Hey, well here’s a few cartoons, my internet is worse than ever…
This is an open thread.
As you all know, birth control has been under attack by religious extremists in the right wing of the Republican Party. It seems the logical end of science and modernity denial coupled with the need of right wing men to control women. The easiest way to get around the birth control insurance coverage would be to make most forms of birth control over-the-counter and but would it lower costs?
In recent weeks, some opponents of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive coverage guarantee have promoted the idea that oral contraceptive pills should be available to adult women without a prescription. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), for example, recently introduced the so-called Preserving Religious Freedom and a Woman’s Access to Contraception Act, a bill that would urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to study whether to make contraceptives over the counter (OTC)—though for adults only.
Making birth control pills available over the counter, if done right, would meaningfully improve access for some groups of women. However, such a change is no substitute for public and private insurance coverage of contraceptives—let alone justification for rolling back coverage of all contraceptive methods and related services for the millions of women who currently have it.
The Policy Behind Over-The Counter Contraception
Making birth control pills available OTC has merit, and the Guttmacher Institute is part of a coalition that has been working toward this goal for years. Leading medical groups have also endorsed such a move, including the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. By removing the need to obtain a prescription, OTC status would eliminate this potential barrier to contraceptive use and thereby increase access.
This is especially true for uninsured women and those who don’t have time for a doctor’s visit or otherwise can’t readily reach a health care provider. However, if the goal is to truly expand access to contraceptive care—and not just provide cover for undercutting insurance coverage for contraceptives—the case to move birth control pills to OTC status should proceed alongside several other important policies and goals:
Protect contraceptive coverage and full method choice: The ACA requires most private health plans to cover the full range of women’s contraceptive methods and services, without out-of-pocket costs for the patient. This policy eliminates cost as a barrier to women’s ability to choose the method that is best for them at any given point in their lives, an approach that has been proven to make a substantial difference in facilitating access to and use of contraceptive services.
Contrary to what some policymakers and commenters have claimed, giving the pill OTC status would not be an effective substitute for the ACA policy. First, it would do nothing to help women access any contraceptive method other than the pill. This matters, since most women use four or more different contraceptive methods over their lifetime to meet their changing needs. If only the pill were available OTC and contraceptives were no longer covered by insurance, women would face significant new barriers in choosing the method that best suited their needs. Cost is a particularly steep barrier for highly effective methods like the IUD or implant that not only have high upfront expenses, but also require a trained provider for insertion and therefore are not candidates for OTC status.
Even for the pill itself, there is no convincing evidence to suggest that moving it to OTC status would substantially lower out-of-pocket costs to patients, let alone come close to the $0 out-of-pocket cost guaranteed under the ACA policy. Rather, making the pill available OTC, if done at the expense of insurance coverage, would replace one barrier (ease of access) with another (cost). Likewise, greater reliance on Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Accounts, as some opponents of insurance coverage have proposed, would also merely replace full insurance coverage with patient out-of-pocket costs—leaving most privately insured women, particularly low-income women, worse off. Uninsured women on average pay $370 for a full year’s supply of the pill, the equivalent of 51 hours of work at the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
Missouri continues to be the nexus of the dark ages. Here’s a Senator that wants to make sure that the Affordable Healthcare Act doesn’t give his daughters access to birth control. Please notice the age of two of his daughters.
One Missouri lawmaker has taken the fight against birth control coverage to a new and very personal place: His own daughters, two of whom are adults.
State Rep. Paul Joseph Wieland and his wife Teresa are suing the Obama administration over its minimum coverage requirements for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, which includes contraception. They say the government is forcing them to violate their religious beliefs because they have three daughters, ages 13, 18 and 19, who are on their parents’ plan and might get birth control at no additional cost.
The Wielands’ case was filed before the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that private employers could deny contraceptive coverage to their employees, but they say that decision strengthens their case.
“The employees are to Hobby Lobby what the daughters are to Paul and Teresa Wieland,” Timothy Belz, an attorney from the conservative Thomas More Society, who represents the Wielands, told a panel of three federal judges on the appeals court in St. Louis on Monday. A district court had dismissed the case, saying the Wielands lacked standing to sue.
Belz also said that making birth control more accessible under health plans was “as though the federal government had passed an edict that said that parents must provide a stocked unlocked liquor cabinet in their house whenever they’re away for their minor and adult daughters to use, and Mormons came in and objected to that. It is exactly the same situation.”
One of the judges pointed out that parents might have more control over their kids than employers, and that parents could just say to their kids, “We expect you do abide by our religious tenets.” Belz replied, “Well, we all have high hopes for our kids, that is true. We all expect and want them to obey us, they don’t always …”
In other words, the Wielands are asking the federal government to enforce their parental guidelines on their daughters. It may sound outlandish, but plenty of people thought Hobby Lobby and related cases were outlandish when they were filed, too.
