Last month, Daily Kos and other net neutrality activist organizations wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, asking him to sign on to the efforts of more than a dozen members of his Senate caucus and House Minority Leader Pelosi and dozens of House Democrats to demand that the Federal Communications Commission reclassify broadband and implement strong Net Neutrality rules and to treat the internet as the public utility that it is—like water, telephones, and electricity. We focused on Reid because he’s been quiet on the issue thus far, because we need a united Democratic front in pressuring the FCC to do the right thing to protect the internet, and because Reid is the second most powerful elected policymaker in the country.
Reid has responded, and while he didn’t take a position on reclassification, he stressed that he “will lead the fight to protect any Open Internet rules populated by the FCC against the inevitable Republican attack against such rules,” and that he would work to “ensure that priority arrangements that harm consumers are prohibited.” Should the FCC decide to reclassify internet service as a public utility, Reid will back the Commission up, and will fight Republican efforts to undermine that rule.
That greatly undermines FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s argument that the easiest route for the FCC to regulate the internet politically would be under Section 706 of the Federal Communications Act. That’s despite the fact, as we pointed out in our letter to Reid, that “legal scholars and even the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals—as it struck down the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order in January—have made it clear that Section 706 does not provide the FCC with the ability to ban unreasonable discrimination, access fees, paid prioritization, exclusive deals, or discriminatory exemptions to bandwidth caps—all of which were banned or effectively banned in the FCC’s 2010 order.” There’s ample political support for the FCC to reclassify—and it’s been expressed directly to the FCC by many members of Congress, and now is implicitly supported by Majority Leader Reid. As the National Journal reports, this letter from Reid could “give the FCC political cover to enact tougher rules,” and “reassure FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that he has the political support he needs to ignore the Republican outcry and enact strong net-neutrality regulations.”
That’s if, when Wheeler talks about political support, he’s really talking about elected leadership and not the well-heeled telecom lobbyists fighting against strong rules.
You can read Sen. Reid’s response to our letter in full below the fold.
Dear Mr. Moulitsas Zuniga:
In our recent letter, you asked me to publicly support strong net neutrality regulations. Let me be clear: I support net neutrality. You further asked that I tell the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Let me assure you that I will lead the fight to protect any Open Internet rules populated by the FCC against the inevitable Republican attack against such rules.
Since 2006, I have strongly and publicly supported net neutrality. I believe that the Internet is one of the great equalizers of our time. Especially in a time when dark money threatens to take over our political system, the Internet offers a forum for people to make a difference with ideas, not dollars. And I favor rules that will keep the Internet open and allow ideas and innovation to thrive. This is why in 2011 I led the Senate’s effort to defeat a Republican resolution that would have overturned the FCC’s Open Internet Order.
The Commission is now considering how to promulgate meaningful net neutrality rules in the wake of the D.C. Circuit Court’s opinion in Verizon v. Federal Communciations Commission. I am watching closely as the Commission drafts these rules. And I will work to ensure that these rules give consumers access to the lawful content they want when they want it, without interference and ensure that priority arrangements that harm consumers are prohibited.
I look forward to working with you to keep the Internet open, innovative, and free.
From the you-can’t-make-it-up-department in Provo, Utah:
Homophones, as any English grammarian can tell you, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and often different spellings — such as be and bee, through and threw, which and witch, their and there. This concept is taught early on to foreign students learning English because it can be confusing to someone whose native language does not have that feature. But when the social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining homophones, he was let go for creating the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda. Tim Torkildson says after he wrote the blog on the website of his employer, Nomen Global Language Center, his boss and Nomen owner Clarke Woodger, called him into his office and told him he was fired. As Torkildson tells it, Woodger said he could not trust him and that the blog about homophones was the last straw. “Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” Woodger complained, according to Torkildson, who posted the exchange on his Facebook page.
The school has denied the teacher’s claim of homophonia - but has also deleted his post from its website. Their clunky mission statement could use some work: “Nomen Global Language Centers substantially helps students from all cultures and walks of life to excel in each aspect of their English acquisition and to obtain their goals for the future. We achieve this goal by means of qualified and experienced faculty, dedicated staff, engaging and challenging curriculum, and professional and ethical student services.”
