October 28th, 2010
October 28th, 2010
October 28, 2010
Verizon Wireless reached a record-breaking settlement with the Federal Communication Commission over "mystery fees" charged to its cell phone customers.
Verizon agreed to make a $25 million payment to the U.S. Treasury, and to promptly refund a minimum of $52.8 million to about 15 million customers.
The payment is the largest in FCC history.
The agency’s Enforcement Bureau began investigating Verizon Wireless in January 2010, prompted by consumer complaints and press reports about unexplained data charges. Most of the charges were small—in the $2 to $6 range—and involved “pay-as-you-go” data fees for customers who did not subscribe to a data package or plan.
For example, customers were charged for unauthorized data transfers initiated automatically by applications (like games) built into certain phones, or for accessing certain web links that were designated as free-of-charge, like Verizon’s home page.
“People shouldn’t find mystery fees when they open their phone bills -- and they certainly shouldn’t have to pay for services they didn’t want and didn’t use,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. “In these rough economic times, every $1.99 counts.”
Verizon in a statement stressed that the problem was “discovered through our own investigation in response to customer inquiries” and that “We have taken this action because it is the right thing to do.” The company also said that by far the single largest problem was caused by “a very small data ‘acknowledgment’ session sent by software pre-loaded on certain phones.”
A Verizon spokesperson said the company is not disclosing the names of the lawyers who worked on the settlement. In the past, the company has turned to Wiley Rein partner Andrew McBride for FCC matters and other litigation. McBride did not return a call seeking comment.
The consent decree was signed by Verizon deputy general counsel John Scott III and FCC Enforcement Bureau chief P. Michele Ellison.
“Today’s settlement requires Verizon Wireless to make meaningful business reforms, prevent future overcharges, and provide consumers clear, easy-to-understand information about their choices,” Ellison said in a statement. “I am gratified by the cooperation of the Verizon Wireless team in the face of these issues, and pleased they are taking the high road.”
October 28th, 2010
Carolina Journal Exclusives
VIDEO: Voting Irregularities Alleged
State Republicans say some straight-ticket GOP votes recorded for Democrats
By Anthony Greco
October 28, 2010
RALEIGH — North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer has heard complaints that touchscreen voting machines have submitted straight-ticket Republican votes as Democratic. The machines are used in 36 counties across the state. Complaints have been reported in New Hanover, Craven, Cumberland, Rutherford, Lenoir, Mecklenburg, Randolph, Wilson, Pender, and Forsyth counties, according to Fetzer. He says he has not heard of Democratic votes being switched to Republican.
The state Democratic Party called the charges "equally reckless and absurd." State Board of Election officials say the voter data is stored and could be reviewed if irregularities are suggested.
To watch CarolinaJournal.tv's full report on the allegations of voting irregularities, click on the video.
Anthony Greco is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.
October 28th, 2010
By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, October 27, 2010; 11:49 PM
On Comedy Central, the joke was on President Obama Wednesday night.
The president had come, on the eve of what will almost certainly be the loss of his governing majority, to plead his case before Jon Stewart, gatekeeper of the disillusioned left. But instead of displaying the sizzle that won him an army of youthful supporters two years ago, Obama had a Brownie moment.
The Daily Show host was giving Obama a tough time about hiring the conventional and Clintonian Larry Summers as his top economic advisor.
"In fairness," the president replied defensively, "Larry Summers did a heckuva job."
"You don't want to use that phrase, dude," Stewart recommended with a laugh.
Dude. The indignity of a comedy show host calling the commander in chief "dude" pretty well captured the moment for Obama. He was making this first-ever appearance by a president on the Daily Show as part of a long-shot effort to rekindle the spirit of '08. In the Daily Show, Obama had a friendly host and an even friendlier crowd.
But, as in his MTV appearance a couple of weeks ago, Obama didn't try to connect with his youthful audience. He was serious and defensive, pointing a finger at his host several times as he quarreled with the premise of a question.
