Category Archives: Accountability and Representation

When the media does us wrong and community accountability

Public Utilities Commission Hearing for Northern California on T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

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by Peter Maiden. Originally published at Central Valley Indy Bay

The California Public Utilities Commission held a public hearing January 15 on the question of the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. Tracy Rosenberg of Media Alliance was there and gave an interview.

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original image (1296×864)On January 15 a public hearing of the California Public Utilities Commission was held at Fresno City Hall on a proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. The merger would create the third largest wireless provider, with 60% of the market for prepaid mobile phones. Media Alliance has been instrumental in bringing consumers into the conversation about corporate mergers. I spoke to Tracy Rosenberg of Media Alliance after the event. 

“When I got to the motel where I’m spending the night down here, the desk clerk who was checking me in asked me why I happened to be in Fresno, so I told her that I´m coming to this hearing at City Hall, and it was about the T-Mobile Sprint merger. I didn’t express my position on it … and the first thing that Debbie the desk clerk said to me was ‘Don’t let those two companies combine, because they’ll raise all the prices!’ 

“But when we come to CPUC hearings … we find a number of different, what I would call ‘interested parties’ participating, and that includes company employees, and a number of Chamber of Commerce and business type groups. [Here they] were talking about rural broadband access, even though this merger is really unlikely to improve service in rural areas. It was kind of a company talking point.” 

Sprint and T-Mobile say they will initiate a 5G network, a systemic improvement, but Tracy said that could also be an empty promise, as many promises made in the course of mergers are broken. 

Tracy continued, “It was good to see an auditorium full of people. I appreciated the fact that the Communications Workers of America brought some of their folks out, and I think they made some of the strongest statements of fact that we heard this evening. But it always breaks my heart that when there is an opportunity for public comment that it’s often dominated by those who have a really tight and close interest to the merger rather than the random folks who essentially are not involved in the merger but are going to bear the impact of it.” 

The only Commissioner, of five altogether, who heard the comments at the meeting, was Cliff Rechtschaffen. He is assigned to oversee this merger procedure. He was previously an aide to Governor Brown. 

“If you want to participate in meetings such as this, Tracy said, “you don’t have to be an expert, that’s not what these hearings are for. What you just have to be an impacted person. Speak from the heart: this is how I use my cell phone, this is how I use my wireless service, this is what I’m afraid might happen, this is what I struggle with, this is how much I can afford to pay, here’s what would happen if it doubled. 

“People can write down their feelings, whether they’re an expert or not, and send that at any time to the Commission’s Public Advisor, it’s public.advisor [at] cpuc.ca.gov” 

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16 Civil Rights Group Press For Stronger Data Protections

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A new data privacy agency should be created to confront 21st century threats and address emerging concerns for digital customers, consumer and privacy organizations said today as they released a framework for comprehensive privacy protection and digital rights for members of Congress.

The United States is woefully behind other nations worldwide in providing modern data protections for its consumers, instead relying solely on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to safeguard consumers and promote competition. But corporations understand that the FTC lacks rule making authority and that the agency often fails to enforce rules it has established.

“The FTC has failed to act,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, policy director at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The U.S. needs a dedicated data protection agency.” Alternately, many democratic nations like Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Ireland and Japan already have dedicated data protection agencies with independent authority and enforcement capabilities.

Groups that have signed on to the framework include Berkeley Media Studies Group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Media Justice, Color of Change, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Defending Rights & Dissent, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Media Alliance, Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, Public Citizen, Stop Online Violence Against Women and U.S. PIRG.

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Industry Threatens To Neuter CCPA

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A California state senator representing the Hayward-Fremont-Milpitas area is saying he will sink a bill (Senate Bill 561) that gives Californians the right to sue if companies break the law.

Senate Bill 561, authored by Hannah Beth Jackson and sponsored by CA’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, lets state residents take independent legal action if any of the rights granted to them by the new law are violated, including the right to know where their personal information is being sold and to withhold consent for data sales. Without the bill, consumers will have little recourse if some companies don’t voluntarily comply.

Senator Wieckowski’s office refused to meet with a group of constituents in his district, a meeting Media Alliance and Oakland Privacy offered to convene, saying the entire legislative staff was “too busy” to meet every single day from May 6 to May 15.

When asked what a constituent should do if a company ignores their request to opt out under CCPA, the senator’s legislative director Heather Resetarits replied: ” I understand your frustration and the Senator understands the arguments for the merits of the policy contained in the bill.”

Wieckowski, one of four Democrats on the Senate Appropriations committee whose vote will be required to advance SB 561, says he is loyal to “a deal” struck with real estate developer Alastair MacTaggart in 2018 to remove McTaggart’s initiative from the 2018 ballot. The ballot initiative, which was supported by 600,000 Californians, had a right to sue or a private right of action. It was taken out in the “deal”, which happened in a back room without the permission of those 600,000 Californians or the other 39 million Californians who were having their privacy rights trimmed.