“Despite the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, Alexander is facing 60 years in prison for having fired a warning shot in 2012 to stop her abusive ex-husband from attacking her. The bullet fired by Alexander, a Black working-class mother, hit no one and caused no injury. Nonetheless, she was arrested, jailed and convicted — until a mass movement forced her conviction to be thrown out in late 2013. The state’s prosecutor, Angela Corey, decided to retry the case and has repeatedly slandered Alexander to the mass media and even in the state’s legislature. While the state’s persecution of Alexander continues, the movement to win her freedom has not gone away.”—'Free Marissa Alexander’ march shakes Jacksonville (via aboriginalnewswire)
I went to a dinner party at a friend’s home last weekend, and met her five-year-old daughter for the first time.
Little Maya was all curly brown hair, doe-like dark eyes, and adorable in her shiny pink nightgown. I wanted to squeal, “Maya, you’re so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!”
But I didn’t. I squelched myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.
What’s wrong with that? It’s our culture’s standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker, isn’t it? And why not give them a sincere compliment to boost their self-esteem? Because they are so darling I just want to burst when I meet them, honestly.
Hold that thought for just a moment.
This week ABC news reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. In my book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, I reveal that fifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America’s next top model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they’d rather be hot than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart.
Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.
That’s why I force myself to talk to little girls as follows.
“Maya,” I said, crouching down at her level, looking into her eyes, “very nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too,” she said, in that trained, polite, talking-to-adults good girl voice.
“Hey, what are you reading?” I asked, a twinkle in my eyes. I love books. I’m nuts for them. I let that show.
Her eyes got bigger, and the practiced, polite facial expression gave way to genuine excitement over this topic. She paused, though, a little shy of me, a stranger.
“I LOVE books,” I said. “Do you?”
Most kids do.
“YES,” she said. “And I can read them all by myself now!”
“Wow, amazing!” I said. And it is, for a five year old. You go on with your bad self, Maya.
“What’s your favorite book?” I asked.
“I’ll go get it! Can I read it to you?”
Purplicious was Maya’s pick and a new one to me, as Maya snuggled next to me on the sofa and proudly read aloud every word, about our heroine who loves pink but is tormented by a group of girls at school who only wear black. Alas, it was about girls and what they wore, and how their wardrobe choices defined their identities. But after Maya closed the final page, I steered the conversation to the deeper issues in the book: mean girls and peer pressure and not going along with the group. I told her my favorite color in the world is green, because I love nature, and she was down with that.
Not once did we discuss clothes or hair or bodies or who was pretty. It’s surprising how hard it is to stay away from those topics with little girls, but I’m stubborn.
I told her that I’d just written a book, and that I hoped she’d write one too one day. She was fairly psyched about that idea. We were both sad when Maya had to go to bed, but I told her next time to choose another book and we’d read it and talk about it. Oops. That got her too amped up to sleep, and she came down from her bedroom a few times, all jazzed up.
So, one tiny bit of opposition to a culture that sends all the wrong messages to our girls. One tiny nudge towards valuing female brains. One brief moment of intentional role modeling. Will my few minutes with Maya change our multibillion dollar beauty industry, reality shows that demean women, our celebrity-manic culture? No. But I did change Maya’s perspective for at least that evening.
Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she’s reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You’re just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favorite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does.
“Anyone with an ounce of brain matter knows that trying to impeach President Obama would be disastrous. Republicans certainly know this. If they had an actual cause for impeachment, the GOP would have put the evidence out there already instead of the mountain of bullshit they’ve been shoveling to make it look like they had something on the president. But Republicans have been pandering to the racist scumbags patriots in their base for so long that conservatives really do expect Republicans to impeach Obama. There’s a good chance the GOP will take the Senate in November and then what? If Republicans don’t immediately start impeachment proceedings, their lunatic base will lose what little is left of their minds.”—Conservatives Are So Stupid The GOP Has To Trick Them Into NOT Impeaching Obama (via azspot)
“If you are not as concerned about the people handing you your food in the restaurant as you are about the pigs on the farm where it was grown, your approach is classist. … If you start telling someone all about your new trendy diet or asking them about theirs without knowing if they have an eating disorder that may be triggered by your prattle, your approach is ableist. If you tsk-tsk at people who are overweight for what they are eating and claim you’re concerned about their health, yet you’re not actively campaigning to make healthy food more accessible and affordable, your approach is sickening and I don’t want you in my activism.”—Food is for White Liberals What Sex Is For The Religious Right (via disabilityhistory)
The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Tuesday that McDonald’s is jointly responsible for workers at its franchisees’ restaurants, a decision that if upheld would disrupt longtime practices in the fast-food industry and ease the way for unionizing nationwide.
