Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Mar 6, 2015 in Stuff You Should Know

Net Neutrality Passed

Last month, btw brought you news of a proposal to determine how the Internet should be governed. On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the net neutrality rules in a vote of 3 to 2. This means that broadband access, once considered an “information service,” will be reclassified as a utility and be subject to more regulation. Under the new ruling Internet providers cannot engage in “paid prioritization” (ensuring smoother delivery for particular content for a fee). Price controls will not be subject to the new rules.

Broadband providers have reacted with a number of public statements. The chief executive of the Telecommunications Industry Association called the ruling an “over-reaction” by the government. A spokesperson from Verizon Wireless called the regulation antiquated and that applying them to new technologies is misguided. Others opposed to the net neutrality ruling argue that the Internet has evolved rapidly passed its early days. Consumers now expect large amounts of data and providers believe that the costs should not be shouldered by them alone.

What Do You Think? Did the FCC make the right choice? Do some research into what both sides believe are the victories and defeats of the ruling. With whom do you side? Explain your answer.

Fate of AP in OK

Educators, lawmakers and parents often have wildly differing opinions over what and how we teach our children. One of the most recent debates is over the state of Oklahoma’s decision to vote on the fate of Advanced Placement (AP) History classes. The College Board, a nonprofit organization that creates curricula to promote college-readiness, recently redesigned its coursework. Critics say that the material portrays a very unfamiliar interpretation of the history of the United States and that it is too negative. For example, the AP curriculum includes information such as the persecution of Native Americans and slavery. These critics are also opposed to what they see as a de-emphasis on topics, such as the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. Some insist that the major core issue is the overall tone and how the subject matter is framed.

On February 18, State of Oklahoma House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would require the Board of Education to adopt a new U.S. History program. It would also restrict funding for any school districts that use the new AP history curricula. After facing a wave of negative feedback, Representative Dan Fisher–who introduced the bill–announced that he would “rework” the bill.

What Do You Think? Opposition to the new AP framework has become a heated political debate. The Republican National Committee officially condemned the guidelines back in August. How likely do you think this issue will be presented in the next presidential election? Explain your answer.

New Hampshire Bans Selfies at the Polls

In an era where people can easily document their every waking moment, is there a such thing as too far? Legislators in New Hampshire think so. The state’s attorney general’s office launched an investigation into at least four of its citizens for post photos of their ballots on the Internet. But it is not just the Granite State. In forty-four states, it is already illegal to both photograph and share images of one’s ballot. But earlier this year, New Hampshire updated its law to include explicit language restricting posting images on social media. The punishment is typically an invalidation of your ballot and possible fines and imprisonment.

Those in favor of the law say keeping all ballots private prevents voter fraud. Not being able to prove how someone votes makes it difficult to either bribe or threaten another person into voting a particular way. Those opposed to the law call it an infringement of our First Amendment rights and believe that there are better ways to counter voter fraud. This includes focusing on those engaging in bribery or coercion.

Has New Hampshire gone to far in its selfie ban at polling locations?

  • No. Voting should remain completely private. (100%, 3 Votes)
  • Yes. A quick selfie won't hurt anyone. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 3

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What Do You Think? Should “ballot selfies” be prohibited in order to prevent voter fraud, or should it be protected under the First Amendment? Explain your answer.

“New Urbanism” in Austin

New ideas about residential living is changing how suburbs are built.

New ideas about residential living is changing how suburbs are built.

Trends for how we live together in communities seem to change with each generation. Your parents might have grown up in suburbia, in housing developments located on the outer-skirts of a city. Today, developers are becoming more interested in bringing people back into the hearts of cities. In Austin, Texas, a housing community called Mueller (named for a former airport on the site), is being called a model of “new urbanism.”

New urbanism is an approach to the design of cities. While is not a new concept, it has gained popularity in the last few years. Some of the features of new urbanism include a neighborhood “center” (usually a square or designated intersection), a variety of housing styles to appeal to a wide-range of residents, and the integration of “green” technologies. The developers of Mueller specifically designed homes with large porches to encourage neighbors to get to know one another better. Critics of new urbanism say communities of becoming “sterile” because of strict laws regarding what residents can and can’t do.

Dig Deeper Do some research into how other communities across the country are updating the concept of neighborhood living. How does it build on or differ from those of the past?