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Alice Cooper & Lou Reed’s Guitarist Dick Wagner On A Classic Non-Visual Radio Friday night from 8-9 p.m. on www.activatemedia.org

Alice Cooper & Lou Reed’s Guitarist Dick Wagner On A Classic Non-Visual Radio Friday night from 8-9 p.m. on www.activatemedia.org

By Ed Wroblesk

The late Dick Wagner joins host Joe Viglione on a classic non visual radio this friday night following Ed Wrobleski’s Talking Hendrix show. Joe will talk with Dick about the Rock and Roll Animal tour, The Berlin album that Dick played on with the late legendary Lou Reed, along with his days of playing in Alice Cooper’s band as well for more information on Dick Wagner read below:

Born in Oelwein, Iowa, Wagner grew up in the Owosso, Michigan, area and graduated from Waterford Township high school in 1961. His first band, called the Bossmen, was a favourite in the Detroit area and scored radio play with the Wagner-penned composition “Baby Boy”, “You’re the Girl for Me” and others. Wagner formed his next band, the Frost, with Donny Hartman, Bobby Rigg and Gordy Garris, in the late 1960s and built up a substantial following in the Michigan area. The band featured the dual lead guitars of Wagner and Hartman. The band released three albums during their tenure together on Vanguard Records: 1969’s Frost Music and Rock and Roll Music, plus 1970’s Through the Eyes of Love. Wagner was the principal songwriter, arranger and lead singer of The Frost. Their live appearances brought out large crowds of young fans throughout the region.

In 1972, Wagner moved to New York and formed the short-lived group “Ursa Major”. The original line-up included Billy Joel on keyboards and Rick Mangone on drums. As Billy Joel had to leave the band for personal reasons, Wagner replaced him with former Amboy Dukes bassist Greg Arama. They released one seminal, acclaimed self-titled album as a power trio. The band toured nationally with Jeff Beck and then with Alice Cooper.

In 1973, Wagner was recruited by producer Bob Ezrin for Lou Reed’s band along with Steve Hunter. Wagner and Hunter were featured guitarists on Lou Reed’s dark and controversial 1973 studio album, Berlin. Soon after, Wagner and Hunter were joined by Prakash John, Pentti “Whitey” Glan and Ray Colcord for Lou Reed’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal Tour. As band leader and arranger, Wagner took the early Lou Reed songs that had been recorded by the Velvet Underground and rearranged them for the concert stage. The new arrangements left behind the laid back feeling that had been established by the prior Reed band and won Reed his first gold album. The band toured internationally with Reed, culminating in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal album, recorded live at the New York Academy of Music in December 1973. Readers of Guitar World ranked the Hunter/Wagner solos on the 1973 live version of “Sweet Jane” 81st among the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of all time.

It was during Wagner’s days with the Frost that he first met Alice Cooper. Producer Bob Ezrin brought both Wagner and Steve Hunter into the studio to play guitar on the early Alice Cooper albums. Wagner had already been featured on the band’s School’s Out album, notably for playing the memorable guitar solo on the track “My Stars”. Wagner continued to play lead guitar (sometimes uncredited) on every Alice Cooper Group album that followed, through the break up of the original group.

When the members of the original Alice Cooper group parted ways in 1974, Wagner officially teamed up with Alice Cooper and became his principal co-writer, lead guitarist and band director. Together they wrote their first concept album, Welcome to My Nightmare. Produced by Bob Ezrin, the album was released in 1975. The Nightmare Tour became the largest and longest touring rock show of the time. The live show also featured the duelling lead guitars of Wagner and Hunter in a guitar battle captured on the film of the same name. The film became a TV special and was released on home video in 1976. The world tour covered more than 120 cities over an eighteen-month period. Wagner continued to co-write songs and play lead guitar on additional Cooper albums, including: Goes To Hell, The Alice Cooper Show, Lace and Whiskey, From the Inside (written by the team of Alice Cooper, Dick Wagner and Bernie Taupin), Zipper Catches Skin, DaDa and Hey Stoopid among others.

