With Pai’s Net Neutrality Repeal Published, Internet Defenders Prepare for ‘Hell of a Fight’

“Net neutrality is not dead yet, but the clock is ticking for us to save it.”
by Jake Johnson, staff writer at 

“This misguided decision awoke a sleeping giant—the American public—and we won’t stop making a ruckus until internet openness is the law of the land,” wrote Democratic FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. (Photo: Fight for the Future)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal plan was finally published in the Federal Register on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean net neutrality is officially dead—in fact, as open internet defenders quickly observed in response to the news, the fight to save the web from the Republican-controlled FCC is just beginning.

With Pai’s deeply unpopular rule officially published, Congress now has 60 legislative days to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to restore net neutrality protections—an effort, led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), that is one Republican vote away from the simple majority needed to pass the Senate.

“Now it’s officially go time, and the internet is gearing up for a hell of a fight,” Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement on Thursday. “The CRA is the clearest path to restore net neutrality protections that never should have been taken away in the first place. A vote is imminent, and every senator needs to decide right now whether they’re going to listen to their constituents or go down in history as having voted against the free and open internet.”

Opponents of Pai’s net neutrality repeal plan—which was approved in a party-line vote by the Republican-controlled FCC in December—will now also have 10 days to file lawsuits challenging the new rule.

As Common Dreams has reported, state attorneys general and advocacy groups have been lining up since the FCC’s vote to sue the agency and restore the net neutrality protections that prevented massive telecom companies from discriminating against or blocking web content. If Pai’s rule is kept in place, net neutrality protections will begin to unravel April 23.

“An open internet is absolutely essential to a functioning democracy, and we will fight to make sure that the people, not the special interests and their compliant FCC, have the final word on its future,” said Michael Copps, special adviser at Common Cause, one of the groups that is preparing to sue the FCC. “Common Cause and its allies are fighting all the way to oppose the FCC’s misguided actions and restore the net neutrality rules through all fronts, including litigation.”

In addition to prepping for legal battles, advocacy groups are also gearing up for a massive internet-wide protest set to take place next Tuesday.

Titled “Operation #OneMoreVote,” the demonstration is aimed at harnessing widespread public support for net neutrality and translating it into pressure on lawmakers who have yet to back Markey’s CRA.

“Internet users will be encouraged to sound the alarm on social media and sign up to receive alerts with their lawmaker’s position on net neutrality and prompts to take action on the big day, while websites, subreddits, and online communities will display prominent alerts driving phone calls, emails, and tweets to senators and representatives calling on them to pass the CRA,” Fight for the Future noted in a Medium post on Wednesday.

“Several senators have indicated that they are considering becoming the 51st vote we need to win, but they’re under huge pressure from telecom lobbyists,” the group added. “Only a massive burst of energy from the Internet will get them to move.”

If the CRA passes the Senate, it will then face an uphill battle in the House, where it will need 218 votes to make it to President Donald Trump’s desk.

In a tweet on Thursday, Democratic FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel expressed confidence that, with sustained public pressure, the open internet will ultimately overcome Pai’s corporate-friendly assault.

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This week, when the Trump-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published their “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” (i.e. net neutrality repeal) in the Federal Register, it officially started the 60-day clock for Congress to take action to restore net neutrality.

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress to undo any regulation that an agency (like the FCC) has recently finalized by passing a “resolution of disapproval.” Up until the Trump Administration, it had been used exactly one time in its twenty years on the books. But since Trump took over, the CRA has been used to repeal 14 Obama Administration regulations.

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), joined by every Democrat and Susan Collins (R-ME), introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution to stop the FCC from destroying the internet as we know it. The CRA would repeal the FCC’s action and revert regulation of the internet back to the FCC’s 2015 rules, upholding net neutrality. All of the Senate Democrats have signed onto the bill but they need ONE more Republican vote to bring this action to the floor.

Please take a few moments from your busy day to contact Sen. Dean Heller and ask him to co-sponsor the Markey/Collins CRA resolution which would uphold net neutrality rules for which we fought and achieved and simultaneously, reject Mr. Pai’s new rule repealing those rules!  I did that yesterday.  I hope you’ll do the same.