Missouri also has implemented a 72 hour waiting period for abortions because, you know, women just don’t think seriously about things and having to sit around and stew for 72 hours will make us all that more likely to appreciate being “penis houses” and baby machines.
Missouri women seeking abortions will face one of the nation’s longest waiting periods, after state lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto to enact a 72-hour delay that includes no exception for cases of rape or incest.
The new requirement will take effect 30 days after Wednesday’s vote by the Republican-led Legislature, overruling the veto of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. He had denounced the measure as “extreme and disrespectful” toward women.
The abortion bill was one of the most prominent Republican victories in a record-setting September session, during which Missouri lawmakers also overrode 47 line-item budget vetoes and nine other bills, including one creating a training program for teachers to carry guns in schools.
Earlier this year, the Republican-led Legislature overrode Nixon’s veto to enact the state’s first income tax rate reduction in nearly a century.
About half the states, including Missouri, already have abortion waiting periods of 24 hours. Missouri’s current one also lacks an exception for cases of rape or incest.
The new law will be the second most-stringent behind South Dakota, where its 72-hour wait can sometimes extend even longer because weekends and holidays are not counted. Utah is the only other state with a 72-hour delay, but it grants exceptions for rape, incest and other circumstances.
Missouri lawmakers specifically rejected an amendment earlier this year that would have granted exceptions for rape and incest. Abortion opponents argued that it would have diminished the value of some lives depending on how they were conceived.
Supporters of the legislation describe it as a “reflection period” for women and their families.
Is Kay Hagan’s “war on women” strategy beginning to pay off? The embattled incumbent Democrat has now moved ahead of Republican challenger Thom Tillis in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race.
The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely North Carolina Voters shows Hagan leading Tillis 45% to 39%. Six percent (6%) like some other candidate in the race, and nine percent (9%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
The numbers were reversed a month ago with Tillis ahead 45% to 40%. The two were virtually tied in early May, with Tillis posting a one-point lead. The GOP state House speaker was ahead by seven – 47% to 40% – in our first look at the race in late January.
Among voters who say they are certain to vote on Election Day, it’s a much closer race: Hagan 45%, Tillis 43%.
Still, North Carolina now moves from a Toss-Up to Leans Democrat in the Rasmussen Reports 2014 Senate Balance of Power rankings.
Hagan who was elected to the Senate in 2008 with 53% of the vote has long been considered one of this year’s most vulnerable incumbents, in large part because of her support of Obamacare which remains unpopular in North Carolina. But she has made the so-called “war on women” a centerpiece of her campaign, hammering Tillis for state budget cutbacks in the women’s health area and his opposition to the contraceptive mandate in the health care law.
While Tillis leads by nine points among male voters in the state, Hagan has a 21-point lead among women. Tillis has lost ground among male voters over the past month, while Hagan’s lead among women has grown.
A Republican state senator in Georgia sparked a dispute with a pastor in his district after complaining about early voting being implemented in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters,” state Sen. Fran Millar (R) wrote on his Facebook page. “If you don’t believe this is an efort [sic] to maximize Democratic votes pure and simple, then you are not a realist. This is a partisan stunt and I hope it can be stopped.”
Earlier in the day, Millar posted a statement criticizing the county’s interim CEO, Lee May, for allowing early voting on Oct. 26, a Sunday, at several polling places in DeKalb County, including one at South DeKalb Mall.
“Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist,” Millar wrote.
When DuBose Porter, who chairs the state’s Democratic Party, accused Millar of wanting to stifle votes in Black neighborhoods, Millar issued a follow-up statement rejecting that argument.
“I defined educated as being informed on the issues,” Millar wrote. “Finally Mr. Porter is welcome to look at my DeKalb NAACP award, so don’t try to accuse me of trying to suppress the African-American vote.”
I continue to be amazed at the complete lack of empathy and understanding shown by many Republican Elected officials.
Today on “The 700 Club,” a viewer asked host Pat Robertson how she should handle the news that her 21-year-old daughter is in a same-sex relationship. In response, Robertson gladly offered up some of his patented bad advice for the parents of LGBT kids. -
“She needs somebody to help her get her identity straight,” he said. “She may not be right in this, she may have thought she has a crush on some older girl along the way and she’s actually homosexual when she’s not, I don’t know. Why is she that way? Was she molested when she was younger?”
After co-host Terry Meeuwsen lamented that people are “telling kids to explore, it’s crazy,” Robertson criticized “the girl-on-girl movies” where “they’re getting straight actresses to play lesbians and straight men to play homosexuals and if you say anything against homosexuality you are just hooted out of court.”
“You need to love your daughter and give her a chance to work this out because if she gets deeper and deeper in it, sooner or later she is going to be disillusioned and say, ‘this is wrong, I want to come out of it,’” he added.
Yup, womenz are just so confuzzled about things. What would we do without all these old white guys to explain everything to us? Why if they didn’t pass laws to control all of us we’d just all be hussies and lesbians using abortion for birth control!!!