The right to privacy is enshrined in the California state constitution. The preamble to the California Privacy Act states:

It is the intent of the Legislature to further Californians’ right to privacy by giving consumers an effective way to control their personal information, by ensuring the following rights:(1) The right of Californians to know what personal information is being collected about them.(2) The right of Californians to know whether their personal information is sold or disclosed and to whom.(3) The right of Californians to say no to the sale of personal information.(4) The right of Californians to access their personal information.(5) The right of Californians to equal service and price, even if they exercise their privacy rights.

Rights you can only exercise if a company voluntarily agrees aren’t rights, they are requests. Unenforceable requests. Attorney General Becerra, in sponsoring Senate Bill 561 said: “I urge you to provide consumers with a private right of action under CCPA”. A March 2019 poll said 94% of California voters want to be able to take a company to court if the company violates their privacy rights.

Senator Bob Wieckowski is telling you he is going to ignore 94% of the voters, make your constitutional rights unenforceable, and won’t meet with his own angry constituents because of a backroom deal with the the one percent to protect companies that won’t comply with the law. Who is he representing?

Here is how to reach him: Sacramento: (916) 651-4010 Fremont:
(510) 794-3900

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No PVE In California

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A 70-strong coalition of social justice and civil rights groups led by M-Power Change, Asian-Americans Advancing Justice and CAIR California (including Media Alliance) sent a letter to CA Governor Gavin Newson asking him to end the reinstatement of a washed-over version of the DHS Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, now repackaged as a California state program called Preventing Violent Extremism. (PVE).

The letter states “PVE programs are deceptively framed as public health and youth programs that offer social services to marginalized communities. Such a framing masks the true objectives; to surveil, profile and collect intelligence on Muslim, immigrant and Black and Brown communities…. These programs stigmatize the very communities they purport to help, making them less likely to seek legitimate social services for fear it will lead to unwarranted law enforcement scrutiny.

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The Downfall of Roundup

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By Darian Carrow

The world’s most popular yet most controversial weed killer, Roundup, has been under severe scrutiny as consumers allege that the product has caused their various health issues and cancers. The active ingredient that reportedly causes these complications, glyphosate, has been deemed “probably carcinogenic for humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Since this classification, thousands of consumers have sought legal assistance to go against manufacturer Monsanto, newly acquired by pharmaceutical giant Bayer, for selling a product they knew could be dangerous to their customers.

It was recently revealed that more than 13,400 consumers have filed lawsuits against Bayer and its subsidiary Monsanto for its Roundup product. So far, three heavily covered lawsuits have gone through American courts, all resulting in huge losses for the manufacturing company. These notable cases have paved the way for the rest of the pending suits and for consumers who have suffered because of Roundup.

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Politico Pro: Privacy Bills Go Straight to Senate Floor

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This report first appeared on POLITICO California Pro on Aug. 15, 2019.

SACRAMENTO — Soon after lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week, a slate of Privacy Act bills originally set to be heard by the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee instead went straight to the Senate floor, closing off a well-worn backchannel for end-of-session deal-making.

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Astroturf Nonprofit Group Guns For Privacy-Friendly State Senator

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In a shocking letter, a newly incorporated group calling itself the Nonprofit Alliance has called for the removal of jurisdiction over statewide privacy legislation from the California State Senate’s Judiciary committee, chaired by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.

The request, which Senate Speaker Toni Atkins says “is not being considered”, called for the realignment due to the committee’s amendments of industry bills to weaken California’s consumer privacy act. CCPA is the only comprehensive statewide consumer privacy legislation in the country. Often referred to as America’s GDPR, the CCPA is scheduled to go into effect in 2020.

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Tsuru For Solidarity Pilgrimage To Close The Camps

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Mike Ishii, ​mikeishii@gmail.com​, 646-729-7722 General Inquiries: ​tsuruforsolidarity@gmail.com

JAPANESE AMERICAN ACTIVISTS HOLD NATIONAL DAY OF ACTIONTO RELEASE ALL IMMIGRANTS IN DETENTION FACING THREAT OF COVID-19 

Tsuru For Solidarity Joins Detention Watch Network’s #FreeThemAll Campaign by sharing stories of Japanese American history of illness in WWII U.S. concentration camps

WHO​: Tsuru For Solidarity, Detention Watch Network, La Resistencia

WHEN​: March 24 – 27, 2020

WHERE​: Nationwide

VISUALS​: Images of Japanese American families affected by disease and infection during their incarceration during WWII; newspaper and media clippings discussing spread of disease in WWII U.S. concentration camps; photos and videos of Japanese American survivors sharing stories about their families who lived through camp epidemics, including the following online discussion on 3/25 at 8pm: ​https://bit.ly/contagion-in-the-camps-video

WHAT​: Tsuru For Solidarity is joining Detention Watch Network’s #FreeThemAll campaign to release immigrants in ICE detention to prevent migrant jails from becoming epicenters of COVID-19 spread. In doing so, Tsuru For Solidarity will share stories of how illness and disease in the WWII camps impacted Japanese Americans, and why this history is relevant in today’s ICE jails. The stories will be shared from Tuesday, March 24 to Friday, March 27, including during an online discussion​ with ​Maru Mora Villalpando of ​La Resistencia,​ Bárbara Suarez Galeano of Detention Watch Network, and Carl Takei of Tsuru For Solidarity. ​The week will culminate in a National Day of Action on Friday, March 27, 2020, to drive phone calls to urge officials to close the camps and release all people so they can find safety – not sickness – in this moment.