Richard F. Griffin Jr., the labor board’s general counsel, said that of the 181 unfair labor practice complaints filed against McDonald’s and its franchisees over the last 20 months, he found that 43 had merit on such grounds as illegally firing or threatening workers for pro-union activities.
In those cases, Mr. Griffin said he would include McDonald’s as a joint employer, a classification that could hold the fast-food company responsible for actions taken at thousands of its restaurants. Roughly 90 percent of the chain’s restaurants in the United States are franchise operations.
As fast-food workers and labor advocates have been pressuring McDonald’s and other restaurant chains to adopt a $15 wage floor, the companies have often said that they don’t set employee wages, the franchise owners do. That defense would be weakened considerably by the workers’ push to have them declared joint employers.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Even as they grapple with an immigration crisis at the border, White House officials are making plans to act before November’s mid-term elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants who are in this country illegally, allowing them to stay in the United States without threat of deportation, according to advocates and lawmakers in touch with the administration.
Such a large-scale move on immigration could scramble election-year politics and lead some conservative Republicans to push for impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama, a prospect White House officials have openly discussed.
Yet there’s little sign that the urgent humanitarian situation in South Texas, where unaccompanied minors have been showing up by the tens of thousands from Central America, has impeded Obama from making plans to address some portion of the 11.5 million immigrants now in this country illegally. Obama announced late last month that congressional efforts to remake the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system were dead and he would proceed on his own authority to fix the system where he could.
Since then he’s asked Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis of unaccompanied youths, a request that’s gone unmet even as the House and the Senate scramble to see if they can vote on some solution to the crisis this week before adjourning for their annual August recess.
Meanwhile, White House officials led by Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz and White House Counsel Neil Eggleston, along with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, have been working to chart a plan on executive actions Obama could take, hosting frequent meetings with interest groups and listening to recommendations from immigration advocates, law enforcement officials, religious leaders, Hispanic lawmakers and others.
Advocates and lawmakers who were in separate meetings Friday said that administration officials are weighing a range of options including reforms to the deportation system and ways to grant relief from deportation to targeted populations in the country, likely by expanding Obama’s two-year-old directive that granted work permits to certain immigrants brought here illegally as youths. That program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has been extended to more than 500,000 immigrants so far.
Advocates would like to see deferred action made available to anyone who would have been eligible for eventual citizenship under a comprehensive immigration bill the Senate passed last year, which would be around 9 million people. But Obama told them in a meeting a month ago to “right-size” expectations, even as he pledged to be aggressive in steps he does take.
That’s led advocates to focus on other populations Obama might address, including parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizen children (around 3.8 million people as of 2009, according to an analysis by Pew Research’s Hispanic Trends Project) and parents or legal guardians of DACA recipients (perhaps 500,000 to 1 million people, according to the Fair Immigration Reform Movement).
"Our parents deserve to live without the fear of deportation," Maria Praeli, a 21-year-old from New Haven who came to the United States from Peru 16 years ago, said at a protest outside the White House on Monday. "It is time for the president to go big and to go bold."
Another focus could be the potentially hundreds of thousands of people who might be eligible for green cards today if current law didn’t require them to leave the country for 10 years before applying for one.
At the same time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it is actively working to determine whether there are steps Obama could take by executive action that could help the business community.
For Obama, the political repercussions of broad executive action on immigration could be unpredictable, and extreme.
Republicans are warning he could provoke a constitutional crisis.
"It would be an affront to the people of this country which they will never forgive, it would be a permanent stain on your presidency," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said on the Senate floor Monday, while urging language to block such executive action be made part of any legislation to address the border crisis.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., announced plans to use an oversight hearing on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency Tuesday to raise questions about Obama’s plans, which he warned could “worsen the border crisis and encourage many more to come.”
On the other side, some Democrats have debated the best timing for Obama to take executive action, raising questions as to whether acting before the midterms could hurt vulnerable Senate Democrats in close races while boosting turnout among the GOP base.
But liberal advocates noted that Obama’s move on deferred action two years ago gave him a boost heading into his re-election and could help this year with Latino voters discouraged over the failure of immigration reform legislation and record-high deportations on Obama’s watch. Republicans would be in a position of deciding whether to come out in favor of deporting sympathetic groups, such as parents, and many liberals say impeachment talk would only shore up Democratic base voters.
