Thursday, April 15, 2010

Planes and Volcanic Ash Don't Mix

I guess I trust mainstream media on these kinds of stories. They are saying this eruption could last for, and thus disrupt air travel, for a year. If a nearby volcano erupts too, this could make for a 3 year long winter, crop failure etc. This is a worst case scenario, but damn!


Several Flights in the Past Few Decades Have Had Dangerous Encounters With Volcanic Ash

April 15, 2010—

The massive volcanic eruption in Iceland today created a thick cloud of dust thousands of feet high and wide, forcing European airlines to cancel hundreds of flights. Airborn volcanic ash has always posed a serious danger for aircraft specifically for their engines. Just two months ago, passengers on a jet were treated to a window view of a huge ash plume as a flight from Canada to the Caribbean skirted by a massive volcanic eruption on the island of Montserrat.

Over the last few decades, there have been several incidents where pilots suddenly found themselves in emergency situations because of an encounter with volcanic ash. In 1980, the eruption of Mount St. Helen's damaged two commercial jets. They both landed safely. In 1989, ash from Alaska's Mount Redoubt crippled a 747 aircraft, but that plane also made it safely to the ground.

Perhaps the most frightening incident happened on a British Airways Flight 009 in 1982 from Indonesia to New Zealand.

"It was a black, cold night. No moon, nothing," Eric Moody, the pilot of that British Airways flight, told ABC News.

The plane was at 36,000 feet over the Indian Ocean. The crew had no idea they were flying through ash until they saw lights flash and haze began to fill the plane. Suddenly, the jet lost power in all four engines.

"We had no idea why the engines had stopped," said Moody. "They had stopped fairly quickly, all four. And we had no idea."

Immediately, even as the cockpit crew read their instruments in disbelief, the captain tried to calm passengers. "We're doing our damnist to get it under control," he told the cabin.

Passenger Betty Tootell, who later married a fellow passenger on that fateful flight, remembered the flight so vividly she wrote a book about it. Surprisingly, she says that passengers remained relatively calm. "It was not a pleasant time. I don't pretend anything other than that. But there was no panic," she told the BBC.

Without engine power, the cabin lost pressure, so the crew made the decision to dive. They dropped the plane's altitude to 10,000 feet, where the air was breathable. That dive saved the plane. It blew the ash out of the engines. Once they were clear, the crew was able to restart the engines, saving the lives of the 263 souls on board.

Tootell says that, instead of instilling in her a fear of flying, she experienced just the opposite. " The incident [increased] my confidence in flying because we had a pretty good man at the helm and a pretty good crew there, the best I'd say because they saved our lives that night. And in those circumstances if you can get out of an incident like that we had the feeling, many of us that you could get out of anything."

"If we had given up we wouldn't be here today, so we had no choice but to keep trying," Moody said. He adds that, "anyone who goes into volcanic ash now, is a nutcase & it's very dangerous material."


Wall Street's Permanent Takeover of the Republican Party

To be fair, Wall Street owns most of the Democratic Party as well...

Wall Street's Permanent Takeover of the Republican Party

If the Republican party were Helen Keller, Frank Luntz would be Annie Sullivan.

Luntz taught the Republicans to never complete a sentence about Health Care Reform without using the phrase "government takeover." Even David Vitter's hookers got sick of hearing it.

Because of Luntz, Democrats got blamed for creating a single-payer system while creating something less Liberal than what Nixon wanted.

Luntz is good. But there's no way he can use his word voodoo to block financial reform. Even Luntz knows that the public is demanding that Wall Street not be allowed to cripple the economy again. America doesn't want another crisis resulting in another bailout.

But Luntz has a formula. Take something the public doesn't like and use it to label whatever initiative the Republicans (or Wall Street, no real difference) are fighting.

That’s how the Democrats too-mild attempt at financial reform became a “permanent taxpayer bailout.” It’s genius.

While McConnell and the Republicans fuse themselves so closely to the penises of Wall Street that they may have to be circumcised, they are blaming the Democrats for the bailouts.

Forget the truth. Forget that Republicans unwillingness to regulate (or govern) created the first recession in decades that hit all 50 states. Forget that it was a Republican administration that invented the idea of preemptive bailouts (to go along with preemptive war). And forget that what the Republicans are doing would make another financial crisis inevitable.

If they can repeat their code words long enough on Fox News and AM radio stations, people will tweet it and the MSM won’t even bother to deny it.

Or maybe the lie is too big. Maybe the American people know deep down that the Republicans have no real interest in stopping Wall Street bailouts or bonuses or anything. Maybe this time even the Tea Baggers will see if Wall Street wins this time, all the word games in the world won’t prevent an even greater recession.

That's Tariffic!

video link

Atlantic Garbage Patch: Pacific Gyre Is Not Alone

Atlantic Garbage Patch: Pacific Gyre Is Not Alone
MIKE MELIA | 04/15/10

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Researchers are warning of a new blight on the ocean: a swirl of confetti-like plastic debris stretching over thousands of square miles (kilometers) in a remote expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

The floating garbage – hard to spot from the surface and spun together by a vortex of currents – was documented by two groups of scientists who trawled the sea between scenic Bermuda and Portugal's mid-Atlantic Azores islands.

The studies describe a soup of micro-particles similar to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a phenomenon discovered a decade ago between Hawaii and California that researchers say is likely to exist in other places around the globe.

"We found the great Atlantic garbage patch," said Anna Cummins, who collected plastic samples on a sailing voyage in February.

The debris is harmful for fish, sea mammals – and at the top of the food chain, potentially humans – even though much of the plastic has broken into such tiny pieces they are nearly invisible.

Since there is no realistic way of cleaning the oceans, advocates say the key is to keep more plastic out by raising awareness and, wherever possible, challenging a throwaway culture that uses non-biodegradable materials for disposable products.

"Our job now is to let people know that plastic ocean pollution is a global problem – it unfortunately is not confined to a single patch," Cummins said.

The research teams presented their findings in February at the 2010 Oceans Sciences Meeting in Portland, Oregon. While scientists have reported finding plastic in parts of the Atlantic since the 1970s, the researchers say they have taken important steps toward mapping the extent of the pollution.

Cummins and her husband, Marcus Eriksen, of Santa Monica, California, sailed across the Atlantic for their research project. They plan similar studies in the South Atlantic in November and the South Pacific next spring.

