East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, December 21, 2017, Page Page 7A, Image 7

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Thursday, December 21, 2017
East Oregonian
Page 7A
After net neutrality: Brace for internet ‘fast lanes’
AP Technology Writer
NEW YORK — Now that
federal telecom regulators have
repealed net neutrality, it may be
time to brace for the arrival of
internet “fast lanes” and “slow
The net neutrality rules just
voted down by the Federal Commu-
nications Commission prohibited
such “paid prioritization,” as it’s
technically known. That’s when an
internet provider such as Verizon or
Comcast decides to charge services
like YouTube or Amazon for faster
access to users. Firms that decline
to pay up could wind up in bumper-
to-bumper slow lanes.
The Associated Press queried
seven major internet providers
about their post-net-neutrality
plans, and all of them equivocated
when asked if they might establish
fast and slow lanes. None of the
seven companies — Verizon,
AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Cox,
Sprint and T-Mobile — would rule
out the possibility. Three said they
had “no plans” for paid prioritiza-
tion, and a few declined to answer
the question at all.
By contrast, several of these firms
promised not to block or slow down
specific internet sites and services,
two other practices prohibited by
the expiring net-neutrality rules.
(Those rules won’t formally end
until sometime in early 2018.) Any
such move could set off a public
uproar and might even trigger an
antitrust investigation.
Here are the net-neutrality
promises from the country’s biggest
wireless and cable companies.
FAST LANES: No specific
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File
This 2015 file photo, shows the entrance to the Federal Communications Commission building in
Washington. Now that federal telecom regulators have repealed net neutrality, it may be time to
brace for the arrival of internet “fast lanes” and “slow lanes.”
Says it doesn’t do so, but declined
to address the future
THE WORDS: In a Nov. 21
statement , Verizon senior vice
president Kathy Grillo said: “We
continue to believe that users
should be able to access the internet
when, where, and how they choose,
and our customers will continue to
do so.” Asked whether Verizon will
continue not to block or throttle
content or whether it will charge
internet companies to get better
access to customers, Young said
Verizon “does not block or throttle
content and that’s the bottom line.”
FAST LANES: No specific
Says it “will not” do so
THE WORDS: Spokesman
Mike Balmoris didn’t specifically
answer when asked if AT&T will
create fast lanes. In a Nov. 30 blog
post , AT&T senior executive vice
president Bob Quinn said: “We
will not block websites, we will not
throttle or degrade internet traffic
based on content, and we will not
unfairly discriminate in our treat-
ment of internet traffic.”
FAST LANES: Has “no plans”
to create them
Says it “will not” do so
THE WORDS: In a Dec. 14
blog post , senior executive vice
president David Cohen said: “We
will not block, throttle, or discrim-
inate against lawful content on the
Internet; we will be fully transparent
with respect to our practices; and
we have not entered into any paid
prioritization arrangements, and we
have no plans to do so.”
FAST LANES: Says there are no
plans to create them
Says it doesn’t do so and has “no
plans” to change that
THE WORDS: In a Dec. 14 blog
post : “We don’t slow down, block,
or discriminate against lawful
content. Simply put, we don’t inter-
fere with the lawful online practices
of our customers and we have no
plans to change our practices.”
FAST LANES: Does not plan to
create them
Says it doesn’t do so and has no
plans to
THE WORDS: In an emailed
statement on Dec. 14: “We do not
block, throttle or otherwise inter-
fere with consumers’ desire to go
where they want on the Internet.”
A spokesman said the company has
no plans to block or throttle content
or enter into paid prioritization
FAST LANES: No specific
Says it doesn’t block sites, but
didn’t answer questions about the
THE WORDS: In a press release
on Dec. 14, Sprint wrote: “Our
position has been and continues to
be that competition is the best way
to promote an open internet.”
From its “open internet” website:
“Sprint does not block sites based
on content or subject.”
FAST LANES: No response
about future plans
response about future plans
THE WORDS: A company
spokeswoman pointed to a February
2015 statement from T-Mobile
CEO John Legere: “We have
always believed in competition and
in a free, open Internet with rules
that protect net neutrality — no
blocking, no discrimination and
Overdose deaths cut U.S. life
expectancy for 2nd year
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. deaths from
drug overdoses skyrocketed 21 percent
last year, and for the second straight year
dragged down how long Americans are
expected to live.
The government figures released
Thursday put drug deaths at 63,600, up from
about 52,000 in 2015. For the first time, the
powerful painkiller fentanyl and its close
opioid cousins played a bigger role in the
deaths than any other legal or illegal drug,
surpassing prescription pain pills and heroin.
“This is urgent and deadly,” said Dr.
Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. The opioid
epidemic “clearly has a huge impact on our
entire society.”
Two-thirds of last year’s drug deaths —
about 42,000 — involved opioids, a category
that includes heroin, methadone, prescription
pain pills like OxyContin, and fentanyl.
Fatal overdoses that involved fentanyl and
fentanyl-like drugs doubled in one year, to
more than 19,000, mostly from illegally
made pills or powder, which is often mixed
with heroin or other drugs.
Heroin was tied to 15,500 deaths and
prescription painkillers to 14,500 deaths.
The balance of the overdose deaths involved
sedatives, cocaine and methamphetamines.
More than one drug is often involved in an
overdose death.
Al Franken to officially leave
U.S. Senate seat on Jan. 2
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Sen. Al
Franken plans to officially leave the U.S.
Senate on Jan. 2.
