House Passes Anti-Net Neutrality Resolution
Armed with an ideological agenda, House Republicans took aim at net neutrality again this month, quietly introducing a Congressional "resolution of disapproval" to overturn recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) laws prohibiting anti-competitive behavior among Internet providers.
H.J. Res. 37 passed 30-23 on March 15, and will now go to the House of Representatives for a vote, which House Speaker John Boehner said in late February could happen "as early as next month."
The resolution "disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices ... and such rule shall have no force or effect."
Republicans took control of the House in 2010 by pledging to focus on the economy and jobs creation - but many GOP leaders have thus far offered little more than talking points and symbolic measures that are unlikely to pass into law.
The resolution of disapproval is a rarely used procedure that allows Congress to formally reject and reverse the actions of a federal agency. House Republicans previously introduced a resolution of disapproval last November to overturn the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, but were unsuccessful.
According to the Congressional Review Act, the resolution would have to pass in both the House and Senate and avoid a veto by President Barack Obama.
At a speech at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention, Boehner said that the House would "use every tool at our disposal" to fight the FCC laws.
"Right now, freedom and free expression are under attack by a power structure in Washington populated with regulators who have never set foot inside a radio station or a television studio," Boehner said at the time. "We see this threat in how the FCC is creeping further into the free market by trying to regulate the Internet."
NRB President Frank Wright previously stated that the Fairness Doctrine threatens the livelihood of conservative and religious programming. "In the short run, the Fairness Doctrine has the immediate threat of being applied to Christian broadcasters and to the church in a very deleterious way," Wright told Broadcasting & Cable.
The resolution had the support of GOP leaders from both the House and the Senate, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Communications and Technology Subcommittee chairman Greg
Walden (R-Oregon), and Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Michigan).
Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, called the passage of the resolution a "reckless action" that "opens the door even wider to corporate abuse of [a] principle that protects our ability to connect with everyone else online."
"Open Internet protections actually prevent Speaker Boehner's dark scenario from happening: They forbid companies from unfairly blocking or degrading Internet websites and applications while keeping control over Internet content in the hands of end users - people like you and me," Karr wrote in a blog post. "The speaker knows full well that real Net Neutrality has nothing to do with a government takeover of the Internet."
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) spoke out against net neutrality regulations last week at an event
organized by the Safe Internet Alliance, calling it a "fairness doctrine for the Internet" that allows the FCC to police when the artistic community "can deploy their creativity ... They do not want a czar to determine what speeds will be available."
Enacted in 1949, the Fairness Doctrine required that broadcasters present balanced viewpoints of controversial or important stories. At the time, the majority of the media was controlled by three main networks - ABC, CBS, and NBC - and lawmakers worried that broadcasters could abuse their dominant status to air biased stories.
The FCC revoked the law in 1987 on the grounds that it restricted journalistic freedom.
"The 'Fairness Doctrine,' that's another threat to freedom with an innocuous name," Boehner said in his February 28 speech.
Although the Fairness Doctrine is not likely to become law again in the future, some Democrat lawmakers have called for its reinstatement. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) said last year that "whether it's called the Fairness Standard, whether it's called something else - I absolutely think it's time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves." Her stance was echoed by numerous legislators, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
Still, the law has a contentious history. Some legislators, like Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) have avoided calling for its reinstatement and instead offer alternative ideas on how to enforce anti-discriminatory behavior. Franken and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) in January introduced the Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Act of 2011, which would create a "just and reasonable" standard for all charges and practices related to broadband Internet access. Speaking at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, this year, Franken said the bill would "call violations of net neutrality out for what they are -anti-competitive actions by powerful media conglomerates."
Obama has also repeatedly stated his opposition to the Fairness Doctrine. White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told Fox News that "as the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated." In fact, Obama's campaign press secretary Michael Ortiz wrote in a June 2008 statement that Obama, then still a candidate, wanted to open the airwaves to diverse viewpoints not through a Fairness Doctrine, but through net neutrality.
"Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets," Ortiz wrote.
Republicans recently began targeting public broadcasting as well, introducing legislation to cut off government funding for National Public Radio.
Following last week's vote, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee voiced their support of the measure. "I applaud the committee's approval ... that will next be considered by the full House as we work to create jobs, keep energy costs from rising unnecessarily, and rein the explosive expansion of the government," Upton said.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-California) ranking Democrat on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said that repealing net neutrality regulations "will create market uncertainty, stifle consumer choice, and harm innovation and job creation. Americans overwhelmingly oppose practices which limit a free and open Internet but Republicans have turned a deaf ear."
Like to use the internet without restriction and control by cororations seeking more profit?
Guess who is trying to screw us again?
The Link Between War and Big Finance
Kevin Zeese, War Is A Crime.org
The Link Between War and Big Finance
Sunday 10 April 2011
Veterans For Peace has joined in endorsing “Sounds of Resistance,” a concert and protest against Wall Street banks that draws the connections between militarism, Wall Street, the wealth divide and the downward spiral of the wealth of most Americans. The event, on April 15 at 11:00 a.m. in New York City’s Union Square Park, is part of a democratic awakening that more and more Americans are joining.
Americans are recognizing the link between the military-industrial complex and the Wall Street oligarchs—a connection that goes back to the beginning of the modern U.S. empire.Banks have always profited from warbecause the debt created by banks results in ongoing war profit for big finance; and because wars have been used to open countries to U.S. corporate and banking interests. Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan wrote: “the large banking interests were deeply interested in the world war because of the wide opportunities for large profits.”
Many historians now recognize that a hidden history for U.S. entry into World War I was to protect U.S. investors.U.S. commercial interests had invested heavily in European allies before the war: “By 1915, American neutrality was being criticized as bankers and merchants began to loan money and offer credits to the warring parties, although the Central Powers received far less. Between 1915 and April 1917, the Allies received 85 times the amount loaned to Germany.” The total dollars loaned to all Allied borrowers during this period was $2,581,300,000. The bankers saw that if Germany won, their loans to European allies would not be repaid. The leading U.S. banker of the era,J.P. Morgan and his associates did everything they could to push the United States into the war on the side of England and France. Morgan said: "We agreed that we should do all that was lawfully in our power to help the Allies win the war as soon as possible." President Woodrow Wilson, who campaigned saying he would keep the United States out of war, seems to have entered the war to protect U.S. banks’ investments in Europe.
The most decorated Marine in history,Smedley Butler, described fighting for U.S. banks in many of the wars he fought in. He said: “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins describes how World Bank and IMF loans are used to generate profits for U.S. business and saddle countries with huge debts that allow the United States to control them. It is not surprising that former civilian military leaders like Robert McNamara and Paul Wolfowitz went on to head the World Bank. These nations’ debt to international banks ensures they are controlled by the United States, which pressures them into joining the “coalition of the willing” that helped invade Iraq or allowing U.S. military bases on their land. If countries refuse to "honor" their debts, the CIA or Department of Defense enforces U.S. political will through coups or military action.
Tarak Kauff, Veteran For Peace activist and organizer, stated, "There are trillions for wars and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya, billions yearly to support Israel's occupation and oppression of Palestine, again trillions in bailouts to make those at the top of the economic food chain even more powerful, but relative pennies for our children's education, adequate health care, infrastructure, housing and other necessities of Americans. Yet big corporate banks are thriving and, like Bank of America, pay no taxes. But you do, and I do, and working people all across this country pay taxes. I ask, what are we paying for and into whose pockets is it going? The wealth of this country is disappearing down the tubes into the stuffed pockets of the financial/military/industrial oligarchs. Americans are being bled dry while people of the world are literally bleeding and dying from U.S.-made weapons and warfare. Do we not see the connection?"