“Sickness was a familiar way of life for many of us inside the prison camp during WWII. Due to the overcrowding and substandard health care, we were subjected to significantly higher rates of communicable diseases that included tuberculosis, polio, and typhoid. We suffered repeated epidemics of scarlet fever and flu.”-S​atsuki Ina,Co-Chair of Tsuru for Solidarity and Tule Lake Concentration Camp Survivor.

The history of Japanese American incarceration during WWII makes clear that detention facilities are breeding grounds for the spread of disease and infection. Outbreaks in World War II U.S. concentration camps included a polio epidemic at Amache; dysentery, mumps, and valley fever at Gila River; and measles and chicken pox at Tule Lake. Poorly equipped hospitals and inadequate medical staff only exacerbated these problems. Imprisoning individuals in such conditions was inhumane then, and it is inhumane now.     

Despite drastic steps taken by other government agencies to contain the spread of COVID-19, ICE and many other law enforcement agencies are going on with business as usual. According to the Los Angeles Times, ICE agents are continuing to arrest immigrants, including a 56-year old man who is the sole breadwinner for his family; the agents arrested him when he left his home to work and buy groceries that would have prepared his family for coronavirus lockdowns. And while a number of sheriffs and police departments are wisely responding to community pressure and public health guidance by rampingdown enforcement of low-level offenses, many are continuing to book people into jail even for minor misconduct.

Tsuru for Solidarity (​tsuruforsolidarity.org​) is a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American advocates working to end detention sites and support front-line immigrant and refugee communities being targeted by racist, inhumane immigration policies. We stand on the moral authority of Japanese Americans who suffered great injustices in U.S. concentration camps during WWII, and we say, “Stop Repeating History!”


Due to COVID-19, for health and safety reasons, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the June 5th-7th National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps in Washington, D.C. We also are postponing the Caravan to Close the Camps.

You will receive a full refund of your registration fee unless you choose to convert it into a donation, as described below. If you registered by EventBrite, a credit will be issued back to your original payment method (less the additional $11 fee collected by EventBrite) by May 1, 2020. For those who paid by check, we will reissue a check for your registration fee. Alternatively, you may choose to convert your registration fee into a donation to support Tsuru for Solidarity’s ongoing work and help us cover expenses from this unexpected postponement, by filling in your information here by March 31.

Answers to additional logistical questions will shortly be posted in the “Frequently Asked Questions” on the Pilgrimage to Close the Camps page. Postponement does not mean we will fall silent. Prison camps are places where people are acutely vulnerable to health complications and disease outbreaks — something we know all too well from the World War II WRA concentration camps. In this context, we are gravely concerned how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact people in ICE custody. Tsuru for Solidarity is therefore joining Detention Watch Network and other organizations to call for ICE to take immediate steps to protect the health and safety of immigrants during this pandemic, including by ending current detention of immigrants and ceasing local ICE enforcement operations.The dates we had planned to march in DC, June 5-6, 2020, will be a national weekend of physically distanced but socially unified Tsuru for Solidarity actions across the country. We are also developing additional regional and national strategies to deepen and expand our work to close the camps and support directly affected communities. Please stay tuned for more information about our revised plans.

Finally, please know that your donations and contributions toward building Tsuru for Solidarity’s community are important and deeply appreciated. We are grateful for your generosity of spirit, time, activism, and folding of cranes to support immigrant and refugee communities today. As one of our supporters wrote to us, “COVID-19 is forcing everyone to acknowledge on some level our shared fate, our mutual responsibilities and our need for a safe, humane world.”In solidarity and with our sincere wishes for everyone’s health and safety,

Tsuru for Solidarity

Www.tsuruforsolidarity.org

Tsuruforsolidarity@gmail.com


125,000 paper cranes to DC in June 2020 for Tsuru for Solidarity’s
“National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps”

From Tsuru For Solidarity’s Press Release:

Japanese Americans from across the country will gather next spring in Washington, D.C. on June 5-7, 2020 for a “National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps.” We plan to bring 125,000 paper cranes, or tsuru, as expressions of solidarity with immigrant and refugee communities that are under attack today. The 125,000 cranes represent the members of our community who were rounded up and incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps during World War II, including both Japanese Americans and Japanese Latin Americans.

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