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Dec 012010

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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski today endorsed the use of metered-broadband internet pricing as he formally unveiled proposed rules to prevent Internet providers from interfering with traffic. Amy Schatz has details.

WASHINGTON—The top U.S. telecommunications regulator on Wednesday endorsed the idea that broadband providers could charge extra for providing heavy Internet users with lots of online video or data-heavy services such as videogames.

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, backed “usage-based pricing” while outlining proposed rules that would bar Internet providers from deliberately tampering or slowing legal Web traffic.

Mr. Genachowski’s support for pay-as-you-go pricing represents a victory for cable and telecommunications companies, some of which have been pushing regulators to clarify whether broadband providers had the power to charge by what users consumed.

“We were appreciative of them clarifying it,” said AT&T Inc. Senior Vice President Robert W. Quinn, Jr.

But communications providers may still get pushback from consumers, Silicon Valley and lawmakers on pay-as-you-pricing depending on how network operators implement such plans.

Last April, Time Warner Cable Inc. shelved its tests of usage-based pricing after a consumer outcry and pressure from some lawmakers.

Some consumers complained the caps on data usage were too low and the pricing tiers were too expensive. In one trial, Time Warner Cable offered plans with five gigabytes of monthly data for $30 and 40 gigabytes for $55. Exceeding those caps cost $1 for each gigabyte.

Watching one streamed high-definition movie would consume about four gigabytes of data.

The advent of usage-based pricing could harm the development of the Internet, say critics. The rapid adoption of fast Internet service was fueled in part by the availability of all-you-can-eat service plans. Consumers didn’t have to worry about exceeding bandwidth limits.

Reaction to the proposal was mixed. Several venture capitalists, including John Doerr, voiced support. A coalition of Internet companies, including Vonage Holdings Corp. and Google Inc., said they will work to limit broadband providers’ ability to extract extra payments for faster delivery.

The proposal also exposed divisions within the FCC. Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps said he would continue to press for tougher so-called net neutrality rules than the chairman outlined. “It’s no secret that I am looking for the strongest protections we can get to preserve an open Internet built on the most secure legal foundation, so we don’t find ourselves in court every other month,” Mr. Copps said.

The FCC’s two Republican members blasted the proposal. Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker said the FCC does “not have authority to act” while Commissioner Robert McDowell said he would “strongly oppose this ill-advised maneuver.”

It’s been more than a year since the FCC chairman proposed net neutrality rules, but that effort hit a snag this spring when a federal appeals court questioned the FCC’s authority to enforce them.

In May, Mr. Genachowski suggested re-regulating Internet lines would give the FCC clearer authority to act as an Internet traffic cop, reversing a 2002 decision that deregulated them. At the time, Mr. Genachowski said he had little choice because the agency didn’t have legal authority as things stood.

He has since made an about-face on that issue, saying Wednesday the agency has “a sound legal basis” for acting as an Internet traffic cop without re-regulating Internet lines.

Mr. Genachowski’s proposals would require Internet providers to tell consumers how they are managing traffic on their networks, and bar “unreasonable discrimination” of traffic. They also include more limited restrictions for mobile networks, which are already straining under the load of increased data traffic.

Details about Mr. Genachowski’s proposal remain scarce and are likely to change before the FCC is scheduled to vote on the proposal Dec. 21.

Republican lawmakers expressed hostility toward the FCC’s actions Wednesday. Rep. Joe Barton (R, Tex.) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R, Fla.) demanded Mr. Genachowski explain why he didn’t think he had authority to enforce net neutrality in May but now believes he does. Meanwhile, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R, Va.) promised lawmakers would “conduct rigorous oversight and explore all our legislative options to put things back on the proper track.”

Public interest groups said they’d work with FCC Democrats to strengthen the rules. They worry the FCC doesn’t have authority to enforce net neutrality as Mr. Genachowski has suggested and the issue will end up in federal appeals courts for years.