— Vickie Rock, HumboldtDems Secretary

BOOM! Mueller Just Indicted 13 Russian Nationals!

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office said Friday that a grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential elections, during which they boosted the candidacy of Donald Trump.
Here’s the indictment: 

Not Even a Slap on the Hand — with Mulvaney in Charge — #YOYO

“In Nevada alone, 1.3 million people were impacted by @Equifax’s egregious data breach. Today, Mick Mulvaney turned his back on 145 million Americans who had their data stolen, & chose to protect Equifax instead. @CFPB needs a leader who will protect consumers, not negligent financial firms.”  — Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

According to Reuters, Mick Mulvaney, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has “pulled back from a full-scale probe” of how the Atlanta-based credit reporting service failed to protect the personal data of millions of consumers. He has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax nor has he sought sworn testimony from executives, which are routine steps when launching a full-scale probe. Read more at the Reuters link below:

Reuters: US consumer protection official puts Equifax probe on ice


‘Outrageous’ Gold Rush-Style Grab of Public Lands To Begin

Conservationists, local tribe leaders, Democratic legislators, and even a UN expert decry this “serious attack on indigenous peoples’ rights.”

by Jessica Corbett, staff writer at CommonDreams

Activists and politicians are opposing the Trump administration's move to allow mining at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. (Photo: ksblack99/Flickr)

Activists and politicians are opposing the Trump administration’s move to allow mining at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. (Photo: ksblack99/Flickr)

Despite protests from conservationists, local tribe leaders, Democratic lawmakers, and even the United Nations’ expert on indigenous rights, at 6am on Friday the Trump administration will allow citizens and companies to start staking claims on sections of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah so the new stakeholders can conduct hard rock mining on the formerly protected lands.

“It is outrageous to witness the dismantling of the Bears Ears national monument, in what constitutes a serious attack on indigenous peoples’ rights in the United States.”
—Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur

Tauli-Corpuz noted that the previous administration’s decision to create the monument “protected thousands of sacred sites which are central to the preservation of regional Native culture,” and warned President Donald Trump’s December decision to reduce Bears Ears’ area by about 85 percent “exposes thousands of acres of sacred lands and archaeological sites to the threats of desecration, contamination, and permanent destruction.”

Critics have turned to social media to denounce the “modern land run.”

In response to the attacks on public lands and a proposal from Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) that purports to give management control of the remaining land to indigenous leaders—who say the measure “is tribal in name only”—a group of Democratic senators has introduced a bill to fight back against Trump and Republicans in Congress:

In spite of widespread opposition, the Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to move forward with allowing stakeholders to claim plots of land, and has determined the process will be governed by the General Mining Law of 1872, which covers mining for metals such as copper, gold, silver, and uranium (but not coal and petroleum).

“The process for staking a claim remains much as it did during the Gold Rush,” Reuters reports:

A prospector hammers four poles into the ground corresponding to the four points of a parcel that can be as big as 20 acres, and attaches a written description of the claim onto one of them. A prospector then has 30 days to record the claim at the local BLM office….

The costs of claiming are low: a $212 filing fee, and an annual maintenance fee of $150. Unlike laws governing petroleum extraction, there are no environmental guidelines specific to hard rock mining, and no requirement to pay a royalty. The claims provide prospectors mineral rights but not ownership of the land.

Lauren Pagel, the policy director of the nonprofit Earthworks, criticized the law as outdated, telling Reuters, “It’s really the last law still on the books from that Manifest Destiny era encouraging a resources free-for-all.”


With FCC’s Order Sent to Senate, Internet Defenders Inch Toward Vote to Restore Net Neutrality

With one more vote needed to reverse panel’s unpopular vote, internet freedom groups are putting pressure on Republican senators

by Julia Conley, staff writer at Common Dreams

Louisiana residents congregated outside Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) office on Thursday to urge him to back a CRA resolution to nullify the FCC’s recent decision to repeal net neutrality protections. (Photo: Free Press)

Open Internet advocates and lawmakers were urging supporters on Friday to help secure one last vote in the Senate in favor of reversing the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) unpopular net neutrality decision.

