Sheriffs Against Amnesty To March On Washington D.C. In December (Video)

Sheriffs Against Amnesty To March On Washington – WorldNetDaily

Sheriffs around the country are planning to march on the nation’s capital, hoping to send a message to President Obama and Congress that they oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants.

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The Dec. 10 rally in Washington, D.C., is being organized by two sheriffs from Massachusetts – Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald.

They have challenged America’s other sheriffs, asking for at least 200 of them to join in paying a visit to the Capitol to make a stand against amnesty and plead for Congress and the president to secure the border. More than 20 have already signed up to participate, Hodgson told WND.

The march will culminate in a meeting with Republican leaders at the Capitol building regarding possible legislation to secure the border “once and for all.”

Hodgson has sent a letter to sheriffs nationwide asking them to join him in the rally.

He told WND he’s already heard from 20 to 25 sheriffs who have committed to join him on the trip to Washington. The letter states in part:

“As you know, the policies of recent years that encourage immigrants to illegally enter our country have created serious threats to our domestic and national security. The citizens of our nation are counting on the American Sheriffs to fulfill our oath to preserve law and order and live up to our responsibilities as guardians of the United States Constitution.

“Given the fact that 25 people are killed each day by illegal immigrants, and our schools are becoming overcrowded and more costly, our public health is threatened by new diseases and ailments introduced by people living in our communities illegally, and the fact that benefits are being given and violations of the law forgiven for a select group of non-citizens, makes clear our obligation to act now before we erode the confidence and the faith citizens have in Sheriffs across the country and throughout our history.”

Hodgson told WND that sheriffs across this country “are tired of being marginalized, either by the inaction of Congress or the overreaction by the president of the United States, who have put us in this situation.”

Hodgson said he started thinking about planning the march while at the National Sheriffs Association Conference in Dallas-Fort Worth earlier this year.

“One of the things I raised was that the people of the United States have always looked to the American sheriff as someone who looks out for public safety and they are not looked at in a partisan way, so it seemed to me we need to stand up to support the border sheriffs,” Hodgson said. “We all have become border sheriffs.”

He said President Obama’s 2012 executive order allowing illegals to stay in the country for two years and entitling them to a hearing, “caused all sorts of problems” for law enforcement.

“The word got out and the cartels realized immediately that was a great way to make money, and it has netted them millions and millions of dollars smuggling people to the border,” Hodgson said. “That was done with the stroke of a pen in June 2012, which was an election year.”

Obama chooses to act on ‘Revolution Day’

Now Obama is about to go even further, planning to announce a sweeping amnesty plan for millions of illegal immigrants Thursday evening.

Just after 12 p.m. Wednesday, the White House posted a Facebook announcement that reads as follows:

“It’s time to fix our broken immigration system. Tomorrow night (November 20th), President Obama will address the nation on new commonsense steps he’s taking to fix as much of it as he can. Tune in tomorrow at 8pm ET. “

Thursday’s date, Nov. 20, is significant, says William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration.

“November 20 is Mexican ‘Revolution Day’ or Mexican ‘Civil War Day’ which is the equivalent of America’s 4th of July,” Gheen said. “Obama’s choice of this date for his departure from his Oath of Office and the U.S. Constitution creates a permanent symbolic relationship between his actions and Mexico’s violent revolutionary and civil wars from 1910-1920.

“Obama is making a powerful and dangerous symbolic declaration to large Spanish media audiences today comparing his new immigration orders to the violent Mexican revolution and civil war,” Gheen continued. “Obama is timing his move to thwart the American public’s voice in Congress to coincide with Mexican Revolution Day and the Ferguson (grand jury decision) while CBS, ABC, and NBC will keep most U.S. citizens oblivious tonight.”

No proof for cited cause of ‘surge’

The problems with illegals were already intense before Obama’s 2012 executive order, but they exploded in the wake of that declaration, Hodgson said.

“The president said the surge at the border was from them trying to escape poverty and violent drug gangs. They have their issues, no question, but no one has ever been able to document that this was the cause,” he said.