Write to Amy Schatz at

Dec 012010

He is being told he has not been recognized…

Then there’s a parrot in her ear TELLING her what to say…

For what purpose blah-blah…

5 minute special orders are NOT being recognized…

It is being entertained at this time…recognition is within the discretion of the speaker–recognize & entertain this heifer!

Dec 012010

~Grrr…Colin Powell endorses president’s push for strategic arms treaty

NOTE: There are three reports from Heritage contained in this post showing why START JUST MUST be halted…

Speaking to the French Minister of Defense this February, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates purportedly said that “Russian democracy has disappeared” and that “the government was an oligarchy run by the security services.” Fast forward to a CNN broadcast scheduled to air tonight, where the Batman of Russia’s oligarchy, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, threatened the U.S. with a new arms race unless Senators acquiesce to President Barack Obama’s New START treaty. Putin tells CNN it would take “a very dumb nature” for the Senate not to pass the treaty and that if they don’t give in, “then we’ll have to react somehow,” including the deployment of new nuclear missile technology.

Putin’s statements come on the back of news that, in defiance of pledges made to the U.S. in the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of the 1990s, Russia moved short-range tactical nuclear warheads to facilities near NATO borders earlier this spring. And according to U.S. intelligence, Iran recently received 19 BM-25 missiles from North Korea that are capable of reaching European cities. Don’t worry though, Putin also tells CNN about Iran: “But such a threat, as of now, doesn’t exist.”

Putin and President Obama believe that New START is a great deal for our national security. But not everyone agrees. Former CIA Director James Woolsey, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph, and former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman have all argued that New START actually weakens our defenses.

The Heritage Foundation has identified twelve flaws of New START, including the following:


–Unacceptable Limits to Missile Defense

–Inadequate Verification Regime

–Tactical Nukes Ignored

–Rail-Mobile ICBMs Exempted

by Conn Carroll full article

Taxes-for-New START Deal is Not the Change Americans Voted For

For two election cycles in row, a frustrated American people voted to throw out the incumbent party because they did not like how Washington was operating. In 2008 the Republicans lost the White House and in 2010 the Democrats lost the House. The message from the American people is clear: stop the cynical back room deal making and start addressing our nation’s problems in a principled way. But some in Washington just refuse to hear this message. The Washington Post is reporting that the White House is offering to allow a temporary extension of current tax rates in exchange for ratification of the New START treaty. Worse, some Republicans are considering the deal:

On Tuesday, according to people in the room, both sides engaged in the kind of cross-party dealmaking that seems to have faded away in today’s Washington. The participants emerged smiling and with a loose framework – though they did not outline it publicly – that could result in the temporary extension of all the tax cuts, as well as the ratification of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, the continuation of unemployment benefits and funding for government operations into next year.

National security is one of the primary responsibilities of the United States Congress. It is right there in the Preamble to the United States Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

New START either is, or is not, good for national security (we think its not). Senators should vote on the merits of New START by itself. It is absolutely shameful that any Senator from any party would use New START as a bargaining chip on tax policy. We hope that reports of any taxes-for-New START deal are wildly inaccurate.

Conn Carroll

Ambiguities Surrounding New START Treaty Still Unresolved

Ratification of the New START treaty was high on the agenda of the so-called “slurpy summit” between President Obama and leaders from both parties at the White House yesterday morning. The President has made adoption of the nuclear arms reduction agreement between the US and Russia by year’s end “a national security imperative.”

While the meeting took place behind close doors, the President had this to say about his two-hour chat with the Democratic and Republicans leaders of the House and the Senate:

I reminded the room that this treaty has been vetted for seven months now; it’s gone through 18 hearings; it has support from senators of both parties; it has broad bipartisan support from national security advisers and secretaries of Defense and secretaries of State from previous administrations, both Democrat and Republican; and that it’s absolutely essential to our national security. We need to get it done.

If only we knew what the treaty actually meant.