At the suggestion of producer Bob Ezrin, Wagner contributed guitar tracks to the highly successful 1976 Kiss album Destroyer – the first Kiss album to prominently feature outside musicians. Though uncredited, Wagner replaced Ace Frehley as lead guitarist for the tracks “Flaming Youth” and “Sweet Pain”, while also playing the acoustic guitar found on the ballad “Beth”. As one of Ezrin’s hired guns throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s, Wagner continued to lend his playing (and in some cases, songwriting) talents to albums including Peter Gabriel’s self-titled solo debut (1977), Air Supply, Aerosmith’s Get Your Wings (Wagner played the guitar solos on “Same Old Song and Dance” and “Train Kept A-Rollin'”, the latter with Steve Hunter), Hall & Oates’ Along the Red Ledge, Kiss’s Revenge, and Burton Cummings’ Dream of a Child. Wagner produced and co-wrote songs for Mark Farner’s solo début and a pair of albums for the star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tim Curry, and more.

In 1978, Wagner released a solo LP called Richard Wagner, produced by Bob Ezrin, and released on Atlantic Records. The album title confused both record stores and disc jockeys, who relegated the record to the classical music bin, assuming it was a classical music record composed by the 19th-century classical composer with the same name.

One of the best-known songs written by Wagner is “Only Women Bleed”. Written during Wagner’s days with the Frost and titled “Movin’ On”, Wagner was unhappy with his lyrics and did not release it. After starting his collaboration with Alice Cooper, Wagner played the song for him. Alice had a title for a song he had been wanting to write. While keeping the main riff and vocal melodies, Cooper and Wagner penned new lyrics and recorded it for Cooper’s album Welcome to My Nightmare. The song delivered a message against domestic abuse. Since its initial release in 1975 “Only Women Bleed” has been covered by more than 30 artists, including Tina Turner, Etta James, Guns N’ Roses, Lita Ford, Carmen McRae and Tori Amos

Following “Only Women Bleed”, Wagner co-wrote a series of hit power ballads with Alice Cooper, including “I Never Cry”, “You And Me” and “How You Gonna See Me Now” (the latter written by Cooper, Wagner and Bernie Taupin). Other songs co-written by Wagner brought him public recognition as a songwriting talent. First “Shine Silently” with Nils Lofgren, who performed it originally on his 1979 album Nils, then as part of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band’s 1990 eponymous first album. “Just as I Am”, written by Wagner with Rob Hegel, was a hit record for Air Supply. At the behest of producer Bob Ezrin, Wagner flew to Toronto and recorded guitar on seven tracks of the Air Supply album that included this song. Another power ballad, “I Might As Well Be on Mars”, again with Alice Cooper, was featured on Cooper’s 1991 album Hey Stoopid.

One of the songs Wagner was most proud of is “Remember The Child”, written to address the issue of child abuse. Written from the point of view of a child, the lyrics and song melody deliver a powerful and poignant message to adults that a child will forever remember the love or abuse of their childhood. New York Times best selling author John Bradshaw selected “Remember The Child” as the theme song for his award-winning PBS television special, “Homecoming: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child”. Bradshaw invited Wagner to join him on his nationwide tour to perform the song as a cathartic and healing piece of music to the thousands who attended Bradshaw’s lectures and seminars. Embraced by psychiatrists and psychologists in their practices, the song has been used as a tool to evoke emotion from patients who are unable to express feelings. In 1996, Wagner was invited by Leo Najar, conductor of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra to perform a two and a half hour concert of his songs with the symphony. Wagner entitled the concert, “The Remember The Child Concert”, raising funds for child abuse agencies in central Michigan through his “Remember The Child Foundation”.