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Here are are on the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the never-ending war in the Middle East continues onward. Last night President Obama promised not to send ground troops back to Iraq or into Syria, but it’s very difficult to trust that promise, even though I do think Obama is sincere in his wish to keep the battle against the Islamic State extremists circumscribed.
Reactions to Obama’s speech
From The Washington Post, Countering Islamic State will be hard in Iraq and harder in Syria, officials say.
President Obama’s strategy to beat back Islamic State militants spread across Iraq and Syria will depend on far more than U.S. bombs and missiles hitting their intended targets.
In Iraq, dissolved elements of the army will have to regroup and fight with conviction. Political leaders will have to reach compromises on the allocation of power and money in ways that have eluded them for years. Disenfranchised Sunni tribesmen will have to muster the will to join the government’s battle. European and Arab allies will have to hang together, Washington will have to tolerate the resurgence of Iranian-backed Shiite militias it once fought, and U.S. commanders will have to orchestrate an air war without ground-level guidance from American combat forces.
“Harder than anything we’ve tried to do thus far in Iraq or Afghanistan” is how one U.S. general involved in war planning described the challenges ahead on one side of the border that splits the so-called Islamic State.
But defeating the group in neighboring Syria will be even more difficult, according to U.S. military and diplomatic officials. The strategy imagines weakening the Islamic State without indirectly strengthening the ruthless government led by Bashar al-Assad or a rival network of al-Qaeda affiliated rebels — while simultaneously trying to build up a moderate Syrian opposition.
All that “makes Iraq seem easy,” the general said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share views on policy. “This is the most complex problem we’ve faced since 9/11. We don’t have a precedent for this.”
The Wall Street Journal, Obama Pushes U.S. Deeper Into Middle East to Fight Islamic State.
In asking Americans to support another military incursion in the Middle East, Mr. Obama said his strategy to combat Islamic State, also called ISIS and ISIL, would be bolstered by a coalition of Arab and European nations. His plan builds on his authorization in August of airstrikes in Iraq to protect American personnel threatened by Islamic State and to provide humanitarian assistance to besieged Iraqis.
Mr. Obama said the U.S. goal now is to help Iraqis reclaim large swaths of territory the group has rapidly overtaken in recent months since spilling over from its stronghold in neighboring Syria. His speech paves the way for the first U.S. strikes at the group’s bases and havens in Syria.
“America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” Mr. Obama said in remarks from the White House. “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
The president gave no timetable for the new, U.S.-led fight against what he described as “a terrorist organization” with members “unique in their brutality.”
In addition to launching airstrikes against the militants in Syria, Mr. Obama pledged a new dose of support for moderate Syrian fighters also battling the extremist group. Taken together, the steps draw the U.S. closer toward the volatile Syrian civil war and open a new front for American efforts in the region.
Saudi Arabia has offered to host a U.S.-run training facility for moderate Syrian rebels, U.S. and Arab officials said. The facility is expected to be able to handle as many as 10,000 fighters, but details are still being worked out, the officials said.
According to the article, John McCain and Lindsey Graham are on board with the plan. That gives me the creeps, frankly.
Geoff Dyer at The Financial Times, Obama’s bold ambition at odds with strategic caution.
Faced with the rapid advances of Isis in both Iraq and Syria, the approach described by Mr Obama attempts to meet the political realities that the president faces, both in the Middle East and at home.
In spite of the technological superiority of US forces, Mr Obama believes a durable military victory against Isis can only be achieved by soldiers from the region, especially Sunni forces from the areas to which Isis is laying claim. Otherwise a similar group could reappear once the US has left.
At the same time, it gives him some political protection at home. Recent polls have shown that Americans are alarmed about Isis after the filmed beheadings of two US citizens, but that does not mean they will support another long ground war that leads to hundreds more US casualties.
Yet the problem with Mr Obama’s latest strategy is that it risks being a series of half-measures that establish incredibly ambitious goals while lacking the means to achieve them.
It’s an interesting article. It spells out my fear that this campaign against ISIL is going to expand more and more–just like Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
A couple more interesting stories to check out:
Ian Black at The Guardian, Obama puts Isis firmly in US sights but peace in Syria looks harder than before.
Violence Against Women News
I haven’t followed the trial of Oscar Pistorius in South Africa, but from what I know about the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, I was surprised to see the headlines this morning saying that he has been found not guilty of murder. Here’s the latest from The Washington Post, Judge: Oscar Pistorius not guilty of premeditated murder, but ‘it is clear his conduct was negligent’.
The prosecution has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Oscar Pistorius committed premeditated murder, Judge Thokozile Masipa said this morning. However, the judge added that it “is clear that his conduct was negligent.”
Pistorius’s negligence pertains to a lesser charge the athlete faces, “culpable homicide,” or manslaughter. The judge applied “the test of a reasonable man” to this charge.