Indeed, six months after Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee formally requested access to the negotiation records to clarify a crucially important ambiguity in the treaty, New START’s implications remain unclear.

Steven Groves has shown how the treaty’s reference to “the interrelationship between strategic offensive and defensive arms” in the preamble is ambiguous and has been interpreted very differently by the United States and the Russian Federation. The Obama administration and the Russians not only disagree about the meaning of the preamble, they don’t even agree about its legal status. While the State Department maintains the “preambular language is not legally binding,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says it is “legally binding.”

The Obama administration’s continued refusal to grant access to the negotiation record prevents an informed debate and deliberation in the Senate, thereby obstructing the Senate’s constitutionally mandated role to provide “advice and consent” on all U.S. treaties. As Marion Smith has argued:

This denial is tantamount to refusing the Senate an honest debate and undermines the Senate’s role in providing advice and consent. For many on the Left, however, the lack of debate is not a problem since the virtues of arms control are assumed and any debate is viewed as divisive partisanship. But Senators and the American people should not accept this misunderstanding of the Senate’s function. Policy arguments are not disruptive to the legislative process; informed debate is essential to deliberation.

Like President Washington who enabled Senators to exercise fully their constitutional role by providing negotiation records surrounding the Jay Treaty, President Obama must help the Senate resolve any lingering ambiguities before any vote takes place.

by David Azerrad

Dec 012010


Should bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., set rules for the Internet? Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), thinks so. In remarks today, he stated that he had developed a new plan to impose so-called “net neutrality” rules on Internet service providers, setting a vote on the issue for December 21.

Details of the plan are yet to be released, but the chairman indicated that the plan was based on a legislative proposal floated a month ago by Representative Henry Waxman (D–CA). That plan, however, was soundly rejected by Congress. Genachowski’s plan—which the FCC would adopt without specific approval by Congress—should be rejected as well.

The Waxman proposal would have banned Internet providers such as Verizon and Comcast from managing the flow of traffic on their networks in a way that “unjustly or unreasonably” discriminates against particular types of content. The new rules would have been enforced on a case-by-case basis by the FCC. This plan was an improvement from earlier calls by regulation proponents to ban nearly all types of traffic management. But the case-by-case approach leaves vast discretion in the hands of the FCC: Could a provider take steps to limit “bandwidth hogs” who are consuming vast amounts of available capacity? Could it offer “priority service” to willing content providers for a fee? These questions are left for the commission to handle at its discretion. Such discretion is not only dangerous, but it is hardly likely to create the consistent regulatory atmosphere necessary to encourage needed investment in the Internet.

Moreover, the approach would no doubt encourage gamesmanship by businesses of all sorts. That was shown earlier this week, when communications provider Level 3, in a business spat with Comcast over how much it would pay Comcast—if anything—for Comcast to handle traffic from Level 3’s network. Such negotiations are common among networks, and the longstanding system of private interconnection agreements has worked quite well. Yet Level 3 now claims that Comcast’s request for payment to carry Level 3’s traffic violates net neutrality rules. The argument is hogwash, but it has caused a political stir that promises to help Level 3 in its ongoing negotiations.

~JUST Today…

—> Comcast, Netflix partner feud over ‘open Internet’

Moreover, the approach would no doubt encourage gamesmanship by businesses of all sorts. That was shown earlier this week, when communications provider Level 3, in a business spat with Comcast over how much it would pay Comcast—if anything—for Comcast to handle traffic from Level 3’s network. Such negotiations are common among networks, and the longstanding system of private interconnection agreements has worked quite well. Yet Level 3 now claims that Comcast’s request for payment to carry Level 3’s traffic violates net neutrality rules. The argument is hogwash, but it has caused a political stir that promises to help Level 3 in its ongoing negotiations.

Whatever happens on December 21, the net neutrality issue is unlikely to be settled anytime soon. To start with, the FCC has no apparent statutory authority to regulate the Internet at all. Nothing in the Communications Act explicitly gives the FCC power to regulate, and just this spring a federal court firmly rejected the FCC’s argument for “ancillary” jurisdiction. It will take some fancy footwork for FCC lawyers to find an alternative argument.