On the voyage from Bermuda to the Azores, they crossed the Sargasso Sea, an area bounded by ocean currents including the Gulf Stream. They took samples every 100 miles (160 kilometers) with one interruption caused by a major storm. Each time they pulled up the trawl, it was full of plastic.

A separate study by undergraduates with the Woods Hole, Massachusetts-based Sea Education Association collected more than 6,000 samples on trips between Canada and the Caribbean over two decades. The lead investigator, Kara Lavendar Law, said they found the highest concentrations of plastics between 22 and 38 degrees north latitude, an offshore patch equivalent to the area between roughly Cuba and Washington, D.C.

Long trails of seaweed, mixed with bottles, crates and other flotsam, drift in the still waters of the area, known as the North Atlantic Subtropical Convergence Zone. Cummins' team even netted a Trigger fish trapped alive inside a plastic bucket.

But the most nettlesome trash is nearly invisible: countless specks of plastic, often smaller than pencil erasers, suspended near the surface of the deep blue Atlantic.

"It's shocking to see it firsthand," Cummins said. "Nothing compares to being out there. We've managed to leave our footprint really everywhere."

Still more data are needed to assess the dimensions of the North Atlantic patch.

Charles Moore, an ocean researcher credited with discovering the Pacific garbage patch in 1997, said the Atlantic undoubtedly has comparable amounts of plastic. The east coast of the United States has more people and more rivers to funnel garbage into the sea. But since the Atlantic is stormier, debris there likely is more diffuse, he said.

Whatever the difference between the two regions, plastics are devastating the environment across the world, said Moore, whose Algalita Marine Research Foundation based in Long Beach, California, was among the sponsors for Cummins and Eriksen.

"Humanity's plastic footprint is probably more dangerous than its carbon footprint," he said.

Plastics have entangled birds and turned up in the bellies of fish: A paper cited by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says as many as 100,000 marine mammals could die trash-related deaths each year.

The plastic bits, which can be impossible for fish to distinguish from plankton, are dangerous in part because they sponge up potentially harmful chemicals that are also circulating in the ocean, said Jacqueline Savitz, a marine scientist at Oceana, an ocean conservation group based in Washington.

As much as 80 percent of marine debris comes from land, according to the United Nations Environmental Program.

The U.S. government is concerned the pollution could hurt its vital interests.

"That plastic has the potential to impact our resources and impact our economy," said Lisa DiPinto, acting director of NOAA's marine debris program. "It's great to raise awareness so the public can see the plastics we use can eventually land in the ocean."

DiPinto said the federal agency is co-sponsoring a new voyage this summer by the Sea Education Association to measure plastic pollution southeast of Bermuda. NOAA is also involved in research on the Pacific patch.

"Unfortunately, the kinds of things we use plastic for are the kinds of things we don't dispose of carefully," Savitz said. "We've got to use less of it, and if we're going to use it, we have to make sure we dispose of it well."

Muppet Fest (Muppet Show Live in 2001)

Video link

The rest of the videos are on the list to the right of the video on YouTube.

Budget Genocide Sweeps Across the Nation

(This article will go against the grain for some of you. Sorry...but it's too easy to blame poor people for being poor. That they alone are responsible for their situation. It's not true in most cases.--jef)


Budget Genocide Sweeps Across the Nation
Thursday 15 April 2010
by: Lisa Gray–Garcia

Thousands of poor people of color face hunger, illness, death and homelessness due to welfare, housing and health care budget cuts across the nation.

How long does it take to kill the spirit of 7,000 people? How long does it take to forget about 7,000 people? Or 600 people, 10,000 or 22,000 people? There are 7,000 residents of Alameda County facing hunger, desperation and death in April when their general assistance (GA) (welfare) benefits are cut off; 10,500 people face homelessness in New York due to cuts to Section 8. In 2009, 600 people were cut off of GA in Salt Lake City, Utah, and 22,000 recipients of GA in Minnesota were denied access to even the most meager health benefits.

So, why does hardly anyone care?

Perhaps, because people believe the lies perpetuated about poor people barely surviving on welfare and housing subsidies everyday. The lie that we are all substance users; that we are "lazy"; that we are criminals "cheating the system"; that Section 8 is free housing as opposed to "affordable based on your income; that welfare is "free money" as opposed to a loan, which we are expected to repay; or that we don't work hard at below minimum wage jobs, like cleaning the streets or cleaning buses.

Actually, welfare, Medi-Cal and Section 8 recipients are low-waged and no-waged laborers, unemployed construction workers, domestic workers, secretaries, waiters, dry cleaners, day laborers, artists, musicians, gardeners, child care workers, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons - as a matter of fact, we are you.

My mother and I barely survived on the little bit of nothing called welfare for much of my life. As an adult caring for my mama, an African, Puerto Rican, survivor of abusive, racist foster homes and orphanages, who struggled for years to get an education by any means necessary while working as a domestic laborer, until she became disabled and unable to work. After living outside and in our car throughout my childhood, and later incarcerated for that crime of poverty (it's illegal to be houseless in the US), I paid a portion of our rent with the meager $341.00 the welfare system loaned me. It kept me and my disabled mama housed for over a year before we were gentrified out of our low rent apartment.

I was told several times by two of my more abusive caseworkers while on welfare that I was a drain on society and not worth the ground on which I was standing. When the welfare (de)reform bills were signed and all welfare recipients began being fast-tracked into a job, any job, I was being illogical to conceptualize of myself as a journalist or writer, and needed to get enrolled in a 30-day janitorial or secretarial training programs.

With every threat by my welfare worker, my mother and I tried to work harder at our unlicensed, street-based, art micro-business to apply for endless loans we were turned down for, to work 12- and 18-hour days trying to sell products whether the market would bear or not. In the end, the adage that it takes money to make money is sooo true, we could never get ahead, much less fed, and we always ended up back on some type of welfare, hated, misunderstood and criminalized.

My mama is an indigenous Taina, a tribe of the Caribbean, thought like many tribes across the globe to be completely destroyed and annihilated, taken down by countless colonizers and empires, lands stolen, natural resources raped, and robbed of her ancestors until all that was left were a destroyed people, and her an unwanted, poor child of color.

