Obama endorses plan to boost wireless broadband

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to participants of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month event in the East Room at the White House in Washington

U.S. President Barack Obama endorsed on Monday plans by regulators to nearly double the spectrum now available for wireless devices.

The White House announced a plan modeled after proposals by the Federal Communications Commission to free up 500 megahertz of spectrum over the next 10 years to meet the demand for laptop computers and smartphones such as Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) popular iPhone.

Some estimates suggest the next five years will see an increase in wireless data of between 20 to 45 times 2009 levels, reflecting the burgeoning use of wireless devices.

The Federal Communications Commission, which manages commercial spectrum licenses, and the Department of Commerce, which oversees government spectrum, have been working together to locate unused spectrum.

Officials said they hope they can identify some spectrum by Oct. 1 that can be made available within five years.

Paul Gallant, a telecommunications analyst with Concept Capital, said Obama's announcement is a plosive development for wireless infrastructure companies such as Alcatel-Lucent SA (ALUA.PA), American Tower Corp (AMT.N), Ciena Corp (CIEN.O), and Tellabs Inc, among others.

The "White House's endorsement bolsters the outlook for spectrum goals" laid out by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in the recent National Broadband Plan, Gallant said.

Freeing up airwaves to meet the growing demands of the wireless industry is a major component of the FCC's National Broadband Plan to increase Internet subscribers and provide affordable access to rural and low-income families.

House passes campaign bill backed by Democrats

WASHINGTON -- Four months before midterm elections, the Democratic-controlled House approved new limitations on the political activity of outside interest groups Thursday after carving out exemptions that benefit the National Rifle Association as well as labor unions and numerous federal contractors.

The vote was 219-206 on the legislation that Democrats trumpeted as a move to bring fuller disclosure to shadowy campaign ads and Republicans attacked as an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

In a statement, President Barack Obama praised the bill, although he said, "I would have preferred that it include no exemptions." He urged quick action in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to seek a vote but strong Republican opposition make its prospects uncertain.

At the juncture of the First Amendment and partisan politics, the measure produced an unlikely alignment among the very groups it was intended to regulate.

Organizations as diverse as the American Civil Liberties Union and Sierra Club on the left to the Chamber of Commerce and the National Right to Life Committee on the right opposed it. The NRA was officially neutral - and drew a jab from House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio because of that.

Judge Blocks Deep-Water Drilling Moratorium

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in New Orleans on Tuesday blocked a six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling projects that the Obama administration had imposed in response to the vast oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.The White House swiftly said the administration would appeal the decision.

In a 22-page ruling, Judge Martin L. C. Feldman of Federal District Court issued a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of a May 28 order halting all floating offshore drilling projects in more than 500 feet of water and preventing the government from issuing new permits for such projects.

Citing the economic harm to businesses and workers in the gulf caused by the moratorium, Judge Feldman — a 1983 appointee of President Ronald Reagan — wrote that the Obama administration had failed to justify the need for the sweeping suspension, which he characterized as “generic, indeed punitive.”

He wrote that “the blanket moratorium, with no parameters, seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger.”

President invites discussions for energy legislation

US President Barack Obama has asked key Republican and Democratic senators to meet him at the White House on June 23rd to discuss his currently stalled energy bill.

The meeting, which will take ideas from both sides of politics, will involve conversations on the oil tragedy in the Gulf, oil and gas drilling oversights, pollution at coal-burning factories and incentives for the expansion of nuclear energy for power.

The president will be looking to find votes for comprehensive energy legislation at the meeting, to which he has invited Republican Lindsey Graham, who was one of three original authors of the bill in the Senate. Senator Graham later dropped his support for the bill.

It is believed the president will ask the assembled lawmakers to consider a bill to change US dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels, while also requiring US industries and utilities to cut their output of carbon dioxide pollution.

Obama heading back to Gulf Coast

President Barack Obama will make another visit to the Gulf Coast next week to review efforts to contain and clean up the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the White House announced Tuesday.

Obama's Monday and Tuesday itineraries will include stops in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, three of the four states affected by the 50-day-old disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the White House announced. It will be his fourth trip to the region since the spill erupted in late April.

On Friday, Obama was in Grand Isle, Louisiana, where he met with local business leaders directly affected by the undersea gusher and huddled with regional officials involved in the response effort.

Tuesday's announcement followed Obama's blunt defense of his administration's handling of the disaster in an interview on NBC's "Today" show. Asked about complaints that his public appearances have been too cerebral and reserved, Obama said, "This is not theater."

"I don't sit around talking to experts because this is a college seminar," he said. "We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."

Obama said that his administration's response is the largest mobilization against an environmental catastrophe in the history of the federal government and that officials understood "from day one" that the spill would be a major disaster. He said it is "tough" to see images of oil-smeared birds or meet fishermen "who are on the verge of tears," but "we just got to keep on moving."