Roundup: FCC to Champion Net Neutrality

FCC's proposal on Net Neutrality • Lock and dams in bad repair • Cattle rustling on the rise in OK • Grandparents raising their grandkids in WV • How Radio Shack made it in Rural America • FDA whistleblowers sound alarm about new inspection methods

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote an editorial in Wired Magazine this week explaining and defending the commission’s pending Net Neutrality proposal.
 

I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections.

Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.

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The New York Times reports on the state of America’s locks and dams, which are getting so old and crumbly they’re holding up traffic. Agriculture and concrete businesses suffer the most.

President Obama’s water resources bill had provisions to build a new lock in Illinois, but he has also called for cutting the budget of the Army Corps of Engineers, which would include cutting the budget for repairs to locks and dams.

In the United States, the equivalent of 51 million truckloads of goods move by river each year.

The lock here at the Kentucky Dam is a major thruway for products from nearly 20 states. But over the last decade, the average delay here has grown to nearly seven hours, from less than four hours in 2004.

Because of its age, the lock has a hard time accommodating newer, larger barges. Workers have to break the barges into sections before letting them through, which increases the wait times. In the meantime, large cracks are visible in the walls of the lock.

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A lot of olde-tyme trends are coming out of antiquity and into hipness these days. Mustaches, safety razors, quilting, and now…cattle rustling. Yes, cattle rustling.  High cattle prices plus meth addiction has fueled a rise in cattle theft in Oklahoma, according to Reuters.

"Cattle rustling has been around since Moby Dick was a minnow, but the price of cattle has doubled and tripled in the past few years, and theft is on the rise," said Jerry Flowers, chief agent of investigations for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.

The state's open spaces make it difficult for ranchers to keep track of all their cattle and rising prices, which can reach $3,000 per head, have helped fuel the problem, he said.

"Meth is a significant problem with people who steal cattle," Flowers said. "We found the presence of meth to be more and more common with people who steal livestock. It's easy, quick money."

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Nearly half of the kids in McDowell County, West Virginia, live with someone other than their parents. This trend is due, in large part, to the nearly epidemic level of drug and alcohol abuse in the area. PBS reports on efforts of groups working together to make life a little easier for the grandparents who end up raising their children’s children.

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The Dallas Morning News recounts the rise, current fall, and possible future rise of Radio Shack. The DMN praises the retailer for its strategy of finding mom-and-pop stores in rural places and allowing them to sell Radio Shack wares.

These rural stores weren’t franchisees but independent dealers who bought products from RadioShack and rewarded the Fort Worth-based company with a steady stream of income.

The stores introduced technology to rural America, becoming the first to sell calculators, VCRs, cordless phones and computers in towns with populations of less than 20,000.

The company is struggling now and working on a restructuring, but RadioShack has done a lot of things right in its rich 94-year history. It was one of the first retailers to add stores-within-a-store. The RadioShack dealer stores looked just like a corporate store but often shared a roof with hardware, sporting goods or appliance stores also run by successful local business owners.

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Whistleblowers from inside the USDA are claiming the agency’s new pork inspection program, featuring sped-up lines and fewer inspectors, will not cut mustard when it comes to making food safer.

…Amidst reports of missed abscesses, lesions, hairs and toenails, it’s one moment in the affidavit from “USDA Hog Inspector #2 that stands out. Describing their first days working for the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service, the inspector recalls being told by an older colleague: “It’s not whether or not people are going to eat sh*t — they are. It’s just how much.”

“I really think that is the story right there,” Ted Genoways, who spent four years investigating pork producer Hormel Foods for his book “The Chain,” told Salon. “The USDA has taken the position that people don’t care if there’s sh*t in their food. And I think that people do care. I think they care about that kind of contamination, and about the potential health consequences. And I think that hearing from the inspectors themselves — that that is the attitude, that’s what they’re being told as they’re being trained — hopefully, that more powerfully conveys the message to consumers that their interests are not being protected.”

 

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