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Highlights From Our Blogs

Former Intel Chief Defends Fiorina's Tenure At HP

As she battles for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in California, Carly Fiorina has also been fighting to defend her work as CEO of Hewlett-Packard from critics who have sought to tarnish her business experience. A few weeks after the granddaughter of HP co-founder David Packard sharply criticized Fiorina's tenure at HP from 1999 to 2005 and her conservative credentials, Fiorina's campaign on Monday promoted a different view from former Intel Chairman and CEO Craig Barrett.

In an op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News, Barrett defended one of Fiorina's most controversial moves as HP's chief: the merger with rival computer-maker Compaq. Noting that "there were plenty of skeptics to the bold actions taken by HP," including members of the Hewlett family, Barrett argued that the merger has turned out to be an "unqualified success," and added, "It helped transform HP into the largest computer manufacturer in the world and provided a strong foundation for HP's current success under its very capable management team."


Fiorina faces former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell and state Assembly member Chuck DeVore in the June primary. The winner will take on Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in November. -- Juliana Gruenwald

Public Knowledge: We're Radical Socialists, Dammit!

What's the best way to rake in donations? The digital-rights advocate Public Knowledge thinks that portraying itself as a radical group fighting big media conglomerates helps -- even as the organization quietly accepts corporate sponsorships. In its latest fundraising solicitation, Public Knowledge asserts that communications giants are "on the warpath" against it, branding the nonprofit as "pirates," "radicals," and "socialists." As evidence, it links to Federal Communications Commission filings critical of the group and an essay penned by a detractor.

Problem is, a close inspection of those documents doesn't substantiate the name-calling. In fact, the nearest that anyone comes to using the "S" word is to reference an interview that the founder of a related watchdog group, Free Press, gave to a socialist organization.


"We have been under constant attack by industry and their funded bloggers and think tanks," responded Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, whose corporate benefactors include Comcast, Microsoft, and Time Warner Cable. "If anything, our message understates the ferocity of these attacks." Send a donation and receive a free T-shirt featuring Public Knowledge's legal director, Harold Feld, who circulated the solicitation, posing as Che Guevara. -- David Hatch

FCC Dealt A Blow Over Network Neutrality

A federal Appeals Court ruled this week that the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to discipline Comcast for interrupting Internet service to customers who used the high-bandwidth application BitTorrent. The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit immediately called into question the FCC's power to regulate Internet service providers by enforcing the concept of network neutrality.

The commission had already begun writing rules for regulating big Internet carriers such as Comcast and Verizon. The decision could also hinder the FCC's ability to implement pieces of the sweeping broadband plan it released last month with the aim of expanding high-speed Internet access to all areas of the country.

In response to the ruling, FCC spokeswoman Jen Howard reiterated the agency's commitment to an open Internet policy and universal broadband access and said that the FCC will take steps to ensure that future initiatives have a "solid legal foundation." "The court in no way disagreed with the importance of preserving a free and open Internet, nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end," she said.


The decision could spur the FCC to expand its authority by reclassifying broadband as a heavily regulated telecommunications service rather than a lightly regulated information one -- a controversial move that is opposed by Republicans, the big Internet carriers, and many free-market conservatives. -- Sara Jerome

Next Week: Energy & Environment

If oil drilling is allowed to proceed off our mid-Atlantic coast, major fisheries and wildlife areas, including the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina's Outer Banks, will be subject to disruptive seismic testing and potentially catastrophic oil spills. Oil exploration and drilling will pose a particular risk to the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale, which migrates along our entire Atlantic coast. Defenders of Wildlife and other organizations have recently petitioned to expand critical habitat protection for the whale to include areas being considered for drilling off the south and mid-Atlantic coast. -- Rodger Schlickeisen, president and CEO, Defenders of Wildlife

This article appears in the April 10, 2010 edition of National Journal Magazine Contents.

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