Nel's New Day

November 19, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-Three – Democracy Threatened

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), his minions, and the GOP daily threaten democracy in the United States.The most egregious action from the past week—and certainly one of the least known—may be the trial against over 150 of the 217 protesters arrested during the January 2017 presidential inauguration. They each face 60 years in prison for breaking less than ten windows. (Rapists have received a sentence of six months in jail, and the minimum prison sentence is four years.)

Law enforcement “kettled”—scooped up—protesters, journalists, and legal observers without demanding that they disperse. Police extensively used pepper spray, concussion grenades, and stingers, even on already detained individuals, and kept people outdoors “for excessive periods of time” without access to food, water or bathrooms. Photojournalist Shay Horse said he was told to drop his pants and had his testicles “yanked on” before the officer “stuck his finger up each of our anuses and wiggled it around.” The rally in Charlottesville (VA), where white supremacists discharged firearms, produced no blanket felonies and conspiracies to riot although the white supremacists brutally beat a black man and killed a woman by driving a car into a crowd of counter protesters.

Jury selection began on November 15 for the first six protesters, and arguments start tomorrow. Judge Lynn Leibovitz in D.C. Superior Court said that guilty verdicts require proof that the person helped organize or incite the mayhem. For proof of conspiracy, DOJ uses typical protesting clothing, chanting, and other types of organization for all marches and protests. Two photojournalists are still charged with no knowledge of why they were not released with another seven journalists.

DOJ is also using taxpayer money to protect DDT in at least four lawsuits against his private businesses in DOJ’s defense of DDT’s unconstitutional decision not to divest himself from hundreds of companies that profit from foreign governments and officials.

Russia keeps haunting Dictator Donald Trump (DDT):

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee suspected that Jared Kushner is withholding emails from Donald Trump Jr.’s correspondence with WikiLeaks and asks Kushner for additional information. Missing documents include one document about a “Russian backdoor overture” and communications that a Russian-born businessman had sent the DDT campaign.
  • Special investigator Robert Mueller is further investigating Michael Flynn’s $15 million kidnapping plot with the help of Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, who had been accused of money laundering.
  • White House Communications Director Hope Hicks will meet with Mueller’s investigators.
  • Stephen Miller, White House aide who drafted the memo urging the firing of former FBI director James Comey, has been identified as the “senior policy adviser” who George Papadopoulos referenced in coordinating a meeting between DDT and Vladimir Putin during DDT’s campaign. Documents show a possibility of obstruction of justice on Miller’s part. Miller wrote speeches for Jeff Sessions, who lied under oath to Congress about his Russian contacts during the campaign, and still works for the White House.
  • Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer’s data company that helped elect DDT, is in greater trouble after increased revelations about Russian connections. In early June 2016, the company contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; the first DDT campaign payment was dated July 29, 2016. The campaign paid almost $9 million to the firm. Timeline of known contacts as of a week ago.
  • For almost a year, Donald Trump Jr. exchanged tweets with Wikileaks and complied with some of their requests to disseminate Russian-created propaganda against Hillary Clinton.
  • DDT is paying $2.83 million to the former head of KGB counter-intelligence to provide security for the U.S. embassy in Moscow. A loyalist to Vladimir Putin, Viktor Budanov was once the former KGB officer’s boss. Budenov has worked with Kim Philby, a British defector to the USSR, and taught Bulgarian agents how to kill dissidents. 
  • DDT also praised Vladimir Putin, called past leaders of U.S. intelligence agencies as “political hacks,” and denied any Russian involvement in his election. Backlash, including angry words from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), led DDT to change his words, saying that he believed Putin meant what he said but also believed in the current intelligence agencies. DDT’s statements indicate that he may try to remove sanctions from Russia.
  • More problems for DDT come from his Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City, earning him at least $13.9 million in the past three years, that is used for money laundering by international organized crime, including money from Russian gangsters and Colombian drug cartels.  Although DDT may not have attempted to promote criminal activity, he has done nothing to prevent it.

DDT’s trip to Asia was extremely successful—for him. China gave him preliminary approval for 38 trademarks including hotels, spas, escort and concierge services, massage parlors, personal security services, and insurance. These applications were pending since six months before DDT was elected. With no objection, the trademarks will be formally registered in 90 days.