Wagner moved to Phoenix, Arizona, in 2005 where he was writing a new album with Alan Gordon (Happy Together, Celebrate). In 2007 he wrote songs for the artist Wednesday for her debut album Torch Rock, released on his independent record label Desert Dreams Records. Because of the efforts of his career strategist and publicist Al Gomes, Wednesday’s album, produced by Wagner, was placed on the official ballot by The Recording Academy for the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Three years later, Gomes assisted in getting Wagner and songwriting partner Alice Cooper’s song ‘Something to Remember Me By’ (from ‘Welcome to My Nightmare 2’) placed on the 55th Annual Grammy Awards ballot for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song.

A film about the work of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter, entitled “Rock and Roll Animals”, was in production in 2007 by Noble Savage Productions. In filmed interviews, Alice Cooper talks about hiring Dick Wagner, writing with him and hiring the greatest guitar players to be in his band. Fred Mandel, keyboardist with the Alice Cooper Band was also interviewed. The film was never completed, but the clips are on YouTube.

In 2006, Wagner cooperated with the Italian rock singer Chris Catena in recording a cover version of “Theme for an Imaginary Western,” the famous rock song by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown, which will be released in the third album of the Italian singer around 2015.

In 2007, Wagner suffered a massive heart attack and stroke. After arriving DOA at a Scottsdale hospital, he spent two weeks in a coma, awakening with a paralyzed left arm. While recovering from his heart attack, Wagner continued to write songs and began writing his memoirs, which ultimately became his book, Not Only Women Bleed.

As he slowly recovered from his heart attack and stroke, Wagner manifested unusual symptoms, including difficulty walking and concentrating, loss of balance, and symptoms of dementia, threatening his music career and his life. In 2011, Wagner was diagnosed with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), a type of dementia which affects, among other things, fine motor skills and gait. In late 2011, after successful surgery at Barrow Neurological Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, Wagner was able to make a significant recovery, regaining almost all of the dexterity which had been lost over the course of the disorder’s progression.

Dick Wagner’s former band the Frost was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends online Hall of Fame in 2008. The group’s recording of “Mystery Man”, a Wagner composition, was voted a Legendary Michigan Song in 2009. He continued to recover from his near-fatal heart attack and recorded with long-time collaborator Steve Hunter on an unnamed single for Wednesday.

Wagner released a new CD in October 2009, called Full Meltdown on Desert Dreams Records. It features 15 lost and newly discovered songs recorded by Wagner between 1979 and 1995. He also produced the band Warsaw Pact and the independent artist Brandon Bullard with releases from both in early 2010. Wagner scored with Alice Cooper and the British funk rock band the Velvet Hearts the soundtrack to the Indie horror film Silas Gore, A Film Trilogy. Similar to his original work on the first Alice Cooper solo album Welcome to My Nightmare, Dick also contributed lead guitar to the final track, “The Underture”, from the album Welcome 2 My Nightmare. It represents instrumental versions of several songs from each album.

In 2010, Gibson.com honored the guitar tandem of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter with two places in the Top 50 Guitar Solos of All Time – #25 for “Intro to Sweet Jane” (Lou Reed), and as #41 “Train Kept A Rollin’ (Aerosmith). In 2012, Gibson published Riff This Way: Aerosmith’s Top 10 Riff-Heavy Tracks, placing Dick Wagner with two winning guitar solos: The #1 Best Aerosmith Guitar Solo for his lead guitar on “Same Old Song and Dance”, and also #4, honoring his performance as lead guitarist with Steve Hunter on “Train Kept A Rollin'”. Wagner won a number of BMI Songwriter awards and other international music awards and his work has been featured on albums earning more than 35 gold and platinum records.

In 2012, Dick Wagner was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.

In 2012, Wagner’s memoirs, Not Only Women Bleed, Vignettes from the Heart of a Rock Musician, were released to tremendous acclaim, spending more than two weeks at No. 1 on Amazon.com’s Hot New Releases in Biographies & Memoirs of Entertainers. His book has won five international book awards.

