Sunday, March 01, 2015

Microsoft, Acer release new Windows phones



BARCELONA, Spain — Two really huge developments very early this morning.

First, Acer announced that on April 27, it will release its only Windows phone in the Windows Phone 8 era with the Liquid M220. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 right out of the box, which means you have Cortana, folders, and other goodies such as Disqus (our official commenting platform).

Here are some other specs with this phone. It is not known if it will be released in the States.

  • 4-inch, 480x800 resolution display
  • 1.2Ghz dual-core CPU
  • 5MP rear camera with auto focus and flash
  • 2MP front facing camera
  • 4GB on board storage with microSD card expansion
  • 512MB RAM
  • 1300mAh battery
  • Dual SIM options

The other big news this morning is that Microsoft accidentally unveiled that the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL will be among its newest flagship devices.  You read that right: the Lumia 640 XL is a flagship, folks.

That will be released alongside the Microsoft Lumia 640.

The Lumia 640 will have an 8mp rear cam and a 1mp front facing cam.  Every Windows Phone from now on will have a front facing camera.

The Lumia 640 XL will have the exact same specs as the much-rumored Lumia 1330 and Lumia 1335:


  • 5.7-inch 720p display
  • 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 CPU
  • 14 MP PureView rear camera
  • 5 MP front-facing camera
  • 32 GB of internal memory
  • 2500mAh battery
  • dual-SIM and single-SIM options


The only thing that is different about the Lumia 640 XL, the Lumia 1330 and Lumia 1335 is the model numbers.

Readers: will you pay attention to the World Congress?

Windows Central (Acer)
Windows Central
The Verge

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Indiana's War On Women: Hoosier State criminalizes womanhood

Law also criminalizes abortions for any reasons due to detected defects


INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has told women that they are not welcome in their state.

The state passed a bill criminalizing womanhood.  The first part of the bill unconstitutionally bans abortions based on sex, something the state themselves caused to happen by forcing ultrasounds.  It is worth noting that in places where it is a crime to for doctors to perform ultrasounds during pregnancy, the chances of sex-selective abortions happening are nil.

The second part of the bill bans abortions due to birth defects – also unconstitutionally.  Had this bill passed two years earlier, Victoria Barnett would have been prosecuted.  From Robyn Pennacchia:

A little more than a year ago, Barrett was thrilled to learn she was pregnant with her first child.

“We got the call from our doctor that the worst of the anomalies that the test can find was trisomy 13, and it had come back positive for that,” Barrett said.

Only 5-10 percent of babies with the rare chromosomal condition make it to their first birthday. [Ed: Those are the babies with the least severe form of the anomaly, the median life span for trisomy 13 babies is two and a half hours after birth]

An ultrasound showed Barrett’s daughter was missing part of her heart and abdomen.

“For a first-time parent, you see what’s on the screen and you see a really perfect spine, and you see a baby,” Barrett said.

After further testing, and meetings with doctors and counselors, Barrett and her husband made the decision to terminate the pregnancy at 15 weeks.

“What we would’ve been waiting for was not a miracle, but her death on her own,” Barrett said. “And as the doctor who performed the termination advised, it could be dangerous to me, and these were not things that could get better.”

What's more: a strong majority of mothers with disabled children strongly opposed this bill.  However, only one mother's story was heard by a biased and crooked state legislature – that of Patti Shaw.

She was the only mother who supported the bill, and in fact, she helped draft it.  Mrs. Shaw had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome, whom she says has been living a full and happy life.  She supports this measure because she believes people with developmental disabilities deserve to live just like anyone else.  One can totally understand that, and some honestly can.  Ms. Pennacchia had worked with people with developmental disabilities before, and she can see where Mrs. Shaw’s coming from.

People like Mrs. Shaw are few and far between in the world, let alone in the United States and Indiana, therefore, it is not the government's business to see what women are doing during pregnancy.

If the government wants, feels the need, or needs to get involved in something, how about they get involved with the marketplace and regulate businesses.  Indiana and the rest of the states need to stop trying to control women and mind their own beeswax!

Robyn Pennacchia

Rapist Bill Cosby, set to perform tonight in Augusta, accused of raping model in 1984!



AUGUSTA, Ga. — Bill Cosby said that he's far from finished.