Many of the folks who are facing cuts to meager benefit crumbs are indigenous people, people of diasporas, colonizers destruction and oppressors domination, war, globalization, racism, violence and the violence of poverty. Long ago, taken from their lands of origin, their cultures, their deep structures, their power, they are brought eagerly into the arms of the inhuman systems of capitalism and consumerism, where if you don't have some capital or capitalist in your corner, you quickly become the product, either of the nonprofit industrial complex (a client) or the prison industrial complex (an inmate)

The Scarcity Model

The history of welfare and housing subsidies in the US is a racist, classist tale of the deserving versus undeserving poor scarcity model. From the beginning, welfare and subsidized housing were only meant for some people, "the deserving poor" white, married women whose husbands were killed in the war. If you were anything outside of that racist norm, you were considered pathological, broken, aberrant.

Why was it important to set up the system like this? So an institutionally racist US corporate media could create a web of lies, and a racist US society would believe them, and then could look away when one fell through the cracks and became hungry, houseless or sick. The scarcity model is already set up to be cut/pulled/rescinded as it's based on how few people we can support, rather than who needs support.

"It's going to cost the City so much more to have all the people sick, and not be able to get treatment," Johnny Longtree, an indigenous poverty scholar and Poor News Network (PNN) reporter from Minnesota said, speaking with me about Minnesota's proposed cuts last year.

In every US city and state fighting these inhumane cuts, tireless advocates, researchers and lawyers for the poor present their meticulously gathered statistics on why acts of budget genocide to housing, welfare and services should never happen, how they will cost the cities and states so much more in lost revenue, overwhelm existent strapped services and cause the illness and death of thousands of people. National studies like Without Housing (Western Regional Advocacy Project 2010) directly correlates the connection between the increase of homelessness, criminalization and hunger with the drastic cuts to housing and social services budgets across the nation. And, yet, the deadly lie of the scarcity model prevails.

I say lie, because, contrary to corporate media perpetuated lies, there is enough money for everyone. It is more myth making to act like there is only a little bit to go around. It is a myth promoted by corporate government and corporate media, which have already stolen our collective resources, consistently silenced our voices and want to keep all of the stolen resources in exactly the unjust place they now exist, a few people's pockets.

Hoarding and Cluttering Capital

A capitalistic system leads to the obsessive hoarding of cash and resources, and as all people afflicted with hoarding and clutterering illness will attest to, once you begin hoarding, it's very hard to stop. Once the corporations, corporate governments and legislators begin collecting corporate kick-downs, they can't stop.

This inhuman system that encourages the obsessive hoarding and cluttering of resources seems insane to indigenous cultures like the Malawi people who believe that if I have met you once, you are related to me and I am responsible for your well-being. A culture rooted in interdependence and care giving views people who hoard resources as having something wrong with them, as they understand that sharing is key to the survival of all people, rather than just some people.

The lies and greedy agendas of capitalism have led myself and many of my fellow indigenous and poor revolutionaries to launch, "I am not the lie," a series of testimonies and first-person narratives, which will demystify the lies told about poor folks on welfare, low-wage and no-wage workers, immigrants, subsidized-housing residents, and many other communities consistently misunderstood and disrespected. As well, many indigenous-people-led organizations have begun to look into the roots of budget lies and decades and generations of resource theft of people and cities. From these historical to present investigations, several of us have begun to implement the UN declaration on Indigenous people, a powerful, pro-active document that frames the reclaiming of stolen resources and land to the colonization of people and land.

Many of the nationwide Take Back The Land advocates and actions by many grassroots organizations also act as resistance to the lies of the budget cuts, corporate loan scams, billion dollar bailouts (corporate welfare) and rampant real estate speculation. In the Bay Area, a group has just formed called Revenue for All, which is promoting a taxation movement for all.

So, as over 17,000 people face starvation and homelessness in Northern California and New York, and countless others across the nation affected by these acts of budget genocide, I wonder what it would mean if we began challenging the scarcity models presented as fact by our legislators and began to re-envision another type of budget based on sharing with all rather than sharing with a few; and I wonder what it mean if no one had a lie to lean on about why I don't need to care about my fellow human. Perhaps then, we as a capitalized, consumerist, self-centered culture would have to look at ourselves and our own greed, so we could all resist this lie called the budget cut and realize there is enough for all of us to not only survive, but to thrive.

Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering

Crime Prediction Software Is a Very Bad Idea; and it's Here

Crime Prediction Software Is Here and It's a Very Bad Idea

There are no naked pre-cogs inside glowing jacuzzis yet, but the Florida State Department of Juvenile Justice will use analysis software to predict crime by young delinquents, putting potential offenders under specific prevention and education programs. Goodbye, human rights!
They will use this software on juvenile delinquents, using a series of variables to determine the potential for these people to commit another crime. Depending on this probability, they will put them under specific re-education programs. Deepak Advani—vice president of predictive analytics at IBM—says the system gives "reliable projections" so governments can take "action in real time" to "prevent criminal activities?"
Some will argue that these juvenile delinquents were already convicted for other crimes, so hey, there's no harm. This software will help prevent further crimes. It will make all of us safer? But would it? Where's the guarantee of that? Why does the state have to assume that criminal behavior is a given? And why should the government decide who goes to an specific prevention program or who doesn't based on what a computer says? The fact is that, even if the software was 99.99% accurate, there will be always an innocent person who will be fucked. And that is exactly why we have something called due process and the presumption of innocence. That's why those things are not only in the United States Constitution, but in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights too.
Other people will say that government officials already makes these decisions based on reports and their own judgement. True. It seems that a computer program may be fairer than a human, right? Maybe. But at the end the interpretation of the data is always in the hands of humans (and the program itself is written by humans).
But what really worries me is that this is a first big step towards something larger and darker. Actually, it's the second: IBM says that the Ministry of Justice in the United Kingdom—which has an impeccable record on not pre-judging its citizens—already uses this system to prevent criminal activities. Actually, it may be the third big step, because there's already software in place to blacklist people as potential terrorist, although most probably not as sophisticated as this.
IBM clearly wants this to go big. They have spent a whooping $12 billion beefing up its analytics division. Again, here's the full quote from Deepak Advani:
Predictive analytics gives government organizations worldwide a highly-sophisticated and intelligent source to create safer communities by identifying, predicting, responding to and preventing criminal activities. It gives the criminal justice system the ability to draw upon the wealth of data available to detect patterns, make reliable projections and then take the appropriate action in real time to combat crime and protect citizens.
If that sounds scary to you, that's because it is. First it's the convicted-but-potentially-recidivistic criminals. Then it's the potential terrorists. Then it's everyone of us, in a big database, getting flagged because some combination of factors—travel patterns, credit card activity, relationships, messaging, social activity and everything else—indicate that we may be thinking about doing something against the law. Potentially, a crime prediction system can avoid murder, robbery, or a terrorist act.
It actually sounds like a good idea. For example, there are certain patterns that can identify psychopaths and potential killers or child abusers or wife beaters. It only makes sense to put a future system in place that can prevent identify potential criminals, then put them under surveillance.
The reality is that it's not such a good idea: While everything may seem driven by the desire to achieve better security, one single false positive would make the whole system unfair. And that's not even getting into the potential abuse of such a system. Like the last time IBM got into a vaguely similar business for a good cause, during the 1930s. They shipped a lot of cataloguing machines to certain government in Europe, to put together an advanced census. That was good. Census can improve societies by identifying needs and problems that the government can solve. At the end, however, that didn't end well for more than 11 million people.
And yes, this comparison is an extreme exaggeration. But one thing is clear: No matter how you look at it, cataloguing people—any kind of people—based on statistical predictive software, and then taking pre-empetive actions against them based on the results, is thewrong way to improve our society. Agreeing with this course of action will inevitably take us into a potentially fatal path. [Yahoo!]

