On Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler stuck a shiv between the ribs of network neutrality. Based on his proposed rules, "the principle that all internet content should be treated equally as it flows through cables and pipes to consumers looks all but dead," says Edward Wyatt at The New York Times. But Wheeler didn't kill net neutrality. He said so himself.
"There are reports that the FCC is gutting the Open Internet rule," Wheeler said in a statement. "They are flat out wrong." His new proposal, he said, is to "restore the concepts of net neutrality" in a way that's consistent with the ruling of a federal appeals court in January, which struck down (for the second time) the FCC's earlier net neutrality rules. "There is no 'turnaround in policy,'" Wheeler continued. "The same rules will apply to all internet content."
So what is Wheeler proposing, and why should you care? Essentially, he would allow content providers (Netflix, Amazon, Disney, etc.) to strike preferential deals with internet service providers (Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, AT&T, etc.) for direct routes to their customers — "the digital equivalent of an uncongested carpool lane on a busy freeway," explains The Times' Wyatt. Companies that refused to pay for the special lane, or couldn't afford it, would have slower service to your house, depending on the whims of your ISP.
Technically, that's not a neutral internet. There are legitimate concerns that this rule, if enacted as envisioned, will turn the internet into a reflection of how the world works, with the rich and powerful using their clout and dollars to maintain their advantages and keep the smaller, newer players in the second tier or lower. But as long as no ISP can throttle or discriminate against traffic of any legal content, as promised, the biggest short-term impact to consumers will probably be higher fees for services that pay for the fast lane.
Net neutrality proponents are understandably skeptical of Wheeler, a former top lobbyist for the cable and telecom industries. But this weak-tea neutrality is neither fully his fault — the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. circuit, bears most of the blame — nor is it necessarily the death knell for an open internet. It's just the beginning of a slightly stratified one. Peter Weber
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders made a brief cameo on Saturday Night Live alongside host Larry David. The sketch featured the two men on a sinking ship, with David's character asserting that he should be saved due to his wealth. Sanders played Bernie Sanderswitzky, a nod to his Jewish upbringing, and labeled David's character as the 1 percent.
Watch the uncanny duo below. Julie Kliegman
Turkey is at capacity with accepting refugees, but will continue to do so as people flee Syria, the nation's deputy prime minister said Sunday, The Associated Press reports.
"In the end, these people have nowhere else to go," Numan Kurtulmuş said. "Either they will die beneath the bombings and Turkey will...watch the massacre like the rest of the world, or we will open our borders."
Turkey's border has been closed for three days as they provide aid to 35,000 Syrians on the other side. The nation has 3 million refugees, 2.5 million of whom fled Syria. The European Union has encouraged Turkey to host refugees, offering the nation 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in incentives to do so. Julie Kliegman
International powers condemned North Korea for defying international warnings Sunday by launching a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others believe is a cover for a test of a ballistic missile that could reach the United States mainland, The Washington Post reports. It comes a month after the rogue state claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb.
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice called it "yet another destabilizing and provocative action" and "a flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions." South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Britain, France, and the European Union also condemned the launch, CNN reports.
The U.N. Security Council is set to hold an 11 a.m. emergency meeting in New York to go over a potential response to North Korea. Julie Kliegman
During Saturday night's Republican debate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he doesn't criticize President Obama's recent visit to a mosque, but believes he "continues to put out this fiction that there's widespread, systematic discrimination against Muslim Americans."
Rubio said he recognizes and honors Muslims who have fought in the military, but "by the same token, we face a very significant threat of homegrown violent extremism." He said Muslims need to report mosques that are "inciting violence against us," then said he knows a group that is actually suffering from discrimination: "We are facing in this country Christian groups and groups that hold traditional values who feel, and in fact are, being discriminated against by the laws of this country that try to force them to violate their conscious."
Rubio made his comments as he stood next to rival Donald Trump, who last year called for a ban on letting Muslims enter the United States. Trump didn't respond to Rubio's remarks, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did, saying he has long worked with Muslim American groups across New Jersey and knows they are "good, law abiding, hard working people. What they need is our cooperation and our understanding. They don't need broadsides against them because of the religious faith they practice." Catherine Garcia
At Saturday night's GOP debate, Ted Cruz opened up about his personal connection to the heroin epidemic in a moving moment that left the room quiet. In response to the moderators' question about how New Hampshire residents could know he stood with them on this key issue for the state, Cruz told the story of his half-sister's struggle with drug addiction and her death from a drug overdose.
"This is an absolute epidemic. We need leadership to solve it," Cruz said. "Solving it has to occur at the state and local level." He also promised a focus on securing the borders to stop the flow of drugs into the U.S.
Watch his full answer below. Becca Stanek
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 7, 2016
On the topic of waterboarding, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told the audience at Saturday's presidential debate it's not torture but "enhanced interrogation." For his part, Donald Trump said he'd come up with a technique that would put it to shame.
Because there are people "in the Middle East" who are "chopping the head off Christians," he would not only "bring back waterboarding," but he'd "bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding." Cruz declared that waterboarding "does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture," but he would not bring it "back in any sort of widespread use."
Jeb Bush said waterboarding was "used sparingly," but Congress has changed the laws and now, "I think where we stand is the appropriate place." Rubio warned that the candidates shouldn't talk about specific tactics, but did say he believed "we should be putting people into Guantanamo, not emptying it out." Catherine Garcia
When asked during the ABC News Republican presidential debate what he would say to the 68 percent of Americans in favor of raising taxes on people making more than a million dollars, Jeb Bush came out in favor of the wealthy.
"I'd like to see more millionaires," he said. "I think we need to grow more millionaires." Bush continued: "We need to create a prosperity society where people can rise up. This notion that we're somehow undertaxed as a nation is just foolhardy when we have entitlements growing far faster than our ability to pay for it." Catherine Garcia
— ABC News (@ABC) February 7, 2016