He cited a report by the El Paso Intelligence Center, which he called “a bipartisan study done on this very issue,” that found no connection between increased crime and poverty and the surge at the border.

“We know homicides are down in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, but the point is the president did this. They are trying to place children all over the country. They have to hire translators, etc., and the costs are overwhelming,” Hodgson said. “We have one situation in Lowell, Massachusetts, where the mayor is saying, ‘Our schools are bursting at the seams. We just can’t afford this anymore.’

“Just the other day, we apprehended a (illegal) man 35 years old for a crime in one of our high schools. He had gray hair. This is the kind of nonsense that’s going on.”

Hodgson said he visited McAllen, Texas, this summer and saw firsthand the chaos that was being caused by a border that had been turned into a massive welcome mat. He also saw how it’s affecting the interior of the country.

“They were moving them out of the facility there so they could create bed space. Five plane loads were sent to Massachusetts,” he said. “One guy had all kinds of medical issues, and his treatment is going to be in the millions of dollars. Now that he’s being released from our hospital, they shipped him back to Texas and let him go. So these are the kinds of problems the American people aren’t being told of, but we see them every day.”

The Obama administration has essentially created a whole new class of people with special rights and privileges that are not available to law-abiding citizens, Hodgson said.

“They are exempt from certain laws. Now the president of the United States says, ‘I know you came here illegally, and I know you may have committed misdemeanor crimes after you came here, but I’m going to give you a work visa and allow you to stay here indefinitely,” Hodgson said. “When you have a president say he doesn’t care who comes into our country … that’s the beginnings of the breakdown of democracy.”

The concern is what kind of message amnesty sends to “the five million people waiting in line to get in legally,” Hodgson said.

“Congress is not acting. They are not doing what they should be doing, which is to secure our borders. That’s why I’m asking sheriffs to go to Washington,” he said. “Our cities are being overrun. So we’re saying to Congress, ‘Live up to your oaths.’”

If anyone can stand up for the rights of law-abiding citizens, the sheriffs can, he said.

“It’s our responsibility to enforce the laws, and we’re also responsible for protecting the constitutional rights of the people who elect us,” he said. “So this is a problem that affects all of us.”

Not all sheriffs on board

The National Sheriffs Association has the largest membership of any law enforcement group in America.

“They have come out and said they fully endorse every sheriff to stand up and speak out on this issue,” Hodgson said. “And we support the security of the border. Start with stemming the borders. That’s step one. And then manage what we have here in a very thoughtful political approach.”

But not all the nation’s sheriffs are against granting amnesty.

Sheriff Scott Jones of Sacramento County, California, released a video plea to the president this week calling for him to unilaterally declare “immigration reform.”

See video below in which Jones claims the president is “singularly” responsible for the immigration issue.

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Gheen, of Americans for Legal Immigration, said he sees Jones’ message as counterproductive.

“Most sheriffs have better sense than that because they’re elected by the people,” Gheen said. “But, hey, you have to consider, it’s California.”

Hodgson was not sure if Jones would be joining his march on Washington.

“There are sheriffs that may have different points of view, but I can tell you the majority of sheriffs in this country are against amnesty, and they are absolutely in favor of getting our borders secured,” Hodgson said.

He said getting 200 sheriffs to join him in Washington in the middle of the holiday season won’t be easy, but he’s encouraged by the early response.

“I threw that figure out there as a challenge to the sheriffs. I’ve gotten several calls from sheriffs who have committed to us from as far away as Washington state, California, North Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania,” he said.

Sheriff Sam Page from Rockingham County, N.C., and Sheriff Jenkins of Fredrick County, Maryland, and Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Arizona, are among those who have already committed to the effort.

Hodgson said he’s been involved in the immigration issue since 1999, shortly after he won his first term as sheriff of Bristol County.

“I’ve worked on both Republican and Democratic sides to try to get this issue under control, and I’m very familiar with how it’s become used as a political football. I’m as frustrated as anybody,” he said.

Bring in the Israelis

Hodgson said he has been calling for officials in Washington to bring in Israeli border security officials as consultants to help map out a comprehensive border security plan.

“Frankly… because nobody is better at border security than the Israelis,” he said.