Well, his rape victims are also far from finished telling their stories.

As the comedian-turned-rapist prepares to perform tonight in at the James Brown Arena, yet another woman has come forward accusing him of raping her.

Former model Heidi Thomas said that she was approached by an agent who told her Cosby was looking for "young talent [to] mentor." She says she accepted, and was promptly flown out to Reno to meet with him.

While there, Ms. Thomas says, Mr. Cosby instructed her to act drunk, then gave her a glass of wine that made her memory "foggy." She claims she later woke up in bed with him "forcing himself in [her] mouth," but left before Cosby could rape her.

Ms. Thomas says she initially blamed herself for what happened and even apologized to Mr. Cosby for being "rude." But now she tells the world she wants to look the comedian in the eyes and ask him, "Do you remember me?"

This incident happened in the year yours truly was born…in 1984!

While it is too late to cancel the JBA performance, I hope that the good people of Augusta-Richmond County, as well as people from the neighboring Aiken, Burke, Columbia, Edgefield and Jefferson counties, will show up outside of the JBA, protest his performance and let the world know that Bill Cosby is a rapist.

Vulture

Friday, February 27, 2015

Army vet, school nurse tried to murder ex-husband

Woman charged with attempted murder shows up in court


CHARLOTTE — An Army vet and school nurse was arrested for plotting to hire another person to murder her ex-husband.

Fathia Davis was painted as cold, calculated, and dangerous in her court appearance.  She was charged with attempted murder-for-hire.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Federal Court, Mrs. Davis was willing to pay $4,000 for someone to kill her ex-husband.

After her arrest, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Schools made a brief statement Wednesday morning and said in part, after police arrested Mrs. Davis on Tuesday, she was immediately suspended without pay from both the school district and her job at the Mecklenburg County Health Department, pending the outcome of the charges.

Mrs. Davis was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond under house arrest where she will be required to wear a GPS monitoring device.  She also has to hand over all passports in her possession and any gun she owns.

Mrs. Davis is also prohibited from having contact with her ex-husband, and any child custody arrangements or visitations have to be done through a third-party.

Mrs. Davis will have to undergo a mental health evaluation and complete any kind of treatment required from the exam.

WBTV-DT 3

NASCAR's second race is in the Tri-State – and the South – for first time since 2004



HAMPTON, Ga. — It's been 11 years since NASCAR's second stop on the schedule has been in the Tri-State, let alone the South.

Not since Matt Kenseth won on February 22, 2004, which was the very last time the Sprint Cup Series ran at Rockingham, N.C., a track that is no longer on any NASCAR schedule has the sport exited Daytona Beach to a track in the Southern United States.

Until now.

NASCAR's at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, in the Midlands of Georgia, for the first post-Daytona 500 race in the South since that date.  Between 2004 and 2015, the Series had floated between Avondale, Ariz.; Fontana, Calif. and Las Vegas.

Joey Logano, who is known as JLo, is the Daytona 500 winner.  Matt Kenseth in 2009 is the last driver to win the first two races of the season.  Not since Jeff Gordon in 1997 did a driver win the first two races when the second race is at a Southern track.

Danica Patrick is not Safe in Atlanta, either

Danica Patrick had to race her way into the Daytona 500 on February 19.  Unfortunately for her, she has only one chance to get it right this week.

Forty-seven drivers, two fewer than last week, are entered into today's qualifying session.  Which means that she has to advance to the last of three qualifying rounds to be safe.  Should she advance to the second round, she is still borderline.

The first three races in the 2015 schedule uses the points accumulated in 2014.  Ms. Patrick's standings from 2014 puts her in the danger zone, yet again.

Travis Kvapil's hauler stolen

One of the entrants in today's qualifying session has withdrawn due to a criminal act.

Travis Kvapil and the #44 Team Xtreme/Golden Corral team had to pack up and go home after their hauler was stolen this morning.

Mr. Kvapil offered up some insights on Twitter this morning, saying the car was inside an enclosed, white 26-foot trailer attached to a black Ford dually truck, both with New Jersey license plates.  The truck and trailer were parked overnight at a hotel in Morrow, Kristina Abernathy's hometown, approximately 16 miles north of the speedway.

