I.T. grunt, barking at the moon.
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Likely Pick For Next FCC Chair Thinks Net Neutrality’s “Days Are Numbered”

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The FCC has approved a significant number of major pro-consumer rules in the last few years. Most, however, were contentious within the Commission, and passed on a 3-2 margin. One of the two reliable dissenters, commissioner Ajit Pai, is now on deck as the likely inheritor of the Chairman’s seat when President-Elect Donald Trump’s administration comes to power in January — and he’s already hoping to do away with some of the FCC’s recent rules.

At the top of the stack is 2015’s Open Internet Rule, better known as net neutrality. The Commission voted in February, 2015 to reclassify broadband as a Title II communications service, which gave the commission authority to impose rules that all internet traffic has to be treated equally, without throttling, blocking, or charging by source or type.

Industry players, led by AT&T, filed suit almost immediately (in legal time, anyway) to have the rule overturned. However, after hearing oral arguments last December, in June of this year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sided with the FCC, and upheld the rule — reclassification and all.

As far as commissioner Pai is concerned, however, this is a mistake.

Speaking at a luncheon before the Free State Foundation this week, Pai spoke to the need for the FCC to scale back and, essentially, stay in its lane by “[respecting] the limits that Congress has placed” on its authority.

In his remarks [PDF], Pai spoke against several specific FCC rules and also against broad regulation in general.

“In the months to come, we need to remove outdated and unnecessary regulations,” he said. “We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation.”

More: Did Net Neutrality Kill Broadband Investment Like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon Said It Would?

Net neutrality was a particular topic of concern for Pai. He quoted a member of Free State (the organization where he was speaking) on the topic of analyzing regulation: “Does the regulation address a market failure or systemic problem? If it does, how does it correct the perceived market failure? And do the benefits of the regulatory solution outweigh the costs of imposing new regulatory requirements?”

If the harms are not already proven to have occurred, Pai argued, then the FCC has no business regulating — even if it seems to reasonable observers that they could, might, or probably will occur.

“Proof of market failure,” Pai said, “should guide the next Commission’s consideration of new regulations. And the FCC should only adopt a regulation if it determines that its benefits outweigh its costs.”

At the time the FCC voted to adopt the measure, Pai prophesied that “its days are numbered.” And although the appeals court didn’t make that happen, a still-hypothetical Pai tenure at the FCC could.

“Today, I am more confident than ever that this prediction will come true,” Pai said. “And I’m hopeful that beginning next year, our general regulatory approach will be a more sober one that is guided by evidence, sound economic analysis, and a good dose of humility.”

Pai did not specify in this speech what might be able to count as “evidence,” however.

He also hopped on his favorite hobby horse, process reform. Pai has frequently — in both FCC proceedings and Congressional review hearings — voiced his displeasure with the method by which the FCC proposes and votes on regulation.

“It is time to bring more openness and transparency, to the FCC,” Pai said. “We also need to let the American people have more information about our agency’s operations. From publicly releasing the text of documents we vote on at public meetings to establishing an FCC Dashboard with key performance metrics, we can better enable to the public to know what and how we are doing.”

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, the other reliable dissenter on the FCC’s recent pro-consumer rules, also spoke at the event.

He, too, put a bullseye on net neutrality in his remarks [PDF].

At the top of O’Rielly’s agenda under the new administration? “Undoing harmful policies,” and, you guessed it, net neutrality is the top of his list of agenda items that were “wrongheaded, harmful to consumers and the industry, costly, and ultimately unworthy of continuation.”

O’Rielly also called the commission’s year-long investigation into zero-rating “one last gift to be left under the tree for net neutrality activists” before the commission can “act quickly to reverse any damaging policies put into place over the last eight years and in the last few weeks of the Administration.”

Whether or not he steps down from the Commission entirely (D.C. scuttlebutt goes back and forth on the matter), current chair Tom Wheeler will lose his leadership role after Inauguration Day. Wheeler has publicly asked his successor — whoever that may be — to consider the public good first and foremost.

