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
Saturday Night Live is ramping up the drama for this weekend, when it returns for its 42nd season.
In a sketch about Monday's presidential debate, show star (and newly minted Emmy winner) Kate McKinnon will be reprising her usual role as Hillary Clinton, but she will be joined by a special guest star in the role of Donald Trump: Alec Baldwin. Baldwin, of course, has an infamous reputation of his own for his short temper and unfriendly encounters with the media — much like the man he'll be portraying:
Earlier this election season, Trump was portrayed by the show's announcer Darrell Hammond, who had also played Trump among many other celebrity impersonations during his original run from 1995 to 2009 as one of SNL's featured actors.
The real question, though: What can SNL's writers, McKinnon, and Baldwin do to improve on any of the real zaniness from the debate itself? Find out Saturday, when the premiere episode for SNL's 42nd season, hosted by actress Margot Robbie, airs at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Eric Kleefeld
While joblessness among recent college graduates is finally on the decline, the problem of "underemployment" seems to be on the rise: Think the young, overeducated barista working at your local coffee shop. Underemployment — that is, a college grad working in a job that doesn't require a college degree — is higher today than it has been at any other point in the 21st century, The Atlantic reports, and the number of "non-college" jobs opening up for newly minted adults is rising at a faster rate than jobs that require higher education.
A large gap has opened between those with humanities degrees and those with STEM training. Underemployment afflicts more than 50 percent of college graduates with majors in history, communications, political science, and philosophy, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Graduates with degrees in math, science, and engineering typically have much better job prospects and starting salaries.
But as The Atlantic points out, college graduates still reap benefits overall, no matter what major is written on their diploma. The college-educated are still more likely than those without a degree to have higher wages, get married, and have kids that also go off to college. Kelly Gonsalves
The Senate on Wednesday averted a government shutdown with the passage of a spending bill that will keep the government funded through Dec. 9. The bill, which pledges $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus and $500 million in flood relief to Louisiana, passed in a 72-26 vote. It will next move to the House, where it's expected to be approved, and will then hit President Obama's desk.
Senate Democrats initially blocked the measure Tuesday because it did not include aid for the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan; however, the bill moved forward Wednesday after Republicans agreed Tuesday night to consider Flint aid in a future measure, to come after the presidential election.
Many government agencies were set to run out of funding Friday, as the fiscal year ends at midnight Oct. 1. With the stop-gap bill, such a shutdown is avoided. Becca Stanek
It has not escaped the notice of female Democratic senators that Donald Trump is rather out-of-bounds when it comes to his treatment of women. Just this week, it was revealed Trump humiliated former Miss Universe Alicia Machado by inviting reporters to film her working out after she gained some weight following her beauty pageant win. Trump has also repeatedly questioned Hillary Clinton's health and "stamina," demanding she release detailed health records.
In response, Sen. Claire McCaskill fired back a taste of Trump's own medicine:
The D women Senators have talked & we're concerned about Donald's weight. Campaign stress? We think a public daily weigh-in is called for.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) September 28, 2016
On Wednesday, the House seconded the Senate's vote to override President Obama's veto of a controversial bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi Arabian government for its alleged role in the terrorist attacks. Just hours after the Senate agreed 97 to 1 to override the veto, the House also rejected Obama's move, 348 to 77. Congress' decision marked the first veto override of Obama's presidency; the president has vetoed 12 bills, including the 9/11 bill, during his tenure.
Obama vetoed the legislation Friday on the grounds it would disrupt U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and end the immunity from American lawsuits granted to other countries by a 1976 law. Proponents of the bill argue it allows victims' families to achieve a sense of justice.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied it was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Becca Stanek
Hell hath no fury like a cheated music store owner — and it looks like this could be just the start of a whole new round of small business owners saying they got ripped off by Donald Trump.
In a guest column in The Washington Post published Wednesday, retired store owner J. Michael Diehl of Freehold Music Center tells the story of how his small New Jersey store got swindled by Trump way back in 1989, on a $100,000 order for pianos at the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City.
"I asked my lawyer if I should ask for payment upfront, and he laughed," Diehl wrote. "'It's Donald Trump!' he told me. 'He’s got lots of money.'"
Bad move, it turned out:
When I requested payment, the Trump corporation hemmed and hawed. Its executives avoided my calls and crafted excuses. After a couple of months, I got a letter telling me that the casino was short on funds. They would pay 70 percent of what they owed me. There was no negotiating. I didn’t know what to do — I couldn’t afford to sue the Trump corporation, and I needed money to pay my piano suppliers. So I took the $70,000. [J. Michael Diehl, via The Washington Post]
The loss of $30,000 in revenue seriously damaged Diehl, he wrote, in terms of both his personal salary and the capital to further grow his business: "Because of Trump, my store stagnated for a couple of years. It made me feel really bad, like I’d been taken advantage of. I was embarrassed."
The West Coast can expect warm winters for the rest of this century — and the East Coast, frigid snowstorms
Donald Trump rather famously complained that climate change is just an elaborate Chinese hoax, and has used New York's frigid winter storms to mock global warming. But according to a new study in Atmospheres, New York's brutal winters are actually evidence of the growing impact climate change is having on the United States — and it is a trend that is going to continue throughout the century.
Researchers have observed what they call a "North American winter temperature dipole," meaning East Coast winters have brought snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures, while the West Coast has roughed mild, dry winters that bring on droughts due to the lack of snow. "We're in this new world that's much, much warmer with much less sea ice and that's changing the way the atmosphere behaves," said climate scientist Jennifer Francis. "It's an interesting time to be studying this, but the bad news is, we're watching this planet fall apart."
It's freezing and snowing in New York--we need global warming!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 7. november 2012
The occurrence of warm West/cold East winters began as early as 1980, but "has become more frequent ... a trend that reflects the influence of global warming on the atmosphere in the Northern Hemisphere," Inside Climate News writes. The pattern will continue for the rest of the century but eventually "level off as the East becomes too warm for extreme weather conditions." Hooray? Jeva Lange