Fairness Doctrine Dead And Buried, Some Foresee New Enemies Of Political Dissidence

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Monday that it would bring an official end to 83 regulations the organization now considers obsolete. One of the more famous provisions to be cut from the FCC’s regulatory books is the Fairness Doctrine, which has not been enforced for nearly two decades but remains in FCC rules.

The Fairness Doctrine became law in 1949, and was a means by which the FCC could ensure that the opinions of mainstream political ideologies received equal play on public airwaves. As more room became available on the airwaves over the years, the FCC was encouraged to re-investigate the language of the doctrine, which many opponents considered an attack on the basic rights of free speech. Many people believed the law was used more than once to stifle pointed political and social commentary citing such events as the 1969 Supreme Court ruling in Red Lion v. FCC, when a conservative broadcasting network was told it must offer free and equal airtime to a news reporter with contrary views.

During the Reagan era, the FCC — understanding that public airwaves were then accessible to thousands of stations — found that the rule, “actually inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance” and no longer enforced the regulation.

Current FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said on Monday: “The Fairness Doctrine holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago. I am pleased we are removing these and other obsolete rules from our books.”

Though the doctrine and the other 82 obsolete rules have been and will remain dead, Fox News reported earlier this month that some people still worry of other measures the FCC could be taking at the expense of free speech by enforcing “localism,” a principal that would ensure that local stations serve their communities.

“The government would be compiling data as to what kind of content you were airing and whether the government thought that was appropriate content,” said Robert McDowell, an FCC commissioner in a Fox interview. “It could be political speech; it could be shows on baking or gardening. But we don’t know where the government is headed.”

Many free speech advocates have turned their attention from concerns about 1st Amendment violations in traditional broadcasting to focus on issues with newer forms of mass communication recently.  Following riots in England earlier this month and social disturbances in San Francisco (both instances in which governments tested measures of stifling communications through cellphone service and social networking websites), new questions have surfaced.

A bill that would give government the right to shut down portions of the Web in the name of national security, dubbed by many as “the kill switch,” was proposed by Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) last year. Many people remain concerned that the U.S. will inch toward total governance of the Internet and other mass communication media through small measures in legislation like Lieberman’s.


President Approval Hits New Low While GOP Candidates Run Neck And Neck In Poll

On Tuesday, a Rasmussen poll detailed a 56 percent disapproval rating for President Barack Obama, and a Gallup Poll released Monday showed that GOP candidates are on the minds of many voters looking forward to the 2012 election. The poll’s results show Mitt Romney leading Obama by 2 percentage points, 48 percent to 46 percent;  Rick Perry and Obama tied at 47 percent; and Obama edging out Ron Paul by 2 and Michele Bachmann by 4 points.

Gallup reports that Obama’s approval rating at this time is lower than that of any of the six re-elected incumbent Presidents since Dwight D. Eisenhower. The organization also says that approval ratings and poll standings could change drastically leading up to the election as Obama tries to make amends with voters who may feel disenfranchised and with the addition of candidates such as Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani or George Pataki.

The President faces the strongest resentment from the conservative right. But following recent budget battles and frustrations among young and minority voters over joblessness and higher costs of living, the President has seen once-wide approval gaps closing from within his own base. Obama still has a 55 percent approval rating among 18- to 29-year-olds, though his approval by this demographic is far from the 28 percentage points he held over John McCain in October of 2008. The President still holds favorability with Democrats and low-wage earners at 85 percent and 55 percent approval, respectively.


Earthquake Rocks The Capitol

At about 2 p.m. EDT the Pentagon and several buildings on Capitol Hill were evacuated due to an apparent earthquake, according to a USA Today article. The quake cased disturbances throughout the northeast and caused JFK International Airport to be shut down, according to Fox News.

The magnitude-5.9 earthquake reportedly occurred in central Virginia, about 83 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. According to a Wall Street Journal post, the earthquake could be felt as far away as New York City. Seismologists for the U.S. Geological survey have said that this is a very large magnitude earthquake for the area, and the waves traveled great distances because of the makeup of the Earth’s crust in the northeastern portion of the United States.

Representative Waters Making Waves With Comments

Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) made headlines across the country twice last week, first suggesting that President Barack Obama “get tough with Republicans” to create proposals that help the poor and African-Americans and later for calling out the Tea Party.

In a story published by The Daily Caller on Sunday, Waters was quoted urging Obama to fight Republicans: “This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated. You can’t be frightened. And as far as I’m concerned — the Tea Party can go straight to hell.”

