Treating the internet as a public utility will entrench the billing practices of today, with ISPs billing lower-end users for the cost of infrastructure that only higher-end users benefit from. By denying ISPs and their backbone peers the right to discriminate against bandwidth-hog content providers like Netflix, the President’s Net Neutrality Plan encourages them to discriminate against America’s hardest-working families instead. Low-level internet users, for whom internet access is a basic lifeline they use to find or keep jobs or compete in school, will pay more for access so wealthier families can stream Netflix in full quality without paying bandwidth surcharges. If this is innovation, Americans are better off having no part of it.
NSA, DEA, IRS Lie About Fact That Americans Are Routinely Spied On By Our Government
Jennifer Granick and Chris Jon Sprigman shred the Obama administration’s assurances on NSA surveillance:
The Obama Administration repeatedly has assured us that the NSA does not collect the private information of ordinary Americans. Those statements simply are not true. We now know that the agency regularly intercepts and inspects Americans’ phone calls, emails, and other communications, and it shares this information with other federal agencies that use it to investigate drug trafficking and tax evasion. Worse, DEA and IRS agents are told to lie to judges and defense attorneys about their use of NSA data, and about the very existence of the SOD, and to make up stories about how these investigations started so that no one will know information is coming from the NSA’s top secret surveillance programs.
Joe Eskenazi of SF Weekly blasts the SFMTA’s Chinatown Central Subway project as a budget-busting (and foot-busting) nightmare:
A map and chart obtained from Muni via a public records request breaks down this journey into what may well be the world’s longest transfer — from Union Square/Market Street to Powell… This trip, Muni calculated, will take an able-bodied person seven minutes and six seconds.
The one piece of the project that has come in under-budget? The art in the proposed subway tunnel’s concourses. Don’t celebrate too loudly, though, until you hear the reason why.
Finding artists to decorate the Central Subway project has been a project of its own. In 2011, a furor erupted when it was revealed that sculptor Tom Otterness — recipient of a $750,000 contract to create art for San Francisco General Hospital and the Central Subway — shot a dog to death on film as a work of “art” in 1977…
In San Francisco, you can ram through a logistically nightmarish transit project of questionable worth even as the estimated ridership and price tags cross each other headed in the wrong directions. But you’re not going to decorate it with the work of someone who did something awful to a dog in the 1970s.
Eskenazi’s piece is a fantastic read, and a great overall analysis of the sad state of urban politics in San Francisco.
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Earlier today, Rand Paul sent a form letter from what he’s calling the ‘Pro-Life Alliance’. I found the letter so alarming that I had to publicize its existence more widely and share my response.
The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald broke a massive story this week by publishing a blatantly unconstitutional, secret court order that directed Verizon Wireless to disclose daily records of every phone call made by every single one of its customers. The administration has responded, claiming that it has the need and the right to monitor everything you do for no reason at all, so long as the government’s own secret courts agree it might prevent a terrorist attack. A lot of the reporting since has focused on the distinction between phone records (“metadata”) and calls themselves (“content”). That distinction isn’t worth the (classified) paper it’s printed on.
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Today, four years since the official bottom of the 2007-2009 recession and financial crisis, you can add a surprising voice to the list of those still waiting for a recovery: America’s small banks. As CNNMoney’s Stephen Gandel notes, the banking recovery has been uneven; small lenders are still in trouble, and some continue to fail even as loan quality at larger institutions has rebounded sharply. The U.S. banking sector is becoming a two-class system: big banks are getting bigger, and small local banks are dying. Large banks are driving a Wal-Martization of the banking sector. As with Wal-Mart, the implications for Americans’ standard of living are not good.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed new federal rules for autonomous (aka “self-driving”) vehicles, far in advance of any automaker’s plans to introduce even one of these vehicles into the market. It is a statement to the extent of the United States Government’s overgrowth that detailed regulation of unmarketed and unannounced products is not immediately rejected as an absurd waste of tax dollars. Such regulation should almost always be rejected on principle, and this case is a great example.
NHTSA’s proposed rules are likely to delay the arrival of promising technology that could eliminate or substantially reduce whole categories of traffic accidents and driving complexity. In the process, NHTSA will, ironically, make our roads less safe, rather than more. Residents of urban centers will be denied the promise of cheaper, more efficient car sharing, and people with disabilities will continue to be virtually denied access to the roadway in droves. Meanwhile, taxpayers will continue to flush billions of dollars down the drain to subsidize inefficient, money-losing, poorly-maintained mass transit systems.