TIME Magazine Lists Flouride as “Environmental Toxin”

Environmental Toxins
Chemicals in plastics and other products seem harmless, but mounting evidence links them to health problems — and Washington lacks the power to protect us

A report from lists among other household Items – Flouride- as an “Environmental Toxin”.

Of course, activists and scientists have for years been aware of Flouride’s toxicity, but propaganda and Big Pharma have sought to keep these facts from the general public by showing flouride in a favorable light through the controlled corporate media.

The article went on to say that “Government studies support current fluoride levels in tap water, but studies on long-term exposure and cancers are ongoing”.

What It Is: A form of the basic element fluorine

Found In: Toothpaste, tap water

Health Hazards: Neurotoxic and potentially tumorigenic if swallowed; the American Dental Association advises that children under 2 not use fluoride toothpaste

What You Should Know: Government studies support current fluoride levels in tap water, but studies on long-term exposure and cancers are ongoing

So, What are the lethal levels for humans?

As of April 7, 1997, the United States FDA (Food & Drug Administration) required that all fluoride toothpastes sold in the U.S. carry the following poison warning:

WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.

Potentially fatal dose = 5 mg of fluoride per kg of bodyweight.

Ingestion of fluoride can produce gastrointestinal discomfort at doses at least 15 to 20 times lower (0.2–0.3 mg/kg) than lethal doses. A 2-year-old, for example, may experience gastrointestinal distress upon ingesting sufficient amounts of flavored toothpaste. Between 1989 and 1994, over 628 people—mostly children—were treated after ingesting too much fluoride from their toothpaste. Gastrointestinal symptoms appear to be the most common problem reported.

In 1986 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for fluoride at a concentration of 4 milligrams per litre (mg/L), which is the legal limit of natural fluoride allowed in the water. In 2006, a 12-person committee of the US National Research Council (NRC) reviewed the health risks associated with fluoride consumption and unanimously concluded that the maximum contaminant level of 4 mg/L should be lowered. The EPA has yet to act on the NRC’s recommendation. The limit was previously 1.4 – 2.4 mg/L, but it was raised to 4 mg/L in 1985.


Excessive flouride consumption in studies has been shown to be the culprit in the following:

-A weakening of bones, leading to an increase in hip and wrist fracture
-Adverse effects on the kidneys
-possible liver damage
-Chromosomal damage and interference with DNA repair
-a correlation between increased fluoride and low IQ
-suppressive effects on the thyroid

While it is refreshing to see the truth about flouride being published in the mainstream media, it is disappointing to see, that when most people are told about the devastating effects of flouride in our drinking water, toothpaste, and other household items – they ignore the facts, or even categorize these facts as just another “Conspiracy theory”.

Bayer: "No Way to Stop the Uncontrolled Spread of its Genetically Modified Crops"

Bayer admits GMO contamination out of control
Published on 04-15-2010

Drug and chemical giant Bayer AG has admitted that there is no way to stop the uncontrolled spread of its genetically modified crops.

"Even the best practices can't guarantee perfection," said Mark Ferguson, the company's defense lawyer in a recent trial.

Two Missouri farmers sued Bayer for contaminating their crop with modified genes from an experimental strain of rice engineered to be resistant to the company's Liberty-brand herbicide. The contamination occurred in 2006, during an open field test of the new rice, which was not approved for human consumption. According to the plaintiffs' lawyer, Don Downing, genetic material from the unapproved rice contaminated more than 30 percent of all rice cropland in the United States.

"Bayer was supposed to be careful," Downing said. "Bayer was not careful and that rice did escape into our commercial rice supplies."

The plaintiffs alleged that in addition to contaminating their fields, Bayer further harmed them financially by undermining their export market. When the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the widespread rice contamination, important export markets were closed to U.S. producers. A report from Greenpeace International estimates the financial damage of the contamination at between $741 million and $1.3 billion.

Bayer claimed that there was no possible way it could have prevented the contamination, insisting that it followed not only the law but also the best industry practices. The jury disagreed, finding Bayer guilty of carelessness in handling the genetically modified crops. The company was ordered to pay farmers Kenneth Bell and Johnny Hunter $2 million.

"This is a huge victory, not only for Kenny and me, but for every farmer in America who was harmed by Bayer's LibertyLink rice contamination," Hunter said.

According to Hunter, the company got "the wake-up call they deserved."

Bayer is still being sued by more than 1,000 other farmers from Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Massive Fireball Streaks Across Midwestern Sky

Massive fireball reported across Midwestern sky
By the CNN Wire Staff
April 15, 2010

(CNN) -- Authorities in several Midwestern states were flooded Wednesday night with reports of a gigantic fireball lighting up the sky, the National Weather Service said.

The fireball was visible for about 15 minutes beginning about 10 p.m., said the National Weather Service in Sullivan, Wisconsin, just west of Milwaukee.

