This Is the Moment Rachel Maddow Has Been Waiting For – by Amanda Hess – The New York Times

“Maddow has hosted “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC at 9 p.m. five nights a week for 11 years. But over the past three, her figure has ascended, in the liberal imagination, from beloved cable-news host to a kind of oracle for the age of Trump. If her show started out as a smart, quirky, kind-of-meandering news program focusing on Republican misdeeds in the Obama years, it has become, since the 2016 election, the gathering place for a congregation of liberals hungering for an antidote to President Trump’s nihilism and disregard for civic norms.

CreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times

Maddow does not administer beat-downs or deliver epic rants. She is not a master of the sound bite. Instead, she carries her viewers along on a wave of verbiage, delivering baroque soliloquies about the Russian state, Trump-administration corruption and American political history. Her show’s mantra is “increasing the amount of useful information in the world,” though the people who watch it do not exactly turn to it out of a need for more information. They already read the papers and scroll through Twitter all day. What Maddow provides is the exciting rush of chasing a set of facts until a sane vision of the world finally comes into focus.”

David Lindsay:

My good friend Vin Gulisano had me over for dinner about a few years before he died, and what he really wanted to share with me was his passion for Rachel Maddow. We watched an episode, and I was ambivalent. She was sharp and articulate, but she gave her opinions loosely, as part of the news she reported, in a way that I thought was unprofessional.

The story above by Amanda Hess describes someone who has perfected a strong story telling style. I taped her show last night, and was deeply impressed. She has truly studied, relentlessly, Trump’s relations with Russia, and it gave depth and gravity to her understanding of the problems Trump now is having with the Ukraine. Her quote, from her recently published book, was shockingly news worthy and to the point. She was the first opinion journalist to say clearly, Donald will be impreached by the house, since he has already admitted to doing what he is accused of doing, asking a foreign government to meddle in our next election to help Trump.

One of my favorite commentors at the NYT.com, Christine McMorrow, had this comment about Maddow:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“By the time she cut to her first commercial break, she had zoomed out so far that Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine appeared to be just one little pushpin on a map of vast global corruption.” That’s what she does, and that’s why some of us love her to death.

Yes, her monologues can be tedious (Get to the point, Rachel!) but always in the end, well worth it. She manages to pack 100 pounds of news into a 5-pound news slot, weaving and integrating building blocks of understanding. It’s truly amazing how she writes her openings, and yet, at a dime, changes them in seconds to meet the latest late-breaking.

I’ve never seen any media person like her, and consider her a rare treasure in a sea of repetitive pundits. She may urge us to watch what Trump does, not says, but in her case, I want to watch what she says, each and every night.

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Why Are There So Many Robocalls? Here’s What You Can Do About Them – By Katherine Bindley – WSJ

Why Are There So Many Robocalls? Here’s What You Can Do About Them
Robocalls won’t vanish soon, but carriers are working on a spam filter and other fixes
Why Are There So Many Robocalls? Here’s What You Can Do About Them
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By Katherine Bindley
Updated July 4, 2018 1:30 p.m. ET
Remember when phone calls meant people wanted to talk to you about something other than lowering your interest rates? These days, the phone rings so often with recorded robocall messages—You qualify! You owe! You’ve won!—answering feels like a hazard.

I hit my own robocall breaking point a month ago. I was grabbing a quick shower before catching a flight. My phone rang. Fearing I’d miss a call from my boss, who had been trying to reach me, I jumped out. But no, it was a recording instead.

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I resisted the urge to throw my phone across the bathroom and went looking for answers. Why can’t anyone stop this madness? When will it end?

First, the bad news: Almost every person I talked to about robocalls used the phrase, “There’s no silver bullet.”

But developments in the works should get the robocall problem more under control. And there are steps to take on your own that actually do reduce calls.

Where did this evil come from?
Back when phone calls were transmitted over copper wires, businesses paid a lot of money for phone systems that allowed 1,000 employees to make calls without needing 1,000 phone lines. These systems inserted caller ID so, for instance, customers all saw the same business number, regardless of which employee made the call.

With the internet, businesses don’t need expensive hardware. Anyone can start a mini call center with software that auto-dials numbers and spoofs caller ID. They also need a provider to “originate” the call, that is, connect the internet call to the phone network.

