aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Christopher Stern has a good primer on the coming tug of war over the internet:
For more than a year, public interest groups, including the Consumer Federation and Consumers Union, have been lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to write the concept called “network neutrality” into law and regulation. Google and Yahoo have joined their lobbying efforts. And online retailers, Internet travel services, news media and hundreds of other companies that do business on the Web also have a lot at stake.
Meanwhile, on the other side, companies like AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth are lobbying just as hard, saying that they need to find new ways to pay for the expense of building faster, better communication networks. And, they add, because these new networks will compete with those belonging to Comcast, Time Warner and other cable companies—which currently have about 55 percent of the residential broadband market—this will eventually bring down the price of your high-speed Internet service and television access.
Would these new fees imposed by carriers alter the basic nature of the Internet by putting bumps and detours on the much ballyhooed information superhighway? No, say the telephone companies. Giving priority to a company that pays more, they say, is just offering another tier of service—like an airline offering business as well as economy class. Network neutrality, they say, is a solution in search of a problem.
Maybe you’ve never heard of this issue—and if so, you’re far from alone. In my job as a media analyst, I’ve been talking in recent weeks to lobbyists for some of Hollywood’s major entertainment conglomerates. These are people who know that consumers’ ability to download their studios’ movies and television shows as easily and cheaply as anyone else’s will be key to the studios’ future profits. Yet hardly any of them were more than vaguely concerned about the potential ramifications of network neutrality. READ ON.
RELATED: Christopher Stern was a guest on Talk of the Nation this afternoon.
West Wing ends
I only just got caught up! I was hoping maybe Vinick would win and the show would go on, completely retooled. Oh well:
PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 22 - NBC will end two of its most successful series of recent years, “The West Wing” and “Will & Grace,” at the conclusion of the current season and will shift the schedules of three other hit shows, “The Apprentice,” “Las Vegas” and “Law & Order,” Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC Entertainment announced here today.
As for Will & Grace, I tired of them seasons ago.
So how does a news organization - with its standards and practices and elaborate structure of editors and fact-checkers and all the rest that goes into maintaining its journalistic integrity - justify altering the transcript of its own programs? Twice.
Atrios homage: Time for another blogger ethics panel! And how ‘bout we fact-check Wikipedia and belittle it’s amateur writing!
Assisted-suicide ruling & pain relief
We look at pain killers through the lense of criminal narcotics - instead of as medicinal relief from suffering - and arrest the doctors trying to relieve pain. Some see hope for change in this week’s assisted-suicide ruling:
With dozens of doctors, pharmacists and patients now in jail or awaiting imprisonment after being convicted of drug trafficking, the specialists and their attorneys say the Oregon ruling supports their contention that prosecutors have reached improperly into the state-regulated practice of medicine.
“The prosecutors have been making a policy argument in court against the treatment of chronic pain as it’s being practiced, and this Supreme Court decision makes clear that is not their role,” said Eli Stutsman, an Oregon attorney who represented a doctor and pharmacist in the assisted-suicide case. He is now arguing appeals for several convicted pain doctors. [...]
The Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration stepped up investigations and prosecutions of pain specialists after doctors began prescribing larger dosages of narcotic painkillers and the powerful new painkiller OxyContin became widely abused in the 1990s.
The prosecutions have become increasingly controversial as the number of health professionals targeted has grown. Pain specialists say doctors have become reluctant to write medically appropriate prescriptions of controlled drugs for patients in pain for fear of being investigated and arrested.
According to Stutsman, the attorney, the direct legal connection between the Oregon assisted-suicide case and the prosecutions is the Justice Department’s use of the standard of “legitimate medical practice.” In both contexts, the government has argued that it has the right to set that standard, and in many prosecutions it has persuaded juries that the pain specialists violated it.
In his decision in the Oregon case, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that it is the right of the state, and not the federal government, to regulate the practice of medicine and define the standard.