Stewart, who struggled to suppress a laugh as Obama defended Summers, turned out to be an able inquisitor on behalf of aggrieved liberals. He spoke for the millions who had been led to believe that Obama was some sort of a messianic figure. Obama has only himself to blame for their letdown. By raising expectations impossibly high, playing the transformational figure to Hillary Clinton's status-quo drone, he gave his followers an unrealistic hope.
"You're coming from a place, you ran on a very high rhetoric: 'hope' and 'change.' And the Democrats this year seem to be running on 'Please, baby, one more chance.'" Stewart observed. "Are you disappointed in how it's gone?"
Obama replied that he was advised after the election that "two years from now, folks are going to be frustrated" -- a prediction he did not make public to his starry-eyed suporters at the time.
"We have done things that some folks don't even know about," Obama ventured.
Oh? "Are you planning a surprise party for us?" the host inquired. In response, Obama recited his well-known, if under-appreciated, list of accomplishments.
"Is the difficulty," Stewart asked, "that you have here the distance between what you ran on and what you delivered? You ran with such, if I may, audacity.... yet legislatively it has felt timid at times."
Stewart had found the sore point between Obama and his base -- and Obama was irritable. "Jon, I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you," he said. "What happens," he added, "is it gets discounted because the presumption is, well, we didn't get 100 percent of what we wanted, we got 90 percent of what we wanted -- so let's focus on the 10 percent we didn't get." He said that a cancer patient in New Hampshire helped by the bill "doesn't think it's inconsequential."
"The suggestion was not that it's inconsequential," the comedian pointed out.
Obama leaned in and pointed at the host. "Your suggestion was that it was timid."
Still, the president did not really quarrel with Stewart's notion that Obama has done some of his work in a "political manner that has papered over a foundation that is corrupt."
"I think that is fair," Obama granted.
But when Stewart moved, politely, to point out weaknesses in the health-care legislation, Obama pointed at him again. "Not true!" the president argued.
Obama wore a displeased grin as Stewart diagnosed, with high accuracy, the administration's condition: "The expectation, I think, was audacity going in there and really rooting out a corrupt system, and so the sense is, has [the] reality of what hit you in the face when you first stepped in caused you to back down from some of the more visionary things?"
"My attitude is if we're making progress, step by step, inch by inch, day by day," Obama said, "that we are being true to the spirit of that campaign."
"You wouldn't say you'd run this time as a pragmatist? It wouldn't be, 'Yes we can, given certain conditions?'"
"I think what I would say is yes we can, but -- "
Stewart, and the audience, laughed at the "but."
Obama didn't laugh. "But it's not going to happen overnight," he finished.
Try shouting that slogan at a campaign rally, dude.
October 28th, 2010
By Barry Secrest
While we have been, time after time, faced with a contemporary media which scoffs at those who consistently warn that a possible incursion into individual liberties has either occurred or may be occurring--there are those--both now and in our history--who consider themselves as the guardians of our liberty. They are those who remain ever watchful throughout their and our entire lives at the various political events and otherwise which can damage and weaken a governance both of and by the People. Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams--and many other Constitutional heroes--both celebrated and unheralded were incessant in their warnings concerning healthcare, socialism, entitlements and other dangers to a free people.
The signatory element at play among a host of ill-Constitutional temptations to a nation, being "those who would sacrifice their liberties for the sake of security, are doomed to lose both and deserve neither." Those words from Benjamin Franklin, uttered over 230 years ago, still resound in both their brilliance and in there ultimate simplicity.
Their Foul Footsteps
In what has become a battle phalanx of modern liberty eviscerations, the Mainstream Media of today, in contrast to that of the somewhat distant past, is yet another example of what used to be a major buttress against any incursions against liberty which now more often than not rages against it. Now, in the wake of fiascoes such as a failure to publicly vet Obama's extreme ideology, in addition to the recent Federally funded NPR debacle targeting free speech concerning avowed liberal and yet honest Juan Williams, we can see a pattern coming sharply into focus (Read Article "Guardians Of The Republic")