The announcement Wednesday from
a Franken spokesman should put to rest
questions surrounding the timing of the
Minnesota Democrat’s departure and
concern that he might reverse his planned
Franken announced earlier this month
that he would leave “in the coming weeks”
amid several sexual misconduct allegations.
His office later indicated it would come
sometime in early January.
Gov. Mark Dayton’s choice to replace
Franken, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, is set to be
sworn in Jan. 3.
Smith will keep some of Franken’s top
staff when she takes office. She plans to run
for the seat in 2018.
With shutdown clock ticking,
GOP struggles to make a deal
shutdown clock ticking toward a midnight
Friday deadline, House Republican leaders
struggled on Wednesday to unite the GOP
rank and file behind a must-pass spending
Although a major obstacle evaporated
after key GOP senators dropped a demand
to add health insurance subsidies for the
poor, a number of defense hawks offered
resistance to a plan by GOP leaders to punt
a guns-versus-butter battle with Democrats
into the new year.
There’s still plenty of time to avert
a politically debilitating government
shutdown, which would detract from the
party’s success this week in muscling
through their landmark tax bill.
Some lawmakers from hurricane-hit states
also worried that an $81 billion disaster aid
bill was at risk of getting left behind in the
rush to exit Washington for the holidays.
Lawmakers said the GOP vote-counting
team would assess support for the plan and
GOP leaders would set a course of action
from there.
Rules Committee Chairman Pete
Sessions, R-Texas, said “there’s no specific
direction right now” about the path forward.
He spoke after an hourlong closed-door
meeting of Republicans in the Capitol
An earlier plan favored by pro-Pentagon
members of the influential Armed Services
Committee would have combined the
stopgap funding bill with a $658 billion
Pentagon funding measure. But the idea
is a nonstarter with the Senate, especially
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
EPA says Superfund Task
Force left little paper trail
Environmental Protection Agency says an
internal task force appointed to revamp how
the nation’s most polluted sites are cleaned
up generated no record of its deliberations.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in May
announced the creation of a Superfund Task
Force that he said would reprioritize and
streamline procedures for remediating more
than 1,300 sites. Pruitt, the former attorney
general of Oklahoma, appointed a political
supporter from his home state with no
experience in pollution cleanups to lead the
The task force in June issued a nearly
three dozen-page report containing 42
detailed recommendations, all of which
Pruitt immediately adopted. The advocacy
group Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility, known as PEER, quickly
filed a Freedom of Information Act request
seeking a long list of documents related to
the development of Pruitt’s plan.
After EPA didn’t immediately release any
records, PEER sued.
Now, nearly six months after the task
force released its report, a lawyer for EPA
has written PEER to say that the task force
had no agenda for its meetings, kept no
minutes and used no reference materials.
Further, there were no written criteria
for selecting the 107 EPA employees the
agency says served on the task force or
background materials distributed to them
during the deliberative process for creating
the recommendations.
According to EPA, the task force also
created no work product other than its final
“Pruitt’s plan for cleaning up toxic sites
was apparently immaculately conceived,
without the usual trappings of human
parentage,” said Jeff Ruch, the executive
director of PEER. “It stretches credulity
that 107 EPA staff members with no agenda
or reference materials somehow wrote an
intricate plan in 30 days.”
Tie vote declared in pivotal
Virginia House district
court has now declared a tie in a Virginia
legislative election that one day earlier
appeared to have gone to a Democrat by
a single vote, the latest dramatic twist in a
contest likely to decide control of the state
A three-judge panel certified the 94th
District in Newport News as tied at 11,608 to
11,608 on Wednesday, a day after a recount
appeared to give Democrat Shelly Simonds
the victory over Republican Del. David
Citing state election law, Virginia Board
of Elections Chairman James Alcorn said
the board would have to pick a winner at
random, likely picking a name from a bowl.
In a statement, the Virginia House
Democratic Caucus called the court’s
decision “wrong” and said, “We are currently
assessing all legal options before us as we
fight for a just result.”
Reached by phone, Yancey said he was
“just grateful that every vote was counted.”
The Republican said he’s preparing
legislation for the next session.
Israel, U.S. team up to block
UN vote on Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel is
intensively lobbying countries around the
world to oppose a U.N. resolution criticizing
President Donald Trump’s decision to
recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,
Israeli officials said Wednesday.
Thursday’s vote in the U.N. General
Assembly will indicate whether Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has succeeded
in his efforts to drum up new pockets of
support in the developing world, as well
as the extent to which Israel and the U.S.
are — or are not — alone on the question of
The Palestinians have turned to the
General Assembly after the U.S. vetoed
a resolution this week in the Security
Council calling on Trump to rescind his
decision. While General Assembly votes,
unlike Security Council resolutions, are not
legally binding, they serve as a barometer of
international sentiment on key issues.
The U.S. and Israel are both placing great
weight on Thursday’s vote. U.S. Ambassador
Nikki Haley threatened U.N. member states
with possible retaliation if they support the
resolution, saying Trump takes the vote
“personally” and the U.S. “will be taking
Trump went even further, telling reporters
at a Cabinet meeting in Washington that
opponents were likely to face a cutoff in U.S.
funding. “For all these nations, they take
our money and then vote against us,” Trump
said. “We’re watching those votes. Let them
vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t
The comments brought accusations of
U.S. intimidation.
Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi
Hotovely, said that the U.S. and Israel were
making “immense efforts” to block the
“We have a very, very simple message:
Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people
for 3,000 years and the capital of Israel for
almost 70 years,” she told Channel 10.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry official
confirmed the government was making a
“very vast” lobbying campaign to minimize
the resolution’s impact.
He said Israel is trying to persuade
allies to abstain or even vote against it.
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