The Congresswoman, earlier in the week, spoke at a job fair in Atlanta about minority frustrations with the country’s first black president, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“There is a growing frustration in this country and in minority communities because the unemployment rates are so high,” said Waters. She also claimed that a rising number of home foreclosures and a “wealth gap” between blacks and whites have begun to create frustration and anger in the black community.

Waters’ has not only set her sights on Obama and the Tea Party as she slings angry rhetoric, but has taken offense even with fellow Democrats for not fighting harder against budget cuts in the highly politicized battle over the debt ceiling.

“We were basically held up in raising the debt ceiling, until they got all of those budget cuts they demanded,” Waters said, according to The Times. “We didn’t raise any revenue and they didn’t close any tax loopholes. I believe the Democratic Party and the president of the United States should not have backed down. We should have made them walk the plank.”

Unrelated to her recent public outbursts, Waters is currently being investigated by the House ethics committee since allegations emerged last year that she attempted to improperly obtain Federal bailout money for a bank in which her husband owned stock. Though she demanded a trial last year, a Daily Caller article last week reported that the Congresswoman’s lawyer has filed a motion to dismiss the case saying that because two committee lawyers communicated solely with Republicans, a fair trial “is impossible.”


RFID Chips Gain Popularity In Mexico

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that amid concerns of increasing incidents of kidnappings in Mexico, many residents of the country are turning to what the paper calls “under-the-skin” tracking devices for a sense of safety.

A Mexican congressional report that detailed a 317 percent increase in kidnappings in the country in the past five years has apparently driven Mexican citizens to seek new means of protecting themselves in a country where firearm ownership is heavily regulated. The article said that the Mexican company, Xega, which reportedly sells radio frequency identification (RFID) devices to the public and performs implantation procedures of the devices, has increased sales of the product by 40 percent recently.

“Unfortunately, it’s been good for business but bad for the country,” said Xega executive Diego Kuri, referring to the kidnappings. “Thirty percent of our clients arrive after someone in their family has already experienced a kidnapping.”

The article states that Mexican media have estimated that as many as 10,000 people in the country have elected to have RFID chips implanted into their bodies, at costs up to as much as $2,000 upfront and $2,000 per annum for tracking services.

According to the article, most American scientists doubt the abilities of the chips, which are about the size of a grain of rice, to communicate with GPS satellites without the use of a larger external transmitter.

RFID technology first made headlines in the United States around 2007 when the technology was considered for use by medical professionals in patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, despite screams of disapproval from privacy advocates. While the future of RFID technology remains murky, many people believe under-the-skin chips will one day become a fact of life for entire populations.

”Soon RFID tags will be in everything from pharmaceuticals to clothing. Exclusive clothiers are already using the tags to recognize customers as they walk in the door from what they are wearing,” reads a report on political radio host Alex Jones’ website, Infowars.com. The article predicts a future “cashless society” in which every individual is implanted with an RFID chip that would be linked to personal bank accounts, medical records and any number of personal identifiers.


Despite Web Catastrophe, Ron Paul Continues To Defy Odds

The Ron Paul campaign has experienced media snubbing and the attempts of fellow GOP Presidential contenders to discredit everything the candidate says. The most recent unexpected hurdle came in the form of a cyberattack on a major fundraising initiative last Saturday.

According to RevoluTimes, at about 10:30 p.m. EDT the candidate’s official Facebook page was updated with the message, “The RonPaul2012.com website is under cyber attack. Our team is working to fix this as we speak. So sorry to all who have tried to make donations and could not. We’ll have more info ASAP.”

The attack, which reportedly lasted a little more than an hour, was described as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which overloads Web servers and causes a website to go offline. The attack took place during a campaign fundraising initiative that was being held in honor of the candidate’s birthday. Despite the disruption, the Paul campaign reported earnings of just over $1.8 million in small monetary donations.

“Our campaign is truly surging, and this is just more evidence of the strength of our grassroots support,” said Ron Paul 2012 Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton in a press release. “We’ve just come off of an impressive finish in the Iowa straw poll, and our rising poll numbers and strong fundraising proves our message is resonating with people.”

Though Paul was largely neglected by media following his second-place Iowa Straw Poll finish, smaller victories throughout the country for the campaign are making him a viable candidate. Paul reportedly won a New Hampshire Young Republicans straw poll held over the weekend, taking 45 percent of the votes cast.