The same year, Wagner joined forces with the Mugshots – the only European band ever produced by the musician – and spent two weeks in Italy to produce their acclaimed release “Love, Lust And Revenge” (GCM Music/Alka Records/Black Widow Records), on which he is featured as lead guitarist as well. Susan Michelson is featured as associated producer, British ladies Never The Bride provided backing vocals, American actress Suzi Lorraine is featured on the cover. The record was then mixed in Phoenix by Otto D’Agnolo at Chaton Studios, and mastered by Wagner’s longtime friend and collaborator, Gil Markle. The Mugshots – “a majestic Euro-American combination of classic rock and dark stories” in the musician’s words – are known to be the only band to have recorded a cover version of “Pass The Gun Around”, written by Dick Wagner back in 1983 for Alice Cooper’s DaDa.

In 2013 and 2014, after suffering more than six years of extreme health adversities: two heart attacks, a stroke, a paralyzed left arm, a diagnosis of hydrocephalus (NPH) two brain surgeries, a pacemaker and more, Wagner’s guitar playing facilities had returned, and he fully resumed performing, touring with the Dick Wagner Band, writing songs and producing music. His book tour for Not Only Women Bleed took him to more than 40 states. With personal appearances in documentary films and writing film scores, Wagner had three songs featured in the multi-award-winning documentary “Louder than Love” (including the opening song and the closing credits song). Leading up to his death, Wagner’s projects included producing and writing for Danish rock star, Maryann Cotton, in a concept album and TV project reminiscent of Wagner’s shock rock history, a featuring in the forthcoming third solo album of the Italian rocker Chris Catena, entitled Return of the Freak.

On July 30, 2014, Wagner died of respiratory failure at the age of 71.

In November 2013, Wagner released his song and video tribute, “If I Had the Time (I Could Change the World)”, on various digital download sites to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Wagner gathered more than 50 musicians to record at Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles, including Mark Farner on lead vocals; Danny Seraphine on drums; Lee Sklar; Fred Mandel on piano; Elliot Easton; Jennifer Batten; Merilee Rush; and Trini Lopez and Laurie Beebe Lewis on lead vocals.

In November 2011 Wagner, along with Detroit musicians Ray Goodman, Dennis Burr, Prakash John, Jim McCarty, Johnny Bee Badanjek, Jimmie Bones, Ty Stone, Robert Wagner, Muruga and Pat Lewis, recorded Motor City Music at Harmonie Park Studios in Detroit in support of Franciscan friar Brother Al Mascia’s “Bicycle Ministry.” Mascia pedals a bicycle cart around the streets of downtown Detroit, delivering hot drinks, food and warm clothing to the homeless. The donated proceeds enable Brother Al to purchase additional supplies.

Wagner is also the First Artist Ambassador for Guitars for Vets.

Recovering from hydrocephalus, Wagner became a National Spokesperson for Hydrocephalus.org.

To support awareness of violence against women and children, Wagner and his production company, Desert Dreams Productions, created a video featuring Desert Dreams artist, Wednesday, performing her gospel-inflected version of “Only Women Bleed,” at Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding Show in Phoenix, Arizona. Footage from her performance, featuring Dick Wagner on guitar, was interspersed with researched data on abuse among a variety of age groups and cultures, along with empowering photos of women from around the world.

Following Dick Wagner’s death in 2014, his son Robert and Remember The Child Fund chairperson Susan Michelson have carried on his legacy of supporting children’s charities, organizing the Dick Wagner “Remember the Child” Memorial Concert in Detroit. The annual concert event, which benefits Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, was run for three years (2015 thtrough 2017).

