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Net-neutrality comment period extended until Friday;

After receiving nearly 700,000 comments about its net neutrality rules, the Federal Communications Commission has extended the comment period to midnight Friday. The original deadline had been Tuesday, but after receiving so many comments, including a flurry that crashed the website, the deadline was extended, and it appears "likely that net neutrality will become the most-commented-on issue in FCC history," Gautham Nagesh reports for The Wall Street Journal.


Among those keeping close watch on the rules are rural Americans. Net neutrality "could have unintended consequences here in the hinterlands, where customers are relatively few and far between and providing broadband services at all is still an issue in some localities," the McCook Daily Gazette warns. Some rural areas already lack high-speed Internet, or any service at all, but net-neutrality could slow things down even more, with companies like Netflix, which uses as much as 34 percent of Internet traffic at peak times, being blamed for slowing down networks.

"Net neutrality rules have been sold for a decade as a way to keep the Internet 'open and free' by keeping Internet service providers (ISPs), such as phone and cable companies, from blocking or degrading Web sites," former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell writes for The Washington Post. "Its advocates have argued that ISPs have an economic incentive to act anti-competitively toward consumers and competitors. In a common hypothetical they cite, ISPs would slow — or buffer — traffic for Netflix unless it unfairly pays for more access points, or “off ramps,” and better quality of service."

"In truth, however, market failures like these have never happened, and nothing is broken that needs fixing," McDowell writes. "If consumers were being harmed by ISPs, ample antitrust, competition and consumer protection laws already exist to fix the problem. And major broadband providers have pledged, in their terms of service, to keep the Net open and freedom-enhancing. Why?  Because it is good business to do so."

Columbia law professor Tim Wu testified before Congress that the goal of net-neutrality is to give the FCC oversight of the Internet, McDowell writes.

"State manipulation of the Net would shape 'not merely economic policy, not merely competition policy, but also media policy, social policy' and 'oversight of the political process,' according to Wu’s testimony. Current regulations simply do not 'capture' the Net the way more government powers would through powerful new rules, he argued."

"Wu’s vision of more government 'capture' strongly resembles old broadcast regulations spurred by a 'scarcity' of outlets in the mid-20th century — the legal rationale for government regulation of speech over the airwaves, which would never be tolerated by, say, newspapers," McDowell writes. "Even in today’s competitive and digitized media markets, broadcasters must adhere to strict rules dictating speech, or risk losing their licenses. This Supreme Court-blessed government speech control operates under aliases such as 'regionalism' and 'localism' as invoked by Wu.

These rules compel broadcasters to tailor their content to serve properly (in the eyes of regulators) their 'communities of license' That could include mandates ranging from sufficient local news, sports and weather, to a minimum amount of programming for children." (Read more)

Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 7/17/2014 02:45:00 PM

Friday, July 11, 2014;

Broadband initiative to solidify East Kentucky’s place in the new global economy...

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced today that two requests for proposals (RFP) are being issued this month on a public-private partnership (P3) project to build critically-needed high-speed broadband Internet access to the farthest reaches of the Commonwealth.Increasing broadband access in eastern Kentucky is a primary focus of the project.

An RFP was released today by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in conjunction with the Center for Rural Development seeking private partners to build, operate and maintain a statewide open-access, high-speed broadband network. A complementary RFP seeking equity partners for the project will be released next week. The Commonwealth may establish one contract using either the equity or concessionaire model.

The Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway will help Kentucky make tremendous strides toward being a leader both in terms of speed and presence of high-speed Internet connectivity, Gov. Beshear said.“Infrastructure such as roads, sewers, water lines and classrooms are critical to our quality of life and economic vitality,” Gov. Beshear said. “Today, we also have to invest in another kind of infrastructure – the kind that will break down geographic and financial barriers to education and economic development.”

“This ‘Super I-Way’ will pave a high-tech future for eastern Kentucky,” said Rep. Rogers. “It will launch our rural region into the global playing field, creating new job opportunities, innovative access to healthcare, enhanced educational opportunities, and much more. We are eager to move forward with this project to help grow eastern Kentucky’s economy.”

The initial phase of the project is expected to take two years to build and will include more than 3,000 miles of fiber infrastructure, often referred to as the “middle mile.”

Currently, Kentucky ranks 46th in high-speed broadband Internet availability. Nearly a quarter of the Commonwealth’s population – 23 percent – has no access to broadband.

“Today, only about half of Kentucky’s households use broadband Internet service, and nearly one-quarter can’t access broadband at all,” Gov. Beshear said. “We’re going to fix that with an ambitious plan to extend broadband access, initially focusing on eastern Kentucky.”

