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After 20 Years of NAFTA Poverty, Lawmakers Move to Fast-Track TPP

After 20 Years of NAFTA Poverty, Lawmakers Move to Fast-Track TPP | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Greg Russak's insight:

It would seem to me that if there's one thing everyone could agree on as being a concern when it comes to the TPP (and the TTIP), it would be this:

 

“For nearly four years, the U.S. Trade Representative and TPP negotiators have purposely restricted participation and information, keeping members of Congress and citizen groups, unions, environmental and consumer organizations in the dark," said Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen. "There has been no opportunity for public interest groups to meaningfully participate in the negotiations, and under fast track authority, there will be no opportunity for our elected representatives to amend the deal and make it better for Americans."

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The Moral Calculus Underlying the Debate Over Unemployment Insurance

The Moral Calculus Underlying the Debate Over Unemployment Insurance | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
What makes you angrier: someone getting a benefit they don't deserve, or someone not getting the help they need?
Greg Russak's insight:

I get angry when someone doesn't get the help they need, especially when it's not only eminently affordable and will flow immediately back into the economy, it also happens to be the right, moral, and ethical thing to do.

 

That's why I'm in favor of helping unemployed and poor Americans even with the knowledge that some waste, fraud, and abuse will occur just as it does in every program large and small, public and private.

 

It also angers me that lobbyists and wealthy individuals running profitable corporations are getting benefits they don't deserve.

 

I'm far more concerned about the waste, fraud, and abuse in a $652billion defense budget than I am in a $6billion unemployment extension. 

 

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GOP health plans good for the rich

GOP health plans good for the rich | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Timothy Jost: What is the GOP alternative to Obamacare, who would it help and who would it hurt?
Greg Russak's insight:

It's unfair to say that the GOP doesn't have any alternatives to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

 

Based on this article, however, it is fair to say that their alternatives, euphemistically called the American Health Care Reform Act and the Empowering Patients First Act, would benefit wealthier Americans and hurt the middle class and the poor.

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Story of America 2014 | INTERACTIVE DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE INC's Fundraiser on CrowdRise

Story of America 2014 | INTERACTIVE DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE INC's Fundraiser on CrowdRise | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
We (Annabel Park and Eric Byler) are independent documentarians who have been traveling across the country in search of stories that will illuminate why we are so divided as a people and what we can do to become more united.

Via Monica S Mcfeeters
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Coffee Party USA's curator insight, December 31, 2013 12:07 AM

Please take a few minutes to watch this video by the co-founders of the Coffee Party. There is also a link to the YouTube Videos they have produced.

Monica S Mcfeeters's curator insight, December 31, 2013 12:24 AM

Please take a minute to listen and there is a link to the  "Story Of America"  videos that are on YouTube. 

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Is The Obama Administration the Most Corrupt in U.S. History?

Is The Obama Administration the Most Corrupt in U.S. History? | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Is The Obama Administration the Most Corrupt in U.S. History? - The Huffington Post
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Alex O'Dell's curator insight, December 24, 2013 1:57 AM

Does he even have a choice where he has Christmas dinner? 

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Santas Around the World

Santas Around the World | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
This story map was created with the Esri Map Tour application in ArcGIS Online.

Via Seth Dixon
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Vivica Juarez's comment, January 13, 2014 8:10 PM
This was definitely an interesting reading. I believe @Spencer Levesque had a very good point. They all have similar features, but are different in little ways. And who would of thought someone came on New Years too?
Kate Loy's curator insight, January 13, 2014 10:23 PM

I find it very interesting on how other countries precieve Santa Claus. The history on him, what he looks like, how he gets around, and what they call him. Each country perceives him differently, depending on their culture and history. His clothes, age, language, and personality.

Kate Loy's curator insight, January 13, 2014 10:28 PM

I find it very interesting on how other countries perceive Santa Claus. The history on him, what he looks like, how he gets around, and what they call him. Each country precieves him differently, depending on their culture and history. His clothes, age, language, and personality.

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Farewell QE, you have been a magnificent success - Telegraph

Farewell QE, you have been a magnificent success - Telegraph | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
The moral contours of QE depend on your angle of vision. But would you rather be surrounded by mass unemployment?
Greg Russak's insight:

This article is pretty wonky, and I don't profess or pretend to understand all of it. There a couple of basic takeaways for me.

