Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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Dec. 26

Johnson City Press on ending net neutrality:

Federal net neutrality regulations established during the Obama administration have been rolled back by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC voted along partisan lines earlier this month to end a policy that required internet service providers to treat all content the same without favoring some or blocking others.

Marketplace.org reports net neutrality has long been a controversial issue for both web companies and regulators. While many companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime are in support of it, telecom companies and internet service providers — such as Verizon and Comcast — are opposed to net neutrality. They argue net neutrality regulations have harmed competition and stifled innovation.

Even so, advocates of net neutrality say removing the regulations is not in the best internet of consumers. John Bermayer, senior counsel for Public Knowledge, which is an organization that plans to sue the FCC over ending net neutrality, explained the complicated issue to Marketplace.org by using what he called a "simple metaphor."

He said consider a "telephone system, which has long been regulated to protect the public interest. You probably wouldn't like it if you tried to order pizza from your favorite local place and were connected to a Papa John's instead because it had got some special deal. Or if a Verizon telephone only connected to other Verizon phones. Obviously, there are a lot of differences between internet access and the telephone and how they work and how they are built, but the basic principle that essential communication systems ought to be non-discriminatory is the same."

The Associated Press reported big telecommunications companies had lobbied hard to overturn the rules, which they said were reactionary and have discouraged investment in broadband networks.

"What is the FCC doing today?" asked FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican. "Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence."

Under the new rules, Comcast, Verizon and other companies would be allowed to slow down or block access to services they don't favor. They could also charge higher fees to rivals for higher transmission speeds, and create "fast lanes" for their preferred services.

Such things have happened before. An AP report in 2007 found Comcast was blocking some file-sharing services. Meanwhile, AT&T blocked Skype and other internet calling applications that competed with its own voice-call services from the iPhone.

Tell us what you think. Will ending net neutrality regulations help or harm internet consumers?

Online: http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/

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Dec. 21

The Commercial Appeal on a Tennessee city taking down Confederate statues:

The city's two Confederate statues, racist propaganda from the past, symbols of a shameful era of slavery, lynching and other crimes against God and country, have been taken down.

Good riddance, Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis. May your bronzed and marbled likenesses find more suitable resting places — perhaps a Civil War museum or cemetery — where our unrighteous past can be noted and grieved, not ennobled and glorified.

And good work, Memphis. After years of political resolutions and public protests, legal disputation and moral consternation, state interference and indifference, the two statues were removed suddenly, quickly and cleverly even without incident.

"The statues no longer represent who we are as a modern, diverse city with momentum," Mayor Jim Strickland said after the statues were removed from their pedestals just hours after City Council ratified the sale of Health Sciences Park (formerly Forrest Park) and Fourth Bluff Park (formerly Confederate Park) to a privately funded nonprofit called Memphis Greenspace Inc.

By selling the two parks, the city outflanked a 2016 law that basically allowed the state to occupy the parks and prevent the city from "renaming, removing or relocating any statues, monuments and other memorials on publicly owned land" without the approval of two-thirds of the members of the Tennessee Historical Commission.

The city tried to play by the state's rules, but the 29-member commission is heavily stacked with Confederate history buffs and apologists who twice rejected the city's request to remove the Forrest statue. So the city changed its tactics and tried another legal maneuver.

"The law allows a city to sell land to a private entity," Strickland noted Wednesday. "The law allows a private entity to remove items such as statues from its own land."

Forrest, the Confederate general known for his deceptive battlefield tactics, his ability to maneuver to "Get there first with the most," would have been proud. So would Forrest the baptized Christian, if accounts of his late-in-life repentance are as true as his supporters claim.

"We were born on the same soil, breathe the same air, and live in the same land," the graying Forrest reportedly told a Fourth of July gathering in Memphis in 1875. "Why, then, can we not live as brothers?"

We certainly could not as long as our public parks promoted monuments dedicated 112 and 54 years ago by white citizens intent on protecting and preserving a racist system and way of life that subjugated and segregated people of color.

Mayor Strickland, City Council and city attorneys deserve much credit for their years of patient persistence. So do Tami Sawyer and other community activists and organizers whose months of persistent public pressure pushed #TakeEmDown901 into #TookEmDown901.

"This is thousands of people who came together to put names on petitions, to donate money and time ... to get arrested, to get people out of jail ... so here we are today as the year draws to a close seeing justice and righteousness happen," Sawyer said Wednesday evening.

The city's take-them-down legal tactics certainly can be debated, and likely will be challenged in court, but the well-planned, late-night removal of two Confederate statues from public parks was the right and righteous thing to do.

Online: http://www.commercialappeal.com/

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Dec. 22

The Daily Times of Maryville on health care:

Cameras caught the smiles on faces of those who secured a "win" in the massive tax revision package. What didn't the cameras catch? Cheering throngs of supporters flocking to the streets of Washington to celebrate what the winners called the biggest tax cut ever — $1.5 trillion.

That's because those winning folks from the hinderlands weren't there. Could there be a disconnect? A new poll shines light on why that is. Simply put, the survey finds Americans are increasingly concerned about health care, and that their faith that government can fix it has fallen.

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 48 percent named health care as a top problem for the country. No other issue — from taxes to immigration — was rated as a high-level concern by more than 31 percent.

What's more, 7 in 10 of those who named health care as a top problem said they had little to no confidence that government can make it better. The public was much less pessimistic in last year's edition of the poll, with just over half saying at the time they lacked confidence in government.

Based on what the government has done about health care, it's no wonder. The president initially promised his own plan that would deliver "insurance for everybody" and "great" health care, "much less expensive and much better." But the White House never released a health care proposal.

Legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare failed, although the tax bill scraps the requirement that most people get health insurance. Bloodied on both sides, Republicans and Democrats seem to have battled to an uneasy draw on health care.

Meanwhile, conflicting policy signals from Washington, including an abrupt White House decision to cancel insurer subsidies, roiled insurance markets. Premiums on health plans purchased by individuals jumped by double digits. Progress reducing the number of uninsured stalled, and one major survey found an uptick this year.

Three in 10 Americans listed taxes among their top priorities, about double the percentage who said that last year. About a quarter mentioned immigration, and just under 2 in 10 mentioned environmental issues and education. Meanwhile, concerns about unemployment plunged to 14 percent, about half the mentions as last year.

Nearly 2 in 3 said they were pessimistic about the state of politics in the U.S. About half were downbeat about the nation's system of government, and 55 percent said America's best days are behind.

As for all those winning smiles: When there are winners, there also are losers. When they get sore, they're going to want health care.

Online: http://www.thedailytimes.com/

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