"What a crazy story," Mr. Kvapil told FOX Sports 1.  "I got some voicemails and some texts this morning, and I kind of thought the guys were just screwing with me, said they had problems with the car and I guess they had big problems with the car -- it was stolen."

By Thursday, the team's hauler was already at the Atlanta track, leaving early to escape the wintry weather forecast for the greater Charlotte, Greenville and Greensboro areas on Wednesday evening.  The primary car was brought separately from the organization's North Carolina shop, arriving Thursday at approximately 23:00 EDT.  The team said hotel surveillance video showed that the alleged theft happened today at 5:32 EDT.

“Wow. Anyone near Atlanta find my stolen Cup car let me know! Unreal,” exclaimed Mr. Kvapil on Twitter.

"Real setback for Team Xtreme, (team owner) John Cohen and all the guys that worked so hard to get us here coming off a decent Daytona race," he added.  "This is a big setback for this little team."

"While this is obviously a setback for this weekend, our plans remain to compete in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season," said Mr. Cohen.  "We are working closely with the Morrow police in hopes that our truck, trailer and race car are safely returned."

The Morrow Police Office has not commented on the case, and they have not identified any suspects.

The team will prepare for the March 8 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which will air on WFXG Fox 54, WACH Fox 57, WGXA Fox 24, WTAT Fox 24, WTGS Fox 28, WHNS 21 Fox Carolina and WAGA Fox 5.

This Sunday's race from Hampton, Ga. will air on WFXG Fox 54, WACH Fox 57, WGXA Fox 24, WTAT Fox 24, WTGS Fox 28, WHNS 21 Fox Carolina and WAGA Fox 5 at 12:30.

Glossary:

Pit stop: a stop in the pits for servicing and refueling during a race.  Such stops happen under green- or yellow-flag conditions.  Penalties vary depending on the flag displayed.

Pit road: the place inside the track where drivers go for service or refueling.  Speed limits vary from track to track.

Loose: This is when the front tires are getting a better grip on the racetrack than the rear tires. This causes the back end to want to come around in the turns making the nose of the car point towards the inside of the corner.

Tight: This is when the rear tires are getting a better grip on the racetrack than the front tires. This causes the car to want to continue straight ahead when the driver turns the wheel.

Toe-in: a slight forward convergence of a pair of wheels so that they are closer together in front than behind. Usually a condition post-crash.

Toe-out: a slight forward divergence of a pair of wheels so that they are closer together behind than in front. Usually a condition post-crash.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sumter woman dragged out of car, abused by man

Man charged with CDV


SUMTER — Officers from the Sumter County Sheriff's Department arrested a middle-aged man who dragged a woman out of a vehicle and then beat her up.

Officers said on Monday, William 'Bill' Feaster, 52, dragged the victim out of her car, choked her, and then began hitting her in the face with closed fists.

Mr. Feaster was arrested for criminal domestic violence, the exact same charge he was convicted of in 2008.

This is his second offense.

He is at the Sumter-Lee Regional Jail, awaiting a hearing.

WLTX News 19

FCC votes 3-2 to strip states of their illegal authority to regulate broadband



WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to strip state governments of their illegal authority to regulate broadband and return that power to regulate broadband back to where it belongs: to the counties, towns and cities.

“It's good to see the FCC standing up to phone and cable company efforts to legislate away competition and choice,” said Free Press, a consumer advocacy group.  “By targeting these protectionist state laws, the FCC is siding with dozens of communities seeking to provide essential broadband services where people have few to no other options.”

Late last year, the cities of Chattanooga, Tenn. and Wilson, N.C. petitioned the federal government to nullify state bans on municipal broadband.

Chattanooga cannot build its broadband networks anywhere it does not already provide electricity.  "What we're looking at here in Tennessee are people who are literally a tenth of a mile off of our system who have no Internet access," said Harold DePriest, the chief executive of Chattanooga's city-owned power utility, EPB.

One provision in North Carolina law bars cities from charging prices that are lower than the private incumbents'.  Another requires municipalities to gain public support for a city-run service through a special referendum before borrowing money to fund such efforts.  A third effectively prohibits cities from building in "unserved areas," according to Wilson's petition.

That's what makes the FCC's intervention in Wilson more dramatic, overturning a range of state laws that the city says artificially limits competition.

Taken together, these restrictions make it difficult for new providers to compete with established Internet providers, FCC officials declared.