In other words, the judge examined whether it was reasonable for Pistorius to fire four shots through his bathroom door at what he believed was an intruder. In her judgement, Pistorius did not pass this test.
“All the accused had to do was pick up phone and ring security,” Masipa said of Pistorius’s reaction. She added that Pistorius could have also “run to balcony and call for help.” Masipa added that she was “not persuaded that a reasonable person with the accused disabilities,” she said, “would have fired four shots” into the home’s bathroom.
She said that while she thought Pistorius was an “evasive” witness, that does not make him guilty. She said the prosecution has not demonstrated that he “reasonably could have foreseen” that his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was behind the bathroom door into which he fired four shots, killing her.
On the Ray Rice story, yesterday the AP reported that law enforcement sources in NJ told them that the NFL had received a copy of the tape of Rice knocking out Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February. Following that unsurprising revelation, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell went deeper into damage control mode, asking former FBI director Robert Mueller to head an independent investigation into the NFL’s handling of the case. The Washington Post reports, AP story prompts NFL to investigate its handling of the Ray Rice case.
The NFL appointed an independent investigator to look into its handling of the Ray Rice case Wednesday night, hours after a new report contradicted the league’s insistence no one in the league office saw video until Monday that depicted Rice striking his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City hotel.
That report by the Associated Press came as several people familiar with the inner workings of the league said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has no plans to heed the calls for him to resign over his handling of the case.
The league announced Wednesday night that Robert S. Mueller III, former director of the FBI, will “conduct an independent investigation into the NFL’s pursuit and handling of evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.”
Owners John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney II of the Pittsburgh Steelers are to oversee the investigation, according to the league.
The final report resulting from the investigation will be released to the public, the NFL said.
I found a couple more disturbing reports about what actually happened at the casino that night in February. Security officers from the casino said that Rice spat in Palmer’s face twice and claimed that she was unconscious from drinking too much.
ESPN reports, Sources: Ray Rice spat at fiancee.
Three current or former security staffers, who spoke with “Outside the Lines” this week on the condition of anonymity, described additional details of the ugly scene captured on video. Two of the men were on duty the night of the assault, while a third had full access to the security video, which he said he has watched dozens of times. TMZSports.com released a video this week that showed Rice punching Palmer in the face, appearing to knock her unconscious. Revel security workers watched the incident from the operations room through a security camera of the elevator.
One former staffer said Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back, spat in his then-fiancée’s face twice, “once outside the elevator and once inside,” prompting her to retaliate with movements that were ultimately countered with a knockout punch. According to the men, as Rice punched Palmer, the elevator the couple rode was rapidly approaching the hotel lobby just two floors above the casino floor. A security staffer, dispatched from his lobby post, saw Rice starting to drag his fiancée, who appeared to still be unconscious, out of the elevator.
“Get him away from her! Get him away from her!” the first responder was told by another security officer over a radio, one former security staffer told “Outside the Lines.” The staffer had full access to the security footage.
The security staffers said they did not see any sign of injury on Palmer’s face or head but added that her hair was covering much of her face, making it hard to determine her condition. They also said they didn’t see any blood in the elevator or on the hip-level railing that Palmer’s head appeared to strike as she fell to the elevator floor.
“The first thing he [Rice] said is, ‘She’s intoxicated. She drank too much. I’m just trying to get her to the room,'” one staffer said.
“When she regained consciousness she said, ‘How could you do this to me? I’m the mother of your kid,'” that same staffer told “Outside the Lines.”
There’s much more at the link, and it only makes the entire sorry episode and the NFL’s failure to deal adequately with it more sickening.
A few more links:
NBC Sports, Did Ray Rice Lie to Roger Goodell?
Other News, Links Only
The Washington Post, Richard Kiel, who played lovable giant ‘Jaws’ in ‘James Bond’ films, is dead at 74.
Wall Street Journal, EU agrees to implement more sanctions against Russia Friday.
Time Magazine, Ozone layer shows signs of recovery, study finds.
That’s all I’ve got. What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have terrific Thursday.
President Obama will give a prime-time speech at 9:00 tonight in which he will lay out a strategy to deal with the Islamic State Militants in Iraq and Syria. Let’s watch the speech together and discuss on what the President says in real time. I’ve gathered some links to articles that report on and react to the leaked content of the speech.
According to The Washington Post, Obama will announce a ‘broad coalition’ to fight the Islamic State terror group.
The United States will lead a “broad coalition” to defeat the Islamic State through air strikes and support for military partners on the ground, President Obama will announce Wednesday night….Obama will tell the country that the offensive against the militant group will not involve combat troops, but rather a “steady, relentless effort” that involves air power and backing for partner forces, according to early excerpts provided by the White House.
“So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy,” Obama will say, using an acronym for the Islamic State terrorist group.
Obama will make clear to a war-weary public that the offensive will not resemble the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but rather other, more covert, missions against terrorists.
“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil,” Obama will tell the nation.