He describes it this way for the uninitiated: If you were looking out your kitchen window and saw a strange man walking through your backyard, would you turn away and take your chances on whether that stranger meant harm or was “just passing through”?

“We’ve got criminals, gang members, drug dealers and now al-Qaida working with the cartels, and we have reports that ISIS could be doing the same thing,” Hodgson said. “Since when do we turn our back on that? You wouldn’t turn your back if someone you didn’t know was walking through your backyard. We need to know who’s coming in and who’s here.”

Hodgson said he believes there’s more to it than just Washington lacking the will to do what’s right. He believes the Obama administration has sinister motives.

“They want to build a socialist system,” he said.

And how do you do that?

“You overburden the existing system until it collapses,” he said. “We can’t let it happen. Our Founding Fathers would disown us if we let it happen.”

Gheen, of ALIPAC, said he had a suggestion that he wishes the sheriffs would consider when they pay a visit to the nation’s capital next month.

“If the sheriffs are heading to Washington, how about suggesting the sheriffs take some of their best men to D.C. and they use their power and ability to arrest the president of the United States?” Gheen said. “I think if the sheriffs are going to Washington on Dec. 10 and the president continues to violate the Constitution of the United States, that they should consider arresting the president of the United States. What if the sheriffs decided to use their power to do this?”

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Obama’s EPA Paid 8 Employees $1 Million To Do Nothing

Taxpayers Paid 8 EPA Employees $1 Million To Do Nothing – Washington Free Beacon

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) kept employees on paid administrative leave for years, costing taxpayers more than $1 million.

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An “Early Warning” report released by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on Wednesday revealed that eight employees racked up 20,926 hours of paid administrative leave, including some employees who were paid not to work for four years.

The eight employees cost taxpayers $1,096,868 alone. The report is in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis released last month that found government-wide paid administrative leave cost $3.1 billion from 2011 and 2013.

The GAO report detailed that the EPA paid 69 employees to not work for 4,711 days between 2011 and 2013, costing $17,550,100.

The OIG analyzed paid leave for this year, focusing on eight employees who took the most paid leave. Half of the employees were on paid administrative leave for more than a year, including one EPA employee who was paid from May 2010 until September 2014, costing taxpayers $351,300.

The amount of paid leave taken by these employees may be higher, the OIG said, since several were missing timesheets during their period of paid leave.

The OIG report was categorized as addressing the goal of “Embracing EPA as a high-performing organization.”

The EPA allows for paid administrative leave for voting, funerals, donating blood, and bad weather. However, all eight employees were on paid administrative leave for at least four months.

The EPA’s leave manual offers no determination for what is considered an “acceptable amount of administrative leave.”

The OIG pointed out that employees could be placed on long-term paid leave for disciplinary reasons.

“The leave manual also provides that one authorized use of administrative leave is when an employee’s removal or indefinite suspension is proposed, and the employee’s continued presence at the work site during the notice period would constitute a threat to public property or the health and safety of coworkers or the public.”

The EPA has had to deal with employees who have threatened the work environment for their fellow workers before.

The OIG presented its findings to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Oct. 30, and the agency is currently reviewing background information on the employees in question.

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*AUDIO* Mark Levin: Worthless RINOs, Government Shutdowns, And The Power Of The Purse


PART 1

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PART 2

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*VIDEO* A Veterans Day Message From A REAL American President


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……………….RONALD WILSON REAGAN: A SOLDIER’S PLEDGE

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HT Conservative Infidel

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………………………..A TRIBUTE TO OUR ARMED FORCES

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President Asshat Resurrects Marxist “Net Neutrality” Scheme

Obama Urges FCC To Seize Sweeping New Internet Powers To Save Net Neutrality – National Journal

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President Obama leapt directly into the net neutrality fight Monday, urging the Federal Communications Commission to claim expansive new powers over the Internet to enact the “strongest possible” regulations.

“‘Net neutrality’ has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation – but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted,” Obama said in a video posted on the White House website. “We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas.”

