FCC Chairman rolls over for Trump – will attack Facebook and Twitter

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is backing President Donald Trump’s proposal to limit legal protections for social media websites that block or modify content posted by users. Pai’s views on the matter were unknown until…he issued a statement saying that he will open a rule-making process to clarify that, despite the First Amendment, social media companies do not have “special immunity” for their content-moderation decisions

…(A) Trump administration’s petition asked the FCC to limit social media companies’ legal protections under Section 230 by changing the definition of “information content provider.” The requested change would define the term more broadly to include platforms that make “editorial decisions that modify or alter content.” That could convert Facebook and Twitter from “interactive computer services” to “information content providers,” limiting their legal protections when they block or screen content…

Both FCC Democrats today criticized Pai’s announcement. “The timing of this effort is absurd. The FCC has no business being the president’s speech police,” Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said.

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said, “We’re in the midst of an election. The president’s executive order on Section 230 was politically motivated and legally unsound. The FCC shouldn’t do the president’s bidding here.”…

In addition to being opposed by the FCC’s Democratic minority, Trump’s petition did not even have full support from the FCC’s Republican majority. Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly stated that the FCC must uphold First Amendment speech protections “that apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision making.”

After O’Rielly’s comments, Trump took the unusual step of pulling O’Rielly’s nomination to another FCC term…

Unusual for someone intended to represent the people of this nation broadly instead of just the nutballs ranging from QAnon to your friendly neighborhood fascists.

FCC Chair killed rules which would have helped Hurricane victims

Ajit Pai listening to Trump

❝ The Federal Communications Commission chairman slammed wireless carriers…for failing to quickly restore phone service in Florida after Hurricane Michael, calling the delay “completely unacceptable.”

But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s statement ignored his agency’s deregulatory blitz that left consumers without protections designed to ensure restoration of service after disasters, according to longtime telecom attorney and consumer advocate Harold Feld.

The Obama-era FCC wrote new regulations to protect consumers after Verizon tried to avoid rebuilding wireline phone infrastructure in Fire Island, New York, after Hurricane Sandy hit the area in October 2012. But Pai repealed those rules, claiming that they prevented carriers from upgrading old copper networks to fiber. Pai’s repeal order makes zero mentions of Fire Island and makes reference to Verizon’s response to Hurricane Sandy only once, in a footnote.

Part of the function of good journalism is exposing corrupt practices – whether justified by ignorance or just plain stupid ideology. The Republican Party specializes in both and more – which is how we got to this footdragging on aid for hurricane victims’ communications.

Former Wrigley CEO Moves From Chewing Gum to Medical Marijuana


❝ The scion of a family that made a fortune in chewing gum is moving into pot…William Wrigley Jr. II, who helped orchestrate the sale of his family’s business to Mars Inc. in 2008, led a $65 million investment round for Surterra Wellness, a medical cannabis startup in Georgia with licenses to operate in Florida and Texas. The funding brings the total raised so far to $100 million, according to Surterra.

Wrigley, 54, who left the gum and candy business after the sale, backs companies through a personal investment arm based in West Palm Beach, Florida. After an initial investment in Surterra in September, Wrigley is boosting his stake and assuming the role of chairman…

❝ Wrigley…said he got into the industry mainly because of marijuana’s medical benefits. He said he’s tapping his experience with product distribution and brand-building to drive growth at Surterra. The cannabis company operates 10 medical dispensaries in Florida, including one in Miami Beach, and has a license to operate in the nascent Texas market.

Too bad there aren’t more than a handful of folks in that intellectual desert known as Congress who might support businesses like this nationwide. Much less lose the archaic regulation of personal cannabis consumption as if it was the Devil’s own candy.

There ain’t always unity in Class Warfare

This morning, Lloyd Blankfein, the head of one of the most prestigious investment firms in America released a video on YouTube for the Human Rights Campaign. Supporting equal rights for same-sex marriage.

Mr Quiet, Mr Unassuming, Blackfein has always participated in positive charities in NYC, around the country and around the world. But, he’s not an out-front kind of spokesman. Until today.

Unlike many of his peers he’s not taken any bonuses in recent times – in fact, he cut his pay. And he’s the head of a Wall Street investment firm that non-students of American history may not realize was founded as a response to bigotry. Back when Wall Street firms wouldn’t hire Jews.

So, kudos to you, Lloyd. I don’t own any shares of Goldman Sachs – or any investment bank for that matter. But, as an ordinary American who thinks our Constitution and Bill of Rights mandate equal opportunity that is still denied by today’s generation of conservatives, Republicans, Tea Party types, right-wing priests and pundits – welcome aboard!

Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO – Tim Cook officially takes over

After 14 years as Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs resigned his post on Wednesday and was replaced by Tim Cook, who previously was the company’s Chief Operating Officer. Jobs, in turn, was elected as chairman of Apple’s board of directors.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come,” Jobs said in a letter addressed “to the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community.”

“I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role,” Jobs wrote. “I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”

“In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration,” board member and Genentech chairman Art Levinson said in an Apple press release. “Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company. Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team.”

Jobs had been on a medical leave of absence since January 2011. He continued to hold the CEO title while Cook oversaw the day-to-day operations of the company. At the time, Jobs told Apple employees he was taking a leave from his day-to-day duties to “focus on my health.”

The full text of his letter of resignation and the board of directors’ statement are here.

It’s been six years since I bought my first Apple computer. The shiny new Mini had just been introduced and offered me an affordable way to experiment with Apple’s OS X operating system Like any longtime geek, I had spares of monitor, keyboard, etc. to hook up.

After 22 years – at the time – of being an adept with Microsoft, IBM and precursor operating systems there were a number of day-to-day encumbrances and questions I was tired of resolving, day after day, time after time.