 

The main one is this: AUSTERITY DOES NOT WORK.

"The crippled eurozone alone has chosen to stagger on defiantly without monetary crutches. The result has been a double-dip recession of nine quarters, the longest since the Second World War. The austerity regime has been self-defeating even on its own crude terms. Debt ratios have ratcheted up even faster."


...and this....


"We can all agree that America's recovery has been feeble. The unemployment rate has fallen to 7pc, but that masks the damage as discouraged workers drop off the rolls. The labour participation rate is still near a 40-year low of 63pc. Yet there is no comparison with the eurozone's jobless rate of 12.1pc, let alone the crucifixion of Southern Europe's youth."


(Side note: I just heard on an NPR report yesterday that youth unemployment in Italy is 25%. Wonder how much higher it needs to get before people take to the streets.)

 

The other takeaway is this sobering fact:

Economies don't work like household budgets, and it's a dangerous oversimplification in the extreme to believe that they do.

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Congress Poised To Permanently Fix Its Medicare Payment Glitch

Congress Poised To Permanently Fix Its Medicare Payment Glitch | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Doctors would be paid according to their results, rather than the number of services they provide.
Greg Russak's insight:

Let me see if I have this right. The concern here is that doctors aren't paid enough for providing services to the poor.

 

The changes presumably needed include new measurements - outcomes vs procedures - which sounds reasonable to me. Pay for performance - a good capitalist ideal! - and potentially reduce the overall cost of health care by ending the "reward" system for endless (and useless) tests and procedures. (Insert argument for tort reform here.)

 

But, we're told, what's also needed are higher reimbursements; otherwise, more and more doctors will refuse to accept and care for Medicare patients. Let me ask this question. Is this the "free market" theory we really want in this country for something as basic and critical to life as health care?

 

Meanwhile, 15% of the American populace lives at or below the poverty level, the federal minimum wage is a sub-poverty $7.25 an hour, the wealth gap is bigger than it's been since the original Gilded Age, the Defense Department's budget is bigger than the next 15 countries combined (all of whom are allies since we're not at war - at least not today - with any of them), and fixing how doctors are paid for Medicare patients is the issue Congress is supposedly finding near-unanimous support on?

 

Do you think organizations like the American Medical Association and some Big Money interests might be influencing the work on this one?

 

What am I missing?

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Megyn Kelly and Bill O'Reilly's white Christmas war at Fox News - IrishCentral

Megyn Kelly and Bill O'Reilly's white Christmas war at Fox News - IrishCentral | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Megyn Kelly and Bill O'Reilly's white Christmas war at Fox News IrishCentral Accurately sensing a threat to their 16-year-old news channel, Fox pulled Brigadier General of the War on Christmas Bill O'Reilly out this week, who gallantly sprang to...

Via Michael Charney
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Concentrations of Wealth and Poverty

Concentrations of Wealth and Poverty | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it

Via Seth Dixon
Greg Russak's insight:

Amazingly clear and detailed "view" of where wealth is concentrated. Drilling into zip codes shows remarkable details without being overwhelming. This is simultaneously revealing and mesmerizing. As I looked at it, I couldn't help wondering how and why it is that the people living in the vast "dark" regions of the South and the Great Plains insist on voting against their own economic self-interests by voting for representatives who insist on the lie of trickle-down economics and persistent austerity as the strategy for prosperity.

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Monica S Mcfeeters's curator insight, December 18, 2013 9:59 AM

See where the wealth and poverty are in America using this great map.

Chandrima Roy's curator insight, January 9, 2014 10:44 PM

wonderful

 

Ishwer Singh's curator insight, January 20, 2014 6:56 AM

This picture shows the cocentrations of poverty and affluence.  The areas hilighted in yellow show the areas which are wealthy and the dark blue showing the poor. This coincides with the amout of pay and the education levels in these countries. Areas such as Boston, New York and Washington show high cocentrations of affluence. These areas also have much higher education systems and more well -paid jobs. Countries which are highlighted in dark blue are countries with lesser education and lesser paid jobs. This shows the  extent at which poverty can affect a country.

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We're Supposed to Believe These Guys?