The push for reliable, accessible high-speed broadband is one recommendation that emerged from “SOAR,” the “Shaping Our Appalachian Region” initiative that seeks to move Kentucky’s Appalachian region forward.

“Much like previous generations’ efforts to build sewer and water systems, the electric grid and paved highways, this broadband initiative will solidify Kentucky’s place in the new global economy,” Rep. Rogers said. “Our investment in it will pay dividends in the years ahead.”

The RFP is available online at  

Click on the Vendor Self Service link and choose public access.For more information about SOAR, visit and follow SOAR activities on Facebook @ShapingOurAppalachianRegion and on Twitter @SOAR_EKY. To contact the SOAR office, call 606-444-5127 or 606-437-5127.

Thursday, July 3, 2014;

ProPublica: Journalism in the Public Interest


A Disappearing Planet

by Anna Flagg, Special to ProPublica


Today's extinction rates rival those during the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

CLICK on turtle for story...


July 10, 2014;

One Stop Portal Receives Praise and Award;


The Kentucky Business One Stop Portal, the Commonwealth’s online, unified point of entry for business owners and their delegates, received the 2014 Best IT Collaboration Among Organizations Award at the Kentucky Digital Government Summit. The Award is given to an individual or organization that has demonstrated special, coordinated efforts on technological projects, data sharing, and other governing initiatives.

The Kentucky Business One Stop Portal,, was established by the General Assembly in 2010. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s chief business official, is working to improve and expand the Portal in collaboration with the Finance and Administration Cabinet, the Cabinet for Economic Development and the Commonwealth Office of Technology.

By integrating registration, filing and other processes, the Portal removes the need for businesses to navigate numerous agencies to open and operate in the Commonwealth. This consolidation of functions reduces confusion, redundancy and inconsistencies, and it has already resulted in time savings of up to 75 percent for processing business registrations.

“The One Stop Portal exemplifies what government should be about – multiple agencies working together to improve efficiency and effectiveness,” said Grimes. “I am proud that the Kentucky Digital Government Summit recognized the great work our team is doing, and I appreciate our partner agencies’ cooperation as we continue to expand the One-Stop Portal and ensure Kentucky is truly open for business.”

Presenting the award, the Kentucky Digital Government Summit noted that the Portal “agencies have achieved unprecedented collaboration through consolidation of demographic data,” and their “partnership creates a ‘business friendly face’ for the Commonwealth and is a model for Governor Beshear’s goal of ‘Putting Kentucky First.’”

In addition to streamlining registration and filing processes, the Portal provides useful tools and information for planning and operating a business in Kentucky. The “Plan My Business” section includes research support, mentoring information, and a wizard and template to help create a business plan. There is also information about taxes, insurance, and annual reporting requirements on the Portal.


China may build an undersea train to America



China is planning to build a train line that would, in theory, connect Beijing to the United States.

According to a report inthe Beijing Times, citing an expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Chinese officials are considering a route that would start in the country's northeast, thread through eastern Siberia and cross the Bering Strait via a 125-mile long underwater tunnel into Alaska.

China to America underground trai"Right now we're already in discussions. Russia has already been thinking about this for many years," says Wang Mengshu, the engineer cited in the article. The proposed "China-Russia-Canada-America" line would be some 8,000 miles long, 1,800 miles longer than the Trans-Siberian railroad. The tunnel that the Chinese would help bore beneath the icy seas would be four times the length of what traverses the English Channel.

That's reason enough to be skeptical of the project, of which there are few details beyond what was attributed to the one official cited by the state-run Beijing Times.

Meanwhile, a report in the state-run China Daily insists the country does have the technology and means to complete a construction project of this scale, including another tunnel that would link the Chinese province of Fujian with nearby Taiwan.

In the past half decade or so, China has embarked on an astonishing rail construction spree, laying down tens of thousands of miles tracks and launching myriad high-speed lines. It has signaled its intent to build a "New Silk Road" -- a heavy-duty freight network through Central Asia that would connect with Europe via rail rather than the old caravans that once bridged West and East. A map that appeared on Xinhua's news site outlines the route below, alongside a parallel vision for a "maritime Silk Road."

SilkRoad - map

Screengrab from


While some of its neighbors watch China's rise warily, the main plank of Beijing's soft power pitch has always been its stated desire to improve economic ties and trade with virtually everyone.

"China’s wisdom for building an open world economy and open international relations is being drawn on more and more each day," trumpets the Xinhua report that accompanies the map above, according to the Diplomat.

To that end, Beijing has assiduously resurrected the narrative of the ancient Silk Road as well as given prime billing to the tales of China's famed Ming dynasty treasure fleets, which sailed all across the Indian Ocean. Seen in such grand historic perspective, a tunnel to Alaska doesn't seem too far-fetched.