It's not just Tennessee and North Carolina.  This action today also nullifies 18 other illegal state laws on broadband, including South Carolina's, where Nikki Haley pleaded to the FCC to keep the state's illegal law in place just in the past week.

“The bottom line of these matters is that some states have created thickets of red tape designed to limit competition,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.  “When local leaders have their hands tied by bureaucratic state red tape, local businesses and residents are the ones who suffer the consequences.”

Cities advocating for more leeway to offer Internet service say they are trying to address a lingering problem: Consumers don't have enough choices.

More than half of Americans have only one choice of Internet provider at speeds of 25 megabits per second — the basic threshold for high-speed Internet under a new definition approved by the FCC last month.

Internet providers are expected to unsuccessfully challenge the FCC's ruling in court, incorrectly arguing that the agency lacks the authority to come between a state and the cities under its jurisdiction when, in fact, the FCC does have the authority to come between the state and cities under the Supremacy Clause (Article VI Section II) and the interstate commerce clause (Article I Section VIII Clause III).  Here is the Supremacy Clause:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

Here is the Interstate Commerce Clause:

[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

This will be an easy win for the FCC.  Big Telecom need to accept their loss on this issue and save their money for a fight they can win.

Lumia Denim is live for the Microsoft Lumia 925 & 1520



BELLEVUE, Wash. — On Wednesday night, just before most people went to bed, T-Mobile sneaked an update to the Lumia 925 they discontinued selling on their own site at this time last year.

The Lumia Denim update was downloaded onto the phones, and the package weighs in at 0.53 GB, that's 530 MB for those mathematically challenged.

Today, we received reports that the Lumia 1520, the largest smartphone in the world, got the same update, on AT&T.

This brings the ability to shoot 4K video and faster camera start-up and shutter speeds, along with other excellent updates.

Get it now!

TmoNews
Windows Central
WMPowerUser

BREAKING NEWS: FCC votes 3-2 for tougher Net Neutrality rules



WASHINGTON, D.C. — As expected, the Federal Communications Commission listened to We the People and voted for much tougher Net Neutrality rules that can withstand an expected challenge from the fascist right, AT&T and Verizon.

The FCC voted to reclassify the internet to what it actually is: a Title II utility.

What this means is that internet service providers will no longer be allowed to censor any group or organization they don't like.  Verizon and AT&T had censored liberals for years and years without consequences, as we posted here as recently as Wednesday afternoon.

This approach to treat the Web like a utility in order to prevent major companies such as Comcast or Verizon from slowing, blocking or creating “toll roads” for people’s access to the Internet is advocated by Silicon Valley, the technology industry at large and President Obama.

“The Internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet; it’s simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat who has not always been our ally on important issues (think of how he defended the commission's unconstitutional indecency rules).

“The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.”

After a decade spent by Silicon Valley and progressive grass-root activists pushing for strong federal rules, supporters said that the tough new rules would be a strong bulwark to prevent people from being abused online.  In the end, those activists helped drive more than 4 million net neutrality comments to the agency — by far an FCC record.


On Thursday, the commission’s meeting room was packed with activists, lawyers and journalists who trudged through the rare February snowfall to attend the historic hearing.  Meanwhile, dozens of proponents of the rules gathered outside the agency’s Southwest Washington headquarters to cheer on the vote.

“Today, because of your efforts we are better able to allow millions of Americans to tell their stories, to reach their potential and to reach the American ideal,” said Mignon Clyburn, another Democratic commissioner, in thanking activists for their work.

The vote puts an end to a tumultuous 13-month rulemaking period prompted by a federal appeals court ruling last January, which tossed out previous regulations dating from 2010.

The FCC’s new rules reclassify broadband Internet from an “information” service to a “telecommunications” service under its rules, essentially reversing an FCC policy that dates back to 2002.  By making that move, the FCC will be able to exert more authority over people’s access to the Internet, similar to its treatment of utility services like phone lines.

In order to resist avoid a heavy-handed approach, the commission will hold back some of the provisions including, officials supportive of the rules say, measures to oversee companies’ rates.

The regulations will also cover wireless Internet accessed by people over their smartphones and tablets — which were exempt under the FCC’s 2010 rules.