More and more people are indeed seeing the connection between corporate banksterism and militarism; they are seeing how uncontrolled spending on war is resulting in austerity at home. In a recent interview, Cornel West brought the issues of the wealth divide, Wall Street and militarism together. Prof. West also spoke about Obama, calling him “a cagey neoliberal at home and a liberal neoconservative abroad" who expanded the wars and military while re-enforcing the existing Wall Street-dominated power structure at home, a president who has abandoned the poor and working class and is becoming” a pawn of big finance and a puppet of big business." See the interview with Professor West here:
War is big business - perhaps the BIGGEST.
Ask yourself these questions - how likely is it that corporations who stand to make billions would lobby against war? That politicians who invest in these companies and are paid by them via 'contributions' would really care to prevent it while showing how 'tough' we (and they) are? And why is the defense budget not really being considered for drastic cuts? We could destroy the entire world many times with what we already have in our arsenal. Why is that untouchable?
Ugly stuff! That's why I care.
Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System
by: Chris Hedges, Truthdig
A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.
Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.
Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those who march to the beat of their own drum—are weeded out.
Imagine,” said a public school teacher in New York City, who asked that I not use his name, “going to work each day knowing a great deal of what you are doing is fraudulent, knowing in no way are you preparing your students for life in an ever more brutal world, knowing that if you don’t continue along your scripted test prep course and indeed get better at it you will be out of a job. Up until very recently, the principal of a school was something like the conductor of an orchestra: a person who had deep experience and knowledge of the part and place of every member and every instrument. In the past 10 years we’ve had the emergence of both [Mayor] Mike Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy and Eli Broad’s Superintendents Academy, both created exclusively to produce instant principals and superintendents who model themselves after CEOs. How is this kind of thing even legal? How are such ‘academies’ accredited? What quality of leader needs a ‘leadership academy’? What kind of society would allow such people to run their children’s schools? The high-stakes tests may be worthless as pedagogy but they are a brilliant mechanism for undermining the school systems, instilling fear and creating a rationale for corporate takeover. There is something grotesque about the fact the education reform is being led not by educators but by financers and speculators and billionaires.”
Teachers, under assault from every direction, are fleeing the profession. Even before the “reform” blitzkrieg we were losing half of all teachers within five years after they started work—and these were people who spent years in school and many thousands of dollars to become teachers. How does the country expect to retain dignified, trained professionals under the hostility of current conditions? I suspect that the hedge fund managers behind our charter schools system—whose primary concern is certainly not with education—are delighted to replace real teachers with nonunionized, poorly trained instructors. To truly teach is to instill the values and knowledge which promote the common good and protect a society from the folly of historical amnesia. The utilitarian, corporate ideology embraced by the system of standardized tests and leadership academies has no time for the nuances and moral ambiguities inherent in a liberal arts education. Corporatism is about the cult of the self. It is about personal enrichment and profit as the sole aim of human existence. And those who do not conform are pushed aside.
“It is extremely dispiriting to realize that you are in effect lying to these kids by insinuating that this diet of corporate reading programs and standardized tests are preparing them for anything,” said this teacher, who feared he would suffer reprisals from school administrators if they knew he was speaking out. “It is even more dispiriting to know that your livelihood depends increasingly on maintaining this lie. You have to ask yourself why are hedge fund managers suddenly so interested in the education of the urban poor? The main purpose of the testing craze is not to grade the students but to grade the teacher.”
“I cannot say for certain—not with the certainty of a Bill Gates or a Mike Bloomberg who pontificate with utter certainty over a field in which they know absolutely nothing—but more and more I suspect that a major goal of the reform campaign is to make the work of a teacher so degrading and insulting that the dignified and the truly educated teachers will simply leave while they still retain a modicum of self-respect,” he added. “In less than a decade we been stripped of autonomy and are increasingly micromanaged. Students have been given the power to fire us by failing their tests. Teachers have been likened to pigs at a trough and blamed for the economic collapse of the United States. In New York, principals have been given every incentive, both financial and in terms of control, to replace experienced teachers with 22-year-old untenured rookies. They cost less. They know nothing. They are malleable and they are vulnerable to termination.”