"The fireball was seen over the northern sky, moving from west to east," said the NWS in the Quad Cities area, which includes parts of Iowa and Illinois.

"Well before it reached the horizon, it broke up into smaller pieces and was lost from sight," the service said. "Several reports of a prolonged sonic boom were received from areas north of Highway 20, along with shaking of homes, trees and various other objects including wind chimes," it said.

It said the fireball was seen across parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. CNN affiliate WISN-TV said that people in Ohio also saw it.

Video from WISN showed a massive ball of light exploding across the sky. The Doppler Radar from the Quad Cities weather service appeared to capture a portion of the smoke trail from the fireball at just after 10 p.m., the NWS said. It appears as a thin line extending across portions of Grant and Iowa Counties in Wisconsin.

There has been no official determination as to what caused the fireball, the NWS in Sullivan said.

However, it said there is a meteor shower called Gamma Virginids that occurs from April 4 to April 21, with peak activity expected on Wednesday and Thursday.

"A large meteorite could have caused the brilliant fireball that has been reported," the National Weather Service said.

The NWS in Quad Cities said that it was unknown if any part of a meteorite hit the ground.
According to NASA, a meteor appears when a meteoroid -- a particle, chunk of metal or stony matter -- enters the Earth's atmosphere from outer space.

"Air friction heats the meteoroid so that it glows and creates a shining trail of gases and melted meteoroid particles," it said. "People sometimes call the brightest meteors fireballs."

Mass. Moving Money Out of Big 3 Banks to Protest Credit Card Rates

Massachusetts moving money out of 3 big banks to protest credit card rates
By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 15, 2010; A18

Massachusetts officials on Wednesday announced plans to move millions of dollars in state investments out of some of the nation's biggest banks to protest credit card interest rates.

State Treasurer Timothy Cahill said the state has removed Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo from a list of institutions approved for new state investments. Massachusetts, which is the only state to make such a move, is also beginning to divest $243 million in funds held at those banks, though the process could take up to six months.

"We want to bring some fairness into the issue," said Cahill, who is running for governor. "I don't think what we're asking is . . . out of line."

The announcement -- made at a raucous rally on Capitol Hill organized by the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a network of religious and citizen advocacy groups -- is part of a wave of consumer backlash over the banking industry's role in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Congress has enacted sweeping credit card reforms that limit how and when issuers can raise rates and is in the midst of debating the creation of an agency dedicated to protecting consumer rights.

That has reignited advocacy groups that support creating a national usury law after a 1978 Supreme Court decision found that interest rate caps could apply only to state-chartered lenders. As a result, many banks moved their headquarters to states with looser usury laws, such as Delaware, allowing them to bypass limits set in other states.

Massachusetts law caps interest rates at 18 percent. In the fall, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization began urging officials from the state Treasury department to tackle the usury issue. Last week, state officials met with officials from Bank of America, where Massachusetts has $231 million in investments, to request that it meet that cap for state residents. When the bank declined, Cahill said, his office decided it would shift the funds into other accounts. Massachusetts also has $9 million invested with Citi and $3 million with Wells Fargo.

Spokespeople for Bank of America and Wells Fargo said their firms regretted the state's decision. Bank of America noted that it charges interest rates of about 15 percent for about 70 percent of its customers. Citi did not return a call requesting comment. Credit card companies have said that they face higher costs from increased consumer delinquencies during the recession, which translates into higher interest rates for customers in good standing.

Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) said Wednesday that he intends to introduce a 15 percent national cap on credit card interest rates through an amendment to the financial regulation reform bill being debated in the Senate. Six states, including Maryland, have considered bills this year that would have given community banks preference in providing government financial services, but none of them passed.

In Massachusetts, the state treasurer has sole authority over a $7 billion fund composed of contributions from municipalities; the investments at Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo are part of that fund. Cahill said the state still maintains other financial relationships with those banks, such as cash management.

Several other labor and religious groups also announced Wednesday that they plan to move money from large banks. Lutheran churches in Missouri said they moved $25 million in investments into community banks, while Civil Service Employees Association Local 1000 said it also would consider a shift.

"We've come to tell them all today: Time is up," the Rev. Hurmon Hamilton, leader of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, said at the rally Wednesday. "Move those dollars," the crowd chanted in response.

Foreclosure Rates Surge, Biggest Jump in 5 Years

Recovery? I know no stinkin' recovery!


US homes facing foreclosure jumped 16 percent in 1st-quarter as banks take back more homes

The Associated Press


A record number of U.S. homes were lost to foreclosure in the first three months of this year, a sign banks are starting to wade through the backlog of troubled home loans at a faster pace, according to a new report.

RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday that the number of U.S. homes taken over by banks jumped 35 percent in the first quarter from a year ago. In addition, households facing foreclosure grew 16 percent in the same period and 7 percent from the last three months of 2009.

More homes were taken over by banks and scheduled for a foreclosure sale than in any quarter going back to at least January 2005, when RealtyTrac began reporting the data, the firm said.

"We're right now on pace to see more than 1 million bank repossessions this year," said Rick Sharga, a RealtyTrac senior vice president.

Foreclosures began to ease last year as banks came under pressure from the Obama administration to modify home loans for troubled borrowers. In addition, some states enacted foreclosure moratoriums in hopes of giving homeowners behind in payments time to catch up. And in many cases, banks have had trouble coping with how to handle the glut of problem loans.

These factors have helped slow the pace of foreclosures, but now that trend appears to be reversing.

"We're finally seeing the banks start to process the inventory that has been in foreclosure, but delayed in processing," Sharga said. "We expect the pace to accelerate as the year goes on."

In all, more than 900,000 households, or one in every 138 homes, received a foreclosure-related notice, RealtyTrac said. The firm based in Irvine, Calif., tracks notices for defaults, scheduled home auctions and home repossessions.

Homeowners continue to fall behind on payments because they've lost their job or seen their mortgage payment rise due to an interest-rate reset. Many are unable to refinance because they now owe more on their loan than their home is worth.

The Obama administration's $75 billion foreclosure prevention program has only been able to help a small fraction of troubled homeowners.

About 231,000 homeowners have completed loan modifications as part of the Obama administration's flagship foreclosure prevention program through March. That's about 21 percent of the 1.2 million borrowers who began the program over the past year.

