Wednesday Reads: Damn you Windstream… Gotta make this quick!Posted: September 10, 2014
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!