Comcastic!

There’s obviously something going on when the consumer simply can’t save money by moving to another provider:

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department is conducting a wide-ranging antitrust investigation into whether cable companies are acting improperly to quash nascent competition from online video, according to people familiar with the matter.

Justice Department officials have spoken to several online video providers, including Netflix Inc. and Hulu LLC, those people said. Investigators have also questioned Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and other cable companies about issues such as setting data caps, limits to the amount of data a subscriber can download each month, these people said.

Representatives of all those companies and the Justice Department declined to comment on the investigation.

Cable companies provide both television channels and high-speed Internet access for many consumers in the U.S. With broadband Internet, consumers can watch individual programs or channels through online video services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, bypassing the cable company’s traditional bundles of channels.

Having invested billions of dollars building their networks, some pay-TV companies have shown little inclination to get out of the business of packaging television channels and become mere conduits for other companies’ data. Some major entertainment companies also have an interest in preserving the current model of television viewing because they want cable companies to take bundles of their channels, rather than just cherry-picking the most popular ones.

Carcinogen

Lovely. I was driving down I-95 the other day, and there was a diesel truck spewing such dense, thick smoke from both smokestacks that it looked like fog settled across the eight-lane highway in its wake. I said to my friend, “Wouldn’t you think someone would, oh, I don’t know, enforce the law? How the hell did that truck ever pass inspection?” (He told me not to ask such silly questions.) Now it’s more important than ever to enforce the air pollution laws, in light of this news:

LONDON (AP) — Diesel fumes cause cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency declared Tuesday, a ruling it said could make exhaust as important a public health threat as secondhand smoke.
The risk of getting cancer from diesel fumes is small, but since so many people breathe in the fumes in some way, the science panel said raising the status of diesel exhaust to carcinogen from “probable carcinogen” was an important shift.

“It’s on the same order of magnitude as passive smoking,” said Kurt Straif, director of the IARC department that evaluates cancer risks. “This could be another big push for countries to clean up exhaust from diesel engines.”

Since so many people are exposed to exhaust, Straif said there could be many cases of lung cancer connected to the contaminant. He said the fumes affected groups including pedestrians on the street, ship passengers and crew, railroad workers, truck drivers, mechanics, miners and people operating heavy machinery.

Hah! So much for my friends who make fun of me for walking on a treadmill at the gym, instead of outside. Did you know that urban runners take in even more pollution, because they have larger lung capacity?

The new classification followed a weeklong discussion in Lyon, France, by an expert panel organized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The panel’s decision stands as the ruling for the IARC, the cancer arm of the World Health Organization.

The last time the agency considered the status of diesel exhaust was in 1989, when it was labeled a “probable” carcinogen. Reclassifying diesel exhaust as carcinogenic puts it into the same category as other known hazards such as asbestos, alcohol and ultraviolet radiation.

The U.S. government, however, still classifies diesel exhaust as a likely carcinogen. Experts said new diesel engines spew out fewer fumes but further studies are needed to assess any potential dangers.

“We don’t have enough evidence to say these new engines are zero risk, but they are certainly lower risk than before,” said Vincent Cogliano of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He added that the agency had not received any requests to reevaluate whether diesel definitely causes cancer but said their assessments tend to be in line with those made by IARC.

Trying to talk to Mikey Fitzpatrick

Is it just here, or is it standard that congress members will only talk to constituents at paid events now? Because Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8) always makes time for Big Pharma lobbyists:

LANGHORNE-In yet another event demonstrating the growing outrage among Americans who are tired of Congress serving wealthy donors instead of regular people, constituents protested Monday evening outside a Congressman Fitzpatrick fundraiser at Sandy’s Beef and Ale in Langhorne.

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has recently come under fire for introducing legislation that directly helps his donors. The group of protestors criticized Congressman Fitzpatrick for recently introducing legislation to lift the cap on reverse mortgage lending after attending a lavish fundraiser in Key Largo where he received thousands in campaign contributions from the mortgage lending industry. Congressman Fitzpatrick also made headlines for his attempts to change tariff laws for another of his donors, American Color Manufacturing.

The protesters called attention to Congressman Fitzpatrick’s gifts for his donors with signs saying, “Where’s our Pork” and “We Came Here for Beef and Ale, Not Pork and Earmarks.”

“I take issue with the ‘pay to play’ nature of what Congressman Fitzpatrick is doing. I think he should help all of his constituents and local businesses, not just the ones who can afford to give him big campaign donations,” said Anthony Valiante of Levittown. “I’m facing a huge amount of student debt and an uncertain job market. I want to know that my congressman is going to fight to make our economy better, even if I cannot afford to write him a big check.”

Constituent Ginny Hoffman of Levittown said it’s time that elected officials get their priorities straight and help people who actually need it. Hoffman attempted to ask Congressman Fitzpatrick about his recent legislation benefiting his donors.

“When I open the newspaper I see that he is giving out a lot of pork to his donors instead of helping middle class people. I tried to tell him to help us, the people that are losing our homes and our jobs, instead of his wealthy donors. But I was blocked by his staff before I could ask my question,” she said.

In addition to introducing earmarks and special legislation to help his donors, Congressman Fitzpatrick voted twice for the Republican Budget proposal also know as the Ryan Budget, which would give millionaires and corporations $3 trillion in tax breaks. Many of Congressman Fitzpatrick’s big donors like GE, Comcast, Verizon and Bank of America receive massive tax breaks or pay no federal income taxes at all due to loopholes made even larger by the Republican budget proposal.

Members of the 99% protested Rep. Fitzpatrick’s massive tax giveaways to the rich at a time when Congress is threatening severe cuts to everything from healthcare for seniors to affordable loans for college students. They plan to hold more demonstrations throughout the summer calling on Pennsylvania politicians to oppose policies that shortchange the 99% to benefit corporations and the super-wealthy.

Hoffman added, “While Congressman Fitzpatrick is doing special favors for mortgage lenders and corporations, the 99% are still waiting for their earmarks and pork.”

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