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Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is demanding that AT&T end its partnership with BabyFirst to promote the first-ever "second screen" experience for babies. The new BabyFirstTV U-verse app encourages infants and toddlers to use an iPad while watching TV. While AT&T heralds the app as "an exciting step in children's programming," experts in infant learning and development, already concerned about screen time for infants, believe it's a worrisome escalation.
"Few things could be less beneficial to babies than the multitasking distraction and screen-mediated experience of the BabyFirstTV and AT&T partnership," said Dr. Jim Taylor, author of Raising Generation Tech: Prepare Your Children for a Media-Fueled World. "For healthy brain development, young children benefit from singularly focused activities and 3-D, multisensory interaction with their world. If truth in advertising existed, this new technology would be called $$FirstTV. It has everything to do with money and nothing to do with what is healthiest for babies."
Babies using the app can "draw" on tablets or smart phones and then see the images appear on TVs tuned to BabyFirstTV on the U-verse system. One of the app's features allows babies to see their drawings as an overlay to regular BabyFirstTV programming.
"It's bad enough that BabyFirst hooks babies on television by deceiving parents with false messages that its programming is educational," said CCFC's Dr. Susan Linn, "But the BabyFirst U-verse app is a new low. When there's no evidence that even one screen benefits babies, marketing a second one is unconscionable."
Currently, the app's second-screen function is only available to AT&T's U-verse subscribers. But BabyFirst is already in discussion with other TV and High Speed Internet providers and the company is developing a whole line of "second screen engagement tools."
"Our best evidence says that exposing babies under the age of two years to one screen is not a good idea - exposing them simultaneously to two screens is even worse," said Pediatrician Victor Strasburger, Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. "Babies don't learn from screens - they learn from real live people, especially their parents. All available research points to the need for parents to read and interact with their babies." The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for babies and toddlers.
"Studies show that multi-tasking actually impedes learning, diminishing our ability to absorb and remember information and compromising the quality of our efforts," said Dr. Catherine Steiner Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age. "And everything we know about how babies learn suggests that they have not yet developed the concepts of time, space and consequences enough even to grasp the link between what's on their tablet and what's on their television screen."
Fairplay, formerly known as Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, educates the public about commercialism's impact on kids' wellbeing and advocates for the end of child-targeted marketing. Fairplay organizes parents to hold corporations accountable for their marketing practices, advocates for policies to protect kids, and works with parents and professionals to reduce children's screen time.
The federal judge said that the "highly uncertain effects of this project, when considered in light of its massive scope and setting, raise substantial questions about whether this project will have a significant effect on the environment."
Two days before he left office, a political appointee for President Donald Trump removed protections from old-growth trees in Oregon and Washington. On Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Hallman ruled that decision was illegal.
Hallman vacated the U.S. Forest Service's finding that the change would have no impact, and ordered the agency to carry out a full environmental impact statement of the proposal, as The Associated Press reported.
"It's a shame that we needed a court to tell the Forest Service that they must follow the bedrock environmental laws that have been in place for decades," Jamie Dawson of Greater Hells Canyon Council said in response to the ruling. "Completing a full public process and taking a hard look at the environmental impacts of their actions is the least they should be doing, especially when considering such an impactful decision."
"The Forest Service rushed through a politically motivated rule change to log the most ecologically important trees left on our landscape."
The last-minute Trump administration rollback targeted something called the Eastside Screens. These were put in place in the mid-1990s to protect the Pacific Northwest's old-growth forests after decades of logging had put them at risk, Oregon Wild explained. They prohibited loggers from targeting any trees east of the cascades larger than 21 inches in diameter. The screens protected trees in six national forests in eastern Oregon and Washington, comprising more than seven million acres of public land.
While these trees only make up around 3% of trees in the region, they provide vital habitat for wildlife, and recent research indicates that they store 42% of the forests' carbon, playing an important role in combating the climate crisis.
"The Forest Service rushed through a politically motivated rule change to log the most ecologically important trees left on our landscape," Chris Krupp of WildEarth Guardians said in a statement. "Sadly, this is in line with their well-earned reputation for putting logging before the need to address the climate and biodiversity crises."
WildEarth Guardians and Greater Hells Canyon Council were two of the groups that sued to reverse the rollback on June 14, 2022, along with Oregon Wild, Central Oregon LandWatch, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and the Sierra Club. The groups also had the support of the Nez Pierce Tribe.
In changing the rule, the Trump administration argued that it was protecting the forests from wildfires.
"We're looking to create landscapes that withstand and recover more quickly from wildfire, drought, and other disturbances," Ochoco National Forest supervisor Shane Jeffries told Oregon Public Broadcasting at the time, according to AP. "We're not looking to take every grand fir and white fir out of the forests."
However, in the years since the rule change, the Forest Service has proposed logging larger trees on thousands of acres of Oregon forest, including previously untouched forests in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
"Individually and collectively, these projects will damage wildlife habitat, contribute to climate change, deplete important carbon stores, and harm other environmental, social, and cultural values at a time when we simply can't afford to move in the wrong direction," Oregon Wild wrote.
In their lawsuit, the groups said that the last-minute rule change violated the National Environmental Protection Act, National Forest Management Act, and the Endangered Species Act by failing to take into account its impacts and not allowing the public enough time to comment.
The judge agreed.
"The highly uncertain effects of this project, when considered in light of its massive scope and setting, raise substantial questions about whether this project will have a significant effect on the environment," Hallman wrote, as AP reported.