Finally, they will empower the FCC to police “interconnection” arrangements that companies make to hand off traffic on the back end of the Internet.
This is a very big victory for the American people, no doubt.

The Hill

Emanuel County Schools hammered with religious freedom lawsuit



SWAINSBORO, Ga. — The Emanuel County School District has been sued because a primary school violated the conscience of non-Christian pupils, something the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 prohibits.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, February 10.

Swainsboro Primary School teachers Kaytrene Bright and Cel Thompson forced the children of anonymous Jane and John Does to join their classmates in prayer or leave the classroom.

“Encouraging the Doe children to pray, or isolating and punishing the Doe children for electing not to pray, violates the deeply and sincerely held moral convictions of the Doe children and therefore their First Amendment rights,” reads the complaint from the plaintiffs, which includes the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).

Before lunch, the teacher of Mr. John Doe II would ask the class to bow their heads, fold their hands, and say, “God our Father, we give thanks, for our many blessings. Amen.” in clear violation of the First Amendment and the aforementioned RFRA.

Ms. Jane Doe II’s teacher, Kaytrene Bright, would ask students to say, “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. Thank you for our daily prayer. Amen.”

Again, another violation of both the First Amendment and of the RFRA.

When John and Jane Doe learned of this, they contacted Swainsboro Primary School Principal Valorie Watkins, who told them that if they didn’t want their children to pray, their only recourse would be to have their children leave the classroom while the other children offered thanks to God.

Once this policy, one that is not even remotely constitutional since the school is a public school, was initiated, Ms. Jane II told her parents that she began being bullied and teased by other pupils. Mr. John II said that his teacher, Kaytrene Bright, “used her mean voice” when she sent Mr. Mr. John II into the hallway, and pressured Mr. John II to violate his conscience by praying.

Kaytrene told Mr. John II that Jane Doe was a “bad person” for not believing in God, and eventually wore Mr. John II down to the point where Mr. John II was subjugated by Kaytrene to violate his beliefs and conscience and was forced to join in the classroom prayers.

Dan Barker, the co-president of the FFRF, said that “[i]t should not be necessary for FFRF to sue over such an obvious violation of specific Supreme Court decisions barring devotions from our public schools.”

“”No child in our secular school system or their parents,” he added, “should be subjected to prayer, or stigmatized when their parents speak up to defend the Establishment Clause. But unfortunately, it appears a lawsuit will be the only way to protect the freedom of conscience of these young children.”

Obviously, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, the very same law used to shut down the birth control program in June 2014, agrees with the FFRF:

(a) In general
Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) Exception
Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

(c) Judicial relief
A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government. Standing to assert a claim or defense under this section shall be governed by the general rules of standing under article III of the Constitution.

Yea. This will be a very easy lawsuit for the FFRF.

Raw Story

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Conservative-dominated S.C. Senate defies powerful gun lobbyists and pass watered-down bill

New bill keeps guns out of hands of domestic abusers for a decade, but anti-DV activists wanted permanent ban on gun ownership for abusers; gun rights groups opposed both bills and are ratcheting up the pressure on House to kill Senate compromise


COLUMBIA — And yet again, guns may win out in South Carolina over people.

The gun lobby was successful in killing S. 3 earlier today, but a Charleston area Senator came up with a compromise that was apparently palatable enough for all but three Senators.

Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, wrote an amendment allowing judges to have discretion on whether to bar low-level domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms.

Both anti-DV activists and gun lobbyists were enraged at the bill that passed for diametrically different reasons.

“I’m satisfied that we have a strong bill,” said Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, the bill’s primary sponsor. “This will make a meaningful difference for victims in South Carolina as we attempt to address a very serious problem in our state.”

Much like the federal bipartisan background checks proposal that is unlikely to be revived now that the GOP is in control of the US Senate, guns and the Second Amendment have been at the heart of the S.C. Legislature’s debate this year on domestic violence reform. Since August 2014, 22 people have been killed in domestic violence in South Carolina, and 73 percent of those killings have involved a gun, according to a Post and Courier analysis.

Federal law bars anyone convicted of domestic violence from possessing a gun, but other than voluntary compliance, that law isn’t enforced in South Carolina and other states with very lax gun laws. A state ban, activists say, is needed so that local and state law enforcement agencies can ensure offenders give up their weapons.

