As top officials at Facebook and Twitter prepare for another round of grilling by congressional committees this week, Americans — in fact, people around the world — should be worrying about the enormous clout that a handful of giant online companies wield. But I don’t need to hear that particular warning from the guy who dismantled the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules.
Ajit Pai, who took over as chairman of the FCC after Republicans took control of the commission in January 2017, blogged Tuesday that he wanted more transparency, openness and respect for personal privacy from the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google. Funny, but these are the same qualities that the FCC tried to protect in 2015 with its net neutrality rules, only to have Pai and his GOP colleagues repeal them. Sauce for the gander, Mr. Chairman.
To help justify dumping net neutrality, Pai and other Republicans argued that dominant online platforms from the likes of Facebook and Apple were a bigger threat to openness than ISPs. Democrats, meanwhile, focused their fire on ISPs, noting that “edge providers” like Facebook got to where they are today based on choices made by consumers themselves. ISPs, by contrast, succeed because their businesses have enormous up-front costs and capital expenses that have minimized competition.
Regardless of whether you agree with Colin Kaepernick, you have to admit that he’s made a real financial sacrifice for his beliefs. And by featuring the former San Francisco 49er quarterback in a new round of promotions, Nike is risking a real financial sacrifice for Kaepernick’s beliefs too.
The question now is whether Nike’s support will do anything to clear up the widespread misunderstanding about what Kaepernick’s beliefs actually are.
The early signs are not good.
First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive? pic.twitter.com/4CVQdTHUH4
On Monday President Trump tweeted out yet another attack on Jeff Sessions, this one suggesting that the attorney general was being disloyal by permitting the prosecution of two Republican House members in an election year:
Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff......
As in: “Good job Jeff, not using the Justice Department to settle political scores”? That was the meaning Trump’s critics took from the sarcasm-laced tweet, and it’s hard to come up with a more benign interpretation.
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.
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.
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.”
Et tu In-N-Out? Tens of thousands of dollars donated to the California Republican Party... it’s time to #BoycottInNOut - let Trump and his cronies support these creeps... perhaps animal style!https://t.co/9zkdFaG5CJ
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: Facebook, Microsoft 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.
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.