So be sure to tune-in this friday night right after Talking Hendrix with Ed Wrobleski to hear this great interview with a legend from 8-9 p.m. on www.activatemedia.org

 

 

Source: Alice Cooper & Lou Reed’s Guitarist Dick Wagner On A Classic Non | Framingham, MA Patch

Peace Is a Word That the West Has Taken From the Afghans 

Peace Is a Word That the West Has Taken From the Afghans

With no end of war in sight, this past year has been the deadliest year for civilians since the United States first began to bomb Afghanistan in 2001

By Vijay Prashad

 

It’s difficult to explain the nature of the Afghanistan peace talks. There is no single table with the combatants arrayed on either side. Talks are not even taking place in the same city, since there are at least two sets of discussions ongoing. One location for the peace talks is Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban is meeting with the U.S. government. The other location is Moscow, Russia, where the Taliban has been holding meetings with Afghan opposition leaders—including the former president Hamid Karzai. Absent from both meetings is the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and his government. The Taliban sees them as illegitimate and irrelevant. Everyone—except President Ghani—says that the talks have made “progress.” But seasoned diplomats say that this “progress” is far too slow for a war that has now lasted 18 years.

Qatar

Between February and March of this year, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met during the fifth round of peace talks. The Taliban says that there can be no peace unless all foreign forces withdraw from the country. On a practical level, the withdrawal of the 15,000 foreign—mostly U.S.—troops will deliver the country to the hands of the Taliban.

Last week, Taliban forces struck the Afghan government’s troops across the country. Each spring, since 2002, the Taliban and its allies have left their mountain hideouts to conduct guerrilla and conventional attacks on U.S., NATO and Afghan government forces. The epicenter of these attacks has been in Afghanistan’s southeast—Ghazni and Helmand provinces in particular—as well as in the western province of Ghor. Fierce fighting in these areas came alongside suicide attacks in Kabul.

Two changes in U.S. policy suggest that the U.S. government knows that the game is up in Afghanistan. In October 2017, the United States stopped counting casualties for Afghan security forces. This year, the U.S. government has stopped measuring how much territory and how much of the Afghan population is under government control. The last U.S. study showed that the Afghan government controlled territory in which about 63.5 percent of the population lived, while the rest was in Taliban hands or remained contested. All signs show that the balance is shifting, with the Taliban taking control of more territory. This is why the U.S. government has stopped its tally.

It is likely that whether the U.S. troops remain or go, the Taliban will soon have control of key districts—including access roads out of landlocked Afghanistan. If a deal is reached in Qatar to have the U.S. forces withdraw, the Taliban will eventually take Kabul.

Moscow

Having made his call for the withdrawal of foreign forces in Qatar, Baradar went to Moscow for the Russia-backed peace talks. Here the Taliban co-founder found a willing ear in Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Both affirmed the need for the departure of U.S. troops from the country as a precondition for further talks.

Karzai, who has emerged as the leader of a section of Afghanistan’s opposition, agreed with this position. Karzai’s former interior minister—Mohammad Hanif Atmar—has now said he would run against Ashraf Ghani in September’s presidential election. Although Atmar fell out with Karzai about eight years ago, the two men are now said to be close. Atmar favors a full deal with the Taliban, whom he sees as a necessary ally in the Afghan government’s fight against ISIS. Ghani, whose term ended on May 22, will face Atmar, who many believe was responsible for Ghani’s victory in 2014.

Russia is eager to see an end to the 18-year war in Afghanistan. Threats of insurgency from Afghanistan have long troubled the Central Asian states, which continue to have close ties to Moscow. Chinese ambitions of the Belt and Road Initiative have suffered from the trouble in Afghanistan, which would be key territory not only for rail and road lines but also for the mining of minerals. Pressure from China on Pakistan—a key Chinese ally—will certainly mount. The Taliban is close to Pakistan, which would like to see the Taliban share power in Kabul in order to protect its interests and to sideline India. In June 2017, China and Russia brought both India and Pakistan into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and one of the group’s main mandates is to settle the instability in Afghanistan. Both China and Russia are pushing for a peace deal—even if this means that the Taliban will emerge as a political force in Kabul.

