National News

Merger push means big lobbying effort

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-26 02:43

Comcast is going to war in its pursuit to merge with Time Warner Cable. The telecom giant has reportedly bought up lobbyists at 40 different firms around Washington.

There's a simple way you could describe Comcast's strategy: have an unlimited budget and then exceed it. The Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison says the nation’s capital eats it up.

“You know Washington is the kind of girl that always falls for the dozen of flowers sent three or four times a day,” he says.

By the looks of it, Comcast’s got all the florists on speed-dial. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the company spent nearly $20 million dollars lobbying the federal government last year, putting it in the top 10, and it is on track to be there again this year.

Former FCC chief of staff Blair Levin says this is less about influencing Congress than convincing regulators and Comcast competitors this is a done deal.

“Because if you have the impression this deal is going to go through and everybody is going to rearrange their lives, it’s much harder for a government to act in a way that upsets those expectations,” he says.

Levin says there is something of a firewall. He says regulators at the Department of Justice – key decision-makers in telecom mergers – are historically immune to lobbying campaigns, regardless of size.

World War II Vets Honor Their Own In Cactus Division

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-26 02:37

In Gainesville, Texas, on Monday, World War II vets from a unit known as the Cactus Division will remember their fallen comrades. These veterans helped liberate Germany's Dachau concentration camp.

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The right to be forgotten... or, at least, edit

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-26 01:00

The Venn Diagram of "people who use the internet" and "people who have googled themselves" is pretty much just a circle. And if you've participated in such an activity, you know the fear of turning up an item of your past that you'd rather not have available to the public at large. 

Mario Costeja Gonzalez of Spain certainly knows how that goes. His case against Google argued that he should have the right to remove links to an article detailing his debt to the government (which he has since settled). The European Union ruled in his favor, thus creating "The Right to be Forgotten."

While there are still questions of exactly how this ruling will play out, Jonathan Zittrain, professor of law at Harvard and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, certainly understands the desire to control one's online identity, or as he puts it: "that first magic page result on Google, in particular, does more to define you than pretty much anything else."

Zittrain also points out that Google has experimented in the past with features that let users influence their internet presence. In 2007, for example, Google News allowed people who were quoted or mentioned in an article to add a comment contextualizing the content pertaining to their name and reputation.

It's this kind of curation that gets the regulation of the internet into a gray zone, according to Zittrain.

With Google being merely a search engine -- a machine, if you will -- no one is to blame for a curated selection of materials that appear when someone is Googled. According to Zittrain, when you add a hand-picked element, however, and regulating becomes more problematic:

"The more curated that [Google results] is -- whether by machine or by human -- the more it deserves some kind of scrutiny and possibly an ability to contextualize for people who are mentioned or implicated by those results."

Killer's Family Tried To Intervene Before Rampage

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-26 00:31

By the time Elliot Rodger's mother and father arrived, it was too late: their son had killed six people and then, authorities say, himself.

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Early Returns Show Candy Tycoon Poroshenko Winning Ukraine Vote

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-26 00:23

Billionaire Petro Poroshenko was elected president of Ukraine in the first round of balloting, according to early returns. He claimed victory after exit polls showed him with a commanding lead.

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One Of Many: Remembering A Fallen Son On Memorial Day

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-26 00:04

Lance Cpl. James Boelk was a Marine killed in Afghanistan in the fall of 2010. Like many families of fallen soldiers, on this Memorial Day his parents say they will gather to honor and remember.

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Mexico City's Campaign To Encourage Breast-Feeding Backfires

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-25 23:53

Breast-feeding rates in Mexico are among the lowest in Latin America. But a campaign to encourage the practice featured topless actresses, drawing sharp criticism from some women's groups.

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Anxious Parents Can Learn How To Reduce Anxiety In Their Kids

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-25 23:44

The children of parents who struggle with anxiety are much more likely to develop it themselves. Therapy for both parents and children can help keep the often-debilitating disorder at bay.

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Egyptians Vote To Elect Country's Next President

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-25 23:39

The man who removed the elected president, retired military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, is practically assured of a victory in the vote, which is being held over two days, Monday and Tuesday.

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Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland's Last Communist Leader, Dies At 90

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-25 23:21

The general in tinted glasses, who was best known for his 1981 martial law crackdown on the Solidarity union, died Sunday after a long struggle with cancer and a recent stroke.

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Hunter-Reay Holds Off Castroneves To Win Indy 500

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-25 22:05

America has its first Indianapolis 500 winner in eight years. Ryan Hunter-Reay made a dramatic pass of Helio Castroneves on the final lap to win Sunday's race in the second-closest finish in history.

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