- Associated Press - Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Boston Globe, Feb. 10, 2015

The pain that Jordanians feel after the brutal murder of downed fighter pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh by Islamic State militants in Syria is one that, after the beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, Americans can relate to. Jordan is a crucial ally in the fight against ISIS, and the best way for the United States to show solidarity is to help the Hashemite kingdom manage one of the war’s major side effects: the influx of Syrian refugees.

Jordan joined the coalition against the Islamic State last year. Until recently, however, the air campaign wasn’t popular among ordinary Jordanians, who feared that bombing Syria would just invite trouble back home. That changed after a video of Kasasbeh - whose plane crashed near the Syrian town of Raqqa, which is currently occupied by the Islamic State - being burned alive was released by militants. The horrendous crime stiffened the resolve of Jordan’s people in the fight against ISIS.

The United States should certainly continue its robust support for Jordan, which includes access to sophisticated American equipment, training, and funding. Indeed, the F-16 fighter jet that Kasasbeh was flying when he crashed was paid for by a grant from the U.S. government. Last year, the United States provided Jordan with $1 billion in economic and military aid, and the Department of Defense gave the country an unspecified amount of money to help Jordan secure its border with Syria.

The bigger problem is helping Jordan deal with the human cost of the Syrian civil war. More than 614,000 Syrian civilians displaced by the war have fled to Jordan - an influx of people that has raised Jordan’s population by 10 percent, according to a Congressional Research Service report prepared last December. That flood of refugees risks pushing Jordanian society to its breaking point. According to the same report, rents in border towns like Mafraq and Ramtha have tripled as Syrian refugees have poured into the area, displacing many Jordanians. But since the crisis began in 2012, the United States has only given Jordan $445 million in aid to help refugees.

That number needs to be increased dramatically - and soon. Jordan can count on U.S. support in a joint military campaign against a common enemy. But helping manage the influx of refugees will show the Jordanian people that a stable Jordan is just as much of an American foreign policy priority as the defeat of ISIS.

The Caledonian Record of St. Johnsbury (Vt.), Feb 12, 2015

President Obama and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler are making another bid to take over the Internet through “net neutrality” regulation and rulemaking fiat.

The FCC says it must have power over Internet and cable companies (ISP’s) to prevent them from discriminating against certain data, companies or content. Proponents of “net neutrality” say they stand for “open Internet.” They say ISP’s are in a position to “close” the Internet if they choose to.

But this is purely a scare tactic in a historic power play. As Robert McDowell, former FCC commissioner points out, “market failures like these have never happened, and nothing is broken that needs fixing. If consumers were being harmed by ISPs, ample antitrust, competition and consumer protection laws already exist to fix the problem. And major broadband providers have pledged, in their terms of service, to keep the Net open and freedom-enhancing. Why? Because it is good business to do so.

“The Internet is the greatest deregulatory success story of all time - a simple fact that vexes those seeking new and unnecessary rules,” McDowell says.

The real play, as it was during the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine” reign of terror, is for bureaucratic control over speech. As McDowell points out of the FCC’s longstanding regulation over broadcast companies’ speech over the “public” airwaves, “Even in today’s competitive and digitized media markets, broadcasters must adhere to strict rules dictating speech, or risk losing their licenses.”

We wouldn’t exactly call that free or open.

The other advantage for Obama, and liberals generally of course, is a windfall of new taxes and an expansion of federal bureaucracy that comes with increased regulation.

The bottom line is that we trust free market forces to guarantee an open web far more than we trust the government. To argue otherwise is to ignore the history of both.

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