War

The war on Afghanistan has been ugly. Untold numbers of Afghans have died in this conflict, whose aims are not easy to formulate. United Nations figures show that in 2018 the civilian death count was 3,804—with 900 of them being children. This is the deadliest year for civilians since the United States first began to bomb Afghanistan in 2001.

Death is one consequence of war. Starvation is another. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Afghanistan said that half of the population would need food assistance over the course of this year. These 3.3 million people will starve as a result of crop failures and dry irrigation channels. Drought in western Afghanistan sent an additional 275,000 people in search of food, walking across the country, bewildered. Hunger will intensify malnutrition and illness. There is little sign of any help for these people.

All signs point to the desire in the Trump administration to withdraw U.S. troops. The International Criminal Court had tried to open a war crimes investigation on the basis of a preliminary finding that U.S. troops had violated international law in Afghanistan. The Trump administration blocked the investigation. On June 7, however, the ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda filed a request to continue her work. It appears that Bensouda is unwilling to allow the case to be politically closed down. On the table in Qatar is a side deal from the United States to accept some of the Taliban’s demands if the Afghan government that will emerge asks the ICC to withdraw the case.

Many European states have begun to deport Afghan asylum seekers on the grounds that they are not “refugees” but are merely “economic migrants.” A Norwegian Refugee Council report from 2018 shows, however, that those deported are forced to flee again. None of this matters to the European states. The rejuvenation of European racism and xenophobia drives the policy. Pressure from Europe to end this war is growing daily. It is likely that this pressure will mount at NATO headquarters, which will have an impact on the timetable for a U.S. withdrawal.

The peace talks in Qatar and Russia will not immediately result in any direct outcome. Afghanistan is damaged beyond belief, its own future less important to the external parties than their own petty gains.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

 

Source: Peace Is a Word That the West Has Taken From the Afghans | Common Dreams Views

On One-Year Anniversary of Net Neutrality Repeal, Over 100 Groups Demand McConnell Immediately Allow Vote on Save the Internet Act

On One-Year Anniversary of Net Neutrality Repeal, Over 100 Groups Demand McConnell Immediately Allow Vote on Save the Internet Act

“With voters from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly united in support of an open internet, it’s only a matter of time before net neutrality is restored.”

By Jake Johnson

Marking the one-year anniversary of the official implementation of FCC chair Ajit Pai’s deeply unpopular net neutrality repeal plan, a diverse coalition of more than 100 progressive advocacy groups on Tuesday demanded that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stop thwarting the will of the public and immediately allow a vote on the Save the Internet Act.

“Americans want and deserve enforceable protections that preserve net neutrality, ensure stronger broadband competition, and improve access,” the coalition wrote in a letter (pdf) dated Tuesday. “They don’t want big cable and phone companies controlling what they see, say, and do online. They want more choices and more affordable internet access service.”

“It’s not going to happen overnight, but every day that passes without Congress acting to restore net neutrality, the things people love about the internet are slowly fading away.” 
—Evan Greer, Fight for the Future

The Save the Internet Act—which passed the Democrat-controlled House in April—represents “the best chance to restore real net neutrality and an open and accessible internet for everyone,” the groups wrote, urging McConnell to “listen to the American public” and immediately bring the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.

“In the year since the FCC took away the 2015 ​Open Internet Order​, we have seen some very troubling and dangerous activities by big cable and telephone companies,” the letter reads. “While advocates seek redress in court to overturn the FCC’s disastrous repeal, Senate passage of the ​Save the Internet Act ​will reaffirm Congress’s intent and support for broadband users’ rights.”

Despite polling data showing that 77 percent of Republicans—and 80 percent of Americans overall—support net neutrality, a spokesperson for McConnell signaled Monday that the Senate Majority Leader has no intention of changing his position that the Save the Internet Act is “dead on arrival.”