“This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
Frankly, I’m very worried about this. I really don’t see how this is going to end well. I hope I’m wrong.
Richard Engel writes at NBC News, What Happens After the U.S. Bombs ISIS?
On one level, bombing ISIS is easy. The U.S. knows where the group operates. There’s no need for a ten-year hunt like the one for Osama bin Laden. The terror group has two capital cities, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Al-Qaeda never had such an obvious home address.
Finding a justification to attack ISIS is also simple. It has threatened to carry out another 9/11, beheaded two American journalists, slaughtered thousands of Iraqis and Syrians and is a danger to U.S. allies in the region. Many in the U.S. military believe ISIS needs to be immediately, and repeatedly, smashed by American drones and warplanes.
But what then happens to the Middle East – this seething cauldron of competing interests, religious passions, ethnic tensions, long memories and oil? The key question now, as before the Iraq invasion, is what happens after the U.S. starts bombing.
ISIS controls a territory roughly the size of Maryland where 8 million people live. If it’s attacked and toppled, who will fill the void? In Iraq, it will be the Kurdish fighters or the Iraqi army. The two don’t trust each other and have different objectives for the territory they control. The Kurds are laying the foundation for a future independent state. The Iraqi army is increasingly an Iranian-guided, Shiite force.
The U.S. spent billions of dollars to build a secular, professional national Iraqi army but failed because, despite all the U.S.-supplied guns, tanks and planes, the Iraqi military fell apart when challenged by a band of terrorists. President Obama wants to reconstitute it now as part of his ISIS strategy. Why would it work this time when it didn’t before, even as U.S. troops were standing next to Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad, shoulder to shoulder?
Good questions. Read more at the link.
From the LA Times, Obama to call for ‘steady, relentless’ effort against Islamic State.
Nearly six years after he was elected on the promise to end America’s decade of wars, Obama planned to detail a military campaign that is broader and more complex than any he has launched during his tenure.
Obama is expected to expand U.S. airstrikes against the militants in Iraq to include targets throughout the country as well as across the rapidly disintegrating border with Syria, where the group harbors its weapons, camps and fighters.
White House officials say Obama also plans to further train and arm Iraqi and Kurdish troops as well as opposition forces battling the Islamic State in Syria. He’ll tout beefed-up partnerships with governments in the Middle East and Western allies, who have been asked to assist in the training, gather intelligence and counter the Islamic State’s appeal in the broader Muslim world.
In his televised remarks, Obama was to describe the effort as a “broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.”
“Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy,” according to prepared remarks released by the White House, referring to the Islamic State by a commonly used abbreviation.
Those article spell out the gist of what the President will say. Here are a few more links to peruse if you want more.
LA Times, Cheney urges Obama to launch ‘immediate’ assault on Islamic State (Sigh . . . why won’t he go away?)
Foreign Policy, There are already troops in Iraq. Problem is, they’re Iranian.
The New York Times, What Obama Faces in a Campaign Against ISIS.
Oh yeah… Good morning.
Sorry but I have had it with Windstream. They are the only provider here in Banjoville and since they own the monopoly on services for phone and internet where we live, they have us by the balls…and believe me, they know it. For years we have had problems with this company. Always paying for high speed internet when there’s nothing high speed about it. In fact, it was even proved in court!
John Sours, Administrator of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection (“GOCP”) today announced that the agency has entered into a $600,000 settlement with Internet service provider Windstream Communications Inc. (“Windstream”) over allegations of false advertising.
Windstream provides Internet service to residential consumers and businesses, many of whom are located in rural parts of Georgia, where they have very limited options for Internet service. GOCP alleges that:
- Windstream advertised that it would provide certain Internet speeds to its customers that it could not provide and/or guarantee, particularly for Georgia consumers whose network equipment is supported by copper-fed wires.
- When customers called Windstream to complain about their slow Internet speeds, Windstream representatives allegedly misrepresented the time frame within which the customers’ Internet speed issues would be resolved, or, in the case of customers whose equipment is supported by copper-fed wires, failed to tell customers that it was unable to resolve the issue.
- Some of Windstream’s “Lifetime Price Guarantee bundle” advertisements falsely implied that the advertised offer included high-speed Internet packages with speeds of “up to 12 Mbps”.
- Windstream also allegedly advertised a free 6-month “Hulu Plus” subscription but did not clearly disclose that consumers who failed to cancel the subscription at or before the 6-month period would be charged membership fees every month thereafter, until the membership was cancelled.
In resolution of these allegations, Windstream will pay a total of $600,000, which includes a $175,000 civil penalty, $175,000 in administrative fees and expenses, and $250,000 in cy pres restitution to be used for the purchase of new computer equipment for the Technical College System of Georgia.
Yeah but did you get that last bit? None of the folks who actually paid for all that “high speed” service will see a dime of this money. Most of the Tech colleges are in the areas of Georgia that did not suffer from Windstream’s false advertising scheme.
It fucking sucks!
“This is essentially a truth in advertising case,” says John Sours, administrator of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection. “What consumers thought they were getting from a major company was significantly different from what they allegedly received. People need to be able to make informed choices about buying the services they need to communicate and do business. We are confident that this settlement will ensure that will now occur here.”
A GOCP investigation found substantial evidence Windstream routinely advertised and sold certain Internet speeds to customers it should have known it could not provide and/or guarantee, especially over its deteriorating copper landline network. Customers complained they should have been sold cheaper broadband packages with Internet speeds Windstream could actually deliver.
I can tell you it is bullshit because they company is still offering shitty ass service.
Oh, and no…confident my ass. Informed choices? Ha, we have no stinking choices.
Windstream has represented to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection that it is in the process of investing about $14 million to upgrade its fiber-supported areas in Georgia. The company says that 90% or more of these upgrades were completed by the end of 2013, with the remaining upgrades slated for completion by mid-2014. The company expects the upgrades to address systemic download speed issues in the areas undergoing the upgrades. It is also seeking federal funding as well as exploring other options for upgrading the Internet service for consumers who are served by network equipment supported by copper-fed wires.
And I can tell you this is also bullshit. Oh they have fiber optic wire from another company that runs only a few hundred feet as the crow flies from out house, but the company is not expanding out service to the local roads. So I wouldn’t doubt if there is a particular reason why this other company cannot expand its fiber optics into our area….Windstream and their monopoly in rural Georgia.
Windstream serves primarily rural areas. That would include about two-thirds of the state geographically.
Despite the settlement, Windstream officials are not admitting guilt to any of the accusations levied against the company.
“[The] agreement includes no finding or admission of violation by the company,” wrote Scott Morris, Windstream corporate affairs senior adviser, in an email.
He said Windstream “has cooperated fully” with the state during its two-year investigation and is now “pleased to resolve” the investigation by settling and promising to stay inside advertising laws.
Windstream services 372,000 customers in Georgia. It serves 48 states around the country.
But there is another big money settlement involving Windstream, this time it is paying millions in fines to the FCC. Windstream Fined Millions By FCC | 92.1 WLHR
Windstream Corp. has agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau into the company’s rural call completion practices.
Windstream has also agreed to implement a three-year plan to ensure compliance with FCC requirements designed to combat the problem of long-distance calls failing to complete in rural areas.
Customers have been complaining to the FCC that their long-distance land-line calls were being dropped or didn’t go through at all.
“Long-distance calls placed to rural areas – or anywhere – should reach their destination,” said Michele Ellison, Chief of the FCC Enforcement Bureau. “Rural call completion failures jeopardize the fundamental promise that all Americans should have access to reliable communications. If companies don’t fulfill this critical responsibility, the FCC will continue to step in.”
Yesterday when they came to fix our internet for yet another one of countless number of times, the landline phone also went out of service. When my dad called to get someone out to fix the phone line, they said they could not have two work orders on the same account, even though one was for the phone line and one was for the dsl service. Yeah? You believe that shit? That we had to pick which one we wanted fixed.
Which is why I say, it is unfuckingbelievable!
Sorry for the rant, but utilities are something of a bad subject around Banjoville these days. Our local TVA co-op has some issues with non-payment of electric bills for members of the board….to the tune of over 100,000 bucks! (Our local paper has the total around $162,00.) Yet the EMC will shut off someone’s electric in the middle of a snow storm for a bill owed over 50 dollars.
Of course now they are saying it was a stuck meter, whatever the fuck that means…the corruption, it burns.
The following two links are about the Malaysian jet brought down over the Ukraine, be sure to look at both of the sites because they each have pictures and graphics that you must see.
I wonder if years from now, they will find the other Malaysian airline, the one that went missing 6 months ago (can you believe it.) Then 170 years from now, a headline on a iWatch site would resemble this one, only the mystery would be Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 : Arctic Shipwreck Found After 170 Years, Solving “Great Mystery”
Now for a few racist remarks and statements made by a couple of GOP politicians.
And one from my peach-ass state of Georgia:
Then you have this little tale of a couple in love, and a woman bent on fucking it up.
Of course, the sister who is not caring for the old couple is the one bringing on the lawsuit. Go figure eh?
Finally, I caught this movie late the other night on TCM. You all need to watch it.
Abandoned by her fiancé, an educated negro woman with a shocking past dedicates herself to helping a near bankrupt school for impoverished negro youths. Within Our Gates was produced and directed by Oscar Micheaux in 1919. He is considered to be the first African-American director of feature films and this is the first such film still in existence.
