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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National Park Service Proposed Limits on White House Protests

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New proposed rules from the National Park Service would make it substantially harder to hold rallies, demonstrations or protests in Washington and specifically on the streets and sidewalks surrounding the White House.

Among the changes suggested are a prohibition on 80% of the public area outside the White House, including Lafayette Park, a traditional site for protests for more than a hundred and fifty years. The NPS also proposes charging event organizers for the costs of monitoring and interfering with their protests, including charging  enhanced fees for barricades and surveillance and changing the permitting process to not require an answer until as little as 40 days beforehand, making it very difficult to organize large nationwide protests.

The comment period closes on Monday October 15th at 11:59PM EST, so there is still time to make your voice heard here.

The First Amendment requires the government to permit us to petition to redress our grievances and for no undue burdens be placed on us to prevent that. These proposed regulations fail the test.

Here are our comments (jointly signed with Oakland Privacy).

Media Alliance and Oakland Privacy Comments on Proposed National Park Service Rules

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Guidelines for Media Literacy Education – An Overview by MA’s Interns

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MA spring/summer interns Keli Gabinelli, a recent graduate from NYU’s Steinhardt School and Koroosh Darabi Farsi, a senior at NorthGate High School in Walnut Creek took a look at the CA Legislature fumbling around yet again with creating media literacy curriculum in CA schools – and decided to write a little overview about why Media Literacy matters to young people and what they want to see in the schools.

We hope you enjoy their summary.

Guidelines on Media Literacy and Digital Citzenship

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114 Civil Rights Groups on Pre-Trial Risk Asssessment

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114 civil and human rights groups, including Media Alliance, joined together to urge that pre-trial detention including risk assessment or predictive software and electronic shackles, be used as infrequently as possible.

The groups called for an end on money bail and for pre-trial detention to be used as a last resort imposed upon an accused person after they’ve received an adversarial hearing that observes  individual rights, liberties, and the presumption of innocence. Continue reading 114 Civil Rights Groups on Pre-Trial Risk Asssessment

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Salesforce Faces Boycott Threat as RAICES Rejects $250,000 Donation Over CBP Contract

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By Dell Cameron and Bryan Menegus – originally published in Gizmodo

Embroiled cloud computing company Salesforce tried to sanitize its image through a hefty donation to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services—one of the highest-profile organizations resisting our draconian immigration policy. RAICES said no thanks—and at least six other high-profile organizations are now threatening to cut ties with the company.

Salesforce’s work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection—an agency that, along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is chiefly associated with family separations—was first announced by the company in March, but meaningfully came to light last month when the company’s own employees pressured CEO Mark Benioff to cancel the contract. “Given the inhumane separation of children from their parents currently taking place at the border,” they wrote, “Salesforce should re-examine our contractual relationship with CBP and speak out against its practices.”

Continue reading Salesforce Faces Boycott Threat as RAICES Rejects $250,000 Donation Over CBP Contract

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Counterspin: Tracy Rosenberg on ICE’s Corporate Collaborators

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This week on CounterSpin: “As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border,” the global tech company declared in a statement. “Family unification has been a fundamental tenet of American policy and law since the end of World War II.”  The same Microsoft bragged a few months ago about ICE’s use of its Azure cloud computing services to “accelerate facial recognition and identification” of immigrants, though the post has since been altered to omit the phrase “we’re proud to support this work with our mission-critical cloud.”

The spotlight on the White House’s inhumane agenda on immigration and immigrants is exposing more than the devastatingly cruel practices in force at the border, but also the numerous big corporate and institutional players that are—often invisibly—enabling that agenda. And just like the agenda, the impact of these collaborations extends well beyond immigrant communities. We’ll talk about all that with organizer/advocate Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and co-coordinator of Oakland Privacy.

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