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426 posts
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Even if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a state net neutrality bill into law, its restrictions on broadband providers may be hard to enforce.
Even if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a state net neutrality bill into law, its restrictions on broadband providers may be hard to enforce. (Gary Bogdon / Orlando Sentinel)

Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast could not stop the California Legislature from passing tough state net neutrality rules to replace the federal ones repealed last year by the Federal Communications Commission. But they did manage to yank out most of the rules’ teeth.

ISPs argued that the net neutrality bill (SB 822) by state Sens. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) would violate federal law, harm investment in broadband and even raise mobile phone bills. And drawing on the telecommunications industry’s enormous clout in Sacramento, they appeared to have the upper hand for a time in the debate, managing to neuter SB 822 in an Assembly committee.

That victory proved to be temporary. The public so strongly supports net neutrality — and rightly so, given that the free and open nature of the internet has been vital to its transformative nature — that the bill’s sponsors were able to restore it to full strength and push the final version through the two chambers Thursday and Friday. It now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown's signature.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak in June.
President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak in June. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Whatever you think of President Trump, you have to admit that he’s an astute reader of politics. So he was right when he told Bloomberg News reporters Thursday that, although he was insisting on total capitulation from Canada in the negotiations over a new North American Free Trade Agreement, he couldn’t say so publicly. Doing so would be “so insulting” to the Canadians, Trump reportedly said, “they’re not going to be able to make a deal.”

Unfortunately for Trump, those remarks — which were supposed to be kept off the record — showed up Friday in one of Canada’s largest newspapers, the Toronto Star. Which splashed them across the top of its website under the headline, “Bombshell leak to Toronto Star upends NAFTA talks: In secret ‘so insulting’ remarks, Trump says he isn’t compromising at all with Canada.”

We should not be surprised, then, that negotiators for the United States and Canada were unable to reach a deal on NAFTA by Trump’s self-imposed deadline of Friday. For now at least, Canada appears to be, umm, not totally capitulating. Although negotiations will continue, it’s not clear whether there will be a new deal signed by the end of the year, or whether NAFTA will be replaced with just a bilateral agreement between the United States and Mexico.

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A new government report says the Census Bureau is falling behind on some schedules as experts worry about cybersecurity.
A new government report says the Census Bureau is falling behind on some schedules as experts worry about cybersecurity. (Michelle R. Smith / Associated Press)

In less than two years — on April 1, 2020 — the federal government will for the first time rely on the internet to conduct the decennial census used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives, set legislative and congressional district boundary lines, and determine how much federal funding goes where.

But it looks like the Census Bureau has a long way to go to be ready on time. A Government Accountability Office report released Thursday said that “as of June 2018, the Bureau had identified nearly 3,100 security weaknesses that will need to be addressed in the coming months.” But it has fallen behind on its testing schedule and has failed to fill 33 of 58 positions overseeing the contractor hired to manage the technology, which “adds risk that the office may not be able to provide adequate oversight of contractor cost, schedule, and performance.”

  • Opinion
  • Election 2018

Can’t we just eat in peace?

Apparently not, thanks to a tweet by California Democratic Party Chairman Eric C. Bauman calling on Democrats to boycott Southern California’s own In-N-Out Burger because the company dropped a wad of cash on the state Republican Party.

That seems nakedly political on its face. But before you swear off the In-N-Out drive-through, here’s some food for thought: The fast food chain is hardly the only big business to donate to the California Republican Party. So have other companies that you may have heard of: FacebookMicrosoft and the parent company of Disneyland. Oh, and Verizon, Target and Southern California Edison, which supplies electricity to much of the greater Los Angeles area. And that’s just a small sample.

  • Opinion
  • Election 2018

Beto O'Rourke didn't need anyone's help to look cool.

He's the young Democrat challenging incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this fall. Yes, the same Cruz who is so legendarily unlikable that former Vice President Joe Biden once joked that he told President Obama to nominate him to the Supreme Court — because then "you'll have eight vacancies."

Voters aren't huge fans either. In polls measuring both job approval (how well voters think he's doing at his job) and favorability (how much they like him in general), the majority of respondents fell into the "yeah, that guy’s terrible" camp.

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  • Opinion
  • Rich Guys
Elon Musk.
Elon Musk. (Kiichiro Sato / Associated Press)

Elon Musk has had a tough year.

By his own admission, he's spending 120 hours a week at the office. He says his physical health and personal relationships have suffered.

And yet, he has found time to tweet.

  • Opinion
  • Election 2018

Idiomatic English is stuffed to the gills with animal imagery (see what I did there?), including several frequently uttered allusions to monkeys.

Inconsiderate passengers monkey with your car radio. A broken bone can throw a monkey wrench into your vacation plans. Finding mistakes in my blog posts can be more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

But as far as I can tell, governors have never been said to monkey up a state’s economy. 

  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump listens as Paula White leads a prayer at the White House.
President Trump listens as Paula White leads a prayer at the White House. (Olivier Douliery / EPA-Shutterstock)

At a lovefest with his evangelical supporters on Monday night at the White House, President Trump boasted about having gotten “rid of” a provision in tax law that prevents churches from endorsing political candidates.

“They really have silenced you,” Trump told the evangelical ministers, according to a recording quoted by the New York Times. “But now you’re not silenced anymore.”

Not for the first time, Trump had his facts wrong.

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  • Opinion
Marianne Jauncey works as medical director at the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Sydney, Australia, in 2016.
Marianne Jauncey works as medical director at the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Sydney, Australia, in 2016. (Rick Rycroft / Associated Press)

Doesn’t the U.S. Department of Justice have better things to do than threaten cities trying to save people from overdosing on opioids?

California is among a handful of states and cities exploring whether to open safe drug injection sites, clean clinic-like facilities where addicts can use their illicitly obtained drugs under medical supervision so they don’t accidentally give themselves a lethal dose like some 64,000 Americans did in 2016, the most recent year with good data.

This week, the California Legislature gave final approval to a bill to let San Francisco open a safe injection facility — which is fortunate, given that city officials had decided to go ahead with one with or without state approval.

But Deputy U.S. Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein warned in an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday that the feds won’t condone this violation of federal law.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
President Trump lashed out Tuesday against Google, whose icon is shown here on a mobile phone, for its treatment of conservative news sites.
President Trump lashed out Tuesday against Google, whose icon is shown here on a mobile phone, for its treatment of conservative news sites. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

President Trump weighed in again Tuesday on the alleged social media conspiracy against conservatives, this time singling out Alphabet subsidiary Google. You and I might think that news and views from the right (or any ideological vantage point) are surpassingly easy to find online. But Trump argues that Google is doing its part to change that:

Trump evidently based his tweets on reporting by PJ Media’s Paula Bolyard, who compared the results of a Google News search for Trump against a “media bias” chart developed by right-of-center investigative journalist (and vaccine skeptic) Sharyl Attkisson. Even if you don’t accept the findings of the chart, you have to concede one of Bolyard’s points: that Google’s results heavily favor popular mass-market media outlets. 

But here’s the thing. If you compare the search results for “President Trump” on Google against the results from any other search engine — Bing, say, or DuckDuckGo — you’ll get very similar links. So, too, if you search Google for any other topic. Big outlets dominate. (One of which, by the way, is Fox News, which is the most effective pro-Trump outlet on the planet.)