As the advocacy groups deliver their letter to McConnell on Tuesday, digital rights organization Fight for the Future—one of the letter’s signatories—plans to host an all-day “epic livestream” during which policy experts, web company representatives, and others will read comments in support of net neutrality from thousands of internet users.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, but every day that passes without Congress acting to restore net neutrality, the things people love about the internet are slowly fading away,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement ahead of Tuesday’s livestream. “It’s becoming more centralized, exploitative, and controlled by corporate interests.”

“But internet users are refusing to give up,” said Greer. “On June 11th we’ll come together once again and channel outrage into political power. With voters from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly united in support of an open internet, it’s only a matter of time before net neutrality is restored.”

As Common Dreams reported in March, Fight for the Future successfully used livestreams of key committee hearings to prevent House members from weakening the Save the Internet Act with telecom-friendly amendments.

Now the group is turning its attention to the Senate, where just one member of the Democratic caucus—Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)—has yet to sign on to the Save the Internet Act.

 Read net neutrality campaigners’ full letter to McConnell:

Dear Majority Leader McConnell:

In April, the House of Representatives passed the ​Save the Internet Act ​(H.R. 1644) with bipartisan support. This critical bill restores net neutrality and broadband competition protections for all Americans, ensuring that rural and underserved communities gain access to the internet and that big cable companies are not able to control what people do, see, and say online.

We the undersigned 103 organizations urge you to listen to the American public and to immediately bring the ​Save the Internet Act ​(S.682) to a vote in the Senate.

Today marks one year since the FCC made the unpopular decision to officially kill net neutrality and broadband protections for the American people​. ​On the one-year anniversary of the end of the ​Open Internet Order​, we encourage the Senate to join your House colleagues in implementing the will of your constituents—4 in 5 of whom support net neutrality, including 77% of Republicans, according to recent polling.

Since the repeal of the ​Open Internet Order​ by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), millions of Americans have been fighting to protect an open and accessible internet and calling on Congress to restore vital protections for universal communications rights, small business innovation, and free speech online.

In the year since the FCC took away the 2015 ​Open Internet Order​, we have seen some very troubling and dangerous activities by big cable and telephone companies:

  • Verizon slowed down the Santa Clara fire department’s data in the midst of one of the worst wildfires in California history;
  • The largest U.S. telecom companies were caught slowing streaming speeds to popular applications like YouTube and Netflix;
  • Centurylink blocked internet access to force customers to view specific ads;
  • AT&T gave preference to its own video services by not having its video data count against customers’ monthly data caps; and
  • Sprint has been accused of interfering with Skype, which provides an alternative to wireless carriers’ voice, video, or messaging services.

Despite empty rhetoric by open internet opponents, the 2015 ​Open Internet Order​ did not harm broadband investment from 2015-2017, nor is broadband investment, deployment, or speed increasing since the FCC’s repeal.

While advocates seek redress in court to overturn the FCC’s disastrous repeal, Senate passage of the ​Save the Internet Act ​will reaffirm Congress’s intent and support for broadband users’ rights. Passing this bill would help reestablish important net neutrality protections while the court case challenging the FCC’s net neutrality repeal proceeds through months, or even years, of additional appeals. Like the House, the Senate should pass this bill without any harmful amendments designed to water down, weaken, or fatally wound it.

Senator McConnell, we call on you to enact the will of hundreds of millions of people who support open internet protections and broadband competition, and the millions who have taken action demanding them, by allowing Senators to vote on the ​Save the Internet Act​.

Americans want and deserve enforceable protections that preserve net neutrality, ensure stronger broadband competition, and improve access. They don’t want big cable and phone companies controlling what they see, say, and do online. They want more choices and more affordable internet access service.

The ​Save the Internet Act​ is the best chance to restore real net neutrality and an open and accessible internet for everyone in America​. We urge the Senate to move forward on this important bill that will restore strong open internet protections.

Source: On One-Year Anniversary of Net Neutrality Repeal, Over 100 Groups Demand McConnell Immediately Allow Vote on Save the Internet Act | Common Dreams News