“When so-called controversy is the result of choosing between the broader common good or those incumbents preferring the status quo, I believe the public interest should prevail,” Wheeler said in November. “I think it’s an important thing to remember that taking a fast, fair and open internet away from the public and away from those who use it to offer innovative new services to the public would be a real mistake.”

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1 day ago
Thank you, President Trump, for allowing corporations to decide what content I am allowed to access, allowing only websites and services that pay a fee to the be allowed to be accessed by customers. Of course, most people are stuck with the monopoly broadband ISP, so one corporation can control an entire geographic region's access to the Internet.
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Canadian Law Erasing Moms And Dads From State Documents Reduces Children To Chattel

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Nobody has a mother or a father, according to a certain Bill 28 recently passed in the legislature of Ontario, Canada. Got that? The law’s official title is: “An Act to amend the Children’s Law Reform Act, the Vital Statistics Act and various other Acts respecting parentage and related registrations.”

Basically, the law scrubs the words “mother” and “father” from documents, and replaces them with the neutered term “parent.” The law also raises the number of legal parents to as many as four per child. In other words, the government of Ontario will cease to legally recognize the natural origins of any of its citizens.

If you live in Ontario, you now have no right for the state to recognize you as either a mother or a father to your child, biological or otherwise. Likewise, no child there has the right to a legally recognized biological mother or father. Recognizing the relationship is now the sole prerogative of the state.

As with all bad legislation that cannot survive any real scrutiny, proponents of Bill 28 pushed it through fast and furiously and with a good deal of subterfuge and manipulation. Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Leader Patrick Brown is reported to have pressured members to either vote for the bill or stay away from the session. Many who would have been inclined to vote against it were not present at the vote.

All 79 members who were present voted for it unanimously. Machinelike unanimity for something so wildly weird speaks volumes about the utter saturation of political correctness in Canadian society today. Of course Bill 28 was all packaged up in a sanctimonious fig leaf that goes by the Orwellian name: “All Families are Equal Act.” Yet “All Children Are Chattel Act” is a more accurate name for this law.

The State Owns the Children and Dispenses as It Pleases

Such laws are the handiwork of hardcore social engineers. Anyone else should know instinctively that something is truly amiss with a law that prohibits legal recognition of mothers and fathers. Some people who should know better might try to reassure with a wave of the hand and quip: “Aw, those zany Canadians! What’ll they come up with next?” A favorite narrative is that the sky is not falling.

Here’s the problem with that casual take: Reality has a habit of rearing its head in most unpleasant ways when the gig is up. This act by the Ontario legislature is just such a gig. It is built upon a dangerous illusion, and comes with an expiration date, at which point its social botulism blooms profusely in the gut of the body politic. It will spawn itself in a legislature near you if you don’t try to stop it.

The damage is already here, particularly because this law commodifies children in the starkest way yet. Casual acceptance of abortion was one giant leap towards the children-as-chattel road we are now on. Abortion puts children on notice that society does not recognize their right to exist unless and until given permission to exist. If you don’t think this has bad psychic consequences for children, you’re not paying attention.

Laws such as Bill 28 put children and their biological parents on notice that they have no legal right to exist in a family without special permission from the state. This law lays the groundwork for legally separating all children from their biological mothers and fathers. Like it or not, the reality of a biological mother and father is essential to satisfying the answer to every child’s first transcendental question: “Where did I come from?”

If we forbid the very words “mother” and “father” at school, at work, in daily life, we must plead guilty to hacking the child’s mind and soul. This law essentially tells children to shut up about any question about their origins. It abusively gags them and prods them to bottle up their natural curiosity about who they are and where they came from.

Instead, with up to four generic “parents” recognized by a bureaucratic state, the child is legally a product designed and manufactured by contractual agreement. No more than that. The biological mother and father are legally non-existent, and are well on the way to being erased as parents recognized by default. By erasing mothers and fathers from law, Ontario has essentially defined parents as interchangeable parts to be torn asunder from the child at the will of the state. So, obviously, this so-called “All Families are Equal Act” is really about destroying all families.