The National Women’s Law Center and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement are suing DDT for violating federal law in blocking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rule requiring employers to report pay data broken down by sex and race.

DDT’s latest blow against the people he promised to protect is his FCC’s chair Ajit Pai’s decision to downgrade the Lifeline program allowing low-income people to get broadband internet access and other telecommunication access for a reduced cost. The FCC’s next step is to prevent telecom providers not operating their own network infrastructure from offering Lifeline-subsidized plans. Over 70 percent of wireless Lifeline customers lose not only their preferred plan but also any carrier. Pai’s former employer, AT&T, has already discriminated against low-income communities by failing to upgrade infrastructure. Big losers are the program’s enrollees in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico struggling back from devastating disasters, impoverished Native American people living on reservations, veterans who use Lifeline to find jobs and health care, and low-income elderly who need access to technological communications as well as children who no longer have access to the internet for their schoolwork.

DDT is making more money for Wall Street with his “wall.” Stock Value for Sterling, the one publicly-held company of the six chosen to build prototypes, has seen its stock increase by 65 percent in less than three months since it was chosen to develop the prototype. DDT has promised to shut down the government if he doesn’t get funding for his wall.

Breaking a tradition of almost two decades, DDT will not greet the eight U.S. Nobel laureates this year before they travel to Sweden in December to receive their prizes: chemist Joachim Frank; physicists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne; geneticists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young; and economist Richard Thaler.

U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson blocked the federal government’s attempt to withhold law-enforcement money from Philadelphia over its so-called “sanctuary city” status. In the first decision since cities sued DOJ’s attempts to pull funding, Baylson, a Reagan appointee, ruled that the city complied with federal law banning municipalities from restricting contact with ICE.

The DOJ has ruled that DDT’s tweets are “official statements of the president.” Here’s a sampling from the past week:

  • After a mass shooting killing five people in California, DDT tweeted about “God [being] with the people” but got the wrong place, referencing Sutherland Springs (TX), a tragedy of nine days earlier.
  • DDT made vicious statements about Al Franken’s sexual harassment of Leeann Tweedom but stayed silent about those of Roy Moore. (According to White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short, DDT believes the allegations against Moore because he’s not campaigning for him.)
  • DDT may reverse his reversal of removing the ban on importation of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia after serious backlash. Even Fox News host Laura Ingraham objected to the trophies.
  • Angry because the father of one of three basketball players freed from jail in China for stealing sunglasses wasn’t grateful to him, DDT wrote, “I should have left him in jail.” DT continued the tweet war today.
  • Insulted for being called “old”—but not for being called a “lunatic,” DDT called Kim Jong-Un “short and fat.”

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – NOVEMBER 13: Protesters burn an image of US President Donald Trump fashioned on a swastika as they march the streets of Manila during the start of the ASEAN meetings between heads of state on November 13, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. Thousands of Filipinos protested in Manila as U.S. President Donald Trump’s attended the ASEAN meetings in the Philippines, a stop included in his 12-day Asia trip. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

During the past week, protesters in Manila burned a DDT effigy while he attended the ASEAN conference in the Philippines and bonded with murderous Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over their mutual dislike for President Obama.  DDT also plans to close the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington, D.C. because they aren’t allowed to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians. This action followed his promise to broker peace between Palestine and Israel by declaring his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge of peace. Kushner’s family has made millions by supporting Israeli illegal building on Palestinian land.

The Fact Checker has now catalogued 1,628 false or misleading claims made by Trump since he took office: That’s an average of 5.5 a day. The number per day is accelerating: during the past 35 days, his average is up to a daily nine lies, headed for “peak liar” status of at least 1,999 the first anniversary of his inauguration.

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July 13, 2017

Four Days Remain to Protest No Net Neutrality

Filed under: net neutrality — trp2011 @ 8:42 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

In May, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began its process to repeal the 2015 network neutrality rules and Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. These rules guarantee that internet users have the right to access online content and services without interference from ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Charter. The deadline for commenting on the FCC repeal proposal is July 17. You can still join the over 7 million people who have submitted comments—almost two million in the past month—during the next four days.