Cast (IMDB): Evelyn Preer as Sylvia Landry; Flo Clements as Alma Prichard; James D. Ruffin as Conrad Drebert; Jack Chenault as Larry Prichard; William Smith as Detective Philip Gentry; Charles D. Lucas as Dr. V. Vivian; Bernice Ladd as Mrs. Geraldine Stratton; Mrs. Evelyn as Mrs. Elena Warwick; William Stark as Jasper Landry; Mattie Edwards as Jasper’s Wife; Ralph Johnson as Philip Gridlestone; E.G. Tatum as Efram, Gridlestone’s Servant; Grant Edwards as Emil Landry; Grant Gorman as Armand Gridlestone; Leigh Whipper ; Jimmie Cook as (uncredited); S.T. Jacks as Reverend Wilson Jacobs (uncredited).
Too often the films’ stylized acting and overwrought plots elicit laughter or induce napping. Like scratchy 78 recordings, silent films require more concentration and patience than many students possess.
Yet one silent movie that consistently stirs my students’ imaginations is Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates (1920). Crammed into 80 minutes is a complex plot of love, betrayal, murder, rape, lynching, gambling, miscegenation, racial uplift, white bigotry, and black migration from the rural South to the urban North. Translated onto film are the hardships of blacks in the Jim Crow era United States, the promises and disappointments of black freedom, and the emergence of the “New Negro.” The film is one of the earliest examples, and certainly the most ambitious extant example, of black appropriation of the emerging technology to contest representations of African Americans in mass culture.
Like an overstuffed used bookstore, Within Our Gates invites close and repeated inspection. Although I have watched the film countless times, with each viewing I discover something previously overlooked. Micheaux was a neophyte, self-taught filmmaker when he directed the film, and the intricacies of the movie’s plot are sometimes difficult to follow. Yet, if the plot is understood as a triptych of related but distinct acts, the film’s scope and ambitions become clear, indeed remarkable.
The film opens with the protagonist, Sylvia Landry, a young black woman, visiting her cousin Alma in the North while she awaits her fiancé’s return from military service. Harboring designs on her cousin’s betrothed, Alma contrives to fix Sylvia up with her brother-in-law, a dissipated card shark. Alma succeeds in catching Sylvia in a compromising situation just as her fiancé returns, prompting him to break off the engagement. Despondent, Sylvia returns south and dedicates herself to teaching at a school for the children of black sharecroppers. Despite the tireless efforts Sylvia and her mentor, Rev. Wilson Jacobs, the school is overcrowded and severely underfunded by local white authorities. Faced with the school’s collapse, Sylvia returns to the North to raise funds.
To this point, the film appears to be a romantic melodrama yoked to a story of thwarted racial uplift in the rural South. Micheaux was a self-made man who embraced and proselytized the era’s “up by the boot straps” dogma. The son of former slaves, he held odd jobs before homesteading in South Dakota. There, although largely self-educated, he began to write and publish stories and novels, which he sold door to door. Convinced that his semi-autobiographical novel The Homesteader was worthy of a film, he secured sufficient funds to form a movie production company and, in 1919, released his first film. A year later, when he made Within Our Gates, he continued to promote black uplift while displaying anxiety about corrupting urban influences on rural blacks. Like the jeremiads delivered by contemporary black ministers, Micheaux’s film dwelled on the obligation to strive for respectability. As a pioneer black filmmaker working in a medium abounding with invidious racial stereotypes, Micheaux acutely sensed the importance of depicting blacks comporting themselves with decorum and modesty. Even so, he did not shy away from acknowledging those blacks whose behavior, he believed, contributed to stereotypes. In contrast to Sylvia and Rev. Jacobs, who are paragons of respectability, Alma and her brother-in-law personify forms of selfishness and dissolution that impede the race’s potential.
The tone and focus of Within Our Gates shift markedly when Sylvia journeys north to fundraise. Micheaux resorts to improbable plot contrivances to shift our attention to the poisonous effects of white racism. Already frustrated by her failure to raise money, Sylvia is waylaid by a black thug who snatches her purse. Fortunately, Dr. V. Vivian, a dashing young black man “passionately engaged in social questions,” runs down her assailant. A budding romance between Dr. Vivian and Sylvia is abruptly halted when she is struck by an automobile belonging, coincidentally, to a wealthy white philanthropist. After learning of Sylvia’s mission, the philanthropist considers donating money to Sylvia’s school. A southern friend to whom she turns for advice is appalled that misguided altruism may lead the philanthropist to waste her wealth on blacks, who, the friend insists, cannot and should not be educated. The philanthropist eventually rejects this advice and makes a huge donation to Sylvia’s school. Sylvia quickly recovers from her injuries and hastens south with the donation.
Despite the rickety plot turns in this portion of the film, Micheaux offers a searing portrait of the ideology of white supremacy. Overturning prevailing wisdom, portrayed notably in D. W. Griffith’s film epic Birth of a Nation (1915), Within Our Gates underscores that racism is fueled by ignorance and hinders national unity. Whereas Griffith’s film suggests that the revelation of blacks’ true capacities and natures would restore racial unity and fraternity among northern and southern whites, Micheaux counters that if northern whites could see through the fog of white southern bigotry they would recognize that blacks were citizens worthy of both rights and respect.