But another 158,000 homeowners who signed up have dropped out — either because they didn't make payments or failed to return the necessary documents. That's up from about 90,000 just a month earlier.

Last month, the administration expanded the program, launching a plan to reduce the amount some troubled borrowers owe on their home loans and give jobless homeowners a temporary break. But the details of those programs are expected to take months to work out.

The states with the highest foreclosure rates in the first quarter were Nevada, Arizona, Florida and California, with Nevada leading the pack, RealtyTrac said.

Rising home prices and speculation fueled a wave of home construction there during the housing boom. But now the state, particularly around the Las Vegas metropolitan area, is saddled with a glut of unsold homes.

Still, the number of homes in Nevada that received a foreclosure filing dropped 16 percent from the first quarter last year.

All told, one in every 33 homes in Nevada was facing foreclosure, more than four times the national average, RealtyTrac said.

Foreclosure filings rose on an annual and quarterly basis in Arizona, however.

One in every 49 homes there received a foreclosure-related notice during the quarter.

Florida, meanwhile, posted the third-highest foreclosure rate with one out of every 57 properties receiving a foreclosure filing.

California accounted for the biggest slice overall of homes facing foreclosure — roughly 23 percent of the nation's total. One in every 62 properties received a foreclosure filing in the first quarter.

New US jobless claims "unexpectedly" jump

I love it! "Unexpectedly" jump...Really? No one saw that coming? I'm the only one? No. See, this was only unexpected to people who only read/watch mainstream corporate media. If that's the only source for your news, then the new unemployment figures might seem to have "unexpectedly" jumped. To the rest of us, this was expected.


New US jobless claims unexpectedly jump

Published: Thursday April 15, 2010

New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits unexpectedly rose last week, largely due to Easter holiday-related factors, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Initial jobless claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 484,000 in the week ending April 10, the highest level since late February, the department reported.

That marked an increase of 24,000 from the prior week's unrevised figure of 460,000 and surprised most analysts who had forecast new claims would fall by 440,000.

In the previous week ending April 3, claims had increased sharply, to 460,000 from 442,000 the prior week.

The Labor Department said the latest increase was due to seasonal factors.

"Volatility is always associated with the Easter holiday," a department official said.

"This is more attributable to administrative factors than to possible layoffs. I did not see anything in the states' numbers that would reflect economic concerns," he said.


..and the future of P2P investigators
By Nate Anderson

Darknets are going mainstream, something that could make it more difficult than ever for rights-holders hoping to monitor public P2P networks in order to pick off offenders. That process, already difficult enough, could get a lot harder as such tools migrate out from the geekerati.

Darknet, with a twist of lime

Most P2P networks are open to any client, and it's a trivial matter to find and download content—indeed, this ease of use is the main point. In doing so, the IP addresses of the peers serving the files are revealed. When the content those peers serve infringes copyright, the IP addresses make it possible for rights-holders to file lawsuits.

In darknets, there is no public entry point to the network, making it difficult or impossible to know what's being shared. The very term "darknet" makes the whole process sound mysterious and quite possibly illegal, but such a darknet can just as easily be used by a family to share photos and video content.

LimeWire makes this easy. Users can share any file or class of files with only certain buddies. The files are kept updated on all machines, and newly shared files automatically show up on the other machines in the network. It's simple to do this using other services like Dropbox, which allows for group shares. Direct download services like RapidShare have also become popular ways to distribute even gigantic files without putting them on public P2P networks.

But LimeWire already has millions and millions of users, and is one of the most popular P2P clients. It's not yet clear how many casual users would want to use the system to share copyrighted material; hot new releases will require access to public P2P searches unless one happens to be friends with a music business insider. There is also no facility for adding public P2P users as buddies, meaning that you need to know them first.

For college students, though, such a system could make it easy to browse the music collections of everyone on one's floor, even with limited technical skills or familiarity with current darknet systems. Certainly, the new feature is likely to be seen in that light by the music industry, which is already suing LimeWire.

Darknets have been on the increase for some time, but as they get ever simpler to use and deploy, they could make it more difficult for content industry investigators to gather data for use in court cases or for "graduated response" schemes with ISPs. Massive darknets can be infiltrated, but networks of 10 friends? 20 friends? An extended family? It will be nearly impossible to know what's being transferred there.

And if graduated response truly takes root around the globe, its biggest achievement might well have little to do with stopping copyright infringement and more to do with driving it deeper underground. Certainly, the simpler the tools become, the more likely is the possibility.

IPEC "Anti-infringement" software for home computers

The Entertainment Industry's Dystopia of the Future

Commentary by Richard Esguerra
We're not easily shocked by entertainment industry overreaching; unfortunately, it's par for the course. But we were taken aback by the wish list the industry submitted in response to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's request for comments on the forthcoming "Joint Strategic Plan" for intellectual property enforcement. The comments submitted by various organizations provide a kind of window into how these organizations view both intellectual property and the public interest. For example, EFF and other public interest groups have asked the IPEC to take a balanced approach to intellectual property enforcement, paying close attention to the actual harm caused, the potential unexpected consequences of government intervention, and compelling countervailing priorities.
The joint comment filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and others stands as a sharp contrast, mapping out a vision of the future where Big Media priorities are woven deep into the Internet, law enforcement, and educational institutions.

Consider the following, all taken from the entertainment industry's submission to the IPEC.

"Anti-infringement" software for home computers

There are several technologies and methods that can be used by network administrators and providers...these include [consumer] tools for managing copyright infringement from the home (based on tools used to protect consumers from viruses and malware).
In other words, the entertainment industry thinks consumers should voluntarily install software that constantly scans our computers and identifies (and perhaps deletes) files found to be "infringing." It's hard to believe the industry thinks savvy, security-conscious consumers would voluntarily do so. But those who remember the Sony BMG rootkit debacle know that the entertainment industry is all too willing to sacrifice consumers at the altar of copyright enforcement.