A majority of FCC members wants to reverse the classification of broadband internet access services as “telecommunications services. Another of their goals is to eliminate the “general conduct standard” prohibiting ISP practices that “unreasonably interfere or unreasonably disadvantage” the abilities of consumers to access online content and services and of online content and service providers to freely access customers. These members question whether rules regarding blocking, transparency, and other ISP restrictions are even necessary. Their excuse is that these regulations will limit investment—meaning that members want the big companies to make more money.

In describing current problems about investment, the FCC used studies funded by ISPs that cite “only four articulated examples” of harm from their discrimination. The FCC position is that such “isolated examples” are not enough to place regulations on the internet. In addition, the FCC states that the agency has no authority in keeping or replacing net neutrality rules. They want to abandon all overseeing of the broadband market.

Yesterday was a day of protest for the repeal of internet rules. Both large and small tech companies coordinated the online action to remove the regulation that broadband service providers equally treat all internet traffic. Small companies joined big one such as Google and Netflix in the “Day of Action” to publicize the issue to the public and rally people to send comments to GOP FCC Chair Ajit Pai. Major internet companies took part Wednesday in a “Day of Action” to show their support for the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules.

Internet nonprofit Mozilla explains the reasons for keeping current internet rules:

Net neutrality is fundamental to free speech: Without net neutrality, big companies could censor people and perspectives online. Net neutrality has been called the “First Amendment of the Internet.”

Net neutrality protects small businesses and innovators who are just getting started: Without net neutrality, creators and entrepreneurs could struggle to reach new users. Investment in new ideas would dry up and only the big companies would survive, stifling innovation.

Net neutrality allows consumers—not big companies—to choose what they watch & do online: Without net neutrality, ISPs could decide you watched too many videos on Netflix in one day and throttle your Internet speeds, while keeping their own video apps running smooth.

Battle for the Net, a consortium of advocacy groups, announced the need for yesterday’s action:

“The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online. If they get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees. On July 12th, the Internet will come together to stop them.”

Ryan Grenoble wrote about possible consequences of the FCC’s repeal:

“Without net neutrality, for instance, Comcast could hypothetically prioritize content produced by NBC, which it owns, while slowing access to Netflix. Similarly, Verizon, which owns HuffPost’s parent company, Oath, could allot extra bandwidth to HuffPost content at the expense of others.”

Mignon Clyburn, the only remaining Democrat on the FCC, described the FCC repeal of internet regulations a being on the wrong side of history. She reiterated her opposition to repeal in her support for the Day of Action:

“Today I stand with those who believe that a free and open internet is a foundational principle of our democracy. That is why I am excited that on this day consumers, entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes, including broadband providers and internet startups, are speaking out with a unified voice in favor of strong net neutrality rules grounded in Title II.”

In case the FCC backs down, GOP senators have proposed a bill, Restoring Internet Freedom Act, to prevent the FCC from regulating ISPs actions of blocking, throttling, and favoring websites and apps in exchange for money.  Both Texas senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, co-sponsored the bill. The bill’s title is misleading because removal to the regulations makes the internet less free to consumers. Congress has already passed a resolution allowing ISPs to track and sell an individual’s data to third parties without that person’s permission. ISPs have given $160,000 to Cornyn and $115,000 to Cruz in the past four years.

The Washington Post warned that the disappearance of net neutrality regulations would could have dire consequences: “deep-pocketed corporations will upend how we get our news, watch our favorite shows, use social media or run our businesses.” The GOP internet law would make the internet much less free.

Despite the GOP attempt to eradicate net neutrality, people in the United States support its protections. Only 48 percent of DDT voters and 51 percent of GOP say that they want net neutrality, but 75 percent of the voters and 72 percent of GOP voters think that ISPs should be “prohibited from slowing or blocking websites or video services like Netflix.” Overall 81 percent like the net neutrality protections. Other polls go as high as 88 percent support for net neutrality protections.

What the GOP FCC members don’t consider about net neutrality:

 Growing ISP monopolies make the protections even more important. Verizon owns Yahoo and AOL, and Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC, MSNBC and Universal Pictures. AT&T is trying to buy Time Warner which would give AT&T control of HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros.

Capital investment by publicly-traded ISPs were five percent higher since net neutrality protections were enacted than in the two years earlier, and telecom-company spending on fiber-to-the-home network terminals and terminal ports rose nearly 50 percent during 2016 alone. Not one ISP told investors that the regulations have a negative financial impact.