Let’s Move to the Big-Picture Fallout

But there’s even more to this on a much larger scale. As with all such social engineering laws, once you get beyond their superficial claims—“equality,” “social justice,” and so forth—you can better see what the heck is going on. I can’t possibly name all of the effects of this law. But a quick gander down this rabbit hole reveals four very radioactive effects. The big picture fallout is as follows.

This is mind rape. Consider this: It is not really the promise of equality that lures most into accepting such a law. Rather, the expectation of being perceived by others as a friend and ally of equality serves as the bait. We’ve been socially conditioned to believe that complying with the equality narrative will keep us socially unmolested.

Ontarians must pay for this illusion of safety by submitting to a law that violates their own human identity; i.e., by being forced in law to reject the fact that each human being exists through the union of two human beings, one male and one female. That is exactly what a law forbidding the terms “mother” and “father” does. That amounts to mind rape as much as any anti-reality law that forces you into a 2+2=5 mindset is mind rape.

I think such edicts are concocted by two kinds of people: first, those who really do believe the propaganda and insist on foisting their delusions upon everybody else; and second, those who use this sort of propaganda as the ticket to control over others. Perhaps the former are the majority, but the venal latter are the biggest pushers. By sowing confusion and delusion, and shamelessly manipulating people’s sense of goodwill and fear of social rejection, activists are messing with minds in much the same manner as a cult leader or gaslighting wife beater would.

It’s based on manipulative propaganda. For all practical purposes, we can define propaganda as the attempt to promote an alternative reality, which empowers the propagandists. What we have here—in this legislation that attempts to erase the reality of human existence, identity, and relationships—is pure propaganda. This kind of rubbish has been cultivated especially over the last 50 years or so through academia, the media, and Hollywood. It’s been a long haul of programming, much like cult recruits are programmed in a Pavlovian manner, through conditioning emotional reflexes that reject independent thinking.

Arguments based on logic and reason are meaningless to the politically conditioned—people whose fear of being tainted by political incorrectness is stronger than any thirst for truth. Of course, facts are meaningless to the ignorant. With years of political correctness massaged into society, our culture is well-primed for psychological manipulation. Ontario’s Bill 28 is nothing but the product of such conditioning.

Separating us from one another is the ultimate effect. Laws such as Bill 28 are all about separating people from one another. Every human being, no matter his or her sex or sexuality or “gender,” has his or her origins in the union of male and female. This means that there is a relational core, the mother-child-father bond, to our very existence. These strong families have always been the seeds of strong communities. By refusing to recognize this bond in law, Ontario is well on the path to abolishing the right of biological parents to raise their own children, and replacing that default right with state licensing of parents.

This is a first huge step toward regulating all other personal relationships. Compliance with the politically correct line through denying the mother-child-father bond, is routinely required in such scenarios. So separation or the threat of separation from family looms. Ultimately, that’s a road that takes us into isolation and puts us at the mercy of the state. How different is this from an effect of slavery, in which the greatest pain is separation from family members?


Mother sold into slavery being separated from her infant. Source: Slavery in South Carolina and the Ex-Slaves, by A.M. French, 1862.

The talk of “equality” is a non-starter when children are treated as chattel. Bill 28 serves to replace the template for our existence—the reality of the male-female union—with a newly concocted template for existence that allows for artificial reproductive technologies (ART) to buy and sell human beings. The desire to procure children through ART may seem loving, but the practice itself is a road paved with de-humanization. What does “equality” mean, anyway, in the context of buying and selling children?

In the “All Families are Equal Act,” the term “equal” is meaningless. It’s a self-refuting absurdity because it does away with the template for the family, the template for human existence. With the template legally gone, the family no longer can legally exist.

So “equality” here really means nothingness. It means no relationships autonomous from the state. It means “family” as a hash of state-licensed interchangeable parts. It means a monoculture. So much for “diversity.”

