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ICLE on the ACP, BEAD in the Spotlight, Small Steps Toward Ending the Spectrum Impasse

School’s back in session and the Telecom Hootenanny is heating up. We’ve got a hot-off-the-presses issue brief on the ACP, more BEAD agonistes, and…



School’s back in session and the Telecom Hootenanny is heating up. We’ve got a hot-off-the-presses issue brief on the ACP, more BEAD agonistes, and the latest on spectrum auctions.

The Affordable Connectivity Program: ‘Good Enough’ to Keep Funding

In a new International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) issue brief, Kristian Stout and I examine the $14 billion Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and consumer broadband subsidies more broadly. We conclude that the ACP—warts and all—is a much better policy than other alternatives, such as direct rate regulation or municipal broadband. Thus, we argue, the ACP should continue and continue to be funded, with some straightforward adjustments. 

First, we found that more than 93% of U.S. households use the internet at home. Of those who don’t, two-thirds say they have access, but have not adopted at-home internet. Due to what appears to be inelastic demand among non-adopters, the ACP has faced difficulties in stimulating sufficient interest among some segments of the remaining unconnected households that could access the internet, but fail to take up service.

To be fair, however, the ACP’s subsidies appear to have successfully enabled already-subscribed households to maintain at-home internet service through the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby proving effective at allowing economically vulnerable inframarginal consumers to remain connected.

Second, we note that the ACP’s eligibility rules are quite broad. For example, if a child is enrolled in Medicaid or qualifies for free or reduced lunch at school—regardless of household income—then the child’s household would be eligible for ACP. It is estimated that approximately 40% of U.S. households are eligible for the program.

Third, while it’s relatively easy to qualify for the ACP, it’s also relatively difficult to enroll. At least two-thirds of eligible households do not participate in the ACP. Unawareness of the ACP is a significant factor driving the low uptake rate. A survey of ACP-eligible households reports that 53% of respondents had either never heard of the program or had heard of it, but didn’t know anything about it.

The ACP’s current enrollment process is cumbersome and confusing for both consumers and providers. Consumers have to apply for the program through a website or a mail-in application, verify their eligibility through various documents or databases, and contact a participating provider to select a service plan. Some providers may have an alternative application that they ask consumers to complete. Providers have to verify customers’ eligibility through a national verifier system, report data on their enrollments and reimbursements, and comply with various rules and requirements. These complexities create barriers and inefficiencies for both parties.

Based on these observations, we offer three recommended adjustments to the ACP

  1. Design eligibility criteria to target low-income non-adopters and vulnerable infra-marginal households. 
  2. Provide targeted outreach to increase awareness among eligible households.
  3. Reduce enrollment complexities.

These reforms would make the ACP more efficient and effective. They would likely reduce the program’s costs, thereby allowing more of the appropriated funds to be directed toward the households the program is intended to help.

The BEAD Pile-On Continues

They say money can’t buy happiness and that seems to be the case with the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. 

States are complaining about the program’s “fiber-above-all” preference and its Buy American requirements. Industry associations and digital-equity advocates have jointly signed a letter urging alternatives to the BEAD program’s letter-of-credit requirement.

Now, Congress is joining the airing of grievances. Last week, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s Republicans, under Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas), released a report on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) allocation of funds under BEAD. In announcing the report, the committee minority echoed concerns previously raised by Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) and several other Republican senators:

[T]he administration has layered requirements that will drive up overall program costs, burn through funding, and could in turn leave significant numbers of unserved Americans without access. Specifically, Biden administration rules are heavily biased towards expensive fiber projects and discourage alternative more cost-effective technologies like high-speed satellite. This bias becomes even more concerning since some areas set to be funded include beachfront properties, mountain vacation homes, and remote islands, as well as Delaware’s own Biden Environmental Training Center.

The committee seems especially irked at the District of Columbia’s allocation. According to NTIA, the city has 184 locations “unserved” by broadband and will receive more than $100 million in BEAD funding, or nearly $550,000 per location. Moreover, the report points out that one-third of these locations are inside the National Zoo. To bring the point home, the report includes some photos of web-surfing zoo animals to demonstrate that the zoo is already connected. (As an aside: when you’re being hunted by foxes, the digital divide is probably not your first priority.)

