Report: AT&T, Verizon will sue FCC immediately after reclassification

The FCC will take up Chairman Tom Wheeler’s new Net regulatory approach Feb. 26 — and then AT&T (T +0.3%) and Verizon (VZ) will immediately file suit, VentureBeat reports.

The site points to AT&T VP Hank Hultquist’s Monday post on the company’s public policy blog, where he argues again that its broadband is an info service, not a telecom service — although this is a familiar stance on the company’s blogs.

“I have no illusions that any of this will change what happens on Feb. 26,” Hultquist says. “But when the FCC has to defend reclassification before an appellate court, it will have to grapple with these and other arguments.

FCC fact sheet

Previously: Telecom stocks soar as FCC’s Wheeler advocates utility stance on regulation (Feb. 04 2015)

Previously: More from FCC’s Wheeler: Guarantees to encourage broadband investment (Feb. 04 2015)


Verizon’s Long Term Plan to Abandon Wired Landlines/Broadband in Non-FiOS Areas Begins

You should believe Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam when he says he intends to end wired telephone and broadband service for areas that are simply not economically feasible for fiber upgrades. McAdam’s grand plan is now coming true for customers in parts of Florida and on Fire Island, N.Y.

Last summer, Stop the Cap! covered McAdam’s comments to Wall Street investors (that are always the first to know) at the Guggenheim Securities Symposium:

“In […] areas that are more rural and more sparsely populated, we have got [a wireless 4G] LTE build that will handle all of those services and so we are going to cut the copper off there,” McAdam said. “We are going to do it over wireless. So I am going to be really shrinking the amount of copper we have out there and then I can focus the investment on that to improve the performance of it.”

The writing is already on the wall:

Verizon has been penalized and criticized in several states by public utility commissions for the ongoing degradation of its copper network. Verizon sees further investment in copper technology as throwing good money after bad, but spending millions on additional fiber upgrades isn’t appealing either. The result is deteriorating service. From downtown Manhattan to New Jersey to Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, Verizon’s service failures have left customers frustrated and sometimes waiting weeks or months for repair crews to turn up to restore basic phone service. Even more dangerous, Verizon was to blame for significant 911 network failures near the nation’s capital. Post Sandy, there are still sections of lower Manhattan without phone service nearly five months after the storm struck. Five months.

Verizon sold off telephone service in northern New England several years ago to FairPoint Communications, knowing full well Verizon never had an interest in upgrading any part of Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine to fiber service. In many smaller former GTE telephone areas too small to successfully argue a case for return on investment, Verizon decided selling those territories off was the best option. Hawaiian Telcom and Frontier Communications now own many of those former-Verizon territories.
Verizon has decreased marketing its wired DSL service and stopped selling it altogether to customers who want broadband-only service. That seems counter-intuitive for a company that recognizes future revenue possibilities come primarily from broadband and data services.

Traditionally, customers reporting trouble on a phone line get a visit from Verizon technicians who track the problem down and repair it. But Verizon no longer wants to spend money fixing copper wire-related problems. Customers reporting chronic phone static or outages are now being asked to abandon their traditional landline service instead:

In areas where Verizon FiOS fiber is available, the company disconnects the customer from copper service and switches them to the FiOS fiber network. This also provides future marketing opportunities, pitching broadband and television service to accompany a customer’s home phone.
In areas where fiber upgrades are not forthcoming, the company now proposes to disconnect the customer in favor of Voice Link, a wireless home phone replacement. This also opens marketing opportunities for Verizon Wireless to pitch cell phones and wireless Internet service.


Obama FCC Internet Power Grab

Net neutrality’ rules discard bipartisan light-touch regulatory framework.
Thursday marked the largest government intervention into the Internet ecosphere in American history. By equating the dynamic 21st century Internet to the telephone system of 1934, the Federal Communications Commission has thrust powerful but antiquated utility-style regulations onto the U.S. tech economy.

To justify its actions, the FCC had to resort to misleading distortions that essentially asserted “the Internet is so horribly broken that only the government can fix it.” And “you can trust unelected Washington bureaucrats to do a better job of running the highly complex Net than engineers, entrepreneurs and consumers.”

The FCC’s power grab discards the bipartisan light-touch regulatory framework laid out during the Clinton administration. That hands-off approach made the Net the greatest deregulatory success story of all time.

History teaches us that utility-style regulation raises costs to consumers, reduces investment and innovation, and creates uncertainty due to the politics-driven nature of “mother may I innovate” government mandates. Regulation only grows. Now the Internet cannot escape that fate.

The ultimate result of more government encroachment will be something akin to the sagging European Internet market, where investment in broadband infrastructure is only one-fourth of America’s due to heavy-handed regulations. Even worse, this new power grab could trigger expanded intergovernmental powers over the Web through existing telecom treaties, jeopardizing Internet freedom.

What many in Silicon Valley don’t understand is that, according to the Supreme Court’s 2005 Brand X decision, nearly any “tech” company that builds a telecom-style network to deliver its content and apps has the potential to be captured by the FCC’s new rules. If the agency tries to exempt some companies but not others, it will be choosing the politically favored over everyone else.

As the effects of these new rules gradually slow the lightning-fast evolution of the Net, it is likely to be overturned by courts, Congress or both. In the meantime, America’s Internet consumers will be caught in the crossfire.

Robert McDowell, who served on the FCC from 2006 to 2013, is a partner at Wiley Rein.

3 arrested in New York City for allegedly conspiring to support ISIS

Three New York City residents — two with Uzbekistan citizenship, and one a citizen of Kazakhstan — plotted to travel to Syria to join ISIS militants and ‘wage jihad,’ the Justice Department announced on Wednesday. 

One of the defendants also offered to kill the president of the United States if ordered to do so, the criminal complaint alleged. 

The men were identified in the complaint as Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev,  24, a resident of Brooklyn and a citizen of Uzbekistan; Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, a resident of Brooklyn and a citizen of Kazakhstan; and Abror Habibov, 30, a resident of Brooklyn and a citizen of Uzbekistan.

Federal prosecutors say two of the men came to the attention of law enforcement last summer after they expressed online support for the groups.

Saidakhmetov was arrested early Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he tried to board a plane headed to Istanbul, authorities said. Juraboev had plane tickets for March 29 and Habibov helped fund Saidakhmetov’s trip, the complaint said.

The two had hopes of joining the terror group and–if their travel plans were dashed– had intentions to commit terror in the U.S., the complaint said. Juraboev allegedly offered to kill the president if given the orders from ISIS. Saidakhmetov–if prevented from joining the terror group– wanted to purchase a machine gun and shoot law enforcement, the complaint said.

via 3 arrested in New York City for allegedly conspiring to support ISIS | Fox News.

Miley Cyrus to appear in porn film festival | New York Post

For a while now, Miley Cyrus has been inching closer to pornography with her increasingly revealing outfits and scandalous dance moves. Now she’s going to appear in an actual pornography festival.

Cyrus’s short film, “Tongue Tied” — which depicts the almost-nude “Wrecking Ball” singer in bondage gear and sexually suggestive poses — will appear in the NYC Porn Film Festival, which begins in Bushwick on Feb. 27.

It’s not pure pornography — the video has no sex, and though she writhes around in her underwear, she keeps her nipples covered. But it’s full of bondage imagery: Cyrus dons a blindfold, has her legs constrained by straps and is tied to a chair with only black tape covering her nipples. It’s a touch “Fifty Shades” with a pinch of Madonna’s “Justify My Love” video.

“It’s a pop take on S&M,” festival founder Simon Leahy says. “She’s starting to become more of a contemporary artist.”

The video was released online in May, and Cyrus used it during her shows on her Bangerz Tour last year. Leahy says they contacted Cadence, the production company that made the film with director Quentin Jones. Leahy asked Cadence if he could include it in the festival. While she likely won’t be at the festival personally, Cyrus is no stranger to Bushwick: She was spotted — topless and twerking — at a secret Alexander Wang warehouse party in the neighborhood in September.

The NYC Porn Film Festival is sponsored by the free video site PornHub, and runs Feb. 27 through March 1 at Secret Project Robot, featuring amateur and professional work from international filmmakers

via Miley Cyrus to appear in porn film festival | New York Post.

MSNBC shake up: Al Sharpton to lose nightly show

The recent suspension of Brian Williams and spotlight on news personalities has caused a shake-up at MSNBC. The Daily Beast is reporting that the Rev. Al Sharpton may lose his nightly time slot. His show, “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton,” has been on the air since 2011 and has had a successful run. At issue is a steady slide in viewership that will cause news correspondent Chris Hayes to be replaced by the “Rachel Maddow Show.” Maddow’s show will move from its current 9 p.m. slot to 8 p.m., while a search is underway for a new host for the 9 p.m. time slot left by Maddow.

It is rumored that Sharpton’s show will move from its nightly 6 p.m. time slot to a weekend only show. Sharpton attracts a solid 35 percent Black audience and is considered a lightning rod of controversy because of his activism on behalf of the oppressed. The source at MSNBC stated it was also part of a change in the political mindset of the programming stating, “Going left was a brilliant strategy while it lasted, and made hundreds of millions of dollars for Comcast, but now it doesn’t work anymore…The goal is to move away from left-wing TV.”

There has been no word from the Sharpton camp on the rumored changes at MSNBC.

via MSNBC shake up: Al Sharpton to lose nightly show.

Obama defends the ‘true peaceful nature of Islam

President Obama defended the “true peaceful nature of Islam” on Wednesday — saying terrorist groups like ISIS promote a “twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims.”

In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, the commander-in-chief provided a possible preview of a speech later at a White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, in which community leaders from across the country gathered to discuss how to protect people from “extremist ideologies.”

“The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam,” Obama wrote.

“We can echo the testimonies of former extremists who know how terrorists betray Islam. We can help Muslim entrepreneurs and youths work with the private sector to develop social media tools to counter extremist narratives on the Internet.”

“This week, we’ll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day,” he added.

“It’s a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.”

The president once again refused to utter phrases such as “Islamic terrorism” or “Islamic extremist” — instead referring to ISIS militants as “individuals from various religions” who practice “hateful ideologies.”

via Obama defends the ‘true peaceful nature of Islam’ | New York Post.

Jon Stewart Reflects on Departure Reaction: ‘Did I Die?’

World News Videos | ABC World News
No, Jon Stewart hasn’t died.

The host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” responded Wednesday to the attention brought on by his departure announcement one day earlier.

“Last night I was perusing the Internet, and I guess my question to you is, ‘Did I die?’ Cause it all seems very … ‘I died.’ Very weird. It’s an overwhelming day here, as you can imagine, and people have been asking, I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do next,” Stewart said during Wednesday’s episode.

Stewart’s surprise announcement drew heavy attention across the entertainment and political worlds, with people reflecting on his impact and speculating about his potential replacement.

One thing Stewart doesn’t see in the cards is a job at Arby’s. The fast-food chain playfully tried to recruit Stewart on social media, posting messages featuring the company’s recruiting email address.

“You know what? Working there might be fun,” Stewart said. “I guess my only question as a future employee would be, to work there, would I have to handle, serve, touch, eat or even look at what you so generously describe as food?”

Verizon to sell $10B in wireline assets to Frontier

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is close to reaching a deal to sell $10 billion in wireline assets to Frontier Communications, reports Reuters, citing a person familiar with the talks.

News of a potential deal follows reports that Verizon would sell a package of assets, including its wireless towers and elements of its wireline business for about $15 billion.

There also was a rumor circulating that Verizon would sell its fiber networks in Florida, Texas and California, but that particular package was valued at only $5 billion.

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Although neither service provider has specified any details of a deal, Verizon could use the proceeds to fund its recent $10.4 billion purchase of AWS-3 wireless spectrum in the FCC’s Auction 97.