The bill passed by the Senate includes a 10-year state-imposed gun ban on those convicted of domestic violence.

Sen. Campsen said his measure to allow judges discretion on low-level domestic violence makes sense both logistically and politically. Because those offenders can be charged for non-violent offenses — such as breaking a plate on the ground — judges should have more leeway about whether to impose the gun ban, he said.

His bill still faces little change of passing a House even more conservative than the Senate as the gun lobby and other Second Amendment organizations are aiming for a showdown against the pols in that chamber.

Sen. Martin, who has been criticized in Second Amendment circles over S. 3, blasted his colleagues for watering the bill down.

“You ask any victim of (domestic violence) and whether it was serious or not or how frightened they were … I will tell you none of us in this room have a clue what these victims experience in that regard,” he told senators, refudiating claims that low-level domestic violence is not serious and not worthy of taking away guns.

Laura Hudson, a prominent victim’s advocate, called Campsen’s measure “a defense attorney’s dream” because it gives them bargaining power with a judge or prosecutor.

Senators, she said, do not realize how difficult it is to secure a domestic violence charge in the first place. Often, victims do not want to testify against their loved ones and cases don’t move forward. She said it’s important to take batterers’ guns away for low-level crimes so that a gun isn’t available if abuse escalates.

Sara Barber, executive director of the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said lawmakers have been shown the link between guns and the state’s domestic violence homicide rate.

She hopes House members remember that as the debate moves to that chamber.

“We have clear, clear statistics that show weapons are the weapons of choice,” she said. “This is not about Second Amendment rights. This is about victims’ rights to safety.”

Sen. Katrina Shealy, another target of the gun lobby's ire in recent weeks, shared her sister's story on the chamber on Tuesday. She said, “What’s a domestic violence bill if you don’t talk about a gun ban?”

The House will begin debate on the bill, and their own bill that excludes a gun ban, on Friday. Thursday's session has been cancelled due to the expected winter weather in Columbia.

Lee Bright, an ardent gun enthusiast; Shane Massey, the Aiken area Republican; and Thomas Corbin, Mr. ‘Lesser Cut of Meat’, were the three Senators who voted against this bill. All three Senators have a long history of opposition to women's rights.

Post and Courier

Opponents of Net Neutrality are no different than North Korean Communists



WASHINGTON, D.C. — Within 24 hours, we will know whether the FCC voted to save the internet, or whether to allow ISPs to behave like North Korean communists and censor legitimate web sites at will.

Keep in mind, there is a history of internet service providers – namely Comcast, Verizon and American Telephone and Telegraph – censoring legitimate web sites.

As I noted on TmoNews on Friday, ISPs have censored women's rights sites numerous times in the past:

Let's get to know how we got here.

Eight years ago, when smartphones, tablets and phablets were not even thought of, Verizon (and AT&T) blocked SMS (text) messages from NARAL and other women's rights groups from being received by those who subscribed to those two companies. It took national media coverage after almost two months for both to finally back down.

That was the first shot that called for Net Neutrality.

Verizon did the same thing a few years back by blocking access to NARAL's web page both on their ISP internet service and on their phones just when touchscreen phones and smartphones were introduced to the States. It took threats from several State attorney generals in Northeastern and Far West states to threaten a lawsuit to get them to stop.

So, if phone companies like Verizon have twice censored political viewpoints that they opposed, what makes you think that they WON'T do it right now?

That alone is the primary reason why Title II reclassification is a must, if for no other reason at all. Companies should not be allowed under any circumstances to censor web pages simply because of the views of a non-profit organization.

Anyone who opposes Net Neutrality is in favor of sites being able to censor web pages that don't jive with the company's political views.

And here is what I was referring to. September 28, 2007, Huffington Post:

According to the New York Times, Verizon Wireless has rejected Naral Pro-Choice America efforts to use Verizon's mobile text-message program to communicate to its membership.

Such text messaging is an important new tool for advocacy organizations seeking to educate and alert their members.

Verizon decision to block this new form of political speech interferes with its users' right to get information that they choose to receive.

The move gives off a familiar scent -- and puts Verizon in the same league with its cohorts at AT&T, who in August censored the live Webcast of a Pearl Jam performance that included criticism of President George Bush.