The green groups behind the suit are pleased with the ruling, but also think the Biden administration could do more to protect forests, in line with an Earth Day Executive Order to take stock of the nation's remaining old-growth forests and develop a plan to protect them from wildfires and other threats.
"We call on the Biden administration to stop defending this illegal Trump rule change," Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild said in a statement.
Rep. Lou Correa "betrayed consumers and left small businesses at the mercy of Big Tech and other monopolies," reads a mailer sent by an arm of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
The lobbying arm of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee targeted Democratic Rep. Lou Correa on Friday for opposing a trio of bipartisan antitrust measures that passed the House last year but later died in the Senate thanks in large part to the upper chamber's majority leader, Chuck Schumer.
P Street, which bills itself as the "progressive alternative to K Street," sent mailers that describe Correa as "Big Tech's best friend in Congress" to more than 36,000 of the California Democrat's constituents on Friday, The Hillreported.
The mailers, a copy of which was shared with The Hill, say that Correa has "betrayed consumers and left small businesses at the mercy of Big Tech and other monopolies."
Correa, who took office in 2017, is currently the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust. Correa was named to the post after Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.)—who previously chaired the subcommittee and led major investigations into Big Tech—stepped down earlier this year.
A day after news broke that Correa would be the ranking member of the antitrust panel, CNBCreported that the California Democrat's chief of staff "lobbied on behalf of Amazon and Apple as recently as 2022, including on the very issues the ranking member will oversee in his new role."
"Correa's a former banker and real estate broker, a Chamber of Commerce Democrat (they endorsed him in 2022), and his position on corporate power follows from that."
In addition to opposing the three bipartisan antitrust bills that cleared the House last year but have yet to be revived since Republicans took control of the chamber, Correa voted against a funding boost for federal antitrust agencies.
"At a time when President [Joe] Biden and congressional Democrats are trying to lower costs for families by fighting monopolies and price gouging, it makes no sense for the top Democrat on the antitrust subcommittee to put corporate tech monopolies over consumers and small businesses that would benefit from a competitive marketplace," Emma Lydon, P Street's managing director, said in a statement to The Hill.
Correa, who represents California's 46th Congressional District, does not currently have a primary challenger.
"While Correa's home state of California has lots of tech interests in it, his actual district, which encompasses Anaheim and the heavily Latino city of Santa Ana, isn't exactly a tech hotbed," The American Prospect's David Dayen noted in June. "It's the home of Disneyland, and big business certainly plays a role, but Correa's affinity for Big Tech is serving a donor base, not a base of constituents who he directly represents."
"Correa's a former banker and real estate broker, a Chamber of Commerce Democrat (they endorsed him in 2022), and his position on corporate power follows from that," Dayen added.
"Our goal is not to strike. Our goal is to bargain a fair contract," said UAW president Shawn Fain. "But if we have to strike to win economic and social justice, then we will."
The United Auto Workers filed unfair labor practice charges against General Motors and Stellantis on Thursday, accusing the major carmakers of illegally refusing to bargain in good faith as the union seeks substantial wage increases and benefit improvements.
UAW president Shawn Fain announced the charges during a livestream late Thursday, just two weeks before the union's contracts with GM, Stellantis, and Ford—the so-called "Big Three" automakers—are set to expire.
"I'm sad to report that the Big Three are either not listening, or they are not taking us seriously," said Fain, who noted that he directly warned the automakers' CEOs not to drag out contract talks with the goal of forcing the union to swallow a milquetoast contract at the last minute.
"Both General Motors and Stellantis have failed to give us any economic counters," Fain said Thursday. "GM and Stellantis' willful refusal to bargain in good faith is not only insulting and counterproductive, it's also illegal. That's why today our union filed unfair labor practice charges, or ULPs, against both GM and Stellantis with the National Labor Relations Board."
But Fain stressed that the union's "strongest line of defense" against the automakers' obstruction and union-busting is "our ability to take collective action."
"Our goal is not to strike. Our goal is to bargain a fair contract," said Fain, who was elected as UAW's president earlier this year. "But if we have to strike to win economic and social justice, then we will."
GM and Stellantis dismissed Fain's allegations of law-breaking as "frivolous" and without merit.
"You can't make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract."
Fain's announcement of ULP charges against the two of the Big Three automakers came as Ford countered UAW's offer with a proposed 9% wage increase over four years as well as "a reduction of the time it takes workers to reach the top of the wage scale from eight to six years, elimination of wage tiers, a 20% starting wage increase for temporary workers to $20 per hour, $5,500 ratification bonuses, and $12,000 over four years in what the company calls a "cost-of-living adjustment bonus," The Detroit Newsreported.
One worker at Ford's Cleveland Engine Plant told the newspaper that the company's counter is "nothing short of a slap in the face."
"We have plenty of temps here making $16.70 an hour, and they're barely getting by—$20, that isn't much better," the worker said. "Ford has a long way to go if they want to get our members' support on a contract."
Fain said Thursday that "Ford's wage proposals not only fail to meet our needs, it insults our very worth."
Last week, the UAW announced that 97% of participating members at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis voted to authorize a strike if an adequate contract deal with management isn't reached by September 14. According to a Gallup poll released earlier this week, 75% of the U.S. public sides with UAW members over Big Three management in the contract negotiations.
"I know our demands are ambitious, but I've told the companies repeatedly, I'm not the reason that members' expectations are so high," Fain said Thursday. "What's driving members' expectations are the Big Three's profits. You can't make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract."