News Dump Thursday: Goodbye Net Neutrality Edition
Submitted by gjohnsit on Thu, 12/14/2017 - 12:56pm
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission swept aside rules barring broadband providers from favoring the internet traffic of websites willing to pay for speedier service, sending the future of net neutrality on to a likely court challenge.
The Republican-led commission voted 3-to-2 on Thursday to remove Obama-era prohibitions on blocking web traffic, slowing it or demanding payment for faster passage via their networks. Over objections from its Democrats, the FCC gave up most authority over broadband providers such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. and handed enforcement to other agencies. The changes won’t take place for at least two months.
...Opponents of Pai’s rules are expected to ask U.S. judges to overturn the ruling and restore the old rules. Issues before the judges will include whether the FCC has adequate grounds to reverse a decision taken less than three years earlier. Judges last year upheld the previous rules.
Congress could write a law to overrule the FCC’s action, but it hasn’t acted as Democrats dismiss Republican invitations to legislate to a permanently weaken the 2015 rules. The Democrats’ “wall of resistance” may weaken in the new year after partisan fervor heightened by Thursday’s vote has a chance to abate, Cowen & Co. analyst Paul Gallant said in a Nov. 21 note. A bill might restore some basic net neutrality protections and also bar the FCC from regulating rates, Gallant said.
A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”
In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.
Yemen is the riskiest flashpoint between the U.S. and Iran at a time when tensions between the two powers are at a “critical level,” the International Crisis Group conflict-resolution center said.
Overlapping Middle East conflicts increase the potential for intentional or inadvertent clashes, the group said in a report released Thursday. An escalation in Yemen, such as a successful strike by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on a Saudi or Emirati city, could prompt Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E or even the U.S. to retaliate against Iran, the group said.
In one instance, PG-9 73mm rockets, sold by Romanian arms manufacturers to the U.S. Army in 2013 and 2014, were found sprinkled across both battlefields. Containers with matching lot numbers were found in eastern Syria and recovered from an Islamic State convoy in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, the report says. The rockets, adapted by the Islamic State to use in their launchers, gave militants a potent weapon against U.S.-supplied tanks and armored Humvees.
Records obtained by CAR from Romanian officials include agreements indicating the United States would not re-export those and other weapons, part of an effort to curb weapons trafficking. Saudi Arabia was another source of unauthorized weapons transfers to Syria, the report says.
The report says the U.S. government did not respond to requests to trace this and other weapons documented by CAR. A Defense Department spokesman did not return requests for comment.
On Dec. 12, 2015, Bulgaria exported antitank missile launcher tubes to the U.S. Army through an Indiana-based company called Kiesler Police Supply. Fifty-nine days later, Iraqi federal police captured the remains of one such weapon after a battle in Ramadi, Iraq, the report says. In another instance, a U.S.-backed rebel group in Syria was photographed using a launcher tube with an identical lot number, indicating it probably came from the same batch, the report says.
British troops breached the Geneva conventions and subjected Iraqi civilians to cruel and inhuman treatment by hooding them and taking turns to run over their backs, the high court has ruled.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) breached the conventions as well as the 1998 Human Rights Act in the way in which it detained civilians after the 2003 invasion, the court concluded on Thursday.
The judgment comes 10 days after the international criminal court (ICC) declared there was “a reasonable basis” to conclude that British troops committed war crimes against Iraqi detainees.
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