The FCC has tried to portray net neutrality supporters as members of the “Black Bloc” protest group. If this were accurate, the anarchist group would comprise over four-fifths of people in the nation.

FCC Chair Pai claims that no problem exists without internet protections, but ISPs have tried to violate net neutrality. Comcast blocked access in peer-to-peer technologies (2005), AT&T forced Apple to block Skype and other competing VOIP phone services (2007-09), and Verizon Wireless blocked people from putting apps on their phones (2012). Verizon testified in court that ISPs should be able to edit the internet. Before the regulations, the huge ISPs deliberated congested their networks to degrade speeds so that they could require new payments for better connections. Those are only a few attempts to eliminate internet choice.

Net neutrality is not government regulation of the internet: it is a set of safeguards stopping ISPs from selecting priority and speed for online content. Rules regulate companies, not the internet itself, so that carriers don’t interfere with speech.

In “Net Neutrality: In A Corporatist Government, Corporate Censorship Is State Censorship,” Caitlin Johnstone wrote:

Net neutrality is an obstacle for US oligarchs in that it hamstrings their ability to manipulate web traffic away from information which challenges their rule. By dismantling it, [they may] strangle the media revolution which for the first time in history caused America’s unelected power establishment to completely lose control of the narrative on both ends of the political spectrum in 2016.”

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) gives a shred of hope about keeping net neutrality. He said that he believes the courts will protect the current regulations if the Republicans overturn them. A year ago the DC District Court of Appeals supported net neutrality. It might again.

People need to fight the oligarchy and keep access to information.

May 8, 2017

Don’t Mess with Our Internet!

 

John Oliver, comedic satirist on HBO who was once on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, closed down the FCC comment website three years ago when he asked people to fight for net neutrality. The people who fought for an open net won, but a new administration led by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and a new FCC chair (Ajit Pai) appointed by DDT want to reverse the freedom to close the net. Last night, Oliver gave a brilliant description that thoroughly explained the situation. By this afternoon, the FCC had received over 100,000 comments.

People are permitted to comment on impending policies, but government websites have become much more convoluted. To simplify a need to wander the government links, Oliver has set a link that leads to making a comment. It’s www.gofccyourself.com which takes you to https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/proceedings?q=name:((17-108)). The process is still a bit convoluted. On the screen, press Submit a Filing at the top of the page and then Express Comment. The top box to complete requires the number of the case (17-108). There is also a telephone number to call with comments. (Pai has said that he’s looking at the “quality,” not the “quantity” of comments.)

You can also sign this petition.

Once again, Oliver’s commentary loaded the servers, and the site went down for a while. FCC is rather grumpy about it, blaming the crash on a denial-of-service attack on its website:

“These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host.”

The outcry came from people who wanted to preserve internet rights, the same people who persuaded FCC Chair Tom Wheeler to reclassify internet server providers (ISPs) as “common carriers” under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. In that way, companies cannot create “fast lanes” from preferred websites or slow down others because of larger or smaller payments to the ISPs.

Big ISPs have flooded the media with op-ed pieces praising Pai and his intention to get rid of Net Neutrality. Almost every piece came from those who have links to a group getting money from the cable and phone companies trying to bury Net Neutrality. People from these groups provided millions of dollars to these groups whose representatives are trying to persuade the public that they should be controlled by big business ISPs because NTA and CTIA pays them: the Technology Policy Institute, the Institute for Policy Innovation, Digital Liberty, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Task Force on Communications & Technology, wrote an April 28 piece for The Hill attacking the Obama administration’s Net Neutrality rules, and the Free State Foundation.

“Net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem,” according to ISP officials who typically claim that blocking has never happened. They say the market would prevent blocking by forcing ISPs to reopen their networks. They’re wrong. Here are a few abusive problems in search of a solution:

Madison River:  In 2005, North Carolina ISP Madison River Communications blocked the voice-over-internet protocol (VOIP) service Vonage. The FCC stepped in to sanction Madison River and prevent further blocking after Vonage complained, but it lacks the authority to stop this kind of abuse today.

Comcast: In 2005, the nation’s largest ISP, Comcast, began secretly blocking peer-to-peer technologies that its customers were using over its network so that users of services like BitTorrent and Gnutella were unable to connect to these services. Investigations in 2007 confirmed the Comcast action that they did not tell their customers.

Telus: In 2005, Canada’s second-largest telecommunications company began blocking access to a server that hosted a website supporting a labor strike against the company as well as another 766 unrelated sites.

AT&T: From 2007–2009, AT&T forced Apple to block Skype and other competing VOIP phone services on the iPhone to keep users from any app allowing them to make calls on such “over-the-top” voice services. The same thing happened to the Google Voice app in 2009.

Windstream: In 2010, this DSL provider with more than 1 million customers confessed to illegally seizing copped user-search queries on the Google toolbar within Firefox and redirected them to Windstream’s own search portal and results.

MetroPCS: In 2011, one of the top-five U.S. wireless carriers announced plans to block streaming video over its 4G network from all sources except YouTube and then supported Verizon’s court challenge against the FCC’s 2010 open internet ruling, hoping to continue its anti-consumer practices.

Paxfire: In 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation found that several small ISPs were redirecting search queries via the vendor Paxfire which would intercept a search at Bing and Yahoo to redirected it to another page. In that way, the ISPs could collect referral fees for delivering users to select websites.

AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon: From 2011–2013, these three companies blocked Google Wallet, a mobile-payment system, for force users into ISIS, a similar system that the companies had participated in developing.

Europe: A 2012 report from the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications found that violations of Net Neutrality affected at least one in five users in Europe.

Verizon: In 2012, Verizon Wireless blocked people from using tethering (sharing) applications on their phones that let users circumvent Verizon’s $20 tethering fee and turn their smartphones into Wi-Fi hot spots. By blocking those applications, Verizon violated a Net Neutrality pledge it made to the FCC as a condition of the 2008 airwaves auction.

AT&T: In 2012, AT&T announced that it would disable the FaceTime video-calling app on its customers’ iPhones unless they subscribed to a more expensive text-and-voice plan.

A court struck down the FCC’s rules in January 2014, and FCC Chair Tom Wheeler opened a public proceeding for a new order in May of that year. Millions of people urged the FCC to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, and in February 2015 the agency did just that by voting to regulate high-speed internet service as a utility. Last year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld these net neutrality regulations. Since his appointment in January 2017, FCC Chairman Pai has sought to dismantle the agency’s landmark Net Neutrality rules because cable companies have claimed that they are reliable enough to monitor themselves.

During the court proceedings, Verizon lawyer Helgi Walker freely confessed that the company wanted to prioritize websites and services willing to pay more money and then give them better access. She added that Verizon wants to block online content from companies and individuals not willing to pay enough to her company. Five time she said in court:

“I’m authorized to state from my client today that but for these rules we would be exploring those types of arrangements.”

When Judge Laurence Silberman asked if Verizon should be able to block any website or service that doesn’t pay the company’s proposed tolls, Walker said: “I think we should be able to; in the world I’m positing, you would be able to.”

Last month, the GOP Congress took away online privacy protections by overturning FCC’s Title II net neutrality broadband privacy order. ISPs can now sell personal information about their subscribers. Major providers are pledging to protect customers’ data, including browsing data, but they haven’t provided any definition of that they supposedly won’t be selling. And Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T plan to deliver ads “based on the websites visited by people who are not personally identified”—which means that they are collecting your browsing data. In a filing to the FCC earlier this year, CTIA, representing the major wireless ISPs, argued that “web browsing and app usage history are not ‘sensitive information'” and that ISPs should be able to share those records by default, unless a customer asks them not to.

To a complaint about the lack of privacy, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), 73, said, “Nobody’s got to use the internet.” GOP politicians are out of touch with the voters in many ways, especially because staffers do most of their work. Even DDT, known for his prolific tweets, refuses to use email most of the time. Assistants print out online articles for him to read from hardcopy. DDT supposedly wants to roll back net neutrality—most likely because he wants to roll back any progress by President Obama—but most likely he has no idea what net neutrality is.

Naysayers claim that protesting will do no good. Pai is using “jobs” as his excuse to give more money to big ISPs although they invested more money with net neutrality than before it. An open meeting on the topic is scheduled for May 18.

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