If you’ve ever engaged with the social media/forum Reddit.com then you know what a tumultuous place it can be. Participants, shielded from public view by a fiber optic connection to the real world, bravado and bullshit can turn ordinary topics into raging arguments. As with anything on the internet, a healthy dose of skepticism is in order before accepting anything one reads there as fact.
Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) feature, where people of influence open themselves up to questions posed by Redditors, can get pretty wild. Conversational threads, where remarks build upon other comments and spark new lines of inquiry, can spin off into areas far removed from their starting place.
Yesterday Congressman Darrell Issa climbed to the virtual dais on Reddit to explain (as much as you can in the AMA format) and get feedback on his proposed legislation that would bar ‘new regulations or burdens on the internet for two years’. This broad shouldered bit of legalese really is all about keeping Federal regulators from doing anything (good or bad) for the duration of the 113th Congress.
“What this bill is hoping to do is hold off on rule-making and implementing regulations and new laws on the internet before the federal government is prepared and ready to move forward in a way that works for everyone involved — Internet users, job creators and all Americans.”
Issa is highly regarded in some circles of the internet’s intelligentsia for his very public opposition to last years failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), an odious attempt at limiting free speech disguised as a consumer protection bill aimed at curbing copyright infringement. It was, ultimately, a rear-guard action by industries unable to adapt to the changes occurring in the distribution of information in the 21st century.
As yesterday’s AMA demonstrated, the Congressman’s dedication to internet freedom is a controversial subject. Issa’s support for the proposed Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) dealing with cyber threats and allowing the sharing of data between the government and private entities, his votes in favor of the various editions of the USA Patriot Act and his standing as a conservative crusader all are cause for distrust amongst internet advocates.
There were thousands of comments. I’ve picked three to give you an idea of the flavor and intensity of the debate here. Hopefully you’ll pick up on the seriousness of the debate here and the passion that these issues bring forth.
Internet lawyer here. This bill, as currently drafted, is a bogus, apparently fraudulent attempt to impose a wholesale ban on all federal regulations regardless of their impact on the internet. Reddit, we are being pandered to by a Republican Party whose future existence is threatened by its tanking approval ratings among the “young.” Listen up:
First, this bill is not targeted to regulations burdening the free internet; rather, its breathtakingly broad application protects any and all “individuals or corporations engaged in activities on the Internet,” from any and all new requirements. The covered entities, of course, include basically every individual period (since we all use the internet), and virtually every business that has a website or email address. So pretty much 99% of all human activity in this country is covered.
Second, it is not even limited to banning regulations of everyone’s ONLINE activity; it would also ban regulations of their offline activity. So that means no more environmental, FDA, transportation, or airline safety regs, because everyone regulated is “engaged in activities on the internet.”
This is not a serious piece of proposed legislation. It is yet another stunt by the childish House GOP so they can tell young internet lovers that the Dems who rejected the bill hate the free internet. What an insult.
How would such a law work?
Do you want the real answer? You may not like it.
The real answer is that congressmen introduce hundreds of bills each year that they know will die quietly in committee. These far-right or far-left bills are designed to court demographics or mollify hard core supporters to ensure they get votes next election.
This bill is so poorly written that Issa is probably the sole supporter — some house republicans are probably eying this from afar deciding whether they want to jump onboard or not, but right now Issa is the test guy. Several hard-core internet folks will edit it and cheerlead for him in the next couple years. “But Issa is a champion of free Internet!” “He has a record of advancing bold legislation!” In a few months it will get trapped in some rules committee and people will forget about it. But Issa will get his votes in 2014 — at least that’s the play.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to such an eccentric (and likely hostile) group of people here on Reddit. I want you to know that this is something we take very seriously, and as such you’re bound to see a lot of hot heads and emotion mixed in with seriously poignant questions and comments.
Now, my advice to you is simple – No one in Congress is educated enough on this topic to ethically write legislation regulating it. No one. Until everyone in Congress admits this fact, we will not make positive progress in alleviating the fears of the ignorant political commentators and fear-mongers.
If we can get Congress to admit that the job of making the Internet “safe” is entirely dependent upon understanding the intricate details of the technology that makes the Internet work, then MAYBE we can begin to provide the education needed (both to Congress and the public) to understand those details. But until you admit that you don’t understand it, you don’t even know what you don’t know about the Internet.
So I would support your moratorium IF and ONLY if the language concerning “existential threats” were removed, and replaced with language concerning the severe knowledge gap existing between the legislators (on the Internet) and the businesses and individuals who rely on the Internet for their livelihoods. If the goal of this bill is to spend the next two years getting industry professionals to teach Congress about the Internet (and how to theoretically regulate it), then I would wholeheartedly support it.
But if the goal is to simply wait until a Republican super majority exists in Congress, at which point draconian censoring and anti-privacy legislation will be enacted, then I would kindly tell you to take your business elsewhere.
Chart of the Day
From Business Insider:
From National Memo:
Since 1944, the United States has only raised taxes on the rich twice—in 1992 and 1994. What followed those tax increases was one of the greatest economic booms in American history. Though Clinton’s decision to raise the top rate didn’t build the World Wide Web or spark global trade, it certainly didn’t hurt the economy either — despite Republican predictions that hiking taxes on the wealthy would drive America into recession or worse. Well before the end of the decade, tax revenues had increased sufficiently to transform the Reagan-Bush deficits into a surplus, and the Treasury was looking forward to paying off the national debt.
