In a 5-4 ruling, the majority held that the ban was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

    …The FCC suggested its rule would prevent a service provider from blocking voice and video competitors such as Skype or Netflix. Without the open Internet rule, the FCC warned, “the next Google or Facebook might never begin.

    Why you should care

    Verizon’s challenge of the Federal Communication Commission’s authority to maintain a wide-open Internet should be a matter of great public concern. Here’s what could happen if Internet service providers (ISPs) were not constrained by federal “net neutrality” rules:

    Preferential content

    An ISP with a large market share (such as Verizon enjoys now) could stifle competition by ensuring superior technological performance for its own products (such as games, movies or other ventures).

    Pay to play

    An ISP might decide to start charging sites for access to its customers. Before long, the Internet could begin to resemble the cable television business model.


    Suppose an ISP had a certain political agenda, or was engaged in a labor dispute. It could censor content, or prevent its customers from, say, creating social networks or e-mailing Congress or other policymakers.

    read more

    Save the free internet hashtag #stfi