Under his plan, the FCC would classify broadband Internet as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, a provision the agency already uses to regulate telephone companies. His statement is a huge win for Internet activists, who have been warning the future of the Internet could be at stake unless the FCC invokes stronger authority to prevent abuses by Internet providers.

But broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon have been lobbying fiercely against applying the provision to the Internet, warning it would strangle their industry with utility-style regulations. Shares of major broadband providers sank early Monday following the announcement. Verizon issued a statement saying it supports an “open Internet,” but warned that Obama’s plan would face “strong legal challenges.”

It’s also a confrontational move against congressional Republicans, who just won control of the Senate last week. They consider Title II an archaic provision designed for a time when a single monopoly controlled all telephone service. They warn that using the provision on the Internet would destory jobs and mean slower Internet for everyone. The new GOP Congress will be sure to try to repeal any net neutrality rules the FCC enacts.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, tweeted Monday that net neutrality is the the “Obamacare of the Internet” and that the “Internet should not operate at the speed of government.” But Democrats, including Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Anna Eshoo, praised Obama’s statement and urged the FCC to enact the stronger rules.

In his statement, Obama noted that the FCC is an independent agency and that the ultimate decision will be up to Chairman Tom Wheeler and the four other commissioners. But his statement puts tremendous pressure on the Democratic appointees to seize the controversial new powers.

Wheeler thanked Obama for his input Monday, but didn’t explicitly say he would follow the president’s directions. The various net neutrality proposals raise “substantive legal questions,” Wheeler said, and he’ll need more time to develop rules that can hold up in court. The FCC chief had previously said he wanted new rules on the books by the end of the year.

Under Obama’s plan, the FCC would ban Internet providers from blocking websites, throttling Internet service, or creating any special Internet “fast lanes” for websites that pay more. The rules would apply equally to a home Internet connection and mobile devices.

He also said the FCC should consider applying regulations to the interconnection points on the backend of the Internet, which would help Netflix and other companies deliver large video files without having to pay Internet providers for better connections. Traditionally, net neutrality has only covered how Internet providers must handle traffic once its on their networks.

Title II would give the FCC a slew of new powers over the Internet, including the ability to control prices and determine which customers a company has to serve. Obama said the FCC should waive the rate regulation requirements and “other provisions less relevant to broadband services.”

Net neutrality advocates argue that Title II is the only way to enact rules that can survive in court. The FCC first enacted net neutrality regulations in 2010, but a federal court struck them down earlier this year.

Wheeler proposed new rules in May that wouldn’t invoke Title II and would allow for Internet “fast lanes” in some cases, but his proposal prompted a massive backlash and more than 3.7 million people filed comments with the FCC.

Although Obama has long supported the concept of net neutrality, Monday is the first time he outlined which specific legal authority the FCC should use.

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Related articles:

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There’s Nothing Neutral About Net Neutrality – Jeffrey Eisenach

Despite what you may have heard, net neutrality is not about protecting consumers from rapacious Internet Service Providers (ISPs). It would not make broadband more available in rural America, or lower prices for small businesses. And it has nothing to do with protecting free speech or dissenting voices. Net neutrality is crony capitalism pure and simple – an effort by one group of private interests to enrich itself at the expense of another group by using the power of the state.

For all the arcane talk about “Title II” and “common carriage,” this is not complicated. The rules favored by net neutrality advocates would ban or restrict payments from one type of business – “edge providers” – to another type of business – broadband ISPs – while placing no limits on what ISPs charge consumers. It is easy to see why edge providers like Netflix would lobby for such rules, but difficult to understand how they would benefit consumers or serve the public interest.

Indeed, the arguments advanced by net neutrality advocates don’t withstand even momentary scrutiny. Do broadband providers enjoy too much market power – are they “monopolists”? Not according to the Federal Communication Commission, which waxes eloquent about the strong performance of the broadband marketplace, citing the billions of dollars invested each year and the rapid increase in speeds and performance. And while much is made of consumers’ limited choices, the broadband market is actually less concentrated than the markets for search engines, social networks, and over-the-top video services: discriminatory regulation of ISPs cannot be justified on the basis of market power.