Pervasive copyright filtering

Network administrators and providers should be encouraged to implement those solutions that are available and reasonable to address infringement on their networks. [This suggestion is preceded by a list of filtering methods, like protocol filtering, fingerprint-based filtering, bandwidth throttling, etc.]
The entertainment industry loves widespread filtering as a "solution" to online copyright infringement — in fact, it has successfully persuaded Congress to push these technologies on institutions of higher-education.
But this "solution" is full of flaws. First, even the "best" automated copyright blocking systems fail to protect fair use. Worse, these techniques are unlikely to make any lasting dent on infringing behavior, but will instead just invite the use of more encryption and private "darknets" (or even just more hand-to-hand sharing of hard drives and burned DVDs). But perhaps the most pernicious effect may be that copyright protection measures can be trojan horses for consumer surveillance. In an age of warrantless wiretapping and national censorship, building more surveillance and inspection technologies into the heart of the Internet is an obviously bad idea. In the words of the Hollywood movie, "if you build it, they will come."

Intimidate and propagandize travelers at the border

Customs authorities should be encouraged to do more to educate the traveling public and entrants into the United States about these issues. In particular, points of entry into the United States are underused venues for educating the public about the threat to our economy (and to public safety) posed by counterfeit and pirate products. Customs forms should be amended to require the disclosure of pirate or counterfeit items being brought into the United States.
Does that iPod in your hand luggage contain copies of songs extracted from friends' CDs? Is your computer storing movies ripped from DVD (handy for conserving battery life on long trips)? Was that book you bought overseas "licensed" for use in the United States? These are the kinds of questions the industry would like you to answer on your customs form when you cross borders or return home from abroad. What is more, this suggestion also raises the specter of something we've heard the entertainment industry suggest before: more searches and seizures of electronic goods at the border. Once border officials are empowered to search every electronic device for "pirated" content, digital privacy will all but disappear, at least for international travelers. From what we've learned about the fight over a de minimis border measures search exclusion in the latest leaked text, ACTA might just try to make this a reality.

Bully countries that have tech-friendly policies

The government should develop a process to identify those online sites that are most significantly engaged in conducting or facilitating the theft of intellectual property. Among other uses, this identification would be valuable in the interagency process that culminates in the annual Special 301 report, listing countries that fail to provide adequate and effective protection to U.S. intellectual property rights holders. Special 301 could provide a focus on those countries where companies engaged in systematic online theft of U.S. copyrighted materials are registered or operated, or where their sites are hosted. Targeting such companies and websites in the Special 301 report would put the countries involved on notice that dealing with such hotbeds of copyright theft will be an important topic of bilateral engagement with the U.S. in the year to come. (As noted above, while many of these sites are located outside the U.S., their ability to distribute pirate content in the U.S. depends on U.S.-based ISP communications facilities and services and U.S.-based server farms operated commercially by U.S.-based companies.)
Some background: the Special 301 process is a particularly unpleasant annual procedure by which the United States Trade Representative (USTR) pressures other countries to adopt tougher intellectual property laws and spend more for IP enforcement. In the Special 301 report, the USTR singles out particular countries for their "bad" intellectual property policies, placing them on a watch list, and threatening trade sanctions for those that deny "adequate and effective protection" for US IP rightsholders or restrict fair and equitable market access for US intellectual property.
Before this year, the US Trade Representative only sought input from the entertainment andpharmaceutical industries for these rankings, resulting in unbalanced assessment criteria. Countries have been listed for failing to sign on to controversial international treaties or for not mirroring certain parts of US law. For example, Chile was named for considering fair use-style exceptions to its copyright law; Canada was listed for requiring that its customs officers have a court order before seizing goods at the border; and Israel was highlighted for refusing to adopt DMCA-style anti-circumvention provisions after legislative debate concluded that anti-circumvention laws would have no effect on copyright infringement.
The creative communities' proposal imagines that the US Trade Representative should become a glorified messenger for Big Media, using its resources to pressure countries that "harbor" websites and Internet services that facilitate copyright infringement. In other words, they believe that the USTR should put US IP rightsholders' interests at the center of its foreign policy, ignoring other foreign policy goals such as regional security, and promoting innovation and competition.

Federal agents working on Hollywood's clock

The planned release of a blockbuster motion picture should be acknowledged as an event that attracts the focused efforts of copyright thieves, who will seek to obtain and distribute pre-release versions and/or to undermine legitimate release by unauthorized distribution through other channels. Enforcement agencies (notably within DOJ and DHS) should plan a similarly focused preventive and responsive strategy. An interagency task force should work with industry to coordinate and make advance plans to try to interdict these most damaging forms of copyright theft, and to react swiftly with enforcement actions where necessary.
This is perhaps the most revealing of the proposals: big Hollywood studios deputizing the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to provide taxpayer-supported muscle for summer blockbuster films. Jokes have been made about SWAT team raids on stereotypical file-sharers in college dorm rooms — but this entertainment industry request to "interdict...and to react swiftly with enforcement actions" brings that joke ridiculously close to reality.

What next?

Of course, these comments are just an entertainment industry wishlist, an exercise in asking for the moon. But they reveal a great deal about the entertainment industry's vision of the 21st century: less privacy (with citizens actively participating in their own surveillance), a less-neutral Internet, and federal agents acting as paid muscle to protect profits of summer blockbusters.

How the FCC Can Protect the Internet from Pro-Corporate Judges and Greedy Telecoms

Depending on whom you ask, the Internet is either set to replace or already has replaced the telephone as the most important medium of communication. As more and more people log on, the goal of regulating the industry so that the web remains a place where everyone can access all content without obstacles set up by online providers is of paramount importance.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has long regulated industries such as telephone, radio, and television, but commissioners learned last week that they can't really regulate the companies that sell us Internet access. The D.C. Circuit Court's 3-0 ruling concluded that the congressionally-appointed telecommunications regulator had overstepped its authority in demanding net neutrality from Comcast, a major internet service provider (ISP) Net neutrality is the principle that all Internet content must be treated equally by internet service providers, where no content is given preferential treatment by ISPs.

There is a viable path for the FCC to circumvent the pro-corporate ruling; the commission has the power to change the way it classifies internet access services. So far two of the five FCC commissioners are on board; net neutrality only needs one more -- and a petition campaign fueled by people power has been launched to push the commission to support what is so clearly in the public interest.

Comcast v. F.C.C.
The D.C. Circuit Court's case stems from the FCC's discovery in 2007 that Comcast had beenslowing down some of its high-speed Internet consumers' traffic to peer-to-peer file-sharing applications like BitTorrent. In effect, Comcast had been placing some sites on a traffic "fast lane," and others on a "slow lane." The agency demanded that Comcast stop on the grounds that ISPs cannot discriminate against specific types of web data. Though Comcast first denied they had interfered with the network speed to peer-to-peer sites, they later agreed to end the undisclosed interference. The next year, the FCC  issued an order finding Comcast in violation of federal Internet policy.