Frontier has been expanding its territory through targeted acquisitions over the past five years.

This would not be the only time Frontier and Verizon have conducted a wireline deal. In 2009, Verizon sold off its unwanted rural wireline assets in 14 states to Frontier for $6.8 billion. Later, Frontier purchased AT&T’s Connecticut wireline operations for $2 billion last October.

However compelling a potential sale could be for Frontier in terms of scaling the geographic reach of its business, Macquarie Research said in a report that it is concerned about the quality of the assets it would buying.

“We are surprised that FTR’s Board would approve such a big, binary bet on declining assets with cable competition set to strengthen with pending Comcast and Charter deals,” wrote Macquarie in a research report.

Verizon would not provide a comment to Reuters and Frontier did not respond to FierceTelecom.

News of a potential wireline asset sale emerged in January when Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam told investors during the Citi 2015 Global Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference that “there are certain assets on the wireline side that we think would be better off in somebody else’s hands so we can focus our energy in a little bit more narrow geography.”

In related news, AT&T (NYSE: T) is also close to selling off $2 billion of its data center assets, but no particular deal has been struck yet.  

via Report: Verizon to sell $10B in wireline assets to Frontier – FierceTelecom.

When God speaks to Katy Perry

65 million Twitter followers saw it. Before the halftime show of the recent (and most watched) Super Bowl, Pop Superstar Katy Perry quoted Psalm 118:24,

“Today is the day that the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Then according to her, this happened, “It’s funny, I was praying and I got a word from God and He says, ‘You got this and I got you.’ And then I was on top of the lion and a guy, a random guy, just looked on me with a headset that I’ve never communicated with before and he just looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘You got this.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, this is God confirming I can do this.”

The religious critics were unleashed! Like hounds they sniffed for the heresy of her words. And filled with righteous anger they said, “How could God speak to such a sensuous and evil person?” “Of course it wasn’t God! She’s a rebellious, divorced, LGBT defender who has abandoned the one true faith.” “She’s stupid and part of the Illuminati!”Maybe.

Maybe it was her own mind who made it up. Maybe it was the devil tricking her. Or maybe it was God. Because maybe (just maybe) He still speaks to those who are broken and afraid. Maybe God is still a father, and maybe He still likes to encourage. People will say that it is impossible for God to be nice to Katy Perry right before she was about to sing “I kissed a girl and I liked it” in front of millions of people. But if God refrained from speaking to humans based on the proximity of their next sin, trust me friend, no one would ever get to hear His voice.

Who knows? Maybe God said those things because, “His kindness leads us to repentance.”

I believe the God of the Bible is interested in being the God of the people. And Jesus proved that by not setting a new religious standard but actually signing for us, a new contract of relationship. It is very clear that Jesus came for the lost. That was His mission. (Maybe we should join Him, because that includes us.)

Katy Perry still has a tattoo that reads “Jesus” on her left wrist. She got the tattoo as a constant reminder of her religious upbringing, which will always be a part of her. In 2009 she told Katie Couric “I knew I wanted this on me because no matter how much changes around me or how much I change, there’s not really an eraser for this.” She says that when she plays the guitar, “It stares right back at me. It’s like ‘remember, you came from this, and you can always go back to it.’”

Yes she can–Always come back. But the better news is that God has never left her. He’s always available, to all His children, whether they are home or they are drifting.

And if we are so sure that Katy Perry can’t hear the voice of God then we need to question the Burning Bush for the murderer Moses, or the encounter on the road to Damascus for the terrorist Saul, or the multiple times the adulterous King David entered the presence of God. You see, Scripture is full of undeserving hearers who somehow (just before or after sinning) got to hear God’s voice, and their lives were changed forever.

Long before Katy was singing about kissing girls, she used her talents as a “Christian singer.” (And you can buy her Christian album as Katy Hudson in Amazon – for more than $100 dollars!) She once told Vanity Fair that as a child, her parents, both evangelical pastors, wouldn’t read any book to her other than the Bible and refused to let her listen to non-religious music. So she questioned Christianity from an early age.