"Most Democrats will be thrilled" if Obama acts boldly on immigration, said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a leading advocacy group. "And Republicans will keep lurching to the right and cementing their reputation as the anti-immigrant party."
They say that “informed consent” laws violate their beliefs about scientific accuracy and bodily autonomy.
The Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed some for-profit companies to claim a religious exemption to Obamacare’s contraception mandate, has sparked a heated debate over the definition of religious liberty and its role in modern society. At this point, even a Satantic cult has decided to weigh in.
The Satanic Temple — a faith community that describes itself as facilitating “the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty” — has launched a new campaign seeking a religious exemption to certain anti-abortion laws that attempt to dissuade women from ending a pregnancy. The group says they have deeply held beliefs about bodily autonomy and scientific accuracy, and those beliefs are violated by state-level “informed consent” laws that rely on misleading information about abortion risks.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, the Satanists point out, it strengthens their own quest to opt out of laws related to women’s health care that go against their religious liberty. “Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our our beliefs are based on best available knowledge, we expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state mandated ‘informational’ material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them,” a spokesperson for the organization said in a statement.
The Satanic Temple, sometimes referred to as “the nicest Satanic cult in the world,” falls somewhere between satire, performance art, and activism. The group says its central mission is to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.” It has a set of seven tenets that closely track with humanism. Typically, wherever issues of church and state are overlapping, the Satanic Temple isn’t far behind.
Members of the Satanic Temple first made national headlines when they rallied in support of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) for approving a bill that allows prayer in public schools, saying they’re glad the new policy will allow children to pray to Satan. Since then, they’ve also held “a formal ceremony celebrating same-sex unions” on the grave of the mother of the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, declaring that she has posthumously become a lesbian, and commissioned a seven-foot-tall Satanic statue near a monument to the Ten Commandments at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
And now, the Satanic Temple is turning its attention to “campaigns to assert our religious protection for women with health needs that are being complicated by unreasonable laws,” focusing on the abortion-related legislation that goes against science.
State-level abortion restrictions that aren’t actually based in medicine have swept the nation. “Informed consent” laws, which typically require women to receive biased counseling before being allowed to proceed with an abortion procedure, are now in place in 35 states. Many of those laws require doctors to tell their patients misleading information about abortion’s potential link to mental health issues and breast cancer. Some of them put words directly in doctors’ mouths, forcing them to refer to the fetus as an “whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
Members of the Temple of Satan are encouraging all women who share their belief in medical accuracy to seek their own exemption from these laws, even if they don’t personally identify as Satanists. They’ve drawn up a sample letter to help women talk to their doctors about the issue, as well as created “Right to Accurate Medical Information” t-shirts for purchase.
Satanists aren’t the only activists fighting back against the junk science used to justify anti-abortion laws. The secular humanist group Center for Inquiry recently launched a “Keep Health Care Safe and Secular” campaign to encourage more Americans to fight back against laws limiting women’s access to health services. Similarly, NARAL Pro-Choice America sometimes uses the slogan “Politicians Make Crappy Doctors.”
“Finally, there is the far right. These are the True Believers: the ones who not only buy into the center-right line, but also the raw Objectivism of Ayn Rand and Fox News that says that the only economic injustice in society is the one being perpetrated by the government itself, taking money from the “deserving” and giving it to the “undeserving.” In this view, the only inequality that matters to them is redistributive taxation to “others” in society. But the far right, being mostly made up of poorer and middle-class voters, does have the saving grace of at least grasping that something is fundamentally broken in the economy, and they’re willing to take drastic measures to fix it. This is the problem: on the center left and center right are mostly well-to-do people who have no personal incentive to alter the status quo. Whether out of genuine belief or raw self-interest, they don’t think that much needs to change, and they believe that things will be back to normal soon. After all, things tend to be going pretty smoothly for them, and there don’t seem to be any pitchforks on the horizon—yet.”—The four basic American reactions to record inequality (via azspot)
“There’ll be no flirting, that’s for sure. It’s not what this Doctor’s concerned with. It’s quite a fun relationship, but no. I did call and say, ‘I want no Papa-Nicole moments.’ I think there was a bit of tension with that at first, but I was absolutely adamant.”—
Peter Capaldi, on the more-visible age difference between his Doctor and Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara. Sunday Telegraph Interview
Peter, let me (platonically or not) love you, love you, love you for this.