Other arguments for regulation are just as flawed. For example, net neutrality advocates say that without new regulations, ISPs would discriminate against Internet start-ups. But such discriminatory pricing hasn’t occurred so far, and no one can explain why ISPs would want to impede the ongoing explosion of innovative content and applications that makes their services valuable in the first place – especially since such companies pose no competitive threat to the ISPs. Nor can anyone cite an example of an American (as opposed to Chinese or Russian) ISP muzzling a dissenting voice or limiting free speech. In fact, to the extent that any firms in the Internet ecosystem have issues with free speech, it is the content providers like YouTube and Yahoo, who are under constant pressure (which they mostly, and laudably, resist) to take down “offensive” material.

Finally, there’s the argument about fast lanes and slow lanes, or, in regulatory jargon, “paid prioritization.” The simple reality is that edge providers like Netflix require prioritization for their services to work. It’s just the “paid” part they don’t like.

The key to understanding net neutrality lies in the fact that broadband ISPs operate in what economists call a “two-sided market.” One side consists of consumers, who value access to content and applications; the other side consists of content and application providers, who value using the network to reach the customers. Such markets are not unusual: newspapers, for example, serve both advertisers and subscribers. The challenge for such firms is to set prices for each customer group in such a way as to attract the optimal mix: newspapers need enough advertisers to keep subscription prices low, but they don’t want too many ads because it would drive away readers.

The FCC’s primary theory of net neutrality regulation is that the edge providers generate so much innovation and other “external” benefits that they should be subsidized by the other side (that is, by consumers) through a rule that forces consumers to pay 100 percent of the costs of the network while edge providers pay zero. This is a fine theory – but there is not a scintilla of empirical evidence to support it. Indeed, academic research suggests the external benefits generated by ISP’s investments in broadband infrastructure are likely at least as large as the benefits from innovation at the edge.

At the end of the day, the one unarguable fact about net neutrality regulation is that edge providers, big and small, and those who fund them and profit from their success, have a powerful economic interest in getting the FCC to guarantee free access to the ISPs’ networks.

Many net neutrality supporters are no doubt sincere in believing regulation is needed to “protect the open Internet,” and there is nothing illegal or even immoral about wealthy and well-connected private companies seeking to advance their interests through the use of state power. But the results can prove highly damaging. In the case of net neutrality, the danger is that the dynamic, pragmatic, business-and-engineering-driven approach that has made the Internet such a remarkable success will be replaced by an inevitably static, bureaucratic, politicized regulatory regime, not unlike the one that oversees the U.S. Postal Service.

On the global front, a decision by the U.S. to embrace economic and political control of the Internet would legitimize the efforts of tyrants everywhere to impose far more repressive forms of statist intervention.

From a consumer perspective, net neutrality regulation is just one more government-mandated rip-off – another few bucks out of our pockets to subsidize a politically influential interest group. So, the next time you hear an over-the-top video provider arguing for net neutrality, keep this in mind: there’s nothing neutral about it.

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Net Neutrality Is A Bad Idea That’s Run Its Course – Richard Bennett

When the FCC isn’t protecting us from bad language, it concerns itself with markets created by and for communication networks. It allocates the airwaves used by old-school television, talk radio, mobile phones and Wi-Fi; it oversees mergers and acquisitions among communications companies such as NBC Universal, Comcast, AT&T, and Sprint; and in the current century it has expended considerable resources on micro-managing the technical operations and business models of broadband Internet Service Providers.

While the agency would seem to be plenty busy carrying out its statutory responsibilities with respect to spectrum and mergers, it has chosen to become embroiled in an extra-curricular affair of its own making, the “net neutrality” controversy. This kerfuffle dates back to philosophical meditations on regulation and innovation before the turn of the current century.

It got real in 2007 when self-styled public interest groups filed a complaint with the FCC alleging that Comcast was picking on piracy-oriented BitTorrent networks to protect its TV business. Although Comcast was actually protecting voice competitor Vonage, it stopped using the offending system as soon as it had a higher-quality alternative. The FCC rapped Comcast’s knuckles anyway, which led the company to give the FCC a shellacking in court. This in turn caused the agency to devise a new set of Internet regulations in 2010, only to have them vacated by the court this January.