BEAD is a gusher of funding that can be helpful to bring high-speed internet access to unserved populations. But it’s experiencing enormous hiccups and headaches, and there is a real risk that it will not deliver.

Is the Spectrum-Auction Hostage Crisis Coming to an End?

In March, Congress allowed the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) spectrum-auction authority to lapse for the first time since it was granted to the commission in 1994. Last summer, T-Mobile paid $304 million for 7,156 licenses of 2.5 GHz spectrum. But the FCC claims that it cannot issue licenses for the 2.5 GHz spectrum to T-Mobile until its auction authority is reinstated.

Some have speculated that T-Mobile licenses are being held hostage by the FCC to encourage Congress to renew the agency’s auction authority. (We’ve argued elsewhere that Congress should renew the FCC’s auction authority.)

Last week, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) took a small step in that direction, filing a bill to grant the FCC explicit authority to issue 2.5 GHz licenses to T-Mobile. 

There’s a lot more telecom happenings to come this fall: digital discrimination, Universal Service Fund rates, low-Earth orbit satellites, and artificial intelligence. It’s hootenanny season.

The post ICLE on the ACP, BEAD in the Spotlight, Small Steps Toward Ending the Spectrum Impasse appeared first on Truth on the Market.

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Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Authored by Michael Barone via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The headlines coming out of the Super…



Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Authored by Michael Barone via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The headlines coming out of the Super Tuesday primaries have got it right. Barring cataclysmic changes, Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be the Republican and Democratic nominees for president in 2024.

(Left) President Joe Biden delivers remarks on canceling student debt at Culver City Julian Dixon Library in Culver City, Calif., on Feb. 21, 2024. (Right) Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump stands on stage during a campaign event at Big League Dreams Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nev., on Jan. 27, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images; David Becker/Getty Images)

With Nikki Haley’s withdrawal, there will be no more significantly contested primaries or caucuses—the earliest both parties’ races have been over since something like the current primary-dominated system was put in place in 1972.

The primary results have spotlighted some of both nominees’ weaknesses.

Donald Trump lost high-income, high-educated constituencies, including the entire metro area—aka the Swamp. Many but by no means all Haley votes there were cast by Biden Democrats. Mr. Trump can’t afford to lose too many of the others in target states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Majorities and large minorities of voters in overwhelmingly Latino counties in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley and some in Houston voted against Joe Biden, and even more against Senate nominee Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas).

Returns from Hispanic precincts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts show the same thing. Mr. Biden can’t afford to lose too many Latino votes in target states like Arizona and Georgia.

When Mr. Trump rode down that escalator in 2015, commentators assumed he’d repel Latinos. Instead, Latino voters nationally, and especially the closest eyewitnesses of Biden’s open-border policy, have been trending heavily Republican.

High-income liberal Democrats may sport lawn signs proclaiming, “In this house, we believe ... no human is illegal.” The logical consequence of that belief is an open border. But modest-income folks in border counties know that flows of illegal immigrants result in disorder, disease, and crime.

There is plenty of impatience with increased disorder in election returns below the presidential level. Consider Los Angeles County, America’s largest county, with nearly 10 million people, more people than 40 of the 50 states. It voted 71 percent for Mr. Biden in 2020.

Current returns show county District Attorney George Gascon winning only 21 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan primary. He’ll apparently face Republican Nathan Hochman, a critic of his liberal policies, in November.

Gascon, elected after the May 2020 death of counterfeit-passing suspect George Floyd in Minneapolis, is one of many county prosecutors supported by billionaire George Soros. His policies include not charging juveniles as adults, not seeking higher penalties for gang membership or use of firearms, and bringing fewer misdemeanor cases.

The predictable result has been increased car thefts, burglaries, and personal robberies. Some 120 assistant district attorneys have left the office, and there’s a backlog of 10,000 unprosecuted cases.

More than a dozen other Soros-backed and similarly liberal prosecutors have faced strong opposition or have left office.

