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215 posts
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) reads a list of consumer and advocacy groups that came to Sacramento to support his net neutrality bill.
Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) reads a list of consumer and advocacy groups that came to Sacramento to support his net neutrality bill. (Katy Murphy/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

It’s hard to find a more powerful lobbying group in Sacramento than the telecom companies, and on Wednesday they flexed their muscles again.

The Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance quickly carved several giant loopholes in a Senate-passed net neutrality bill, allowing broadband internet service providers to (among other things) charge websites and services fees to reach the ISPs’ customers, exempt their own content from the data caps applied to rival services, and throttle entire classes of applications in the name of network management.

The amended measure (SB 822 by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco) still offers broad protections for net neutrality, barring ISPs from blocking, slowing or prioritizing for a fee any lawful data on their networks. It also includes a general rule against ISPs unreasonably interfering with the ability of consumers to use the websites and services they prefer, or the ability of sites and services to reach their customers.

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President Trumps sits in the White House with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence.
President Trumps sits in the White House with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

The nation should be thankful that President Trump finally came to his senses and ended the inhumane and traumatizing practice of separating children from their immigrant parents who illegally enter the United States.

Facing an extraordinary backlash not just from Democrats but from Republicans, every living former first lady (including his own wife), United Nations human rights officials, Willie Nelson, Pope Francis and many, many others who reacted in dismay to photos and videos of crying children corralled in metal cages, Trump probably had little choice.

But his solution — detaining entire families together while the adults face, in most cases, misdemeanor charges of illegal entry — raises enormously troubling problems of its own. Innocent children do not belong in jails or detention centers, as a 20-year-old federal consent decree acknowledges.

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  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, right, in a cabinet meeting early in the administration.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, right, in a cabinet meeting early in the administration. (Pool)

If there’s a small silver lining to be found in the cloud that descended over Washington with the Trump inauguration, it might be that placing billionaires and unprincipled people in positions of power has exposed weaknesses in federal ethics rules.

Politico reported Tuesday on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s role in a proposed development project funded by the chairman of Halliburton in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana. 

  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta talks to reporters during a briefing at the White House on June 12, 2017.
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta talks to reporters during a briefing at the White House on June 12, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/Washington Post)

The Trump administration on Tuesday released the details of its latest effort to cut some Americans’ insurance premiums — and undermine Obamacare in the process. The surprise is that, unlike every other initiative from this crew, it may well help some people obtain real coverage at a lower price. What’s not surprising is that the move will make the state Obamacare exchanges  more expensive and less stable than they are today.

The final rule released by the Labor Department would open up association health plans — the sorts of coverage offered by local chambers of commerce, trade groups, professional associations and the like — to more employers and self-employed individuals. The idea is to give a wider range of small businesses’ employees and sole proprietors an alternative to the state Obamacare exchanges and local insurance markets.

Because these plans would be governed by the same federal laws that regulate the benefits large employers offer their workers (such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), they would have many of the same protections that Obamacare extended to the non-group market. Most significantly, the plans could not deny coverage or charge higher premiums based on preexisting conditions.

Pangas getting in Orange County by, police believe, people sneaking into the country shows why a border wall is a waste of money.
Pangas getting in Orange County by, police believe, people sneaking into the country shows why a border wall is a waste of money. (Laguna Beach Police Department)

There’s a certain irony to this: While President Trump was commenting yet again about walling off the border with Mexico, authorities were discovering pangas — small Mexican fishing boats — beached in Orange County by, police believe, migrants evading border controls.

So build a wall and people will just find a way around it. Or over it. Or under it.

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Inmates watch TV in the converted day room at the California Institution for Women in Chino–Corona.
Inmates watch TV in the converted day room at the California Institution for Women in Chino–Corona. (Los Angeles Times)

The scenes of parents being separated from their children at the border are shocking and shameful. But taking children from their mothers is not a new practice nor is it inflicted only on border-crossers. It is the way the American penal system regularly treats women in the criminal justice system, whose children often suffer lives of deprivation, stigma, loneliness and trauma as a result.

There are currently about 219,000 women behind bars in the United States, according to a study by the American Civil Liberties Union last year, about eight times as many as were incarcerated in 1970.

Of those, 80% are mothers, and most are the primary caretakers of their children — or were, before they were separated.

  • Opinion
Mexico fans brought an unsavory tradition to the World Cup: chanting an anti-gay slur at opposing players.
Mexico fans brought an unsavory tradition to the World Cup: chanting an anti-gay slur at opposing players. (Jorge Nunez / EPA/Shutterstock)

Here’s a reason not to root for Mexico in the World Cup soccer tournament: fans of El Tri chanting anti-gay slurs at players on the field.

FIFA, the troubled organization that oversees world soccer, opened an investigation into reports that Mexico fans chanted the insult Sunday as German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer got ready for a goal kick (putting the ball back in play after it went out of bounds).

  • Trump
  • Opinion
Workers transfer soybeans at a port in eastern China in April. The U.S. and China are slapping escalating tariffs on each other's goods.
Workers transfer soybeans at a port in eastern China in April. The U.S. and China are slapping escalating tariffs on each other's goods. (AFP/Getty Images)

Chances are pretty good that you haven’t felt the sting of President Trump’s punitive tariff policies. But you will.

The president announced late Monday that China had (unsurprisingly) refused to buckle in the face of his decision to slap tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods imported into the United States. Instead, China had retaliated with tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. exports, “threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong,” the administration said in a statement.

Therefore, Trump said, the administration will identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to be hit with an additional 10% tariff. “If China increases its tariffs yet again, we will meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200 billion of goods,” Trump declared, adding, “The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable.”

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Migrant families wait to be processed at the United States Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen, Texas.
Migrant families wait to be processed at the United States Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen, Texas. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol)

As condemnations grow over President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal border crossings, under which 2,000 children have been separated from their parents, President Trump on Monday morning took aim at … Germany.

“The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition,” the president tweeted. “Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!” He followed that with: “We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!”

Somebody get that man an atlas. The migration problems confronting Germany and its neighbors arose directly from war in the Middle East (a war in which the U.S. is an active participant) and instability in sub-Saharan Africa, which together have sent more than a million refugees to the nearest stable destination: Europe.

  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
White House senior advisor Stephen Miller, third from right, listens to President Trump discuss immigration policy on May 16.
White House senior advisor Stephen Miller, third from right, listens to President Trump discuss immigration policy on May 16. (Evan Vucci)

It has happened to all of us. Here you are, innocently cruising the Web for sports highlights or something similarly benign when you stumble across a story on Yahoo. “Sure,” you think, “I would like to see Steph Curry’s game-winning shot from Pluto and some attached commentary.”

So you click.

Everything starts off OK. But then, one thing leads to another, and you wade into the comment section — where things immediately become awful.