To Harm the Environment, Vote GOP

24EPA Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists complain they have been victims of political interference and pressure from superiors to skew their findings, according to a survey released Wednesday by an advocacy group.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said that more than half of the nearly 1,600 EPA staff scientists who responded online to a detailed questionnaire reported they had experienced incidents of political interference in their work…

…In the survey, the EPA scientists described an agency suffering from low morale as senior managers and the White House Office of Management and Budget frequently second-guess scientific findings and change work conducted by EPA’s scientists, the report said.

The survey covered employees at EPA headquarters, in each of the agency’s 10 regions around the country and at more than a dozen research laboratory. The highest number of complaints about political interference came from scientists who are directly involved in writing regulations and those who conduct risk assessments such as determining a chemical cancer risk for humans.

Nearly 400 scientists said they had witnessed EPA officials misrepresenting scientific findings, 284 said they had witness the “selective or incomplete use of data to justify a specific regulatory outcome” and 224 scientists said they had been directed to “inappropriately exclude or alter technical information” in an EPA document.

Donaghy said that EPA management was aware of the survey, which was conducted by the Center for Survey Statistics & and Methodology at the Iowa State University. He said while some EPA managers initially instructed employees not to participate, the EPA’s general counsel’s office later sent an e-mail to employees saying they could participate on their private time. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

The GOP does not hesitate to cover-up and falsify scientific data, even if doing so will directly harm Americans, if the release of that data interferes with No Millionaire Left Behind.  Every Repuglican in office is one too many!

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What Does the MSM Cover?

censorship In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to “domestic military operations” within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

Yoo and torture” – 102

Mukasey and 9/11” — 73

Yoo and Fourth Amendment” — 16

Obama and bowling” — 1,043

Obama and Wright” — More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

Obama and patriotism” – 1,607

Clinton and Lewinsky” — 1,079

And as Eric Boehlert documents, even Iraq — that little five-year U.S. occupation with no end in sight — has been virtually written out of the media narrative in favor of mindless, stupid, vapid chatter of the type referenced above. “The Clintons are Rich!!!!” will undoubtedly soon be at the top of this heap within a matter of a day or two… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Salon>

I posted an article two days ago about Yoo and the Fourth Amendment. The most common comment you made is to ask why there is almost no public outrage over this. Here is the answer. Out of all the newspapers, magazines and TV stations in the US, the story was mentioned only 16 times. There is no public outrage, because nobody bothered to let them know about it. Media in the US has devolved into two categories:

Infotainment: Until and unless the US develops a bowling ball with a nuclear, chemical or biological warhead, I don’t give a damn about Obama’s bowling score.

Infoganda: Nothing but Reich Wing talking points.

The MSM has their own corporate agenda. First, they want to concentrate more and more control into fewer and fewer hands. Second, the same greedy corporations that have been the foundation of GOP support for years are the MSM’s main source of revenue through their advertising. Anything that threatens a shift from corporate welfare to actual representation of taxpayers threatens MSM revenue.

Therefore it’s up to us to spread the word ourselves, person to person, blog to blog, and by whatever means we can. Although I would appreciate a hat-tip (source link), you are all free to repost anything you find here at Politics Plus that, in your opinions, warrant repetition.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus

Do You Understand Net Neutrality?

5AllBits RECENTLY, the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust task force invited me to be the lead witness for its hearing on “net neutrality.” I’ve collaborated with the Future of Music Coalition, and my band, OK Go, has been among the first to find real success on the Internet — our songs and videos have been streamed and downloaded hundreds of millions of times (orders of magnitude above our CD sales) — so the committee thought I’d make a decent spokesman for up-and-coming musicians in this new era of digital pandemonium.

I’m flattered, of course, but it makes you wonder if Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner sit around arguing who was listening to Vampire Weekend first.

If you haven’t been following the debate on net neutrality, you’re not alone. The details of the issue can lead into realms where only tech geeks and policy wonks dare to tread, but at root there’s a pretty simple question: How much control should network operators be allowed to have over the information on their lines?

Most people assume that the Internet is a democratic free-for-all by nature — that it could be no other way. But the openness of the Internet as we know it is a byproduct of the fact that the network was started on phone lines. The phone system is subject to “common carriage” laws, which require phone companies to treat all calls and customers equally. They can’t offer tiered service in which higher-paying customers get their calls through faster or clearer, or calls originating on a competitor’s network are blocked or slowed.

