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Government

Congressman Introduces Bill To Limit FCC Powers 176

An anonymous reader writes "Representative Bob Latta (R-OH) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would limit the FCC's power to regulate ISPs in a supposed effort to keep the internet free. The bill's text is currently not available on the Library of Congress webpage or on congress.gov, but a purported copy has been spotted on scribd. Representative Latta's press release nevertheless indicates that the bill is intended to prevent the FCC from re-classifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II. Latta is one of the 28 representatives who lobbied the FCC earlier this month and were shown to have received double the average monetary donations given to all House of Representative members from the cable industry over a two year period ending this past December."
Education

Wyoming Is First State To Reject Science Standards Over Climate Change 661

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Time Magazine reports that Wyoming, the nation's top coal-producing state, has become the first state to reject new K-12 science standards proposed by national education groups mainly because of global warming components. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a set of science standards developed by leading scientists and science educators from 26 states and built on a framework developed by the National Academy of Sciences. The Wyoming science standards revision committee made up entirely of Wyoming educators unanimously recommended adoption of these standards to the state Board of Education not once but twice and twelve states have already adopted the standards since they were released in April 2013. But opponents argue the standards incorrectly assert that man-made emissions are the main cause of global warming and shouldn't be taught in a state that ranks first among all states in coal production, fifth in natural gas production and eighth in crude oil production deriving much of its school funding from the energy industry.

Amy Edmonds, of the Wyoming Liberty Group, says teaching 'one view of what is not settled science about global warming' is just one of a number of problems with the standards. 'I think Wyoming can do far better.' Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has called federal efforts to curtail greenhouse emissions a 'war on coal' and has said that he's skeptical about man-made climate change. Supporters of the NGSS say science standards for Wyoming schools haven't been updated since 2003 and are six years overdue. 'If you want the best science education for your children and grandchildren and you don't want any group to speak for you, then make yourselves heard loud and clear,' says Cate Cabot. 'Otherwise you will watch the best interests of Wyoming students get washed away in the hysteria of a small anti-science minority driven by a national right wing group – and political manipulation.'"
Earth

Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power 504

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Paul Monies reports at NewsOK that Oklahoma's legislature has passed a bill that allows regulated utilities to apply to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to charge a higher base rate to customers who generate solar and wind energy and send their excess power back into the grid reversing a 1977 law that forbade utilities to charge extra to solar users. 'Renewable energy fed back into the grid is ultimately doing utility companies a service,' says John Aziz. 'Solar generates in the daytime, when demand for electricity is highest, thereby alleviating pressure during peak demand.'

The state's major electric utilities backed the bill but couldn't provide figures on how much customers already using distributed generation are getting subsidized by other customers. Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma have about 1.3 million electric customers in the state. They have about 500 customers using distributed generation. Kathleen O'Shea, OG&E spokeswoman, said few distributed generation customers want to sever their ties to the grid. 'If there's something wrong with their panel or it's really cloudy, they need our electricity, and it's going to be there for them,' O'Shea said. 'We just want to make sure they're paying their fair amount of that maintenance cost.' The prospect of widespread adoption of rooftop solar worries many utilities. A report last year by the industry's research group, the Edison Electric Institute, warns of the risks posed by rooftop solar (PDF). 'When customers have the opportunity to reduce their use of a product or find another provider of such service, utility earnings growth is threatened," the report said. "As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector.''"
Education

South Carolina Education Committee Removes Evolution From Standards 665

Toe, The writes "The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee approved new science standards for students except for one clause: the one that involves the use of the phrase 'natural selection.' Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, argued against teaching natural selection as fact, when he believes there are other theories students deserve to learn. Fair argued South Carolina's students are learning the philosophy of natural selection but teachers are not calling it such. He said the best way for students to learn is for the schools to teach the controversy. Hopefully they're going to teach the controversy of gravity and valence bonds too. After all, they're just theories."
Advertising

Dirty Tricks? Look-Alike Websites Lure Congressional Donors 157

First time accepted submitter AdamnSelene writes "Forbes reports on a National Republican Congressional Committee sanctioned campaign worthy of the NSA: fake candidate websites that use identical or similar pictures and color schemes to solicit donations to defeat the Democratic candidate. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the NRCC initially refused to refund the contribution from a Tampa Bay doctor who caught onto the scam, and he had to contact his credit card company to challenge the charges. The National Journal reports that the NRCC-sponsored effort may run afoul of Federal Election Commission regulations, though it expects that the bipartisan FEC will be toothless when it comes to enforcement. However, I have to wonder whether this is finally a good enough reason to use the DMCA and file take-down notices against the faux websites. Perhaps the candidates could solve this themselves, and get a judgement for copyright infringement so absurdly large that it puts the NRCC out of business?" Some sites along these lines might be dirtier than the ones here illustrated, which seem to fit pretty well into the broad world of snarky and cutting political ads; Dr. Ray Bellamy, the Tampa Bay donor mentioned above, intended to give money to candidate Alex Sink, but evidently didn't notice this line in bold print, just above the "Donate" button: "Make a contribution today to help defeat Alex Sink and candidates like her." Note that, as the Tampa Bay Times' article mentions, this kind of site isn't limited to Republicans, either.
Earth

GOP Bill To Outlaw EPA 'Secret Science' That Is Not Transparent, Reproducible 618

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Fox News reports that Republican lawmakers in the House are pushing legislation that would prohibit the EPA from proposing new regulations based on science that is not transparent or not reproducible. The bill introduced by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., would bar the agency from proposing or finalizing rules without first disclosing all "scientific and technical information" relied on to support its proposed action. "Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of far-left environmental groups," says Schweikert. "For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions." The bill, dubbed the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (HR 4012), would prohibit the EPA's administrator from proposing or finalizing any rules unless he or she also discloses "all scientific and technical information" relied on by the agency in the regulations' development including all data, materials and computer models. According to Schweikert's press release a 2013 poll from the Institute of Energy Research found that 90 percent of Americans agree that studies and data used to make federal government decisions should be made public. "Provisions in the bill are consistent with the White House's scientific integrity policy, the President's Executive Order 13563, data access provisions of major scientific journals, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the recommendations of the Obama administration's top science advisors.""
United States

US Government Shutdown Ends 999

An anonymous reader writes "After more than two weeks of bickering that made the schoolyard appear civilized, Congress has finally passed a bill to reopen the U.S. Federal Government. 'The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 81 - 18, followed by approval in the House by a vote of 285 - 144. The bill now goes to the President, who will make remarks on Thursday regarding the reopening of the federal government. ... Earlier in the day, Speaker Boehner conceded that the House would not vote to stop the Senate-negotiated agreement. In a statement, the Speaker said that, after a fight with President Obama over his signature health care law, " . . . blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us." The agreement will raise the debt limit until February 2014, fund the government through January 2014 and establish a joint House-Senate committee to make spending cut decisions.' CNN adds, 'Obama, for one, didn't seem in the mood Wednesday night for more of the same -- saying politicians in Washington have to "get out of the habit of governing by crisis." "Hopefully, next time, it will not be in the 11th hour," Obama told reporters, calling for both parties to work together on a budget, immigration reform and other issues. When asked as he left the podium whether he believed America would be going through all this political turmoil again in a few months, the President didn't waste words. "No."'"
Government

U.S. Government: Sorry, We're Closed 1532

theodp writes "CNN reports that the U.S. government shut down at 12:01 a.m. EDT Tuesday after lawmakers in the House and the Senate could not agree on a spending bill to fund the government. Federal employees who are considered essential will continue working. But employees deemed non-essential — close to 800,000 — will be furloughed, and most of those are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday."
Education

Missouri Legislation Redefines Science, Pushes Intelligent Design 813

An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on new legislation in the Missouri House of Representatives which is seeking equal time in the classroom for Intelligent Design, and to redefine science itself. You can read the text of the bill online. It uses over 600 words to describe Intelligent Design. Scientific theory, the bill says, is 'an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy.' It would require that 'If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught.' The legislation's references to 'scientific theory' and 'scientific law' make it clear the writers don't have the slightest idea how science actually works. It also has this odd line near the end: 'If biological intelligent design is taught, any proposed identity of the intelligence responsible for earth's biology shall be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation and teachers shall not question, survey, or otherwise influence student belief in a nonverifiable identity within a science course.'"
Republicans

Nonpartisan Tax Report Removed After Republican Protest 555

eldavojohn writes "On September 14th a report titled 'Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945' (PDF) penned by the Library of Congress' nonpartisan Congressional Research Service was released to little fanfare. However, the following conclusion of the report has since roiled the GOP enough to have the report removed from the Library of Congress: 'The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.' From the New York Times article: 'The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical.' It appears to no longer be found on the Library of Congress' website."
Censorship

PROTECT IP Renamed To the E-PARASITE Act 373

bs0d3 writes "The U.S. House has drafted their version of Protect IP today. They have renamed the bill to 'the Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act' or the E-PARASITE Act. The new house version of Protect IP is far worse than the Senate bill s.968 and it massively expands the sites that will be covered by the law. While the Senate bill limited its focus to sites that were 'dedicated to infringing activities,' the house bill targets 'foreign infringing sites' and 'has only limited purpose or use other than infringement.' They're also including an 'inducement' claim, any foreign site declared by the Attorney General to be 'inducing' infringement, can now be censored by the US. With no adversarial hearing. The bill can be read here."
Image

Wisconsin DA Threatens Arrests Over Sex Ed Screenshot-sm 703

WrongSizeGlass writes "USA Today is reporting that the DA of Juneau County, Wisconsin, is warning teachers that they could face arrest over the new sex-ed curriculum. District Attorney Scott Southworth said a new state law that requires students learn to use condoms and other contraceptives 'promotes the sexualization — and sexual assault — of our children.' Southworth also said, 'I'm not looking to charge any teachers. I've got enough work to do.'"
Privacy

Utah Considers Warrantless Internet Subpoenas 234

seneces writes "The Utah State Legislature is considering a bill granting the Attorney General's Office the ability to demand customer information from Internet or cell phone companies via an administrative subpoena, with no judicial review (text of the HB150). This represents an expansion of a law passed last year, which granted that ability when 'it is suspected that a child-sex crime has been committed.' Since becoming law, last year's bill has led to more than one non-judicial request per day for subscriber information. Pete Ashdown, owner of a local ISP and 2006 candidate for the US Senate, has discussed his position and the effects of this bill."
United States

Supreme Court Rolls Back Corporate Campaign Spending Limits 1070

lorenlal writes "The Supreme Court of the United States must have figured that restrictions on corporate support of candidates was a violation of free speech, or something like that." From the AP story linked above: "By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states."

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