That Mini and OS X put all that behind me. I was never a command-line addict or the sort of geek who needed to be up to my elbows inside an OS. I just needed the tools I used on a daily basis to work properly and predictably. I never looked back.

I credit Steve Jobs for what he did to make that change so easy for me. As someone who’s spent a long and varied career involved with commerce around the planet, I also appreciate the cultural and social boundaries he’s set aside in the process of building Apple into one of the most successful firms on the planet.

Moderate Republican forced from Florida leadership

Florida’s moderate Republican Party chairman said on Tuesday he would resign to help end a rift with conservatives that threatened to tear the party apart ahead of crucial elections in November.

Jim Greer said a small but vocal group of opponents were determined to either force him out or “burn down the house and try and destroy the Republican Party.”

“I cannot be a participant in the shredding and tearing of the fabric of the Republican Party,” he said. “This distraction, these attacks on each other within the party is not what we should be doing…”

Greer has actively supported moderate Republican Governor Charlie Crist, his longtime friend, in his bid for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat.

But Crist is facing a tough challenge for his party’s nomination from Marco Rubio, a favorite of the party’s ultraconservative wing…

In his three years as Republican chairman in the nation’s fourth most populous state, Greer said he had widened the party’s outreach. “I have tried to get Republicans and leaders of the party to think about making sure there were no cultural or ethnic barriers to being a Republican,” he said.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine issued a statement calling Greer’s ouster a “right-wing led coup.”

“Anyone who was wondering if Republican leaders possessed the power to curb the extremism of the far right and channel it into a productive force has their answer today in the silence and lack of support from national Republicans as Jim Greer departs in the midst of this GOP civil war,” Kaine said.

The so-called civil war is obviously over. My Republican friends and relatives – some of whom left the Party after 50 years of loyalty – will likely sit out the coming election or vote for Democrat alternatives as they did in the last presidential election.

As one of them recently said to me…”There is no Republican Party for a traditional American conservative to belong to anymore.”

Lord of the Nerds – Ben Bernanke is Time’s “Person of the Year”

Time magazine on Wednesday announced Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as its 2009 Person of the Year. Bernanke will be featured on the cover of the magazine that hits stores Friday…

Time called Bernanke “the most powerful nerd on the planet.”

“The story of the year was a weak economy that could have been much, much weaker. Thank the man who runs the Federal Reserve, our mild-mannered economic overlord,” the article said.

Bernanke is considered a scholar of the Great Depression. A series of his writings were compiled into the book “Essays of the Great Depression.”

Michael Grunwald, who authored Time’s article, on Wednesday told NBC’s “Today” that “basically [Bernanke] saw what looked like another depression coming, and he decided he would do whatever it takes to forestall that. And basically, I think he did. It could have been a lot worse.”

Grunwald said, “There are things that he could have done better. One of his responsibilities is for full employment in society, and he hasn’t really stepped up on that, but basically in terms of influencing how the economy went this year, Bernanke was the guy…”

Bernanke was sworn in as Federal Reserve chairman in February 2006. He spent years in academia, as a professor at Princeton, Stanford and New York universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology…

Grunwald’s piece aims a little below the lowest common denominator. Even a few Republicans comprehend that Bernanke is not responsible for implementing programs to miraculously provide full employment overnight. Not that they will admit it during the coming mid-term elections.

Bernanke’s expertise in Keynesian reforms and programs derives from his study of what happened when our government did just about everything wrong in the 1930’s – until Roosevelt paid attention to Maynard Keyne’s suggestions. And that great depression was exacerbated by foolishness centered in European banks – not the US crew. Bernanke has the tools added by Leontiev’s macro-economics.

Obama’s implementation is slow and steady as it should be. I doubt we’ll ever hit more than a small percentage of people [and bloggers] who understand that “full employment” means only about half the current number of unemployed – and has been so since the days of Eisenhower.

Ben Bernanke says the Recession is over!

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday that the worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression was probably over, but the recovery would be slow and it would take time to create new jobs.

“Even though from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point, it’s still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time,” Bernanke said at the Brookings Institution…

In declaring the recession over, Bernanke sounded a slightly more upbeat tone than in late August when he had said simply that prospects for a return to growth were good.

However, he cautioned that growth next year would probably be sluggish and that unemployment would only fall slowly.

“The general view of most forecasters is that that pace of growth in 2010 will be moderate, less than you might expect given the depth of the recession because of ongoing headwinds,” Bernanke said, citing tight credit conditions and other economic restraints…

Bernanke, in a nod to recent relatively upbeat economic signals, said it was possible the recovery could be stronger than expected, but cautioned that it could also be weaker.

In other words, he talked like a banker.

Bernanke’s comments implicitly acknowledged the possibility of a stronger-than-expected “V-shaped” U.S. recovery. The latest Blue Chip survey of economists predicts that growth will expand by a brisk 3 percent annual rate in the third quarter.

Economists generally estimate U.S. trend potential growth to be around 2.5 percent. Growth above that level would be needed to bring down the unemployment rate, which hit a 26-year high of 9.7 percent last month.

I didn’t think I needed to add anything to the positive reports from around the industrial world that I’ve posted lately – except for the fact that the first couple of TV Talking Heads I saw reporting on Bernanke’s speech were crap – trying to make it sound like Bernanke has said all our problems were over and God’s in his Heaven showering down sugarplums – and they – the Talking Heads – were going to give us the alternative straight scoop. More like poop than scoop.

Bernanke is scholarly and straightforward just about every time I’ve heard him speak. What he had to say sounded pretty measured and [I think] accurate.