Some robocalls are legitimate—your pharmacy, your bank—but not the ones that change numbers constantly to appear local and avoid detection. Robocallers even spoof numbers held by ordinary phone customers like you and me (so don’t call them back to yell at them.)

How They Fool Us
Robocallers seized the tech that helps legitimate businesses manage their phones. Here’s how they’ve perverted the phone call.

Personal calls

Jim calls Frank from his cellphone.

Phone service provider inserts caller ID.

Franks’s cellphone displays Jim’s name and number.

Frank answers his phone.

Traditional

business calls

Jenny’s office has a phone exchange system that lets many employees dial out over a smaller number of lines. The exchange system inserts caller ID.

Frank’s cellphone displays the main number of Jenny’s employer.

The call gets sent out through the company’s service provider.

Jenny calls Frank from her work phone.

Frank answers his phone.

Robocalls

He downloads software for free that can insert caller ID.

With an auto-dialer, he can call many numbers from a huge database.

The robocaller places calls over the internet.

The caller could be anywhere…

Fooled, Frank answers his phone.

…and still make the call appear to originate locally.

Illustration: Kurt Wilberding/The Wall Street Journal

Sources: Federal Trade Commission, Atis
A real fix is coming?
With caller ID basically broken, developers have proposed a call-certifying protocol (known as STIR) and guidelines for implementing it (known as SHAKEN). The names behind these acronyms are long and confusing.

With it, an originating phone carrier could check that a caller has the right to use a number and create a digital fingerprint for the call. The carrier on the receiving end could verify that nothing was messed with in transit.

“They’re actually not saying that the call comes from the phone number. What they’re saying is this user is entitled to use this phone number,” says Jim McEachern, a principal technologist with the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, a technical working group that helped develop guidelines for this call-certification protocol.

If a bad guy tries to spoof the caller ID, the call would go through, but it wouldn’t be verified. Eventually, users would see a check mark or other indicator for verified calls.

Verizon’s Caller Name ID service can send spam numbers to voice mail.
Verizon’s Caller Name ID service can send spam numbers to voice mail. PHOTO: VERIZON
Mr. McEachern likens the current state of robocalls to the days before email spam filters. “I think something similar will happen with this,” he says. “Suddenly people will say, ‘Remember how bad that used to be?’”

Mr. McEachern estimates that could take two to five years. Verizon plans to start rolling the system out later this year and other carriers are expected to follow.

“We are optimistic it will have an impact but again, this alone is not going to solve the problem,” says Matthew Berry, chief of staff at the Federal Communications Commission, which comes up with rules for the industry, fines people and companies for violations and develops public policy initiatives.

The ‘Do Not Originate’ list
Before then, other weaker measures are appearing. Last November, the FCC adopted rules that let phone companies block calls from area codes that don’t exist, numbers that aren’t assigned to anyone and entries on a “Do Not Originate” list, which consists of numbers that aren’t used for outbound calls.

T-Mobile provides scam ID and automatic scam-call blocking free.
T-Mobile provides scam ID and automatic scam-call blocking free. PHOTO: T-MOBILE
Mr. Berry says the rules have been effective in stopping IRS scam calls. Scammers had been spoofing an IRS hotline number that is now on the Do Not Originate list.

But IRS scam calls can come from a variety of numbers. Aaron Foss, founder of the call-blocking app Nomorobo, says his app identified 75 different numbers peddling IRS scams in just one day.

What you can do now
When you get a robocall, hang up. Don’t say anything, don’t press buttons and don’t call back. Once scammers know a number works, they can sell it and your call volume could increase.

Nomorobo identifies likely scam calls and can send them straight to voice mail
Nomorobo identifies likely scam calls and can send them straight to voice mail PHOTO: NOMOROBO
It can feel like there’s no point in blocking numbers in your phone—I blocked one peddling chronic pain management and got the same recording from another within 48 hours. But do it anyway, because there are plenty of repeat offenders out there. Here’s how to do it on iOS and Android.

Also, add yourself to the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry. Just know that you will still get unwanted calls, because scammers don’t obey rules. Also, keep filing robocall complaints. It helps the FTC spot evildoers.