The FCC sent its official order to roll back net neutrality protections on Friday, following its vote in December.

With the Republican-led panel’s 3-2 decision along party lines, internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon and Comcast will be free to give preferential treatment to wealthy internet companies that can afford to pay for faster service—essentially creating “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” for the internet.

Immediately after the vote—which was opposed by 83 percent of Americans, according to a University of Maryland poll—Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) announced his plan to introduce a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution under which the Senate could vote to reverse the FCC’s decision.

With the order now officially on Capitol Hill, it only needs to be sent to the House and published in the Federal Register, after which Market will have 60 days to gather enough support for a vote to nullify the decision.

The 50 senators who have said they would vote to restore net neutrality include one Republican—Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)—as well as all 47 Democratic senators and both Independents.

On Thursday, Louisiana constituents joined advocacy groups Fight for the Future and Free Press to deliver 6,000 petition signatures to the office of Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), urging him to throw his support behind the CRA.

“The internet has become an invaluable tool for many people who work from home or have their own businesses,” said Jas Duplessis, a Louisiana resident who protested outside Kennedy’s office. “Restricting it minimizes the opportunity people have to make their own place in the world financially, destroys a large aspect of the free market and takes away from the American dream.”

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Trump: I ‘Didn’t Care’ About Arctic Drilling Until My Big Oil Friend Said I Should

“It’s a sickening display of how easily the president is swayed into supporting something that will likely benefit his friends at the expense of the public.”

by Jake Johnson, staff writer at Common Dreams

“I didn’t really care about it, but then when I heard everybody wanted it for 40 years, they’ve been trying to get it approved and I said, ‘make sure you don’t lose ANWR,’ Trump explained. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters/Flickr/cc)

If President Donald Trump’s own account is to be believed, he “really didn’t care” about opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling—but everything changed when one of his rich buddies from the oil and gas industry called him up and explained how great and profitable it would be.

Here is how Trump recounted the call during a rambling performance at the Republican Member Conference in West Virginia on Thursday:

A friend of mine called up in that world, in that business and said ‘is it true you’re thinking about ANWR?’ I said, ‘yeah, I think we’re going to get it but you know,.”

He said, “are you kidding? You know that’s the biggest thing by itself. Ronald Reagan and every president has wanted to get ANWR approved.”

And after that, I said, “oh, make sure that’s in the [$1.5 trillion tax] bill.”

Trump went on to explain that another key factor in his support for ANWR drilling—which scientists and conservationists have said would cause irreperable harm to “the most beautiful, pristine wildlife refuge that we have in the United States”—was the failure of previous presidents to open up the 19 million-acre refuge to the oil and gas industry.

“I really didn’t care about it, but then when I heard everybody wanted it for 40 years, they’ve been trying to get it approved and I said, ‘make sure you don’t lose ANWR,’ Trump explained.

As Earther‘s Brian Kahn notes, Trump’s remarks are further evidence that—in the view of the White House and the Republican leadership—“America’s treasures are up for sale and the only thing you need to get them is the president’s phone number.”

“It’s a sickening display of how easily the president is swayed into supporting something that will likely benefit his friends at the expense of the public,” Kahn added.

Trump Claims GOP Memo “Totally Vindicates” Him. Um … No, It Does Not

“Has anyone explained to him yet that this is pretty much the opposite of the truth?”
by Jon Queally, staff writer at Common Dreams

Informed critics immediately pushed back on the president's claim, pointing out Saturdy morning not only the serious and shortcomings of the memo but also the manner by which its contents surreptitiously validate and give credence to the Mueller probe. (Photo illustration: Getty Images/via GQ)

Informed critics immediately pushed back on the president’s claim, pointing out Saturdy morning not only the serious and shortcomings of the memo but also the manner by which its contents surreptitiously validate and give credence to the Mueller probe. (Photo illustration: Getty Images/via GQ)

Appearing to exploit a highly controversial and misleading memo written by Congressional Republicans in the exact way many critics warned he might, President Donald Trump on Saturday morning claimed in a tweet that the contents of the document—released Friday to critical rebuke—”totally vindicated” him in terms of the ongoing probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

For apparent emphasis, the president  put his own name in quotation marks—”Trump”—in the tweet.

