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AP’s Today in History for September 2nd
Japan signs surrender, officially ending World War II; Union forces occupy Atlanta during the Civil War; A great fire ravages medieval London; Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh dies; Wreckage of the Titanic found.
Breakfast Tune Battle Hymn Of The Republic
Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below
We’ve repeatedly tried to make it clear that while everybody tends to focus on the death of net neutrality itself, the Pai FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” order killing net neutrality had a farbroader impact than just killing net neutrality rules. As part of the repeal, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T also convinced FCC boss Ajit Pai to effectively neuter FCC authority over ISPs entirely, making it harder for the agency to hold giant ISPs accountable on a wide variety of issues ranging from privacy to transparency (the recent fire fighter kerfuffle being a prime example).
The order also attempts to ban individual states from holding giant ISPs accountable as well, though early ISP efforts to take advantage of this legal language haven’t gone very well. In an effort to double down on weakening state oversight of natural telecom monopolies, Comcast lobbyists at the NCTA (the cable industry’s biggest lobbying and policy organization) have also started petitioning the FTC, urging it to similarly “pre-empt” (read: ban or ignore) state-level efforts to protect consumers:
“The FTC should ensure that the Internet is subject to uniform, consistent federal regulations, including by issuing guidance explicitly setting forth that inconsistent state and local requirements are preempted,” the NCTA wrote.
The FCC is already trying to preempt state net neutrality laws at the urging of industry groups, and courts might ultimately have to decide whether federal agencies can preempt such rules.
“The FTC should endorse and reinforce the FCC’s ruling by issuing guidance to state attorneys general and consumer protection authorities reaffirming that they are bound by FCC and FTC precedent in this arena,” NCTA argued.”
The shorter version: the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom order effectively cripples the FCC’s ability to protect consumers, then shovels any remaining enforcement authority over to the FTC, which is ill-equipped to actually police the telecom market. Predicting that states would then try to jump in and fill the oversight accountability vacuum (which is precisely what started happening on both net neutrality and privacy), ISPs have also been urging both the FCC and the FTC to ban states from doing so.
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Jennifer Bendery and Igor Bobic, HuffPo
Something to think about over coffee prozac
Twitter users knew something was up last week when they noticed a bunch of accounts with “Amazon FC Ambassador” in their display names, saying things like “I actually do make a decent living working at Amazon” and “I can use the restroom anytime I want!” Suspicion was warranted: Amazon confirmed this week that it’s been giving perks to warehouse workers who tweet positive things about their employer.
The astroturfing campaign comes amid escalating public scrutiny of Amazon, driven largely by Bernie Sanders’ near-daily criticism of its CEO Jeff Bezos. Sanders has been bashing Bezos in an effort to draw attention to a larger complex of related issues, from wealth inequality to labor abuses to corporate welfare. Bezos is exemplary on all counts: his company’s labor practices are abhorrent, he’s excessively rich, and the public subsidizes his profits through taxes.
Sanders has been stressing the latter point of late. “Mr. Bezos continues to pay many thousands of his Amazon employees wages that are so low that they are forced to depend on taxpayer-funded programs, such as food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing in order to survive,” the senator said in a video last week. “Frankly, I don’t believe that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest people in the world because they pay their employees inadequate wages.”
Taxpayers often subsidize corporate profits indirectly. The boss pays pennies or is stingy with benefits, and tax-funded public social programs make up the difference. Or the company receives a huge tax break and uses the money to line executives’ pockets.
But as explored in a new report form the Institute for Policy studies, there are many corporations that receive direct public subsidies, too. And their CEO-to-median-worker pay ratios are out of control.