St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner resigned last May amid lawsuits seeking her removal, Milwaukee’s John Chisholm retired in January, and Baltimore’s Marilyn Mosby was defeated in July 2022 and convicted of perjury in September 2023. Last November, Loudoun County, Virginia, voters (62 percent Biden) ousted liberal Buta Biberaj, who declined to prosecute a transgender student for assault, and in June 2022 voters in San Francisco (85 percent Biden) recalled famed radical Chesa Boudin.

Similarly, this Tuesday, voters in San Francisco passed ballot measures strengthening police powers and requiring treatment of drug-addicted welfare recipients.

In retrospect, it appears the Floyd video, appearing after three months of COVID-19 confinement, sparked a frenzied, even crazed reaction, especially among the highly educated and articulate. One fatal incident was seen as proof that America’s “systemic racism” was worse than ever and that police forces should be defunded and perhaps abolished.

2020 was “the year America went crazy,” I wrote in January 2021, a year in which police funding was actually cut by Democrats in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver. A year in which young New York Times (NYT) staffers claimed they were endangered by the publication of Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) opinion article advocating calling in military forces if necessary to stop rioting, as had been done in Detroit in 1967 and Los Angeles in 1992. A craven NYT publisher even fired the editorial page editor for running the article.

Evidence of visible and tangible discontent with increasing violence and its consequences—barren and locked shelves in Manhattan chain drugstores, skyrocketing carjackings in Washington, D.C.—is as unmistakable in polls and election results as it is in daily life in large metropolitan areas. Maybe 2024 will turn out to be the year even liberal America stopped acting crazy.

Chaos and disorder work against incumbents, as they did in 1968 when Democrats saw their party’s popular vote fall from 61 percent to 43 percent.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or ZeroHedge.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 23:20

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Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),




Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reviewed no data when deciding in 2023 to keep its COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place.

Doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in Washington in a file image. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

VA Secretary Denis McDonough said on May 1, 2023, that the end of many other federal mandates “will not impact current policies at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

He said the mandate was remaining for VA health care personnel “to ensure the safety of veterans and our colleagues.”

Mr. McDonough did not cite any studies or other data. A VA spokesperson declined to provide any data that was reviewed when deciding not to rescind the mandate. The Epoch Times submitted a Freedom of Information Act for “all documents outlining which data was relied upon when establishing the mandate when deciding to keep the mandate in place.”

The agency searched for such data and did not find any.

The VA does not even attempt to justify its policies with science, because it can’t,” Leslie Manookian, president and founder of the Health Freedom Defense Fund, told The Epoch Times.

“The VA just trusts that the process and cost of challenging its unfounded policies is so onerous, most people are dissuaded from even trying,” she added.

The VA’s mandate remains in place to this day.

The VA’s website claims that vaccines “help protect you from getting severe illness” and “offer good protection against most COVID-19 variants,” pointing in part to observational data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that estimate the vaccines provide poor protection against symptomatic infection and transient shielding against hospitalization.

There have also been increasing concerns among outside scientists about confirmed side effects like heart inflammation—the VA hid a safety signal it detected for the inflammation—and possible side effects such as tinnitus, which shift the benefit-risk calculus.

President Joe Biden imposed a slate of COVID-19 vaccine mandates in 2021. The VA was the first federal agency to implement a mandate.

President Biden rescinded the mandates in May 2023, citing a drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. His administration maintains the choice to require vaccines was the right one and saved lives.

“Our administration’s vaccination requirements helped ensure the safety of workers in critical workforces including those in the healthcare and education sectors, protecting themselves and the populations they serve, and strengthening their ability to provide services without disruptions to operations,” the White House said.

Some experts said requiring vaccination meant many younger people were forced to get a vaccine despite the risks potentially outweighing the benefits, leaving fewer doses for older adults.

By mandating the vaccines to younger people and those with natural immunity from having had COVID, older people in the U.S. and other countries did not have access to them, and many people might have died because of that,” Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine on leave from Harvard Medical School, told The Epoch Times previously.

The VA was one of just a handful of agencies to keep its mandate in place following the removal of many federal mandates.

“At this time, the vaccine requirement will remain in effect for VA health care personnel, including VA psychologists, pharmacists, social workers, nursing assistants, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, peer specialists, medical support assistants, engineers, housekeepers, and other clinical, administrative, and infrastructure support employees,” Mr. McDonough wrote to VA employees at the time.

