Friday, April 18, 2014

The Comcast-FCC Revolving Door

The proposed merger between cable giants Comcast and Time Warner is a hotly contested issue in Congress, and angers flared again at a recent Senate hearing on the merger last week.

Most of the senators seemed ambivalent about the merger and wouldn't say whether they supported or opposed it, but one senator in particular stuck out from the rest: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).

"I don't like this revolving door," Franken said in an April 13 interview with CNN. "I don't like this revolving door between regulators and Comcast. I thought that was kind of tacky that one of the FCC commissioners, I think just four months after they approved the Comcast/NBC deal, went over to work a high-paying job at Comcast. I just don't like that."

So how wide is the revolving door between the telecommunications giant and the FCC? For Comcast's in-house lobbyists, it's significant and still swinging. According to an analysis byOpenSecrets Blog, 18 people have both lobbied for Comcast and spent time in the public sector. Of those, 12 are currently registered lobbyists for Comcast, with five of them having spent time at the FCC...

U.S. Views of Technology and the Future: Science in the next 50 years

The American public anticipates that the coming half-century will be a period of profound scientific change, as inventions that were once confined to the realm of science fiction come into common usage. This is among the main findings of a new national survey by The Pew Research Center, which asked Americans about a wide range of potential scientific developments—from near-term advances like robotics and bioengineering, to more “futuristic” possibilities like teleportation or space colonization. In addition to asking them for their predictions about the long-term future of scientific advancement, we also asked them to share their own feelings and attitudes toward some new developments that might become common features of American life in the relatively near future.

Overall, most Americans anticipate that the technological developments of the coming half-century will have a net positive impact on society. Some 59% are optimistic that coming technological and scientific changes will make life in the future better, while 30% think these changes will lead to a future in which people are worse off than they are today.

Many Americans pair their long-term optimism with high expectations for the inventions of the next half century. Fully eight in ten (81%) expect that within the next 50 years people needing new organs will have them custom grown in a lab, and half (51%) expect that computers will be able to create art that is indistinguishable from that produced by humans. On the other hand, the public does see limits to what science can attain in the next 50 years. Fewer than half of Americans—39%—expect that scientists will have developed the technology to teleport objects, and one in three (33%) expect that humans will have colonized planets other than Earth. Certain terrestrial challenges are viewed as even more daunting, as just 19% of Americans expect that humans will be able to control the weather in the foreseeable future.

But at the same time that many expect science to produce great breakthroughs in the coming decades, there are widespread concerns about some controversial technological developments that might occur on a shorter time horizon...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Illustrated audio from Chelsea Manning's closed trial

FBI Sought Informant from 9/11 Defense Team

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA After the recess of military commission proceedings today, Judge James Pohl issued an order requiring any current or past member of a defense team to disclose any government questioning regarding the case, regardless of any non-disclosure agreement. (AE292C).

Earlier today, the military commission heard argument from the defense in the 9/11 military commission alleging that the FBI sought to turn a member of the defense team for Ramzi bin al Shibh into a confidential informant. Counsel for all five 9/11 accused asked the military judge to conduct an inquiry into the potential conflict of interest created by this latest in a series of breaches of defense confidentiality.

"The FBI's ill-advised attempt to turn a member of the defense team against its own is disgraceful. We look forward to a full inquiry by Military Judge Pohl," said Lt Col Sterling R. Thomas, USAF, an experienced prosecutor who is now detailed to defend Ammar al Baluchi...