In turn, Comcast sued the public commission, saying it did not have the power to enforce net neutrality. On April 6, the federal appeals court threw out the FCC's order. The FCC's lawyer on the case, Marvin Ammori, wrote on his blog: "It means, essentially, that the largest phone and cable companies can secretly block dozens of technologies used by large corporations, nonprofits, and individuals to speak and organize, and the FCC can do nothing to protect us."

The FCC, in enforcing net neutrality, was trying to ensure the Internet remains a level playing field, where no sites are on a "fast lane," and no sites are on a "slow lane." ISPs like Comcast have argued that controlling certain sites' load times will prevent high-bandwidth users -- like file-sharers -- from clogging the web for everyone else. But it's a slippery slope.

"ISPs want to be able to charge for prioritized Internet access," says Chris Riley, policy counsel for Free Press, a media reform non-profit that supported the FCC during the case. "Essentially AT&T can go to Google and sell them prioritized channels for their content. Or NBC merges with Comcast" -- this is actually in the works -- "and no one can buy a fast lane."
But even if fast lanes are sold at the same price to everyone, small players may still be priced out, Riley says.

"Right now the beauty of the Internet is that everyone has the same opportunity. That's why the Internet has been the vehicle for innovation that it has been," Riley says. "We want all players, small or large, independent, individual or incumbent, to have the same opportunities."

Beyond preventing the FCC from enforcing equal load times for all websites, the court's ruling could hamper the FCC's ability to ensure that internet policy providers comply with digital privacy laws. Further, it could adversely impact theWhite House's efforts to increase Americans' access to high-speed Internet networks. Currently the United States lags far behind other developed nations in broadband speed and reach.

Net neutrality's best chance

The good news is that the D.C. court's ruling hinges on something of a technicality. Currently, the FCC classifies internet access as information services rather than as a telecommunications network. Because of this, the court wrote, the FCC doesn't have authority under the current regulatory framework to enact basic consumer protections for Internet users.

Fortunately, because the ruling was written so narrowly, there is good reason to believe that if the FCC's commissioners were to reclassify internet access services as a telecommmunications network, it would have the power to regulate the web the way it does phone service. (Riley's interpretation of the court's ruling is that there is "very, very little" the FCC can do as long as the

According to Riley, this is net neutrality's best chance. The other two options -- appealing the ruling and trying to pass a bill through Congress -- would take way too long and "we're in a sufficient regulatory limbo that we need something to fill the gap."

Reclassifying web service as a telecommunications network would not only allow the FCC to regulate the Internet industry -- it also makes sense. The FCC designated the internet access networks as information providers -- under which most software is classified -- back in the age of AOL, when buying internet service also involved receiving a personal website, an e-mail address, and sometimes even a branded web browser. ISPs still provide some of these services, but now most people use free browser-based email and other essential (and inessential) web services from companies other than their network providers. Indeed, most of what we do online today involves communicating with other people, not just using web software.

Back then, the FCC naively didn't predict that the Internet was going to become a telecommunications network, which the commission has always defined as a two-way service that transmits information back and forth -- like phones. Today that describes the Internet perfectly, making it a legitimate interpretation of theTelecommunications Act as Congress wrote it, which will help it stand up against potential legal challenges, says Riley.

The best thing about reclassification -- besides the fact that it bypasses the bureaucracy that defines the court appeals and congressional processes -- is that it requires support from a simple majority of the FCC's commissioners. Alreadytwo of the five commissioners have voiced support for reclassification. Two others have said the court's ruling should not be used as a pretext for classification, while the fifth, Chairman Julius Genachowski, has not yet issued a personal opinion.

But we do know something about his views. Genachowski is an old friend of President Obama's, and he's credited as a contributor to the president-elect's technology platform, which included net neutrality, greater media diversity, and increased broadband access. He could be reclassification's third vote.

There will be a fight

While the FCC has not yet decided to go down the reclassification route, it's clear that's the path most likely to preserve the integrity of an egalitarian Internet. The appeals process can take years as can going through Congress, especially when so many elected representatives are calculatedly targeted by telecommunications lobbyists.

Although major ISPs -- like Comcast and Verizon -- say they are committed to a fair Internet, past actions indicate otherwise. And their official line against FCC regulation over their industry is something of a red herring. "They say that any form of regulation, net neutrality or otherwise, will discourage their investment in building out faster, better networks," Riley says. "Really what they mean is any form of regulation will increase competition and reduce their profit margins and will force them to invest in building better pipes. This isn't about turning these guys into utilities, it's about placing limits on what they can do, and not allowing them to discriminate."

The big ISPs are prepared to fight tooth and nail for their dubious claims. In February, when talks of reclassification had begun to surface, the biggest telecom companies and their lobbyists sent the FCC chair a rather colorful letter which reminds one of the Red Scare years. In it, they call reclassification a "Pandora's Box" and make sure to quote an interview a net neutrality supporter -- and co-founder of Free Press, Riley's group -- gave to the Socialist Project about his "radical agenda."

Such a scare tactic is so disingenuous, one would hope it is unlikely to sway the head of the FCC. But net neutrality opponents have a whole big fear squad behind them, influencing public opinion.

Night after night, Glenn Beck cries on FOX News about net neutrality, calling it anObama-fueled Marxist takeover of the Internet. And a whole slew of astroturf groups, financed by Big Telecom and framed as pro-consumer grassroots movements, are capitalizing on this and are out there spewing anti-net neutrality myths. (One group, Americans for Prosperity, has so perfected its front it earned placement in the New York Times' coverage of last week's ruling.)

Take action now

Telecommunications giants will continue to throw millions of dollars at preserving a deregulated industry which has led to 96 percent of the country having only two choices for broadband providers.

These companies know that reclassification is the most effective and expedient way of opening up their industry to much-needed regulation.

And it's of course not just about net neutrality -- it's also about net equality. If the FCC reclassifies the Internet as a telecommunications network, it will also free upUniversal Service Funds currently used to expand phone access to under-served populations so they can also be used to give all Americans access to the Internet, a tool which can undoubtedly serve to empower and educate so many.