We're Supposed to Believe These Guys? | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it

I am a huge fan and active supporter of the good and important work being done by Represent.Us to promote and gather true grassroots support for the American Anti-Corruption Act. It’s why I’m having such a hard time with their recent choice of media in this:

DC ISN’T ABOUT RED VS. BLUE — IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GREEN
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Greg Russak's comment, December 17, 2013 6:17 PM
Brother Dan, my gander and my dander are just fine! :-) It's through this sort of discourse that we all test our beliefs, what we think we know, what we want to accomplish, and what we will do about it!!
Party Recon's comment, December 17, 2013 6:19 PM
Understood Greg. Then I only have one question left. Are you really, in fact, Groucho?
Greg Russak's comment, December 17, 2013 6:24 PM
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.<br>Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/grouchomar146422.html#oYjGCrgzzAoZF3GG.99
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Warning: Insurance companies using Obamacare scare to scam public

Warning: Insurance companies using Obamacare scare to scam public | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Insurance companies are using Obamacare to scam the public, while blaming the ACA for not letting them gouge the public with inflated premiums.
Greg Russak's insight:

I include my own story about what "junk insurance" as part of a blog post:

More #PPACA Red Herrings: Renewals and Benefits

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/11/05/insurance-companies-obamacare-scam/

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Senate Republicans are just wasting time.

Senate Republicans are just wasting time. | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Last night, Republicans in the U.S. Senate stayed up all night to delay a vote on a federal appeals court judge.
Greg Russak's insight:

Precisely....
"Just to put this in perspective, the Senate Republicans did not force all-night debates when considering immigration bills, food stamp cuts, or many other important pieces of legislation.  But, they think blocking the President's choice for an appeals court is worth holding up the entire legislative process.  This Congress is the least productive in history, because of obstructionist tactics like this – which are more about childish vendettas than about doing the People's business." - Thom Hartmann

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What Congress does when we're not watching...

What Congress does when we're not watching... | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
While the media was focused on Chris Christie and “Bridge-gate”, Congress moved closer to accepting a massive, international trade agreement. On Thursday, a bipartisan group of U.S.
Greg Russak's insight:

Maybe I'm just not seeing it or hearing it, so I have to ask what my conservative friends and family think about The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)?

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A senator asked the NSA if it spied on members of Congress. The agency's response is, well, unsettling...

A senator asked the NSA if it spied on members of Congress. The agency's response is, well, unsettling... | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked the NSA if it tracked lawmakers' phone and email traffic. NSA's response: We'll get back to you.
Greg Russak's insight:

Things tend to change when the rich and powerful don't like something. I'm not at all surprised that a true representative of us citizens, Bernie Sanders, is the guy asking the tough questions.

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Four Surefire Tips for Following the Money in Your State | Money & Politics, What Matters Today | BillMoyers.com

Four Surefire Tips for Following the Money in Your State | Money & Politics, What Matters Today | BillMoyers.com | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
A "dark money" reporter explains how you can track the campaign cash — secret and not — flooding into 2014 races in your state.
Greg Russak's insight:

A resource worth keeping this handy this election year.

 

Mine your state’s campaign finance website.

Lost? Confused? Find a sherpa.

Shedding light on dark money.

Show me the file!


Mine your state’s campaign finance website.

All 50 states maintain a database of some kind detailing basic information about political campaigns — who donated, how much he or she gave, how campaigns raised and spent their money, and so on. If you want to know what individuals or PACs gave to a specific campaign, your state’s campaign finance website has got you covered.

 

Lost? Confused? Find a sherpa.

While there’s no directory of state-level public interest groups, contacting your state’s chapter of Common Cause, the national good-government group, is a smart place to start. They can also point you in the direction of the campaign finance experts in your state.


Shedding light on dark money.

OpenSecrets.org also maintains an impressive database of political nonprofit groups that can inform you about which secretive groups are running attack ads on your airwaves.

And last but not least, you can obtain tax filings in-person. By law, nonprofits are required to make available filings for the last three years if you show up at their office and ask for them. It’s your right — and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

Show me the file!

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission decided to put a large swath of those advertising records on its website. You can search by TV station here. But for a more detailed database, I recommend using the Sunlight Foundation’s Political Ad Sleuth, which makes TV ad files searchable by date, media market and state.