But informed critics immediately pushed back on the president’s claim, pointing out not only the serious and shortcomings of the memo but also the manner by which its contents surreptitiously—if not ironically—validate and give credence to the Mueller probe.

The memo “does no such thing,” writes Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor and now a Democratic candidate for attorney general in Illinois, in the New York Timeson Saturday.

“In fact,” Mariotti explains, “Mr. Trump’s approval of the release of the memo and his comments that releasing it could make it easier for him to fire Mr. Rosenstein could help [Mueller] prove that Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, with a “corrupt” intent — in other words, the intent to wrongfully impede the administration of justice — as the law requires.”

As many have pointed out, including The New Yorker‘s John Cassidy, CNN’s Jake Tapper responded to Trump’s tweet by noting how the memo, in the end, actually undermines the argument Republicans and their allies in the right-wing media are trying to make about what it shows.

As Jay Willis wrote for GQ—in a column headlined The Nunes Memo Means Whatever Fox News Says It Means—on Friday night: “Nothing in the Memo justifies getting rid of Mueller, or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, or anyone else, and there is still no evidence that the vast Deep State conspiracy to undermine Donald Trump is anything more than a Sean Hannity fever dream. But as usual, what the The Memo actually says is far less relevant to Donald Trump than what his supplicative water-carriers in the right-wing media say that it says. If every Fox News personality kicks off their show this weekend by reassuring the president that The Memo is the bombshell he wants it to be, it won’t be long until he believes it with every fiber of his being.”

Meanwhile in a fiery interview on CNN, Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein decried the memo as a red herring, one that Trump—”a demagogic, authoritarian president”—was in the process of exploiting for his own purposes.

So does the “Memo” vindicate “Trump”?

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ICE Director Brags About How Much He’s ‘Enjoying’ Tearing Immigrant Families Apart

“There’s a special place in hell for those who get off on broken families and profit off of incarcerating innocent people.”
by Jake Johnson, staff writer at CommonDreams

Thomas Homan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), speaks during a Department of Homeland Security press conference on December 5, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Riding high off two recent widely denounced deportations that ripped apart immigrant families who have called the U.S. home for decades, acting ICE director Thomas Homan boasted at a conference on Wednesday that he has really begun “enjoying” his role in carrying out President Donald Trump’s racist mass deportation agenda.

“This isn’t a job I particularly wanted in the beginning,” Homan said at a so-called “Border Security Expo” in San Antonio, Texas. “But I’ll tell you what, I’m enjoying it.”

This is hardly the first time Homan has openly relished in his ability to instill fear in immigrant communities. At a hearing on Capitol Hill last June, Homan said undocumented immigrants “should be uncomfortable” and constantly “looking over their shoulder[s].”

During his appearance at the “Border Security Expo” on Wednesday—which came just hours after Trump ramped up his anti-immigrant rhetoric with a flurry of lies during his State of the Union address—Homan also expressed his opposition to a clean DACA solution supported by immigrant rights advocates, spoke in favor of Trump’s “wall,” and bragged about how many immigrants his agency has deported since Trump took office.

“If we get a clean DACA bill, shame on all of us,” Homan said.

Reacting to Homan’s comments on Thursday, immigrant rights activist Tony Choi wrote, “There’s a special place in hell for those who get off on broken families and profit off of incarcerating innocent people.”

“Homan is the proof that our immigration system isn’t broken; it’s fundamentally designed to break us,” Choi added on Twitter.

The Nunes Memo

The US House, as authorized by the president, released the controversial memo by Rep. David Nunes (R-CA) today despite protests from our nation’s intelligence services claiming that omissions of fact render it as nothing but partisan propaganda.  Nunes, the supposed author of the document, has NOT read the underlying investigative documents upon which he claims his memo is based.  Sadly, Speaker Ryan, second in line to the presidency, believes it’s appropriate to promote Nunes’ propaganda to “the base.”  The Democratic rebuttal may or may not be released dependent of the whims of the man occupying the oval office and whether he thinks it appropriate for the American People to have that information.

Stay tuned … more to follow!

As of 2:30pm PST, all we have from Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei are “crickets.”

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