Somewhere along the way, most net neutrality wonks stopped caring whether it was good policy for innovators or even what the term means: now it’s all about winning. The FCC has decided it can’t passively accept the status quo and has issued 100 pages of questions on various approaches it might take to satisfy the warring clans in the Internet economy’s Game of Thrones, none of which is broadly popular.

At the heart of the conflict lies a misconception about how the Internet works; this naturally leads to a series of counter-productive prescriptions. The very first of the net neutrality papers, “Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination” by then-Virginia law professor Tim Wu, imagined a magical Black Box connecting ISPs with the Internet. Wu realized that the Internet is rife with “discrimination”, content and services offered at various prices with widely divergent levels of quality and utility. He also recognized that neighborhood broadband networks do a number of different things that depend on discrimination: in addition to connecting to the Internet, they supply cable TV and furnish telephone service.

Wu feared ISPs had incentives to degrade competitors, especially video and voice services that went toe-to-toe with core elements of their business model. So he took the unusual step of granting an effective monopoly to the ISPs for voice and video by making the Black Box favor web surfing over other uses. Wu may have sought to design a system that would make ISPs structurally incapable of bad behavior, but he ended up favoring the Web over emerging Internet applications. Banishing the devils has a way of eliminating the angels as well.

Given that it’s committed to making new rules for the Internet, the FCC has a choice between basing its authority on a terse direction in the law allowing it to promote investment in advanced networks (Section 706) or on another portion pertaining to the traditional telephone network, Title II of the Telecom Act. In either case, the agency seems convinced that the Black Box is a winner, at least at the ballot box.

Networks that can’t discriminate are incapable of supporting the wide range of uses that more agile networks can handle. A Black Box network must necessarily be tuned to a single, dominant application instead of being responsive to a diverse pool of uses. Whatever else we know about the future, it’s certain that the Internet will be expected to do more things for more people ten years from now as it was ten years ago.

If we’re going to have a robust and growing market for network applications in the future that improve quality of life and grow the economy, we’re going to need networks that can move information quickly or cheaply, reliably or pervasively, securely or accurately and in several other modes as well.

Consequently, the locus of concern for regulatory policy must shift from preventing the bad to promoting the good. The FCC can do this by drafting rules consistent with the desire to promote meaningful competition, network investment, and service diversity.

Most of the content we get from the Internet comes to us through a kind of fast lane known as a Content Delivery Network that accelerates our access by placing duplicate copies of the content around the web. It’s a law of engineering that short distances can always be crossed more quickly than long ones. It’s also the case that sensitivity to the fundamental elements of network service quality – information loss and delay – depends on the application in use. Backing up a hard drive is less time sensitive, more loss averse, and more data volume-intensive than making a phone call. Network systems such as Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and 4G/LTE wireless recognize this fact with built-in mechanisms to match network service to application needs.

The Black Box rules these adaptations out of bounds, effectively forcing applications to adapt to the whims of policy makers and an arbitrary network. This approach compromises innovation and economic growth, and ultimately erodes quality of life.

The business practices of network industries need the same sort of anti-trust scrutiny that every industry faces, but they do not need precautionary prescriptions that throw the baby out with the bath water. Twenty years of experience with the commercial Internet has proved that fast-lane services like CDNs are beneficial, so we should be looking for ways to grow the Internet economy by creating more services like them.

Network neutrality is simply a bad idea that has run its course.

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Related videos:

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NET NEUTRAILTY 101: WHY IT’S TERRIBLE

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NET NEUTRAILTY RULING: THE INTERNET WORKS, DON’T ‘FIX’ IT

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STEFAN MOLYNEUX: THE TRUTH ABOUT NET NEUTRALITY

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HOUSE JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE ON REGULATORY REFORM: NET NEUTRAILTY AND ANTITRUST LAWS

……………………….Click on image above to watch video.

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WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL PROGRAM: THE PROBLEM WITH NET NEUTRAILTY

……………………….Click on image above to watch video.

