The Federal Communications Commission, Washington DC
Currently, and since the beginning of the internet, the way we access content on the internet is ‘net neutral’ meaning the company that provides your internet connection, otherwise known as ‘service providers’ (cable, AT&T,) does not favor (deliver faster or more complete) one or a few content providers over others. The public gets equal access to all content and all who publish to the internet have the same chance of reaching the web-surfing public. In addition, the service provider cannot charge the public for accessing any one site.
In January 2014, FCC lost an important court case against Verizon that said the FCC couldn’t bar Verizon from charging fees to “edge providers” like Netflix and YouTube if customers wanted to watch the video services. (National Constitution Center)
On Thursday 5/15, the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) approved a plan that would:
- Allow the FCC to consider allowing “paid prioritization” –where content providers (Netflix, Hulu) can, for a price paid to the service provider, get a ‘fast lane to get their content to consumers. Critics contend that the cost will be passed on to consumers somehow, the rule will affect the chance of start-ups getting traction and promote monopolies in the information business.
- Allow the “FCC to pursue reclassifying broadband services as a public utility” according to the National Constitution Center. The FCC can regulate public utilities and make them provide equal service to all customers, including those providing content.
Neither provision changes any rules, just allows the FCC to consider such plans. Now is the time when people and institutions can comment on the proposed plans. The FCC will receive comments until Sept. 10, 2014.
Some issues and examples:
- Bloggers, manufacturers or filmmakers not affiliated with a large corporation, large content provider or service provider might not be able to get their view to the public.
- Can service providers discriminate against content providers that compete against their own content.
- Should a service provider have to provide enough bandwidth for all, equally, without charge even though video streaming services take up a greater portion of that bandwidth?
Some helpful links:
On April 14th, a militant group kidnapped around 200 girls from a school in Nigeria. The group, Boko Harem, said they planned to sell the girls.
In early May, a social media campaign, #bringbackourgirls, brought the plight of the girls to international attention. Up to that time, Nigerian military and government agencies had not been able to locate the girls.
Many countries, including the US , the UK and Israel , have offered their help.
Boko Harem, which means “Western education is forbidden,” does not believe the girls should be in school but should instead be married. They have since offered to return the girls in exchange for the release of imprisoned militants.
Here is a timeline of events.
Here are some news reports:
From the BBC
From the NY Times
The most recent video
Smoke rises during an explosion from an Israeli strike in Gaza City, as the Hamas-ruled Strip was bombarded with nearly 200 airstrikes early on Saturday [AP]via Al Jazeera
Saturday Aug. 2, 2014
Hope of a break in the fighting is lost in the 26 day battle between Hamas and Israel.
A 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire was broken a mere 90 minutes after it started on Friday when Israel reported that two soldiers were killed and a third was allegedly kidnapped near Rafah, a town in southern Gaza. The Israeli soldiers were dismantling tunnels that Hamas militants use to access Israeli territory. Reports state that a suicide bomber had come through the tunnel while the Israelis were dismantling it. Hamas reported that several Palestinians were also killed in the firefight that ensued
According to Secretary of State John Kerry, the Israelis were allowed to continue dismantling the tunnels during the ceasefire. A statement from the Qassam Brigades, a militant group leading the fight for Hamas, claims the ceasefire could not require them to stop protecting themselves from what they considered advancement on Gaza and that any Israeli troupes advancing would be bound to run into ambushes.
In response to the alleged kidnapping, Israel is bombing Rafah and the surrounding area to prevent militants from moving the captive, Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin. Qassam Brigades claim they don’t have Goldin and that he may have been killed when other Palestinians were killed in the Israeli bombings.
A report from Voice of America (VOA) summarizes the reasons for ongoing tension in Gaza –
Israeli leaders want the demilitarization of Hamas, which has sent thousands of rockets into Israeli territory in recent weeks. The Islamist group wants an end to the Israeli-led blockade that has strangled Gaza’s economy and prevented Gazans from traveling.
Talks were scheduled to continue on Sunday.
More information -
The Great War / World War I began 100 years ago. Because of alliances between different European Countries, the war began on different dates as each country declared war on its neighbor. On Monday, August 4th, Great Britain will commemorate their declaration of war on Germany with a “Lights Out” observance. At 10pm the country will go black for one hour and candles will be lit in remembrance.
All throughout Europe, different countries are planning different events. We must remember that the United States did not enter the war until 1918. Millions had lost their lives prior to the Yanks arriving on the scene.