The Conversation


Environmentalist Tom Steyer, Others Target Colorado

Aug 30, 2014 3:42 PM PT

Deep-pocketed environmental activists like Tom Steyer and others have painted "a big, green bull's-eye" on Colorado in 2014 according to a report by the Denver Post.

Along with several other groups now active in Colorado "the Environmental Defense Fund on Tuesday vowed to make the state the centerpiece of a broad effort to highlight the issue of climate change".

"It's certainly the biggest thing we're doing nationally," Environmental Defense Fund spokesman Keith Gaby said of the group's planned $2 million campaign in Colorado to get 100,000 voters to the polls. 

Expected to work a similar beat will be staffers and volunteers for NextGen Climate, an advocacy group founded by investor and environmentalist Tom Steyer.

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What to Watch in the House Mid-Terms

Aug 30, 2014 9:43 AM PT

The AP expects the GOP to "tighten its grip" on the U.S. House of Representatives this year citing "redistricting after the 2010 census and the retirement of moderate Democrats in conservative states," although the Democrats financial edge is something of a wild card.

Two of the most vulnerable governors are Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett and Illinois Democrat Pat Quinn. Incumbents and candidates in those states are hoping they can survive despite the top of the ticket. It's especially true in Illinois where first-term Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider is in a close rematch with Republican Robert Dold in Chicago's northern suburbs and freshman Democratic Rep. Bill Enyart is trying to hold off state Rep. Mike Bost.

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What to Watch in the Senate Mid-Terms

Aug 30, 2014 9:06 AM PT

The AP is using Labor Day to kick off "a two-month sprint toward Election Day" by pointing out five key points in both the House and Senate mid-terms elections.

As for the Senate, Kentucky is certainly one key and some may find this information surprising, while others will say it's predictable. An old line more establishment GOP remains unpopular, so much so that Mitch McConnell is fighting for his political life in a year when he should win in a walk given Obama's weak numbers, including in Kentucky where Romney beat Obama in 2012 by 22 points.

If there's any politician in Kentucky as unpopular as Obama, it's Sen. Mitch McConnell. The Senate's Republican leader wants to be the majority leader, but first he must defeat Kentucky's secretary of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The race reflects everything about the national tug of war.

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Why a TV Network Would Cancel Its Highest-Rated Drama

Aug 30, 2014 9:05 AM PT

A&E's "Longmire," which recently wrapped up its third season, is the second highest-rated program on the network (second only to "Duck Dynasty") and the most popular original dramatic production the network has ever aired.  It's an unassuming police procedural that breathes new life into cop and mystery cliches with a unique setting, the big sky country of Wyoming, and a terrific lead character, gruff old cowboy sheriff Walt Longmire.  Indian characters and the local reservation add some interesting twists as well.  The cast has an easy chemistry that makes watching the show like catching up with old friends at a weekly poker game.

So of course, A&E just canceled "Longmire," after a cliffhanger season ending that teased big reveals in the stories of the main characters, and left the survival of one in doubt.

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Internet providers team up to block America's best Internet service

Aug 30, 2014 7:44 AM PT

It is widely held that one of the fastest Internet services in America, if not the fastest, can be found in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  They've got speeds that can reach 1 gigabit per second, which is around fifty times faster than the average in the U.S.  The high quality of this network has been bringing tech jobs to the area.  And yet, a partnership between Big Cable companies Comcast and Time Warner is trying to block expansion of the Chattanooga high-speed Internet service, along with a similar service in Wilson, North Carolina.

It's a good old-fashioned example of anti-competition, in which big players use political influence or legal challenges to keep a market closed up.  The twist is that in this case, the new players entering the market with superior service are municipal governments.  The broadband services in question are owned by the local governments.  The UK Guardian explains that the operation in North Carolina was launched expressly as a result of customer complaints about poor Time Warner service:

Chattanooga has the largest high-speed internet service in the US, offering customers access to speeds of 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average. The service, provided by municipally owned EPB, has sparked a tech boom in the city and attracted international attention. EPB is now petitioning the FCC to expand its territory. Comcast and others have previously sued unsuccessfully to stop EPB’s fibre optic roll out.

Wilson, a town of a little more than 49,000 people, launched Greenlight, its own service offering high speed internet, after complaints about the cost and quality of Time Warner cable’s service. Time Warner lobbied the North Carolina senate to outlaw the service and similar municipal efforts.

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McConnell Campaign Manager Out Amid Controversy

Aug 29, 2014 6:30 PM PT

In a story initially and doggedly pursued by former Breitbart News reporter Lee Stranahan, Jesse Benton has resigned as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager, "citing potential distractions over renewed attention to a scandal from the Iowa 2012 caucuses."

At issue is Benton's possible involvement in a vote buying scandal dating back to the 2012 Iowa Caucus during which Benton, a long-time Paul family associate, ran Ron Paul's campaign. Days ago, former Iowa GOP state lawmaker Kent Sorenson "pleaded guilty to charges of accepting money to change his endorsement in 2012 from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul."

In the Iowa case, then-state Sen. Kent Sorenson, who was a paid operative on Bachmann’s campaign, accepted tens of thousands of dollars from people connected to the elder Paul’s campaign — payments that were not disclosed to the Federal Election Commission.

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VIDEO: De Blasio Blasts NYC Sergeants Police Union On Crime Stats

Aug 29, 2014 2:05 PM PT

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the city's crime statistics at a presser in Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon telling Breitbart New Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and his team "are literally the most advanced in the nation on crime statistics." :

This is the man that brought us Com Stat. I was in a Com Stat meeting a week ago and it is an extraordinary example of advanced intelligent public sector leaders figuring out what’s going on and acting on it. And as anyone knows who has seen Com Stat or talked about it, it’s rigorous. It’s challenging. In fact, the leadership of the department challenges the precinct commanders to look under the hood of what’s going on and see if there’s even more there. It’s actually, and I understand there’s a concern you’re raising, because in some police departments around the country, there have been allegations of crime that have been undercounted. But under Bill Bratton, there’s a relentless search that we’ve got every crime classified properly and that we’re doing all the follow up we need.

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Obamacare's Glitchy Website Hinders Thousands Asked to Verify Citizenship

Aug 29, 2014 12:09 PM PT

Three hundred thousand people who enrolled in Obamacare have been asked to submit proof of citizenship or risk losing their insurance. Many who have tried to comply are finding the website to be more of an obstacle than a convenience.

The problems with citizenship verification were reported by USA Today Thursday. The paper reports that 310,000 notices were sent out earlier this month requesting proof of citizenship. In order to respond by the deadline next week, individuals need to be able to upload the requested documents on to

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Brown Hits Shaheen, Obama on Foreign Policy

Aug 29, 2014 9:41 AM PT

Amid reports that as many as 300 Americans are fighting along ISIS in Iraq and Syria and citing his own record of having introduced two bills while serving in the Senate that would have stripped U.S. citizenship from those “providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization” or “actively engaging” in hostilities against the U.S. or allies, Scott Brown is out with a new video hitting Jeanne Shaheen and Obama on their weak foreign policy, while also urging Congress to take action.

The minutelong Web video, titled “Reestablish America,” features clips from Scott’s recent foreign policy town hall with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and news footage of foreign hot spots, including Iraq, Israel and Ukraine.

"There are so many issues on the table right now that are affecting our foreign policy,” he says in the video, slamming Obama for an "incoherent" foreign policy.

Brown, a former senator from Massachusetts, is challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.). A recent poll showed Brown closing the gap in the race.

His new video comes as fears grow that militants from ISIS with Western passports could target the U.S. or Europe.

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Latest world power to have a top-secret drone program: Google

Aug 29, 2014 9:32 AM PT

There was some pretty wild talk coming out of Amazon a while back about using unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages.  It turns out Google wants to play too, and is already has a drone test program well under way.  The existence of this top-secret program was officially announced on Thursday.  From USA Today:

Dubbed Project Wing, the three-year mission successfully completed its first delivery Aug. 13, a bundle of Cherry Ripe chocolate bars. Over subsequent days, the team from GoogleX — the Mountain View, Calif.-based search company's exploratory technology arm — air-dropped a range of other farmer-friendly goods, from medicines to first-aid kits.

The flights were a direct response to GoogleX lead and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who challenged his team to make a delivery to a real person via drone.

"We selected these items based on several conversations with local people about how aerial delivery might help them in their jobs," GoogleX said in a release Thursday. "Over the course of the week, the team ran more than 30 successful delivery flights. We are now back in California reviewing what we've learned."

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