Carrier protection
Service providers have upped their robocall-protection offerings recently so check in with your carrier. They include features to identify possible scam calls—and even gauge the likelihood it is a scam—as well as block them or send them to voice mail.

Hiya is a free call-blocking app.
Hiya is a free call-blocking app. PHOTO: HIYA
T-Mobile provides scam ID and automatic scam-call blocking free.

AT&T call-protection services are also free, and include blocking suspected fraud. It also offers a $4-a-month service that lets you block specific categories of calls, and includes reverse phone-number lookup.

Verizon’s recently improved $3-a-month Caller Name ID service for wireless can now send spam numbers to voice mail.

Sprint’s newly updated Premium Caller ID, also $3 a month, lets iOS users automatically reject calls based on the likelihood they are scams. Android users will get this feature later this summer.

Call-blocking apps
You can also try apps made by outside developers.

Nomorobo, $2 a month, identifies likely scam calls and can send them straight to voice mail. Unlike some other services, you don’t have to share your contact list for it to work.

Its algorithm uses multiple data sources, including complaints from the FTC and the FCC and real-time data it gets from its landline customers. The company also owns about 250,000 phone numbers, and monitors their incoming calls for scammers.

Hiya is a free call-blocking app that works by analyzing data from complaints made to the FTC and the FCC, and information it collects from its Android users. Hiya is the technology behind the call-identifying feature that powers AT&T’s Call Protect service.

Whether iOS or Android, you do need to share your contact list with Hiya, but the service doesn’t upload or store it. It also says it won’t sell any data from your phone to third parties.

After this article was published online, Hiya clarified its privacy policy and some of the language on its website to reflect that people can use a limited version of its app, including the core features, without granting access to contacts. Granting that access is only necessary to access all of the app’s features, it said.

Source: Why Are There So Many Robocalls? Here’s What You Can Do About Them – WSJ

Opinion | Let’s Destroy Robocalls – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

By Gail Collins
Opinion Columnist
March 1, 2019, 842
Congress may have found an issue that all Americans can rally around.

Stopping robocalls.

“All right — a little depressing that it can’t be world peace or affordable health care. But let’s take what we can get. If our elected officials could join hands and lead us into a world where phones are no longer an instrument of torture, maybe it’d give them enough confidence to march forward and, um, fund some bridge repair.

Everybody has always hated telemarketers, particularly the ones trying to sell some shady product. And now the miracles of technology let them follow you around all day. When I’m home, I feel as if I spend half my time blocking robocalls on our landline. Yet somehow a different number always pops up, with great news about opportunities to reinsure my nonexistent car at low prices or acquire a cost-free knee brace.

The knee brace thing is a scam to get money out of Medicare, but in order to figure that out you’d have to engage in conversation. People, do not ever talk on the phone with a stranger wielding free knee braces. This can be a life rule.

Things are at least as bad on mobile phones, which were the lucky recipients of 48 billion robocalls in the United States alone last year.”

Yet Another Reason for Your Kids to Unplug? Health Risks from Cellphone Radiation | Children’s Health Initiative | EWG

WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2018
By Olga Naidenko Ph.D., Senior Science Advisor for Children’s Environmental Health

“Most Americans, including children, use electronic devices like cellphones, tablets and smartwatches, for hours every day – and many have developed symptoms that look like addictive behavior. In 2017, children ages 8 and younger spent, on average, 48 minutes on mobile devices daily, and 42 percent of children 8 and younger have their own tablet devices, according to Common Sense Media.

But frequent use of electronic devices may pose health risks beyond addiction.

So far, the issue of children’s exposure to radiofrequency radiation from wireless devices has been missing from the debate about children’s screen time. Research from the National Toxicology Program reveals troubling evidence that cellphone radiation could cause brain and heart cancer.

Scientists exposed laboratory animals to radiofrequency radiation at levels similar to and higher than those emitted by cellphones. The exposed animals showed a greater likelihood of developing malignant glioma, a type of brain cancer, as well as heart tumors, compared to unexposed animals. Although this study tested radiation effects on animals, it offers valuable insight into the potential risk to people, including future exposure to 5G wireless networks.

