Internet Access as the Next Civil Rights Battle?

Advocates argue for ‘open Internet,’ some fear minority redlining

The ongoing, often arcane, battle over whether telecommunications companies may slow certain online services and charge fees to speed up others has morphed into a civil rights controversy.

Many of the country’s leading civil rights organizations are siding with the phone and cable companies in their bid to prevent federal regulations over their broadband, or high-speed, Internet services. At stake: whether to preserve “network neutrality” — the longstanding principle that all consumers can access whatever websites or applications they want on the Internet, at the same speed and without limitations imposed by Internet service providers.


Cheap phone calls hang in the balance in tug-of-war between FCC, cable giants

Voice-over-Internet calling is steadily growing in popularity, replacing costly long distance phone services with free or cheap options that are affordable for many low-income and immigrant communities. Bay Area residents could see cheap calls become a thing of the past depending on the outcome of a battle being waged in the halls of Washington D.C. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to reclassify broadband from an information service to a telecommunications carrier with the goal of gaining some authority to regulate providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, which the companies fiercely oppose.

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UCSF offers furloughed employees little help via ‘hardship loans’

To help employees suffering “additional financial stress” from pay cuts and furloughs, the University of California-San Francisco is letting workers borrow their lost wages and repay the money — with interest.

But employees hoping to tap a UCSF emergency loan fund for help paying rent or bills are out of luck. These don’t count as “an unplanned emergency situation.”

UC faculty say proposed cuts unfair, show favoritism

Now that California has finally passed a budget, public higher education officials are moving forward with the difficult task of implementing cuts that will greatly impact students and educators.

And as University of California officials discuss additional reductions, some faculty members at the UC Berkeley campus say cuts are being distributed unfairly. Certain sciences reportedly are seeing less than a quarter percent cut while the school’s physical education program funding is being cut in half.

UC regents approve furlough plan; standoff foreseen with unions

n a 20-1 vote, the University of California Board of Regents decided Thursday to move forward with a contentious furlough plan that will affect more than 108,000 employees, setting the stage for a standoff between UC officials and labor unions.

Beginning Sept. 1, UC faculty and staff members will have to take 11 to 26 days off a year, depending on their salary level, which amounts to pay cuts ranging from 4 percent to 10 percent. Those making $40,000 or less will have to take 11 furlough days, with the number of days off increasing for those with higher salaries.

The plan is expected to create $184 million in savings for the 10-campus university system, which is saddled with an $813 million deficit.

Staff protest outside regents' meeting at UCSF Mission Bay campus. Photo by Christi Morales/The Public Press

UC regents back furloughs and pay cuts; staff protest

More than 108,000 full-time University of California faculty and staff face extended unpaid furloughs and pay cuts under an emergency plan endorsed Wednesday by a Board of Regents’ committee. Senior managers would also see their salaries cut an additional 5 percent.

The plan passed, 11-1. The full board will vote Thursday.

If approved, the plan would take effect Sept. 1. UC faculty and staff would be required to take from 11 to 26 unpaid days by Sept. 1, 2010, which works out to a pay cut of 4 to 10 percent. Higher earners would take more furlough days and deeper pay cuts.

Ideologies continue to divide same-sex marriage issue

As hundreds gathered in front of the Earl Warren Building on Tuesday waiting to hear the California Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld Proposition 8, a war of words erupted and some even turned into screaming battles that reinforced the deeply divided ideologies about same-sex marriage.

The scene of people arguing amidst the flurry of pro and anti-gay marriage banners illustrates the chasm among Californians that has played out since same-sex marriage took center stage in 2000, when voters passed Proposition 22.

Propositions 1A and 1B

Late last month, more than 200 UCSC students staged a walkout and rally to protest budget cut proposals. Many of the students and supporters voiced their concerns that the budget axe would fall heavily on the Community Studies and the Latin American and Latino Studies departments. Earlier this month rumors surfaced that UCSC officials planned to eliminate the community studies program, a major focused on social activism and that two prominent LALS lecturers would be let go.

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