Daily Archives: July 7, 2011

FCC has to change its rules, says Federal court…

I  just received this letter from Craig Aaron at FreePress.net and I pass it on to you. An important action has occurred:

Today, in a sweeping victory for communities across the country, a federal appeals court overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to weaken media ownership rules.

Had these rules gone into effect, it would have unleashed a new wave of media consolidation across the country.

In 2007, the FCC ignored letters and calls from millions of Americans and tried to rewrite its media ownership rules to let companies own both newspapers and TV or radio stations in the same town. This change would have opened the floodgates to new media mergers, leading to even more layoffs in newsrooms while thinning out diverse perspectives from local news.

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...

Image via Wikipedia

We sued the FCC for ignoring the public outcry. Today, we won. The court tossed out the FCC’s flawed rules, but also upheld all other media consolidation restrictions and told the FCC it needed to do better to support and foster diverse voices in the media – all crucial decisions for our fight to build better media.

This isn’t just our victory – it’s your victory, too.

The court pointed to public comments from people like you as deciding factor in overturning the FCC’s attempt to change its rules. Today it’s clear: Your voice and actions make a huge difference.

This court decision should send a wake-up call to the FCC: It must listen to the public and stand up against media consolidation in all its forms.

But the fight doesn’t end here. Right now around the country, local stations are using loopholes and backroom deals to get around media ownership rules and consolidate their coverage of local news. This court case makes clear that the FCC needs to strengthen their rules and address this growing epidemic as well. Click here to tell the FCC to stop this covert media consolidation.

Today’s victory is a big moment for the movement to build better media. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Onward,

Craig Aaron
President & CEO
Free Press

P.S. – We need your help sustaining our efforts. In court, at the FCC and in Congress we’re up against huge companies with lots of money and lawyers. We don’t take money from government, political parties or businesses – so we depend on you. Help us fight the next media ownership fight. Please donate today.

P.P.S. – Read more about the details and background of today’s big decision.

Don’t fool yourself, however. You and I both know what the big corporations trying to get complete control of the web will do: they’ll bring it to the corporation-loving Supreme Court. The FreePress.net folks are going to have lots of work ahead of them.

I urge you to give them your support.

Result of Bachmann’s Waterloo, Iowa Comment

Mark Hoback’s FGAQ (Fried Green al-Qaedas)  is by far the best satirical blog on the web. It invariably takes the major bloops and blunders of our political life and turns them into hysterically funny dialogs like none anywhere else (and I don’t say this simply because he lists Under The LobsterScope on his blog list…Hell, I list FGAQ as well.)

This piece from June 28 is an excellent example:

Waterloo says thanks

“A mistake?” asks Waterloo resident Missy Buckner, neither expecting nor wanting an answer. “No, I don’t think it was a mistake. I know that the media likes to portray Michele Bachmann as somebody who can’t keep her facts straight, but all I know is that she’s not even president yet and already she’s managed to save at least one job – mine.”

For over ten years, Buckner has been curator of Waterloo Iowa‘s John Wayne Gacy Museum of Art, home of the largest collection of the Killer Clown‘s paintings, drawings, and artifacts in the world. Founded with an endowment from an anonymous European donor, the Gacy Museum has been an enormous failure, drawing only a few occasional curiosity seekers and losing money every year. It had been threatened with closing it’s doors forever later this summer.

“I can’t help but think that all of that’s going to change now,” says Buckner. “What Michele Bachmann has done is remind everyone about Waterloo’s most famous resident. Sure, he might have been primarily famous for killing all those teenage boys back in the seventies, but if there was justice in life – aside from the justice Gacy got at the end of his – he would be famous as Waterloo’s greatest artist. And now he will be.”

“Bachmann said that John Wayne came from Waterloo. She didn’t say which one and nobody asked her. The other John Wayne, well, he’s not from Iowa, he’s from Hollywood. And his real name was Marion Mitchell Morrison. John Wayne Gacy was using his real name. And when Bachmann said that she was just like him, I assume that she means she’s an artist, too. I mean, she doesn’t look like the sort of a person who would be a serial killer. Of course, I guess that’s the same thing they used to say about Gacy.”

