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Congress

  1. Here’s Congress’s Net Neutrality Bill That Would Render the FCC Helpless

    For now, it's just a bill sitting there on Capitol Hill.

    Congress has produced a bill that, if enacted, would take away the FCC's authority to reclassify broadband Internet as a utility in the interest of net neutrality. However, the bill itself includes protections for net neutrality with specific language that would ban the paid "Internet fast lanes" currently at the center of the debate.

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  2. Congress Asks NASA If the International Space Station Is in Trouble Over U.S.-Russian Relations

    "You kids behave yourselves, or I will turn this space station right around and go home." —Russia

    Hey, we're not the only ones concerned that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has been slinging insults and making threats that Russia will just leave everyone else with a crippled ISS in 2020! Congress must have heard what was going on, because they asked NASA if it's more than just a threat.

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  3. Teacher-Turned-Congressman Grades GOP Letter to House Speaker, Posts It to Tumblr for Your Enjoyment

    There are politicians who use Tumblr? This is worse than when the celebrities find our fanfic.

    As much as high school sucked for basically everyone, there are some things about the state of the real adult world that could probably be improved by a little more of the discipline that only an overworked teacher can provide. Former high school teacher Representative Mark Takano (D-CA) decided that maybe the Republican-drafted letter about immigration that was circulating around the floor of the House might benefit from some edits and creative criticism, so he graded it and posted the results to his Tumblr. Unsurprisingly, Takano feels the work needs some serious revisions.

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  4. Department of Defense, Congressional Staff Forbidden From Reading Publicly Available PRISM Documents

    This seems like a ridiculous thing to do, but okay, sure, these documents don't exist.

    Thanks to Edward Snowden's leaked documents, everyone in the world can learn a lot about what the NSA was up to with the PRISM data mining program. Except the people who should have been overseeing it in the first place, as it turns out. Both Congressional staffers and Department of Defense employees have been instructed to not look at the documents and basically pretend they were never leaked in the first place.

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  5. The Entertainment Industry Wants Congress to Let Them Give You Malware

    Pirating content is bad, mmkay? That doesn't make it okay for the content creators to install malware on your computer.

    The entertainment industry would like you to stop pirating things. They've tried digital rights management, prosecuting file sharers, and even making films like The Last Airbender that were so bad nobody would want to pirate them. Nothing's worked. You jerks keep stealing content, so now the industry is asking Congress to let them install malware on your computer to get you to knock it off.

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  6. Good News, Everyone! The House Passed CISPA!

    They say every cloud has a silver lining. If that's true, then there has to be something good about the fact that 288 members of Congress just voted to pass CISPA, right? The bill essentially strips citizens of any right to online privacy, which is obviously terrible, but there has to be something positive about this.

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  7. Congress Might Have Doomed Us All to an Asteroid Apocalypse. Thanks, Guys.

    It Came From Outer Space

    The last few months have seen several asteroids unexpectedly buzz our planet, a fact that has caused a bit of concern for Congress. After all, while the chances of a catastrophic asteroid impact are tiny, if one does manage to hit us the effect could be pretty bad. Like, end of humanity bad. So it makes sense that Congress would want someone monitoring near-Earth asteroids just in case one should come barreling towards us. Hmmm. Who does Congress have to turn to when they need someone to watch the skies? NASA. Whose budget has Congress drastically cut in recent years? NASA. You see where this is going.

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  8. Mr. Rage Face Goes to Washington: Congresswoman Intends to Source Ideas From Reddit

    In a move that will either prove to be brilliant or disastrous, House Representative Zoe Lofgren of California intends to use Reddit to take suggestions on legislation dealing with websites accused of copyright infringement. We think Reddit would be a great way for citizens to interact with their representatives, but the obvious potential for trolling is also worth considering. Internet, please behave.

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  9. Republicans and Democrats Agree On Manhattan Project National Park, Manage Not to Vote It Into Existence

    We've told you before about legislation in Congress that would make the laboratories that housed the Manhattan Project into a national park, commemorating probably the greatest gathering of scientific minds in the history of time and both the scientific progress (atomic energy) and sickening horror (the atomic bomb) that resulted from it. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act finally came up for a vote in the halls of Congress last night, and a majority of our great nation's elected represntatives -- 237 grown adults -- agreed that it should be a thing that exists, which, given the state of our political system today, of course means that the bill failed. Confused? We've got your explanation after the jump.

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  10. Goodbye, Tax-Free Online Shopping

    No. No no no no no no no. no.

    Gone are the sweet, sweet days of tax-free online shopping. At least, they might be soon, if an upcoming bill in Congress that would make sales tax standard online passes. Now might be a good time to check out those bookmarked shopping carts.

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  11. The Facebook Privacy Issue Is Heading to Capitol Hill

    Meanwhile...

    The cherry blossoms are a-blooming, and that means it's time for a Washington, D.C.-related post, following the inner workings of the sausage factory we call the government. And in this case, it finally doesn't involve transvaginal probing! No, this is an update to a story we brought you yesterday, concerning the issue of employers asking potential hires for their Facebook usernames and passwords. We briefly mentioned that one U.S. senator was introducing federal legislation to stop that, and now another has joined him. Which leads us to ask: "So, what do you think Chuck Schumer is really trying to hide on his Facebook profile, you guys?"

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  12. Navy Ship Named For Wounded U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords

    Today in Boobs

    Gabrielle Giffords was elected to Congress three times and represented Arizona's 8th congressional district. If you're not familiar with her name strictly from politics, you may remember she was a victim of a shooting in Tuscon, Arizona in which six people were killed and 13 wounded last January. Giffords was one of the lucky survivors. Yesterday it was announced she would become the fourth women ever to have a Naval war ship named for her. 