These laws have been on the books for about as long as telephones have been ringing, and were meant to keep Bell from using its elephantine market share to squash everyone else. And because of common carriage, digital data running over the phone lines has essentially been off limits to the people who laid the lines. But in the last decade, the network providers have argued that since the Internet is no longer primarily run on phone lines, the laws of data equality no longer apply. They reason that they own the fiber optic and coaxial lines, so they should be able to do whatever they want with the information crossing them.

Under current law, they’re right. They can block certain files or Web sites for their subscribers, or slow or obstruct certain applications. And they do, albeit pretty rarely. Network providers have censored anti-Bush comments from an online Pearl Jam concert, refused to allow a text-messaging program from the pro-choice group Naral (saying it was “unsavory”), blocked access to the Internet phone service (and direct competitor) Vonage and selectively throttled online traffic that was using the BitTorrent protocol.

When the network operators pull these stunts, there is generally widespread outrage. But outright censorship and obstruction of access are only one part of the issue, and they represent the lesser threat, in the long run. What we should worry about more is not what’s kept from us today, but what will be built (or not built) in the years to come.

We hate when things are taken from us (so we rage at censorship), but we also love to get new things. And the providers are chomping at the bit to offer them to us: new high-bandwidth treats like superfast high-definition video and quick movie downloads. They can make it sound great: newer, bigger, faster, better! But the new fast lanes they propose will be theirs to control and exploit and sell access to, without the level playing field that common carriage built into today’s network.

They won’t be blocking anything per se — we’ll never know what we’re not getting — they’ll just be leapfrogging today’s technology with a new, higher-bandwidth network where they get to be the gatekeepers and toll collectors. The superlative new video on offer will be available from (surprise, surprise) them, or companies who’ve paid them for the privilege of access to their customers. If this model sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It’s how cable TV operates.

We can’t allow a system of gatekeepers to get built into the network. The Internet shouldn’t be harnessed for the profit of a few, rather than the good of the many; value should come from the quality of information, not the control of access to it.

For some parallel examples: there are only two guitar companies who make most of the guitars sold in America, but they don’t control what we play on those guitars. Whether we use a Mac or a PC doesn’t govern what we can make with our computers. The telephone company doesn’t get to decide what we discuss over our phone lines. It would be absurd to let the handful of companies who connect us to the Internet determine what we can do online. Congress needs to establish basic ground rules for an open Internet, just as common carriage laws did for the phone system… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

This is an aspect of net-neutrality I have never considered, but it is one we all need to understand and advocate.

Getting net-neutrality on the present system is important. Ten years ago there was virtually no broadband service at all, and what there was was very pricey. Looking ahead ten years, I cannot tell you what new technology will bring. I can only project with confidence that it will be at least as far ahead of today’s tech as today’s tech is ahead of dial-up. Whatever that technology is, the providers have the right to charge for access to it, assuming that there is sufficient competition among access providers, just like today. People pay more for cable than DSL and more for DSL than dial-up. That’s OK. The key here is that on that technology, whatever it is we need to extend net neutrality for content, so that the network providers do not control what content we get to access. That’s what they are attempting to do, and we must stop them.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus

Air Force Blocks Access to Many Blogs

070712-F-3961R-103.jpg The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word “blog” in its web address. It’s the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value — and hazards — of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so “utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream.”

Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service’s new “Cyber Command,” took over.

AFNOC has imposed bans on all sites with “blog” in their URLs, thus cutting off any sites hosted by Blogspot. Other blogs, and sites in general, are blocked based on content reviews performed at the base, command and AFNOC level …

The idea isn’t to keep airmen in the dark — they can still access news sources that areprimary, official-use sources,” said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. “Basically … if it’s a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it’s fairly cut and dry that that’s a good source, an authorized source,” he said …

AFNOC blocks sites by using Blue Coat software, which categorizes sites based on their content and allows users to block sub-categories as they choose.

“Often, we block first and then review exceptions,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, a Cyber Command spokesman.

As a result, airmen posting online have cited instances of seemingly innocuous sites — such as educational databases and some work-related sites — getting wrapped up in broad proxy filters.

… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Wired>

Do you believe that they aren’t trying to keep airmen in the dark? When they refer to “primary official-use sources” they are referring to the MSM. They want to make sure that all the news the troops get is filtered through the right-wing media. How ironic that the ChickenHawk-in-Chief and his GOP Reich deny First Amendment freedom to the very people tasked with defending it!

Bush/GOP-speak Dictionary:

Support the troops=Use as cannon fodder until dead or severely wounded; then discard.

Cross posted from Politics Plus