At the same time, Congress seems dead set against such regulation. The Waxman proposal, for instance, got nowhere fast, and the new Congress will certainly be more skeptical of such regulation.

Yet it appears that Genachowski intends to ignore the courts—and ignore Congress—in order to impose regulation. Hopefully, wiser heads among the five members of the FCC will prevail. If not, Congress should use its power to intervene.


Dec 012010
USE veggie_monster

UPDATE from Char

It looks like the draconian FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) may be killed in the House, according to Roll Call, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill.

A food safety bill that has burned up precious days of the Senate’s lame-duck session appears headed back to the chamber because Democrats violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House.

By pre-empting the House’s tax-writing authority, Senate Democrats appear to have touched off a power struggle with members of their own party in the House. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, sending it to the House, but House Democrats are expected to use a procedure known as “blue slipping” to block the bill, according to House and Senate GOP aides.

House May Block Food Safety Bill Over Senate Error By John Stanton * Roll Call Staff

The people didn’t send them to compromise with ruin

Roll Call reports an embarrassing little legislative snafu in the Senate on Tuesday, in which a massive food-safety bill which includes tax hikes “violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House.” It would appear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has never actually read the Constitution during his thousand-year tenure.

I wonder if the executives of Harrah’s Casino in Vegas would have ordered their employees to vote for him if they had known.

Roll Call characterizes this “debacle” as a “major embarrassment for Senate Democrats.” I have a more embarrassing question: what the hell are they doing, fooling around with a massive expansion of power for the Food and Drug Administration in the lame-duck session of Congress, when the government still doesn’t have a budget? Why are they trying to pass a bill salted with tax increases, when the expiration of the Bush tax cuts hangs over the economy like a headsman’s axe?

Although plenty of Republicans signed on to that food-safety bill, they now insist they will “block action on virtually all Democratic-backed legislation unrelated to tax cuts and government spending in the current post-election session of Congress,” according to an Associated Press report. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told ABC News in an interview this morning, “One thing I think we all agreed on at the White House was that we ought to do first things first and what the American people want to know is are my taxes going up and how are you going to fund the government.”

President Obama has dispatched Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Budget Director Jacob Lew to negotiate with the Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts. This is an encouraging step, because Tim Geithner knows a lot about avoiding taxes.

Everyone in the political class is now wringing their hands about “gridlock,” both in the post-election session and the next full Congress. “The American people did not vote for gridlock,” intoned the President after a Tuesday meeting with congressional leaders. “They did not vote for unyielding partisanship. They’re demanding cooperation, and they’re demanding progress, and they’ll hold all of us – and I mean all of us – accountable.”

You know what else the American people didn’t vote for? Reaching a “compromise” with Obama’s titanic expansion of an already bloated federal government. Federal spending was about 18% of our national Gross Domestic Product when George Bush took office in 2000, and rose to 20.65% by 2008. That’s bad… but under two years of Obama, it has surged to 25.44% of GDP. That’s right – federal spending now constitutes over a quarter of our national economy. Bargaining it down to an even 25% would be no victory. If a thief steals your wallet, but you talk him into letting you keep bus fare for a ride home, you haven’t made “progress” through a grand “compromise.”

There is no room for “compromise” with what the Left wants to do. The closest thing to an “idea” bubbling out of the Democrat Party is raising taxes and throwing more money away on “stimulus” spending, since it has become an article of religious faith that the last trillion dollars of federal pork just wasn’t enough.

Voters didn’t send a tidal wave of new Republicans to Congress in order to make deals with the President and party that have dragged their nation to the edge of ruin. The philosophy that carried us to the edge of a deficit pit, filled with the poisoned spikes of Social Security and Medicare insolvency, is wholly incompatible with the ideas that can save us.

Full article by John Hayward of Human Events