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  13. Which Sites Are Going Black to Protest SOPA/PIPA?

    Rights of Passage

    If you found yourself wondering what the name of the second general of the Dutch Revolution was, or if that was even real, and you ventured on over to Wikipedia to look it up, you probably noticed that the site looked different today. Different, as in blacked out. And then you may or may not have panicked, because now how would you satisfy you thirst for random trivia that is probably somewhere else on the internet, but your go-to site has shut itself down, and now your brain must find something else to do for the next -- hey, someone mentioned you on Twitter. You should check that out. Anyway, you most likely heard about this earlier in the week, when the site's administrators announced that in protest of the highly controversial internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA, they would "censor" their own site for 24 hours. But Wikipedia is not the only site protesting today. After the jump, find out who else has shut themselves down, and see what the internet will look like should these bills become law.

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  14. Marvel Comics Listed As A SOPA Supporter

    BAD IDEAS FROM SMART PEOPLE

    The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), or Protect-IP Act as it's called in the House of Representatives, has been the talk of the internet-town (and regular towns) for  months. Once everyone realized the implications this particular bill, they got extremely nervous and concerned phone calls and letters started pouring into Washington. The matter is still waiting to be settled when Congress returns from their winter recess but a list has surfaced showing particular companies who are in support of the controversial bill. And one of them is Marvel Entertainment. 

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  15. Latest SOPA Defense: Sweden’s Apparently Non-Existent Yet Thriving Film Industry

    Rights of Passage

    The lawmakers on Capitol Hill are running out of ways to get people on board to vote for the U.S. Senate's highly controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (known as the Protect-IP Act in the House of Representatives), so now they're claiming that those scurvy-ridden internet pirates have completely obliterated the film industries of several countries, including Sweden. Sweden, a country that has apparently not produced any feature films since the advent of the internet ... except for, I don't know, Let the Right One In, the entire original Millennium Trilogy, you know. Nothing anyone's ever heard of ... if they are living under a Washington Monument-sized rock. Or they're just lying. But here's the good news: one lawmaker has a great idea to make this bill seem really unsavory to support: porn.

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  16. What the Deal Was With Tumblr Today (And A Few Other Sites): The Protect IP Act

    Rights of Passage

    To the left is a screencap of Tumblr from earlier today, and you're probably curious to know what it's about. Well, we're here to tell you, and you're not going to like it. And not like "Kristen Stewart might be in Akira" "not like it." Like "the United States government is taking cues from Iran and China and wants to put people in prison for five years for linking to a copyrighted site" "not like it." In the name of protecting "prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation," there is a bill currently being debated in Congress, the PROTECT-IP Act and its House version, the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA), concerning censorship of the internet that intends to leave legal windows open to prosecute regular users like you, me, and your Aunt Ethel, who just wanted to show you what her cat was doing on YouTube and happened to be playing the soundtrack to Phantom of the Opera in the background. This is a matter of taking freedom of expression out of the hands of the people and giving it to corporations, who can then turn to all their consumers and say, "We have PR firms and advertising agencies to tell people about our TV show/album/movie -- stop linking to it or we'll have you pay for it." And the worst part is that anyone who tries to read this thing in order to better understand it will find themselves even more confused -- and possibly in serious trouble.

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  17. Congress Should Really Let Stephen Colbert Make All the LOTR References [Video]

    There And Back Again

    The Colbert Report
    Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive

    Okay, we've been talking about Stephen Colbert this week, like we're trying to get his attention or something crazy like that. (Is it working? Hahahaha, I'm totally kidding.) But when Congress tries to make a Lord of the Rings reference while talking about raising the debt ceiling, it's going to take a true Lord of the Rings geek to set them straight. And Stephen just happens to be one. I mean, he has Aragorn's sword. It was given to him by Aragorn. (Or, more accurately, Viggo Mortensen.) He is worthy. (Colbert Nation via Mediaite)

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  18. New Round of Gaming Statistics: Gaming Audience Getting Older, Slightly More Female

    Vital Information for Your Everyday Life

    A new report by the Entertainment Software Association has the latest statistics about the gaming industry, sending a message that such a successful, widespread industry would probably be a good place to focus on concerning job growth -- 72 percent of the American population plays video games, so perhaps America would be a great place to hire people to make them. Other new stats: the median age of gamers has increased to 37, the percentage of female gamers increased to 42 percent, and the country spent over $25 billion on video games. News of the Obvious: the video game industry is pretty gigantic right now.

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  19. Congress Bans NASA from Collaborating with China, Citing Espionage Concerns

    A tip of the hat to Forbes' William Pentland for noticing a significant two-sentence clause in the 2011 spending bill approved by Congress in mid-April: Two major federally funded science programs, NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), are expressly prohibited from using federal funds to collaborate with China. Though the restriction applies only to the 2011 federal budget, the Congressman who inserted the clause into the bill, Virginia Republican Frank Wolf, says that he wants to make it permanent. Here's what the bill says: NASA and the OSTP cannot use federal funds "to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company."

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  20. iPads May Become the First Gadgets Allowed on the Floor of the House of Representatives

    Rules in the House of Representatives forbidding the use of electronic devices on the floor might soon be changed so members of Congress can use their iPads. Because that's what was preventing them from doing their jobs effectively. Not being able to use their iPads. An iPad first appeared on the House floor earlier this month by way of Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar. He says he mainly uses it to read news and check emails, but also uses professional apps such as Congress in Your Pocket and another that functions as a teleprompter. But he also vows to keep his device "productive and distraction-free." (The same way we all vow not to browse the Internet at work. Hi, everyone!) There are definite benefits to being plugged in on the House floor.

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