The FCC Is Ready to Privatize the Internet
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The FCC Is Ready to Privatize the Internet

Death Knell for ‘Net Neutrality’ as Commission Prepares to Turn Over Web Control to Telecom Companies

Net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission plans to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for companies to charge more and block access to some websites.

The proposal by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is a sweeping repeal of the rules put in place under former President Barack Obama.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai said. The proposal is widely expected to be approved at a Dec. 14 meeting. The winners in this would be giant companies that provide internet access to phones and computers.

Alabama. Trump defended Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama accused of sexual misconduct with minors. Trump said Alabama voters should not support Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate in a special election on Dec. 12. “We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones,” Trump said.

Nearly all the Republican establishment in Washington have abandoned Moore, but Trump pointed to Moore’s denial of the allegations.

A GOP source close to the White House told CNN’s Jim Acosta that Trump sees what’s happening to Moore as similar to the accusations of sexual abuse leveled against Trump himself during the 2016 campaign.

Harassment. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to (his) sexual advances.” Congress’s Office of Compliance has for decades concealed episodes of sexual abuse by powerful political figures. Congress has no human resources department. Congressional employees have 180 days to report sexual harassment to the Office of Compliance. A lengthy process involves counseling and mediation and requires signing a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward. An employee can go to federal court or have an administrative hearing. The victim has to pay for legal representation. The office of the harasser is represented for free by the House counsel. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and colleagues in the House and Senate have introduced legislation to overhaul the complaint process, including requiring the Office of Compliance to publicly name the office of any member who enters into a settlement.

Keystone. The Nebraska Public Service Commission approved the Keystone XL pipeline but with an alternate route that leaves serious questions about whether the $8 billion pipeline will be built. Obama rejected TransCanada’s application to cross the U.S. border in November 2015, the first time a head of state relied on climate effects to turn away a big fossil-fuel development project. The Trump administration signed the construction permit in March. TransCanada had objected to the alternate route because it would be longer and cost more. The company now faces years of additional state regulatory review and court proceedings if it wants to go ahead.

Public records. The Trump White House tried to block public access to visitor logs of five federal offices working directly for the president even though they were subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Property of the People, a Washington-based transparency group, successfully sued to get the date and provided the documents to ProPublica. You can search here.

November 22, 2017