The truth is that whenever given the choice, phone companies will opt to discriminate against content they don't like. Such efforts to stem the free flow of information should be a wake up call for anyone concerned about phone company plans to begin filtering Internet content.

Verizon and AT&T routinely rail against Net Neutrality as a "solution in search of a problem." They swarm Washington with lobbyists offering promises never to interfere with the free flow of online content. And then they lobby for new laws that will allow them to do just that.

AT&T and Verizon share a history of breaking trust with the public, including handing over customer phone records to the government -- and then seeking immunity from prosecution for doing so; promising to deliver services to underserved communities and then skipping town; pledging never to interfere with the free flow of information while hatching plans with the likes of Cisco and Viacom to build and deploy technology that will spy on online traffic.

Earlier this month, Verizon filed suit against the FCC for trying to pry open the wireless market to more consumer choice and competition. In Verizon's myopic view, consumers should never benefit from the free market -- and especially not those who are locked into their draconian wireless contracts.

The bottom line is never trust Verizon or AT&T at their word. Phone companies act in bad faith toward the public and will do whatever they can get away with -- including sacrificing their users' freedom to choose -- to advance their financial interests.

The Verizon network crowd that famously shadows users wherever they go has now taken on an Orwellian cast. No, Verizon, we don't want your mob to surround us. We simply want you to get out of our way.

= = = =
Sept 27 UPDATE:

Let the backpedaling begin. Verizon Wireless just announced that it has dropped its ban on text messages from NARAL one day after news of their censorship was reported by the New York Times.

"The decision to not allow text messaging on an important, though sensitive, public policy issue was incorrect," Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said in a statement, adding that the earlier decision was an "isolated incident."

Don't believe it. This gives us a dim view at the gatekeeping mindset of phone companies -- and what we might expect in a future where the likes of AT&T and Verizon are handed control of the free flow of information. It's time Congress reaffirmed its commitment to protecting free speech over all 21st Century communications - on the Internet, on cell phones, on the streets, everywhere.

Let's continue with that.

Since the FCC got rid of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, guess which groups of people whined the most about political bias? Yup. Pro-life organizations. The very same organizations that got what they wanted with the Fairness Doctrine 28 years ago. But, that didn't stop them from whining when, for example, NPR wanted only pro-choice organizations on their news program, which is well within NPR's rights absent the Fairness Doctrine.

From Mom's Tin Foil Hat on December 10, 2008, showing that pro-life truly are sore winners:

Abortion is a legal, overwhelmingly safe, very common medical procedure, one of the most common surgical procedures in the country. The vast majority of the country supports the right for women to choose to terminate a pregnancy. The Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates between 30 to 40% of all women of reproductive age will have a pregnancy termination in their lifetime. Unfortunately, very few of these women will talk about it to anyone other than their immediate support circle, due to the stigma. Part of that stigma is due to many media outlets not thinking that a story about abortion is complete without having someone pointing out that some people think that it is immoral.

Many NPR shows, including TOTN, are successful at providing nuanced discussion of controversial issues without resorting to having one guest that calls the other guest immoral, one who completely disagrees with their legal ability to even do what they do…When you have on military experts or spokespeople, do you have a token pacifist on the panel saying war is wrong, or even someone who represents the 60%+ of us who think we shouldn’t be in Iraq? Just to remind everybody that some people think it’s immoral?

This is why government regulations on the internet, such as Net Neutrality, are so damn important.  Net Neutrality protects everyone's First Amendment rights, regardless of the political beliefs of any one person.  It prevents pro-life activists from being censored by liberal ISPs every bit as much as it prevents NARAL and Planned Parenthood from being censored by Verizon and AT&T, which has happened at least twice before.

The tens of conservatives and their mult sockpuppets you see tweeting and retweeting anti-Net Neutrality talking points are in a shrinking minority as the shills for the telecoms are, for the first-time since the 1970s, outnumbered by real people who are demanding the FCC to enact Title II reclassification and Net Neutrality.  We the People want Net Neutrality, because it prevents free nations like the USA from becoming another communist North Korea.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the government to get this right.  They better tune out the right wing Republican Tea Party extremists who are no different than the North Korean communists they claim to despise. and instead listen to the people – who strongly support Net Neutrality.  Or they will regret ever listening to the Koch Brothers and the telecoms for a very long time to come starting in 2016.
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