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2 days ago
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Banks Ask Congress To Alter Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Roll Back Pro-Consumer Regulations

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While virtually all federal agencies will soon see a change in leadership when President-elect Trump enters the White House, the future of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its Director remain in question. In an effort to work around those legal concerns, the banking industry has called on Congress to legally change the structure of the CFPB, and to roll back a number of the CFPB’s recent and pending regulations on banks and lenders.

The financial industry’s biggest problem with the CFPB — aside from the fact that the Bureau exists in the first place — is its structure. Rather than have a three- to five-member commission running the agency, it has a single Director. But unlike most agencies with one chief decision-maker at the top, the CFPB Director can not be readily removed from office by the President. Instead, the White House must show cause for a CFPB Director to be fired before the end of his or her five-year term.

A recent federal appeals court ruling put this structure in doubt, with a split 2-1 appellate panel concluding that this structure is unconstitutional as it puts too much authority into the hands of one person who is not immediately answerable to the President.

The CFPB has petitioned for a re-hearing of this matter by the full appeals court. The Bureau argues that there is nothing in the Constitution or in any law that mandates the structure of independent agencies. Additionally, there are other agencies — the Social Security Administration, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Office of Special Counsel — with nearly identical leadership structures that have never been deemed unconstitutional.

If the judges do agree to the re-hearing, it’s believed by many that CFPB Director Cordray would be protected from dismissal pending the outcome of that review. Though some legal experts disagree, arguing that Trump may indeed be able to fire Cordray while the appeal is pending.

To put an end to the question for good, a coalition of bank industry trade groups — the Consumer Bankers Association, Credit Union National Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions — have sent a joint letter [PDF] to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY), Minority Leader-elect Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY), and members of the Senate Banking Committee, calling on Congress to change the law to restructure the CFPB into a multi-member commission.

“The current single director structure leads to regulatory uncertainty for consumers, industry, and the economy,” explains the letter. “In contrast, a Senate confirmed, bipartisan board or commission will provide a balanced and deliberative approach to supervision, regulation, and enforcement over financial institutions that is more in keeping with other financial regulators.”

The letter also asks lawmakers to use their authority under the Congressional Review Act to roll back a number of recent and pending CFPB regulations.

The Review Act is a 1996 law that allows Congress to undo recently finalized major regulations. After a new rule is set by an agency, lawmakers have a window of time to raise objections to the rule and issue a joint resolution of disapproval. If approved by the President, that resolution rolls back the regulation.

Members of Congress have tried a number of times to use the Review Act to scuttle new regulations, but it’s only been used successfully once in its two decades of existence. The banking industry is hoping that — with Congress and the new White House apparently on the same page with regard to light-touch regulation — lawmakers will use this authority to halt CFPB regulations on forced arbitration, small-dollar loans, debt collection, and prepaid cards.

The bankers’ letter comes on the heel of legal briefs filed in support of the CFPB by both lawmakers and consumer advocates, who argued that the Bureau’s structure — as created in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms — was intended to shield the agency from industry bullying and political whims.

“This structure allows the Bureau to make decisions that protect consumers — even when those decisions are opposed by intense lobbying,” explained the advocates.

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2 days ago
Banks hate being told they can't gouge and abuse customers or run the economy into the ground by making bad investments.
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The Beer Industry Is Taking A Hit Because Of Legal Marijuana

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When it comes time to kick back on the couch and get your buzz on, a new study says consumers in states with legal marijuana may be reaching for the bong instead of a beer.

Research firm Cowen & Company looked at the beer industries in a few states where recreational weed is legal, and where craft beer has become quite popular over the years — Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — and analyzed the latest Nielsen data in those three states, industry site Brewbound reports.

Researchers found that beer markets in those states have “collectively underperformed” in the last two years, and that the “magnitude of the underperformance has increased notably”: beer volumes have fallen more than 2% year-to-date, the study found, and is lagging behind overall U.S. market.