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FixGov's Review of 2013: Tea Party Battles Within in the GOP

FixGov's Review of 2013: Tea Party Battles Within in the GOP | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Through historical narrative, Jonathan Rauch explains that GOP infighting with the Tea Party was one of the most important developments of 2013.
Greg Russak's insight:

The signs I see coming from tea partisans and their elected reps do include smaller and more accountable government. These are concepts that appeal to broad swathes of America. The tea party's open embrace of hatred, divisiveness, bigotry, and backwardness on social issues, however, would seem to ensure that the movement will only ever appeal to ultra-conservative extremists on the fringes of white communities, as well as to those who would manipulate those white Americans for their own purposes.

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TPP Petition

TPP Petition | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Petition to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Too similar to SOPA/PIPA which would restrict internet freedom for individuals and benefit global corporations.

Via Party Recon
Greg Russak's insight:

Should Coffee Party USA take a position demanding transparency of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)? If you think so, please sign this petition and share it with your friends.  If we are to take action, we'll need to take it soon!

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Party Recon's curator insight, December 22, 2013 1:44 PM

And so much more.  This is the biggest corporate power grab in history and it must be stopped.  Please sign the Coffee Party's petition to demand transparancy and honor the legislative AND judicial process as stated in the constition -- both of which will be compromised if the TPP is put in place.

Greg Russak's comment, February 27, 2014 7:35 AM
Not to split hairs, but the CP "petition" is not a petition. It's still a polling question as to whether or not CP should do anything at all. I'm disappointed and becoming very disenchanted by the "paralysis from analysis" that plagues this organization. Talk that doesn't lead to timely decisions and meaningful action is fine, but it's just conversation and shouldn't be mistaken for activism or action.
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Trans-Pacific Partnership: Why it Should be on Your Radar - genxposé

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Why it Should be on Your Radar - genxposé | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
For those who'd like a better understanding of #TPP in simple terms http://t.co/HttdXceTp3 please read @GenXFiles' excellent synopsis.

Via Party Recon
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Party Recon's curator insight, December 22, 2013 1:29 PM

The TPP:  The biggest corporate power grab in history!  We must stop it!

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How Many Earth-like planets are out there?

How Many Earth-like planets are out there? | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it

"Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone, there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.  For perspective, that's more Earth-like planets than there are people on Earth."


Via Seth Dixon
Greg Russak's insight:

I love this kind of news. I just wish it was more scientific and less hyperbolic.

Here's my only gripe with this article. I can't believe someone like a UC Berkley planet hunter named Geoff Marcy would actually talk about the radio silence issue without somehow further qualifying it. It makes me wonder if Seth Borenstein of the AP and/or his editors may have left out some of the more important elements of that topic.

Personally, I find this anthropomorphic attitude about radio silence to be both ridiculous and insulting to the intellect.  

Just because we haven't picked up any electromagnetic signals doesn't mean there isn't life - or even intelligent life - in our galaxy or in the universe. How incredibly egotistical (and incredibly unscientific) it is to assume that life elsewhere will have evolved into beings like us. How silly it is to then assume that that intelligence would invent, just like our species did, technologies like radio, TV, satellite communications, and the like. Even more absurd and overlooked in this so-called question of silence is that that technology would have had to have been invented and put into use at precisely the point in THEIR evolution such that THEIR signals would be reaching us NOW so that we could detect them, assuming that we had the right technology to do so.

Let's put the "radio silence" question into the time and distance perspective of our own species. KDKA broadcast the first commercial radio signals from Pittsburgh in 1920. That's 93 years ago. That means those extremely weak signals would only be detectable as of now to a distance of 93 light years from us.

The Milky Way Galaxy is 120,000 light years across. Those signals have made it 0.075% of the way across our galaxy.

I don't doubt for one second that there's life in our galaxy and elsewhere in the universe, but can we please stop wondering why the Vulcans or Klingons or Romulans haven't shared reruns of their version of I Love Lucy?

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Andy Hostetler's curator insight, December 20, 2013 8:56 AM

cool

 

Treathyl Fox's comment, December 20, 2013 9:57 AM
The NBC News SCIENCE article uses the word "habitable" but makes no mention of trees. I have a problem with that. :) Seriously!
Nicolle Kuna's curator insight, December 20, 2013 6:09 PM

That's more than enough planets for each one of us.  No doubt humanity will in time find a way to mine and devour these ones too. 

