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Trump taps net neutrality foe to head FCC

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President Donald Trump on Monday tapped Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai to head the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which is expected to roll back many of the Obama administration’s telecommunications and internet policies.

Pai, a former Justice Department, FCC and Capitol Hill staffer, in December said the administration’s landmark net neutrality rules adopted in 2015 would not last.

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Pai, the son of Indian immigrants who grew up in Kansas, said last month the commission should take a “weed whacker” to unneeded rules and was harshly critical of many FCC regulations imposed during the Obama administration.

“During the Trump Administration, we will shift from playing defense at the FCC to going on offense,” he said last month. “We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation.”

Pai will also have a key role in deciding whether to approve or reject or impose conditions on mergers involving cable and telephone companies. In May, Pai opposed conditions imposed by the FCC on Charter Communication’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

Last week, then FCC chairman Tom Wheeler urged Republicans against dismantling the Obama administration’s landmark “net neutrality” protections that bar internet service providers from slowing consumer access to web content.

Internet providers fear net neutrality rules make it harder to manage internet traffic and make investment in additional capacity less likely. The Republican-controlled Congress is also considering rewriting the net neutrality rules.

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Pai has vowed to boost transparency at the FCC. Pai does not need Senate confirmation as chairman but his current term expires at the end of the year and he will need to be reconfirmed to continue.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Bernard Orr)

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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After Trump: No free pass for Republicans — they own this nightmare

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With the impeachment inquiry leveling up this month as public hearings begin, and with an election that might actually be the end of Donald Trump now less than a year away, the campaign to let Trump's Republican allies — even the most villainous offenders — move on and pretend this never happened is already underway.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Sadly, the clearest articulation of the let-bygones-be-bygones mentality has come from a Democrat — unsurprisingly, former Vice President Joe Biden.Biden, who is still, somehow, the frontrunner in Democratic primary polling, spoke at a chi-chi fundraiser on Wednesday, and dropped this pearl of wisdom: "With Donald Trump out of the way, you’re going to see a number of my Republican colleagues have an epiphany."

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As climate crisis-fueled fires rage, fears grow of an ‘uninhabitable’ California

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As activist Bill McKibben put it, "We've simply got to slow down the climate crisis."

With wildfires raging across California on Wednesday—and with portions of the state living under an unprecedented "Extreme Red Flag Warning" issued by the National Weather Service due to the severe conditions—some climate experts are openly wondering if this kind of harrowing "new normal" brought on by the climate crisis could make vast regions of the country entirely uninhabitable.

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