The Federal Communications Commission has voted to advance a proposal that critics call a threat to a free and open Internet. Hundreds of protesters rallied outside the FCC to protest a plan that could allow Internet “fast lanes” by letting companies pay providers for faster access to consumers. The agency will allow 120 days of public comment before issuing final rules. FCC Chair Tom Wheeler spoke before the vote.
Tom Wheeler: “The potential for there to be some kind of a fast lane available to only a few has many people concerned. Personally, I don’t like the idea that the Internet could be divided into haves and have-nots, and I will work to see that that does not happen. In this item, we specifically ask whether and how to prevent the kind of paid prioritization that could result in fast lanes.”
In a statement, the group Free Press said, “Tom Wheeler spoke passionately about the open Internet, but his rousing rhetoric does not match the reality of his proposal.” Thursday’s hearing was repeatedly disrupted by protesters, including Cayman Kai of CodePink, who called for the FCC to classify Internet providers as common carriers to prevent them from providing unequal access.
Cayman Kai: “I speak on behalf of the Internet generation. I grew up on a free and open Internet. We we want to reclassify ISPs as Title II common carriers. A common carrier is required to provide service in general terms and indiscriminately. Reclassify ISPs as Title II common carriers! Save the free and open Internet!”
Early election results in India show nationalist opposition leader Narendra Modi is set to become the new prime minister. Modi previously served as chief minister of Gujarat, where one of India’s worst anti-Muslim riots left more than 1,000 people dead in 2002.
Steelworkers have reportedly taken control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol from pro-Russian forces. The workers launched citizen patrols in multiple cities this week after they were urged to take action by their boss, Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man. The United Nations, meanwhile, has warned of an “alarming deterioration” in human rights in the region. Western-backed talks on the crisis opened in Kiev this week, but pro-Russian separatists were excluded.
Israeli forces have shot dead two Palestinians during a protest in the occupied West Bank. Health officials said the victims were 17 and 22 years old. Palestinians held protests across the occupied territories Thursday to mark the 66th anniversary of the Nakba, or “Catastrophe,” when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced during the period around Israel’s declaration of statehood.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets across Brazil to protest the billions of dollars being spent on the World Cup, which begins next month. In São Paulo, thousands of families have occupied an area near the site of the opening match. Outside the stadium Thursday, protesters called for more spending on housing, health and education.
Simone Pedra: “It is shameful, really shameful. Not the stadium itself, but the fact that so much was spent on building the stadium, which has pushed up prices of rent in the area, and while there are no health services in the region. We don’t have a basic doctors’ surgery or a hospital. Why is that? Because they chose not to spend the money on health or education, but on these works, which have only worsened our housing problems.”
Riot police fired tear gas at demonstrators in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. As protests erupted, Brazilian security forces gathered in Rio for a special training with the FBI on controlling unrest. The training took place in partnership with the Los Angeles and Chicago Police Departments.
In Honduras, military police have deployed tear gas to forcibly evacuate members of Congress, including ousted president Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya and other lawmakers had reportedly been occupying Congress to protest their exclusion from key debates, when police moved to oust them on Tuesday. Zelaya was among those reportedly injured, and photos showed him apparently overcome by tear gas. The previous night a member of Zelaya’s LIBRE party was shot and injured in an attack.
In San Diego County, California, thousands more people have been warned to evacuate amid raging wildfires. A total of 10 fires have burned more than 15 square miles, and at least one burned body has been found.
The United States has released 10 Pakistani prisoners who were held at Bagram prison in Afghanistan for years without trial. One of the prisoners, Yunus Rahmatullah, spent 10 years at Bagram without charge or trial after being captured by British forces in Iraq. The legal charity Reprieve has called for a full investigation into Rahmatullah’s capture, noting he is “said to be in a grave mental and physical condition as a result of sustained abuse in U.K. and subsequently U.S. custody.”
Prisoners on hunger strike at the Guantánamo Bay prison are asking a U.S. court to bar authorities from destroying video of their force-feedings. The existence of the footage came to light this week as part of a lawsuit against the practice. An estimated 17 prisoners are currently on hunger strike at Guantánamo.
The Pentagon has appealed a ruling ordering the release of tightly held secrets about CIA prisons overseas. Last month, a military judge ordered the release of details about the treatment of Guantánamo prisoner and USS Cole bombing suspect Abd al-Nashiri. But military prosecutors want to wait at least until the release of the Senate report on CIA torture. Separately on Thursday, the Justice Department asked a federal court for more time for the CIA to review the Senate torture report, saying the review “will likely be completed this summer, although an exact time cannot now be determined.”
Thousands of fast-food workers went on strike Thursday in at least 150 cities across the country, marking the largest action of its kind to date. In more than 30 other countries, workers rallied in solidarity with the call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to organize. Sheila Brown was among the workers rallying in New York City.
Sheila Brown: “I work with KFC on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn, and I’m receiving $8 an hour. And I’m here with other co-workers and other friends that I work with, associates that I work with, and we’re standing as one to get $15 and a union. I’m not able to meet my needs, my bills, my children’s needs, rent, clothing. It’s like hard trying to make it, get back and forth to work, and we’re not getting equal pay. The CEOs and corporations, they’re getting so much money, we should be able to have that fair share in the wage.”
Media outlets have filed a lawsuit in Missouri challenging the growing secrecy around sources of death penalty drugs. The lawsuit filed by The Guardian, Associated Press and three Missouri papers argues that the public has a right to know the “type, quality and source” of lethal injection drugs. The Guardian reports at least 13 states have changed their rules to withhold all information from the public about how they obtain the drugs.
General Motors has recalled another 2.7 million vehicles, many of them with a defect that can cause brake lights to fail. GM knew about the brake light issue in 2008, when it issued a notice requiring car dealers to address the issue only if the owner complained. The move brings the total number of GM vehicles recalled worldwide this year to 12.8 million.
Japan is offering to slash protections for domestic meat products as part of ongoing negotiations with the United States over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. The secretive trade deal involves 12 countries and 40 percent of the global economy. Trade ministers plan to discuss the pact in Singapore next week. On Wednesday, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized the secretive nature of trade talks during a speech at Public Citizen’s gala in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “From what I hear, Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the deal in the upcoming trade talks. So the question is: Why are the trade talks secret? You’ll love this answer. Boy, the things you learn on Capitol Hill. I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me, 'They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.'”