 

Nicolle, Converse Conserve.Com

Home of Eco-Creativity and Sustainability Education

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Climate Change at it's most basic

http://www.HowGlobalWarmingWorks.org University of California

Via Seth Dixon
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Expert's comment, December 18, 2013 7:27 PM
hmm.
imran bharti's curator insight, December 18, 2013 11:46 PM

good

Anhony DeSimone's curator insight, December 19, 2013 9:17 AM

This video shoes us how climate change works in the most basic understanding. The video shows how global warming works and what exactly it does. It also shows how the climate changes effect the earth and the importance of understanding the  climate.

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Is The Primary System To Blame For Partisanship?

Is The Primary System To Blame For Partisanship? | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Many observers say increasing partisanship in America is the result of gerrymandered districts.
Greg Russak's insight:

Data discussed in this report indicates that, contrary to what I would have expected, "open" primaries do NOT result in more moderate candidates representing their parties in the general elections. Why not? Two words: voter apathy. 

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Party Recon's comment, December 18, 2013 10:20 AM
This report is silly. We have extremist candidates because we have become an extremist nation. We used to be content with boxing. Two guys duking it out with padded gloves. No we have the UFC, where most fights end with a brutal kick to the head or with one guy conceding to prevent the other guy from choking him out or breaking his arm. Moderation is also not rewarded in our 1% media. We want our talk shows to be violent and confrontational. We like Jerry Springer more than we like Oprah. Even the exploits of the illiterate Jersey Shore crowd weren't enough. Now we have Mob Wives threatening to off each other every week. In short, our politics is a perfect reflection of what we've become as a society. The only question now is, how far down the evolutionary scale will we slide before realizing that we are falling for the same "bread and circus" act that the Roman ruling class used to keep the populace anesthetized while they did whatever they wanted? Don' think that's true? Then explain to me why else 90 million eligible voters didn't bother showing up to the polls in 2012. WAKE UP AMERICA. We're letting Washington and the 1% play us for suckers. It's time to do something about that. Check out www.partyrecon.org and get involved.
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The Case for #SinglePayer

The Case for #SinglePayer | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it

"Here’s the question I have for those who oppose the PPACA and, more to the point, who oppose single payer health care.

How are our poor and uninsured fellow Americans supposed to pay $170.00 for a 20-minute office visit when they’re sick?"

Greg Russak's insight:

That’s the gross charge on the bill I just received from my doctor. I had flu-like symptoms last month. 20 minutes. $170.00. That doesn’t include the over-the-counter and prescription meds he prescribed. Add another $51.67. Even with insurance, my out of pocket for the office visit is $97.56. Add in the meds, and I’m not ashamed to say that I don’t have 150 bucks just lying around.

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Mr. Limbaugh if you’re nasty: How right-wing mean media keeps conservatives on the fringe

Mr. Limbaugh if you’re nasty: How right-wing mean media keeps conservatives on the fringe | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Outrage sells.Rush, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity might make megabucks and have real influence, but there's a limit ('Outrage media' as lucrative response to political, technological, and economic shifts since 1980s
Greg Russak's insight:

It's all about our 'eyeballs' and the advertising dollars.

"Why is a fragmented media environment hospitable to outrage? Think of the case of television: During the era of big-three network dominance, when programming choices were based on garnering the largest possible number of viewers from the mass audience, the goal was to offend the fewest, to program the least objectionable content. Today, the broadcast networks must work to attract a large audience amid an expansive sea of cable channels. In contrast, cable networks can produce content aimed at smaller, more homogeneous audiences. With this niche-orientation, individual cable channels can afford to offend segments of the market that are not their target audience. In fact, many cable television programs, radio shows, and blogs deliver niche audiences to advertisers specifically through the use of objectionable programming, which is dramatic, entertaining, and shocking enough to “break through the clutter” in a crowded field of cable choices." 

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Tech Giants Issue Call for Limits on Government Surveillance of Users

Tech Giants Issue Call for Limits on Government Surveillance of Users | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Eight major companies, led by Google and Microsoft, are calling for tighter controls on surveillance of their customers’ data by governments worldwide.
Greg Russak's insight:

The next time we want to complain about government overreach, let's make sure the conversation includes wholesale collection of data and, like him or not, accept that we have Edward Snowden to thank at least in part for our awareness of that overreach. 

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