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Over 600 U.S. Troops Claimed Exposure To Chemical Weapons In Iraq, But Military Failed To Treat Them

More Than 600 U.S. Troops Described Being Exposed To Chemical Eeapons In Iraq But Military Failed To Offer Them Medical Care, Pentagon Admits – Daily Mail

More than 600 American soldiers told military medical staff that they believe they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003, but the Pentagon failed to act on that information, it was revealed Thursday.

According to reporting by The New York Times, Pentagon officials said the department will now expand its outreach to veterans and establish a toll-free hotline for reporting potential exposures and seeking medical evaluation or care.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered an internal review of military records after the Times published an article in October about how US troops encountered degraded chemical weapons from the 1980s that had been hidden or used in makeshift bombs.

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Truth comes out: Pentagon acknowledged that more than 600 American soldiers told military medical staff that they believe they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003

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US forces came upon hidden caches of warheads, shells and aviation bombs in Iraq between 2004 and 2011. Pictured here are Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians working in Afghanistan in 2002

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The initial newspaper report disclosed that 17 service members had been injured by sarin or sulfur mustard agent, and several more came forward after the story appeared, the Times said Thursday.

The Army’s Public Health Command collects standardized medical-history surveys, known as post-deployment health assessments, which troops fill out as they complete combat tours.

Those who responded ‘yes’ to a question about exposure to such warfare agents – ‘Do you think you were exposed to any chemical, biological and radiological warfare agents during this deployment?’ – were asked to provide a brief explanation.

The review ordered by Hagel showed that 629 people answered ‘yes’ to that question and also filled in a block with information indicating chemical agent exposure, Col. Jerome Buller, a spokesman for the Army surgeon general, told the newspaper.

‘Secretary Hagel ordered the department to examine the medical records for all servicemembers assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Units where exposures were reported to have occurred, as well as the Post-Deployment Health Assessment data for all servicemembers who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘The review has determined thus far that 734 troops reported potential exposure. The actual extent of that exposure is not yet clear,’ Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement to Stars and Stripes.

About 5,000 chemical weapons were recovered or destroyed in Iraq following the 2003 invasion.

A Times investigation last month revealed that US forces came upon hidden caches of warheads, shells and aviation bombs between 2004 and 2011.

But the Bush administration reportedly covered up the existence of the 30-year-old weapons, some of them designed by the US, which did not fit into the narrative that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.

Most of the warheads were mustard agents in 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets developed by Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war which raged between 1980 and 1988.

Many of the shells recovered by American troops after the 2003 invasion would leak liquid during transportation, exposing the soldiers to the potentially-lethal fumes.

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Hidden: Between 2004 and 2011, soldiers found thousands of rusty chemical munitions throughout Iraq, most of them buried. Pictured on the left are troops handling weapons in Kandahar, Afghanistan

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A U.S. Army Third Infantry Division soldier loads materials discovered in an explosives laboratory hidden in a home April 15, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq

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Symptoms ranged from disorientation and nausea to blindness and large blisters.

A Navy explosive-ordnance disposal technician, who was not named because he remains on active duty, told the Times this week that he was burned on his left forearm in 2006 when a mustard agent spilled on him as he was carrying shells outside Samarra.

After he went to an Army doctor seeking treatment, an officer in his battalion ordered him to stop talking about the chemical shells.

Cmdr Ryan Perry, a Navy spokesman, told the newspaper that they do not condone the silencing of service members, adding the the sailor had reached out to the Navy about the 2006 chemical episode in recent days.

Each person who answered the health questionnaire would have received a medical consultation at the end of their combat tour, Buller said.

It was not clear why the military did not take further steps, such as including compiling the data as it accumulated over more than a decade, tracking veterans with related medical complaints, or circulating warnings about risks to soldiers and to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans who believe they were exposed can call a Pentagon hotline at 1-800-497-6261, which previously had been used for Gulf War veterans reporting illnesses.

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VA Patients Treated With Dangerous, Counterfeit Surgical Devices And Supplies

Hospital Horror: VA Patients Treated With Bogus Medical Equipment, Supplies – Washington Times

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Unauthorized and potentially counterfeit, dangerous surgical devices and medical supplies have flowed unchecked into the Department of Veterans Affairs supply chain and into VA operating rooms, according to internal agency correspondence from a major supplier who blamed new procurement rules.