Anti-Nuke Events Proliferate as the Holiday Season Approaches
It may be the season for shopping for consumers. It may be a time to recharge for political campaigners. But for the anti-nuclear activists in the region it’s time to intensify their efforts. Following are a half dozen programs, protests and events compiled by the Peace Resource Center for the coming days.
** Thursday, November 29: No Nukes Slam 2 — Poets Against Nuclear Power, 7-9 p.m., Peace Resource Center of San Diego, 3850 Westgate Place, San Diego, CA 92105. Share a poem, come listen! Info: https://www.facebook.
** November 30-December 8: Buddhist March and Vigil to Decommission San Onofre. March from Dana Point to San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant on November 29; Vigil and Fast continues rest of week. Info at: https://www.facebook.com/
** Friday, November 30: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Meeting about San Onofre, 6 and 9 p.m. (PDT) at the Hills Hotel, 25205 La Paz Road in Laguna Hills, Calif. We will hold a press conference at 4 p.m outside of the Hotel.https://www.facebook.
** Tuesday, December 4: “Green Scene–The Costs and Benefits of San Onofre Nuclear Power in Our Backyard,” 5:30 p.m., 1088 Third Avenue, SD, 92101. Info and register here: http://www.wrsc.org/
** Wednesday, December 5: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (NRC) ordered that oral arguments be heard at 1:00 pm EST on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, from Citizens’ Oversight (COPS) and Southern California Edison (SCE) regarding a license amendment request by SCE for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (San Onofre). For the benefit of the public, the proceeding will be webcast at http://www.visualwebcaster.
** Saturday, December 8: Peace On Earth Holiday Bazaar: San Diego Shut San Onofre will have a booth at the annual bazaar, along with 18 plus other peace, social justice and environmental organizations! 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Mid City Gym, San Diego 92105 (entrance on 43rd, near Landis). Support local organizations while giving alternative gifts! Volunteers are needed to help with the Shut San Onofre table, contact email@example.com to volunteer. https://www.facebook.com/
Here’s Something Our Local Daily Didn’t Deem Worth Covering
There’s a really big strike going on up the coast from San Diego. Seven of eight terminals at the Port of Los Angeles have shut down by a strike, along with three of six terminals at the neighboring Port of Long Beach.
This strike, triggered by clerks associated with International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63 is the largest shutdown at the combined ports since 2002. Other Unions are refusing to cross the picket lines in a dispute triggered by accusations of off-shoring jobs.
If this action continues it could have effects on the economy nation-wide. The Port of Los Angeles is the largest U.S. container port by volume, and last year goods valued at a combined $273 billion passed through the facility. The combined ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the busiest U.S. cargo shipping complex.
Christmas shopping won’t be affected by the job action. Port officials say most goods destined for sale in the holiday shopping season have already moved through the facility.
Understanding the Link Between High Fructose Corn Syrup and Diabetes
The LA Times reports today on a study conducted by researchers with the University of Southern California and Oxford University that claims to have identified an association between countries that have more high fructose corn syrup in their food supply and those that have higher rates of diabetes.
Countries with higher use of HFCS had an average prevalence of Type 2 diabetes of 8%, compared with 6.7% in countries that don’t use it, according to the research published Tuesday in the journal Global Public Health. Those differences held, the researchers said, after adjustments for body mass index, population and gross domestic product.
The researchers reported that of 42 countries studied, the United States had the highest per capita consumption of HFCS: 55 pounds a year. The second-highest was Hungary, at 46 pounds. Countries that had a per capita annual consumption rate of about a pound or less included Australia, China, Denmark, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Britain and Uruguay.
Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor at UC San Francisco and director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health Program there, noted that the researchers did not show that higher consumption of high fructose corn syrup caused the increase in diabetes, only that there was a link between the two.
Ho, Ho, Ho for Hostess Executives as Employees Get The Boot
Hostess Brands Inc. plans to ask for a judge’s approval today to give 19 top executives bonuses totaling up to $1.8 million as part of its wind-down plans. The maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos says the incentive pay is needed to keep the managers during the year long liquidation process.
Meanwhile 18,000 regular employees are getting laid off. And, no, it isn’t the union’s fault. See the backstory on this here.
On This Day: In 1963 President Johnson named a commission headed by Earl Warren to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy. In 1982 the U.N. General Assembly voted that the Soviet Union should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. In 2004 Godzilla received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmer’s Markets: Carmel Valley (Canyon Crest Academy 5951 Village Center Loop Road) 3:30 – 7:00 pm, Chula Vista(Downtown, Center St. & Third Ave.) 3 –7 pm, Linda Vista (6900 Linda Vista Road Between Comstock & Ulric) 2 – 7 pm, North Park (CVSPharmacy parking lot 3151 University & 32nd St.) 3 – 7 pm, Oceanside Market & Faire (Pier View Way & Coast Hwy. 101) 9 am – 1 pm,Oceanside Sunset (Tremont & Pier View Way) 5 –9 pm, San Carlos (Pershing Middle School 8204 San Carlos Drive) 4 – 7 pm, SDSU Farmers’ Market (Campanile Walkway btw Hepner Hall & Love Library) 10 – 3 pm, University Town Center (Genesee Ave. at UTC Westfield Shopping Plaza) 3 – 7 pm.
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