“The man really had a feel for clowns, don’t you think? He knew
them intimately, knew what made them tick, because he used to dress up like a clown for parades and children’s parties. So he knew first hand how truly scary clowns can be and really captured that. He painted them for the entire fourteen years he was on death row, and they make up a large part of the museum‘s collection. We have some of his landscapes, some of his dwarfs – he liked to paint the dwarfs from Disney‘s ‘Snow White‘, often with clowns – and some of his portraits of other serial killers, but I think when people visit the Gacy Museum, it’s the clowns they’re going to want to see.”

“And people will be coming to the museum now, thanks to Michele Bachmann, I just know it. We had over a dozen visitors today, and when I asked them what brought them here, she’s the reason they gave. That’s why the Gacy Museum has authorized a token of our appreciation for helping us survive. An original piece, a Manson by Gacy. It’s a real stunner, isn’t it? I hope this small token of our appreciation lets Bachmann understand just how warmly the people of Waterloo feel about her.”

CATF reviewing is going along as planned.

From David Mamet's "Race"

I’ve seen four of the five CATF plays so far and I have the fifth one, We Are Here, at the Studio Theater at 8:30 PM. I won’t give any details of the shows yet, except to say they are certainly worth seeing and cover a range of dramatic experience that I’ve come to expect from this festival. I’ll be posting at some time tomorrow and will be doing the audio reviews on my podcast Tuesday at 10 AM (Click Here on Tuesday Morning).

Friday I am recording the reviews for WSHC FM (89.7) in Shepherdstown, where they will be individually scattered throughout the month while CATF is going on (July 8th-31st).

I would suggest you hurry to CATF.org and get reservations as some shows have several sold out performances, especially David Mamet’s Race, which started selling out a month ago.

The State of Fracking May Be Changing…

In an update to our covering the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) production of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, there are things happening and statements being made worldwide against the practice… even from the industry itself (however, these are for capital reasons and not for the environmental dangers that most of us are concerned with.)

If you want to review how fracking works, the National Geographic has a very good animated illustration HERE (although it does not adequately address the polluting of the water table – indeed, it more or less shows the industry point of view.)

France, as a nation, has now completely banned Fracking because of the pollution of water supplies by chemicals used in the process such as Benzine (a carcinogen), Toluene (a central nervous system depressant) and Xylene (a neurotoxin.) French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said before the French National Assembly vote:

“We are at the end of a legislative marathon that stirred emotion from lawmakers and the public. Hydraulic fracturing will be illegal and parliament would have to vote for a new law to allow research using the technique.”

Official photo of Governor Beverly Perdue (D-NC).

Beverly Perdue, Governor of North Carolina

In this country, the New Jersey State Senate voted to ban the practice, which contaminates drinking waterand  North Carolina’s Governor Bev Perdue vetoed a state senate bill that would have allowed fracking in the state. Here in West Virginia, which is on part of the Marcellus Shale, the energy industry has so far retained its hold.  The New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is poised to lift the ban on fracking, however he state issued new guidelines for fracking that will prohibit the practice in state parks and in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds.

New York State Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, an opponent of fracking, in a statement on Cuomo’s position, said:

“If hydrofracking is not safe in the New York City watershed it’s not safe in any watershed. There’s a tacit admission on the part of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that it is not safe and yet it is being allowed.”
Despite claims to the contrary, hydraulic fracturing has never been regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). This act was enacted in 1974 to ensure water supply systems serving the public meet appropriate health standards. However, Congress included language in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 making it clear once and for all that underground injection fluids or propping agents were excluded from the SDWA (evidence, of course, of heavy industry lobbying.)
The industry has recently come out to complain that the cost of fracking is currently slightly more than the income that can be received from the practice and is reisting any regulation on it. Because of the cost problems, many natural gas companies have moved into oil drilling due to it’s subsidized profitability. This will not likely be a lasting situation if the Federal government refuses to regulate it. The Feds are waiting for an EPA report which will come out in 2012 (unless the Republicans can eliminate the EPA, which the conservative right is trying to do, supposedly as a deficit cut.)
We’ll keep you updated on more in the future.