Digital devices and the spectrum of invisible radiofrequency waves they transmit are changing rapidly. Even though scientific studies of cellphone radiation’s health impacts have not kept pace with the rapid technology developments, available research suggests that long-term exposure to wireless radiation could result in long-lasting health harm.

When EWG asked our audience how concerned it was about cellphone radiation, over 21,000 people answered, 95 percent of whom were either extremely or very concerned about young kids using cellphones and other wireless devices.

Since 2009, EWG has been doing research on possible health risks of cellphone and wireless radiation, especially for children’s health. In 2011 the World Health Organization classified cellphone radiation as a possible carcinogen.

In December 2017, the state of California officially issued guidelines advising cellphone users to keep phones away from their bodies. When the groundbreaking guidelines were made public, California Department of Public Health Director Karen Smith said:

Simple steps, such as not keeping your phone in your pocket and moving it away from your bed at night, can help reduce exposure for both children and adults … Children’s brains develop through the teenage years and may be more affected by cell phone use. Parents should consider reducing the time their children use cell phones and encourage them to turn the devices off at night.”

Source: Yet Another Reason for Your Kids to Unplug? Health Risks from Cellphone Radiation | Children’s Health Initiative | EWG

Opinion | The Republican Attack on California – By Tim Wu – NYT

A challenge to the state’s net neutrality laws shows that the G.O.P. no longer believes in federalism (if it ever did).
By Tim Wu
Mr. Wu is a law professor at Columbia.
Oct. 3, 2018

“For the past 60 years or so, the Republican Party has declared itself the true party of decentralized government, the founding vision of federalism and what are sometimes called states’ rights. Whether its pious declarations were ever actually about more than securing Southern votes or limiting the rights of women and minorities has always been questionable, but at least in theory the party took federalism seriously.

But now, with the party under new management and in control of every branch of the federal government, a profound transformation is underway. States’ rights still get lip service, at least when it comes to matters like limiting transgender rights. But the new reality is that we face a rising nationalist party, uninterested in local variation, aggressively devoted to molding the nation in the image of the party and its leader, Donald Trump, into one white-hot mass.

California (surely the state now most tempted to leave the union) is the flash point. This week, it passed its own net neutrality laws, to ban blocking and throttling of the internet, as a stand-in for the federal net neutrality rules abandoned by the Trump administration in June. California has obvious reasons to want to protect an open internet: It is the land of the internet’s origin, and a place where tech entrepreneurship has thrived.

If the Republican Party actually believed in economic decentralization, it might well accept the premise of state rules where the federal government explicitly disclaims any authority to act. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a self-declared states’ rights champion, declared within hours of the law’s passage that the Department of Justice will sue California for infringing corporate prerogatives — that is, interfering with the right of cable and phone companies to block or slow internet content.”

Opinion | Letting Sprint and T-Mobile Merge Is a Terrible Idea – by Tim Wu – NYT

“The merits of some mergers make for a close case, but the proposed merger between the mobile carriers Sprint and T-Mobile, which would create a new telecommunications behemoth, is not one of them. Basic economics strongly suggests the proposed combination should be dead on arrival, at least if the nation’s antitrust law still stands for competition and lower prices for consumers. In addition, the recent history of telecommunications and similar industries indicates that allowing consolidation to just three “majors” — Verizon, AT&T and the new T-Mobile (merged with Sprint) — is a terrible idea.

The problem for Sprint and T-Mobile is that they themselves have done such a good job of proving the merits of the four-way competition they now seek to eliminate. In 2011, the government held the line at four competitors by blocking a proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, and it did so again in 2014, when it blocked an effort by Sprint to buy T-Mobile. Result: The “wireless wars” — intense price and service competition that even skeptics of government action concede have been good for consumers and the economy.

T-Mobile, the self-proclaimed “uncarrier,” has done an admirable job of attacking termination fees, abusive contracts and other mistreatment — often outperforming regulators as an agent of consumer protection. Sprint, meanwhile, has come to excel in its role as a price-cutting maverick. Allow me to advertise for Sprint: Did you know that it offers a service for $60 with an unlimited data plan?”

DL;  Then Tim Wu describes how consolidation in the Airlines from 6 to 3 carriers has screwed the public. He writes, do you want the cell phone companies to be able to act like these behemoth airlines. They are now very profitable!!