Micheaux is not naïve about the likelihood of whites achieving such clarity. One of the movie’s most poignant vignettes depicts the predicament of “Old Ned,” a black preacher who must humiliate himself and attest that “Yes’m. White folks is mighty fine,” in order to collect small donations for his church from bigoted whites. After doing so, the preacher stares into the camera and confesses, “Again, I’ve sold my birthright. All for a miserable mess of pottage. Negroes and Whites—all are equal. As for me, miserable sinner, hell is my destiny.” Unlike the black characters in Birth of a Nation, who are either bestial or loyal and subservient, Old Ned wears a mask of deference while harboring resentment and self-loathing, illustrating the psychic pain endured by blacks who comported themselves in accordance with the dictates of white supremacy.
Read the rest of the review at the link, which discusses the final act of the film and the film’s reception throughout the country…as well as the history behind its loss and discovery.
A little info on the director here: CineWiki – Within Our Gates (1920)
From 1918 to 1948, Oscar Micheaux created over forty films that usually featured all-Black casts. According to Earl James Young, this is an amazing accomplishment because Micheaux had no formal education and his parents were slaves. Over his career, he became “race film’s most famous and prolific director.” As race film’s most famous director, Micheaux considered himself as “‘an instructive voice and an empowering interpreter of Black life for the community.'” Although many of his films did not survive, Micheaux’s films managed to respond to racism and raise questions about African Americans in cinema, according to Stewart. Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates (1920) is his earliest production that survives for current-day viewing, although the existing version has suffered damage from censorship and time. Micheaux was never shy around big issues, and his subject matter choices were given high marks by film critics. Within Our Gates involved danger, a love story but also tackled contemporary race issues. The film was controversial and was censored because of the subject matter and an onscreen lynching.
And about the situation during the time of filming:
During July 1919 in Chicago, race riots broke out when an African American boy, Eugene Williams, was swimming at a beach that was exclusively for whites; as a result of the boy’s accidental drowning, citywide violence began. Within three days, thirty-eight African Americans were dead and there were 537 injuries. During the riot, Micheaux was writing a script called, “The Lie” which became the basis of Within Our Gates.  According to The Chicago Defender on August 30, 1919, Williams was knocked from a raft by a rock thrown by George Stauber, a young white boy, who was being held on a charge of murder.
Chicago Defender August 2, 1919 (http://cameronmcwhirter.com/wordpress/chicago-defender-on-the-july-1919-riot/)
Micheaux began filming during the fall in 1919 around Chicago. Micheaux liked to pass experiences he had onto characters in his stories, so “his leading ladies learned to expect the worst.” Micheaux never strayed away from big issues, but his technical skills were often ridiculed. Unlike big production companies at the time, Micheaux “worked with ragtag crews and shoestring budgets, inventing as he went along.” As he filmed, Micheaux developed an unusual technique in which he repeated “scenes from different subjective viewpoints to reveal the crucial missing pieces of a puzzle.” Even though the film ended happily, “the story was rooted in the sins of the South, with a climax that rebuked D.W. Griffith’s miscegenation hysteria…and dealt with the evils of slavery, the failures of Reconstruction, and the nightmare of lynchings.” However, the ending of the film is unsatisfactory to some. Stewart notes that the ending emphasizes the film’s most compelling quality: “its repeated demonstration that competing discourses about African Americans render Black representations, including Micheaux’s, extremely inconsistent and unreliable.”
According to The Chicago Defender, it took two months for Within Our Gates to get by the Censor Board. There were major difficulties because the film featured a lynching on screen, and Chicago had just witnessed a terrible riot after the African American boy drowned. Even though the film got by the Censor Board, many people did not have the option to view Within Our Gates. For example, in Shreveport, Louisiana, police had persuaded the white manager to discontinue the showing of the film. The policeman said, “A very dangerous picture to show in the South.” Afterwards, the word was passed to other Southern locales, causing the film to be barred in advance. In general, Within Our Gates was seen as so controversial that it was repeatedly banned by state censors because of the prejudice, discrimination, and lynching displayed on screen.
The author and producer of Within Our Gates knew the film was radical since it was the “biggest protest against Race prejudice, lynching, and ‘concubinage’ that was ever written or filmed and that there are more thrills and gripping, holding moments that was ever seen in any individual production.” Proponents of the film claimed that people could not afford to miss seeing the film if they were interested in the welfare of the Race. Others claimed that it was “the most spectacular screen version of the most sensational story of the race question since Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and that it was “the greatest preachment against race prejudice and the glaring injustices practiced upon our people.”  Still, Within Our Gates was not a film for everyone as it was disturbing. A black schoolteacher wrote, “The picture is a quivering tongue of fire…the burn of which will be felt in the far distant years.”
And…below you can see the entire film online. Watch it, you will really think it is something amazing.
That should be enough to get you going.
Y’all have a good day. Please think of this as an open thread!