Craft beer volumes declined 2.2%, but it’s mainstream brewers like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors that have seen the biggest dip, with volumes dropping 4.4% according to the analysts.

“While [marijuana] retail sales opened up in these markets at different points of time, with all three of these states now having fully implemented a retail infrastructure, the underperformance of beer in these markets has worsened over the course of 2016,” wrote Vivien Azer, Cowen and Company’s managing director and senior research analyst.

Azer notes that this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering government data for those three states has shown “consistent growth in cannabis incidence among 18-25 year olds” while that same age group has seen declines “in alcohol incidence (in terms of past month use).” This shift is most evident in Denver, where total beer volumes have fallen 6.4%.

Despite all this doom and gloom for U.S. beers, imported brands appear to be “immune” from the pot phenomenon, though sales of those brews are still “meaningfully” behind national growth.

(h/t Eater)

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4 days ago
Legal dope is cheaper than American Lager? Or is it because it is new and hip, unlike boring ol' brewski?
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American soldier killed by German snipers in Leipzig, 1945

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During the final days of the war a platoon of machine gunners entered a Leipzig building looking for positions to set up covering fire points which would protect foot soldiers of the 2nd U.S. Infantry advancing across the bridge. Two members of the platoon found an open balcony which commanded on unobstructed view of the […]

The post American soldier killed by German snipers in Leipzig, 1945 appeared first on Rare Historical Photos.

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This WW1 Private Used A Machine Gun To Cover His Comrades’ Retreat – He Was Awarded The Victoria Cross

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The British Expeditionary force was awoken on August 23, 1914, by a massive infantry attack. The German army had amassed along the French frontier, having pushed through most of Belgium. That morning they continued their push, meeting British troops for the first time. Along the British line, a railway bridge became the focal point for some of the hardest fighting, and the first Victoria Cross of World War I.

On August 9, 1914, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. The men of the Royal Fusiliers had already been mobilized for 5 days. On the 14th, they received their reserves, and shortly thereafter they embarked for France, disembarking at Le Havre.

Private Sidney Godley in his dress uniform. The young soldier was well lied, and dedicated to his comrades. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/ public domain
Private Sidney Godley in his dress uniform. The young soldier was well liked, and dedicated to his comrades.

They stayed there for about four days until traveling by train to the frontier. Arriving there on the 22nd, they had a 20-mile march ahead of them. Force marching they finally reached Mons on the 23rd. They were then tasked with holding the Mons-Condé Canal.

The Canal formed the northern flank for the French defensive lines along their frontiers, and what was left of Belgium. The German army had skirted most of the French defenses to the south, passing through Luxembourg and Belgium.

A Company 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers on one of the few breaks in their constant work before the Battle of Mons. These men would soon be involved in defending the Mons-Conde Canal. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/ public domain
A Company 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers on one of the few breaks in Mons, August 22, 1914. These men would soon be involved in defending the Mons-Conde Canal. 

The arrival of the British Expeditionary Force could be a game changer. These new British troops, Private Godley and the Royal Fusiliers included, were some of the best-trained soldiers in Europe at the time. They were almost all professionals or well-trained reservists. They had come to save the day, hold the line, and stop the onslaught that was threatening France.

The Royal Fusiliers went to work immediately, fortifying their position as best they could. The men were exhausted, having marched 20 miles with no chance for sleep. They filled sandbags, made rudimentary fortifications and set up their machine gun positions. Godley was attached to a machine gun section, along the Nimy bridge. This railroad bridge, to the north of the town Nimy-Mons, was one of the few access points across the Mons-Condé Canal, one of the only things keeping the German 1st Army away from the rest of Belgium. The men knew what their position there meant.

That night, they sat on a wooded shoreline, the bridge in the center, with two machine guns on either side. The men slept little. In part, because there was still work to be done, but also they could hear the Germans preparing for an attack. A plane was sighted overhead, likely doing some quick reconnaissance to determine troop numbers by the cooking fires and lights. The night passed peacefully, if tensely.

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5 days ago
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