In a 2013 interview Perry said that she no longer identifies with a specific religion, but still feels that she has a connection with God. “I’m not a Buddhist, I’m not a Hindu, I’m not a Christian, but I still feel like I have a deep connection with God,” Perry said. “I pray all the time for self-control, for humility. There’s a lot of gratitude in it. Just saying ‘thank you’ sometimes is better than asking for things.”

So I’m not sure, but I want to believe God spoke to Katy. I want to believe He’s still speaking to her right now! Because that’s my hope for everyone who is lost or broken or famous or perfect, that they will hear the vibrations of love and the sounds of Salvation Himself.

Perry’s dad, Keith Hudson, is a pastor in California, and has said that he’s proud of his daughter, despite previously criticizing the messages in her music. (And that’s probably similar to what God the Father would say.)

I believe Jesus wants to share so much redemption and beauty with Katy Perry. So I pray that she would continue to remember the good seeds planted by her mom and dad (and forgive all the bad ones). But most of all, I pray that we the church would continue to focus on the plank in our eye, instead of the speck in everyone elses.

Yes, I’m always tempted to judge the ridiculous excitement we feel when someone on TV says the word, “God”. But somehow I feel hopeful about this one. I don’t feel hopeful because I want her 65 million Twitter followers to hear about her, “Born Again Experience.” I feel hopeful because I know that God loves His daughter. I know that He’s been there when she’s ignored Him. And I know that His mercy has been new through her brokeness and shame.

Just as He has done for me. Just as He has done for you.

So let’s join sister Katy and declare with a smile,

“Today is the day that the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it!”

Now maybe (just maybe) we will also get to hear His sweet encouraging voice.


via When God speaks to Katy Perry – HAPPY SONSHIP.

Quantum Equations Suggest Big Bang Never Happened

photo credit: NASA. A new model of the universe suggests that spacetime recedes infinitely into the distance, rather than starting from a single event.

Two physicists are trying to revive one of the great debates of twentieth-century science, arguing that the Big Bang may never have happened. Their work presents a radically different vision of the universe from the one cosmologists now work with.

The term Big Bang was created by astrophysicist Fred Hoyle as a way to mock the theory. Hoyle thought of the universe as like an endlessly flowing river, saying “Things are they way they are, because they were the way they were.” However, the weight of evidence—particularly the discovery of the cosmic background radiation—led the scientific community to overwhelmingly favor the idea that the universe came into being from a single, infinitely dense point.

Nevertheless, the problem of what, if anything, came before the Big Bang has continued to trouble many scientists, along with questions about how it actually occurred.

“The Big Bang singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there,” says Dr. Ahmed Farag Ali of Benha University, Egypt. In collaboration with Professor Saurya Das of the University of Lethbridge, Canada, Ali has created a series of equations that describe a universe much like Hoyle’s; one without a beginning or end. Part of their work has been published in Physics Letters B, while a follow-up paper by Das and Rajat Bhaduri of Manchester University, Canada, is awaiting publication.


60 Minutes’ Bob Simon killed in car crash | New York Post

Veteran “60 Minutes” correspondent Bob Simon was killed when his livery cab crashed on the West Side Highway in Manhattan Wednesday night, sources said.

The CBS reporter died when the Lincoln Town Car he was riding in crashed with a Mercedes and then lost control and plowed into a pedestrian expansion near 30th Street at about 7 p.m., according to sources.

Cops had to cut off the top of the Lincoln to free Simon and the driver, who, according to a law enforcement sources, was treated for a possible heart attack by EMTs.

The driver of the Mercedes said the livery driver was driving erratically.

“He swerved into me,” the driver said. “He hit me and he looked like he lost control of the car.”

Simon was taken to St.Luke’s where he died.

The former war correspondent joined 60 Minutes in 1996.

via 60 Minutes’ Bob Simon killed in car crash | New York Post.