This also includes VA volunteers and contractors. Effectively, this means that any Veterans Health Administration (VHA) employee, volunteer, or contractor who works in VHA facilities, visits VHA facilities, or provides direct care to those we serve will still be subject to the vaccine requirement at this time,” he said. “We continue to monitor and discuss this requirement, and we will provide more information about the vaccination requirements for VA health care employees soon. As always, we will process requests for vaccination exceptions in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.”

The version of the shots cleared in the fall of 2022, and available through the fall of 2023, did not have any clinical trial data supporting them.

A new version was approved in the fall of 2023 because there were indications that the shots not only offered temporary protection but also that the level of protection was lower than what was observed during earlier stages of the pandemic.

Ms. Manookian, whose group has challenged several of the federal mandates, said that the mandate “illustrates the dangers of the administrative state and how these federal agencies have become a law unto themselves.”

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 22:10

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Low Iron Levels In Blood Could Trigger Long COVID: Study

Low Iron Levels In Blood Could Trigger Long COVID: Study

Authored by Amie Dahnke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

People with inadequate…



Low Iron Levels In Blood Could Trigger Long COVID: Study

Authored by Amie Dahnke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

People with inadequate iron levels in their blood due to a COVID-19 infection could be at greater risk of long COVID.


A new study indicates that problems with iron levels in the bloodstream likely trigger chronic inflammation and other conditions associated with the post-COVID phenomenon. The findings, published on March 1 in Nature Immunology, could offer new ways to treat or prevent the condition.

Long COVID Patients Have Low Iron Levels

Researchers at the University of Cambridge pinpointed low iron as a potential link to long-COVID symptoms thanks to a study they initiated shortly after the start of the pandemic. They recruited people who tested positive for the virus to provide blood samples for analysis over a year, which allowed the researchers to look for post-infection changes in the blood. The researchers looked at 214 samples and found that 45 percent of patients reported symptoms of long COVID that lasted between three and 10 months.

In analyzing the blood samples, the research team noticed that people experiencing long COVID had low iron levels, contributing to anemia and low red blood cell production, just two weeks after they were diagnosed with COVID-19. This was true for patients regardless of age, sex, or the initial severity of their infection.

According to one of the study co-authors, the removal of iron from the bloodstream is a natural process and defense mechanism of the body.

But it can jeopardize a person’s recovery.

When the body has an infection, it responds by removing iron from the bloodstream. This protects us from potentially lethal bacteria that capture the iron in the bloodstream and grow rapidly. It’s an evolutionary response that redistributes iron in the body, and the blood plasma becomes an iron desert,” University of Oxford professor Hal Drakesmith said in a press release. “However, if this goes on for a long time, there is less iron for red blood cells, so oxygen is transported less efficiently affecting metabolism and energy production, and for white blood cells, which need iron to work properly. The protective mechanism ends up becoming a problem.”

The research team believes that consistently low iron levels could explain why individuals with long COVID continue to experience fatigue and difficulty exercising. As such, the researchers suggested iron supplementation to help regulate and prevent the often debilitating symptoms associated with long COVID.

It isn’t necessarily the case that individuals don’t have enough iron in their body, it’s just that it’s trapped in the wrong place,” Aimee Hanson, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge who worked on the study, said in the press release. “What we need is a way to remobilize the iron and pull it back into the bloodstream, where it becomes more useful to the red blood cells.”

The research team pointed out that iron supplementation isn’t always straightforward. Achieving the right level of iron varies from person to person. Too much iron can cause stomach issues, ranging from constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain to gastritis and gastric lesions.

1 in 5 Still Affected by Long COVID

COVID-19 has affected nearly 40 percent of Americans, with one in five of those still suffering from symptoms of long COVID, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Long COVID is marked by health issues that continue at least four weeks after an individual was initially diagnosed with COVID-19. Symptoms can last for days, weeks, months, or years and may include fatigue, cough or chest pain, headache, brain fog, depression or anxiety, digestive issues, and joint or muscle pain.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 12:50

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