The Federal Communications Commission voted today to open its latest net neutrality proposal to public comments.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said the commission is "dedicated to protecting and preserving an open internet." Much of the debate around the current proposal has focused on the agreement between Netflix and Comcast, in which Netflix pays extra to guarantee its content is delivered to homes without delay. Netflix accounts for about a third of peak-period broadband traffic. So what does that mean for the net neutrality debate?
"I don't think it matters," says Barbara van Schewick, faculty director of the Center for Internet and Society at the Stanford Law School, "because under a good network neutrality regime, people pay for the bandwidth they use and it doesn't really matter where it comes from."
For example, think about the way we pay for electricity in the summer. A much larger portion of the energy we use is generated by air conditioners. "We don't say the electricity companies should be charging the air conditioning producers for the fact that they create all this demand for electricity," van Schewick says.
Under net neutrality, the same rules would apply to the internet. Broadband providers couldn't charge based on the type of content, or its source. So Netflix or email or Spotify would all be treated the same. Users could only be charged on the amount of bandwidth used.
And Netflix, being a video streaming service, takes up lots of bandwidth. "I think it's important to know that Netflix pays for that," says John Blevins, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. Netflix pays a substantial amount to send out its shows through the internet. "The concern," says Blevins, "is that the internet companies, because they own essentially the driveway to your house, the only way into your house, they want to charge Netflix twice."
That second charge is what's often called paid prioritization, which is currently allowed by the FCC. Over the next 120 days the FCC will take comments from the public on whether that policy should stand.
A group of Gazan farmers has gone organic. While their produce should fetch a premium price, most of it ends up in the public market, mixed in with regular produce and sold for the same price.
Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia from January 2012 to February 2014, says, "I've never seen [Putin] devote a speech to the necessity of reuniting Crimea with Russia. That came only recently."
Even now, five years after the crash, homebuilding is stuck at half its normal level. And a hoped-for bounce after the harsh winter hasn't materialized. Some analysts blame higher mortgage rates.
At Savannah State University, a historically black college in Georgia, the school's Division 1 football team has no chance of making it to the playoffs next year. It's not because of the team record. Rather, it's among 36 teams nationwide barred from playoffs because of National Collegiate Athletic Association academic ratings.
"It kind of limits us to a certain type of recruit because you obviously can't go to postseason play," says Sterling Steward Jr., Savannah State's athletic director.
Like most of the teams on the list, Savannah State is among the Division 1 schools with fewer resources.
"We have a very limited budget, but we are very competitive in everything!" Steward says.
Even so, Savannah State is spending all it can on tutoring, study time, and other resources to improve its athletes' performance and graduation rates. Steward expects the school to be free of restrictions within two years.
The NCAA's so-called Academic Progress Rate started about a decade ago. It measures how many student athletes get good grades and stay in school or graduate. It's also getting tougher, which is why the number jumped from 13 barred from postseason play last year.
Critics of the NCAA are quick to point out, though, that none of the teams penalized this year are top tier schools with big budgets.
"You don't want the richer schools to suffer penalties, because they're the ones generating the money for you," says David Berri, a professor of economics at Southern Utah University.
He says the NCAA has a history of penalizing under-resourced colleges, while giving rich schools a pass, even crystalizing into a joke among NCAA-watchers: "We just found a major school was cheating again. Looks like another smaller school is going to need to pay a penalty," Berri recounts.
Berri thinks the Academic Progress Rate is a way for the NCAA to answer critics who think college sports have become too removed from academics. He notes that students can go pro after one year and not affect a school's score.
"It is done to address the criticism that a lot of these athletes are not being as educated as people would like them to be," he says.
The NCAA doesn't buy it. It says student performance is going up under the program, even at less-resourced institutions.
"The issue here, more than anything else, is making sure that all of our institutions are achieving an academic rate, where they are being successful and graduating students," says Azure Davey, director of academic and membership affairs at the NCAA. "There have been large strides made at our limited-resource institutions on an academic front."
The NCAA has provided more than $4 million to help schools like Savannah State provide tutoring and other services. And, Davey says, the NCAA has programs to give struggling schools more time too boost performance.
But as much as they improve, it's hard to compete with a college that can just throw money at the problem.
For another view of the story, here's a look at the schools that came out on top of the academic rankings.
What’s at the top of The New York Times’s list of non-fiction bestsellers? A book on income inequality, called “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” by Thomas Piketty, a French economist.
It is something of a sensation, having sold 300,000 copies, and Piketty has become as much of a celebrity as an economist can be.
What you may not know is that the book is a translation, into English from the original French, and the translator, a man named Arthur Goldhammer, is a something of a celebrity in his world too.
Goldhammer met Piketty at Harvard University, where the economist was lecturing a few years ago. Later, Piketty asked him to translate “Le Capital au XXIe siècle” into English.
It took Goldhammer five months to translate some 600 pages. “The manuscript came in at about twice as long as expected,” he says.
Goldhammer, who is affiliated with the Center for European Studies at Harvard, works from his home, in Cambridge, Mass., in a “little room, slightly larger than a closet.” It is where he reads and writes, and it is also where he tinkers.
“I do some programming in my spare time, and study physics, and keep up with my past life,” he says, pointing out a Raspberry Pi, a computer that runs the Linux operating system.
Goldhammer has a doctorate in mathematics, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He did his first translation in 1977. After serving in Vietnam, Goldhammer was living in Paris, and he needed money.
“Arthur’s career is extraordinary,” says David Bellos, the author of “Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything,” and the director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University. “He’s translated a large number of books and he knows an enormous amount.”
But Bellos says there’s something else that makes Goldhammer exceptional: “I would say there are maybe 20, 30 people in the English-speaking world who live by book translation alone.”
And Goldhammer is one of them.
The French-American Foundation awards a translation prize every year. Goldhammer has won it four times.
“Most translators are underpaid, and sometimes underappreciated,” says Charles Kolb, who runs the foundation. They don’t just go through a text word by word, he notes. They are, as he puts it, “capturing the flavor and the feeling and the context.”
Kolb laments there aren’t more books being translated into the English language – especially from the French. One reason for that, Goldhammer suggests, is there seems to be less money available for translations. There used to be more subsidies from foundations and foreign governments.
“Lately, it’s the author who finds his or her own subsidy,” he says.
Goldhammer won’t say how much he was paid to translate “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”. The money a translator makes is decent, he says, but it is much less than a tenured professor’s salary.
Goldhammer says most translators are paid a fee for every 1,000 words.
“In this case, I probably would have made out if I had taken royalties, but I didn’t,” he confides. Goldhammer and the book’s publisher, Harvard University Press, had expected the translation to sell maybe 20,000 copies. So far it has sold 15 times that. But, Goldhammer says, he has no regrets.
“It’s rare for me to translate a book where I can expect all of my friends at least to have heard about the book, if not to have read it.”
A Connecticut judge has approved a rare request from the state's child welfare agency: to move a transgender teen to adult prison, even though she has not been charged with a crime.