The bogus supplies gained a foothold when the department started using reverse auctions to fulfill some contracts, according to both department officials and a 2012 memo from Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest medical device business.

In the memo, the company told the VA it was getting surgical supplies bought from unauthorized distributors through the so-called “gray market,” and said those supplies raised serious questions about patient safety, according to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Officials also warned the VA that an ongoing corporate investigation into the gray market showed how some unauthorized sellers were passing off products stolen from other hospitals.

“We do not believe that the VA intended for its efforts to utilize new procurement tools such as reverse auctions to result in these outcomes,” a company official wrote.

The Johnson & Johnson memo included a list of seven gray market surgical supply purchases by agency medical centers in a half-dozen states. But the company made clear there were more examples across the VA.

The warnings were issued months after the VA had a fierce internal debate over using reverse auctions, which have sellers compete to offer goods or services at the lowest price.

A top contracting official, Jan Frye, had put a halt on reverse auctions earlier in 2012, citing a “groundswell” of complaints from VA suppliers. But within weeks, the VA reversed after fierce lobbying from FedBid, the politically connected contractor handling the VA’s reverse auction platforms.

An inspector general’s report earlier this year issued a scathing rebuke to the VA over its dealings with FedBid, and said a VA procurement official, Susan Taylor, had improper contacts with FedBid. The inspector general recommended FedBid be disbarred. Ms. Taylor resigned soon after the report.

Emails obtained by The Times show concerns about reverse auctions persisted.

According to Johnson & Johnson, a South Carolina VA facility received a delivery of “trocar” surgical devices from an unauthorized distributor that was sent to VA without a box and was instead wrapped in yellowed packaging and rubber bands.

“The product being sold may not have been stored properly (high temperature, high humidity, no pest control, etc.), which could create patient risk,” Paul B. Smith, government account director for the company, told the VA, explaining the results of an ongoing company investigation.

An internal VA advisory group also raised an alarm in 2012 in a closed meeting with VA’s senior procurement council, which is composed of the agency’s top acquisition officials. The group recommended that VA stop purchasing “clinically oriented products” through reverse auctions.

Among other issues, the advisory group said FedBid had blocked access to names and contact information for contracting officers. And FedBid officials weren’t qualified to handle clinical purchases, according to the group.

“They do not possess the clinical expertise to position themselves between the buyer and vendor,” the industry group wrote in a report, adding that some VA suppliers refused to participate in reverse auctions.

“As a result of limited participation, FedBid in some cases sourced products from unauthorized distributors,” the report stated. “This has both resulted in significantly increased costs and encouraged the use of ‘gray market’ or counterfeit products.”

In an email statement to The Washington Time, a FedBid spokesman said the company had “established measures to protect against unauthorized sellers and will suspend or remove sellers who attempt to undermine the integrity of the marketplace.”

The company also said that government contracting officers ultimately have a responsibility to ensure they’re buying the right products.

“As with every procurement process, whether it is a reverse auction, single source contract, or open tendering, each buyer has the responsibility to ensure that they are purchasing the right products for their customer,” FedBid spokesman Andres Mancini wrote in an email.

In an email on Friday responding to questions from The Times placed earlier this week, a VA spokeswoman said Johnson & Johnson raised the issue in 2012 with the Veterans Health Administration, which prompted the agency to initiate a validation process among small business suppliers.

Spokeswoman Genevieve Billia noted in an email that VA couldn’t say how often it finds counterfeit material, but noted, “VA has a process in place to identify such items that come in, sot that they do not get to the patient.”

In September, two years after Johnson & Johnson contacted the VA, the agency inspector general’s office issued a report substantiating several of the concerns.

Contractors taking part in reverse auctions needed only to “self certify” that they’re authorized distributors of official surgical products sought by VA, according to auditors. The lack of more stringent requirements put VA at risk of buying from unauthorized distributors, according to the report.

In a written response to the inspector general’s report this year, VA officials agreed with a recommendation to ensure against the purchase of gray market items.

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