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How corporations hijack government, with GOP help, in the name of creating jobs | Salon.com

How corporations hijack government, with GOP help, in the name of creating jobs | Salon.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After being swept into statehouses in the red wave of 2010, Republican Govs. Scott Walker, John Kasich and Terry Branstad each presided over the replacement of a state agency responsible for economic development with a less public, more private alternative. Arizona’s Jan Brewer did the same in 2010 after replacing Janet Napolitano, who’d been tapped for Obama’s Cabinet. 


Walker’s Wisconsin, Kasich’s Ohio, Branstad’s Iowa and Brewer’s Arizona were only the latest to institute a “public-private partnership” approach to development: States including Indiana, Florida, Rhode Island, Michigan and Texas had done the same years earlier.


Now North Carolina’s Pat McCrory, who entered the governor’s mansion in January, aims to do the same. A new report from a progressive group warns that means good news for the wealthy and politically connected, but bad news for just about everyone else.


“Privatization augurs against transparency …” Good Jobs First executive director Greg LeRoy told Salon. LeRoy is a co-author of the new report “Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failures of Privatized State Economic Development,” which his group released Wednesday afternoon.


Based on recent years’ scandals and controversies in several states, the authors conclude that “the privatization of economic development agency functions is an inherently corrupting action that states should avoid or repeal.” They argue the record shows that “privatization was not a panacea,” but instead fostered misuse of taxes; excessive bonuses; questionable subsidies; conflicts of interest; specious impact claims; and “resistance to accountability.” Goods Jobs First funders include unions and foundations.


A spokesperson for Gov. Kasich emailed Salon a one-sentence take on the report: “We don’t pay much attention to politically motivated opponents whose mission is to combat job creation.”


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Charter Communications Near Agreement to Acquire Time Warner Cable, Bright House in $60+ Billion Deal | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap!

Charter Communications Near Agreement to Acquire Time Warner Cable, Bright House in $60+ Billion Deal | Phil Dampier | Stop the Cap! | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications could announce as early as tomorrow its intention to acquire Time Warner Cable for nearly $55.1 billion in cash and stock and Bright House Networks as part of a separate transaction worth north of $10 billion to create the country’s second largest cable operator under the Charter Spectrum brand.

Bloomberg News reports Charter will offer $195 a share — $100 in cash and the rest in Charter stock for Time Warner. The deal will load down Charter in debt. Several Wall Street banks spent more than two weeks assembling a large financing package, but even that would not be enough to seal a deal. Dr. John Malone’s Liberty Broadband, Charter’s largest shareholder, has agreed to inject $5 billion in Charter stock purchases to help fund the deal.

Unlike the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, this one includes a $2 billion deal breakup fee, payable if the merger falls apart. Analysts predict a possible rival bid for Time Warner Cable by Drahi’s Altice SA as well as antitrust concerns.


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Uber just gave David Plouffe’s job to a top Google exec | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Uber just gave David Plouffe’s job to a top Google exec | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Turns out that helping to manage a global logistics company is a bit more complicated than running a political campaign.

Just eight months ago, Uber hired former Obama adviser David Plouffe to turn the company's image around. The private car-hailing service was being battered in the media for its numerous public missteps, and a faceoff with taxicab incumbents had grown pretty nasty.

Now, however, Plouffe is being replaced by top Google executive Rachel Whetstone as senior vice president of policy and communications. Uber said Wednesday that Plouffe will adopt a different role with the company, taking a position on its board and becoming a strategic adviser rather than being involved with day-to-day operations. Plouffe will continue working full-time on a broad portfolio that includes business, legal and policy issues.

The sudden switch-up hints at how quickly Uber itself is evolving. When Plouffe came on board, Uber desperately needed a crisis communications team. Not long after he joined, BuzzFeed reported that the company was targeting journalists who'd criticized the firm. Plouffe began appearing on cable TV shows to tout "the good we're bringing to cities," and preparing academic-style studies linking Uber to decreases in drunk driving.

Since then, much of the public backlash against Uber appears to have eased, and it and other ridesharing companies have successfully pressed for friendlier regulations in more than a dozen states. But the company still faces significant regulatory hurdles in many places, particularly abroad. In South Korea, for instance, Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick was recently charged by police with operating an illegal service.


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Rise of the South: the New Masters of the Global Economy | Tatiana Didier HuffPost.com

Rise of the South: the New Masters of the Global Economy | Tatiana Didier HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Thinking back on my undergraduate years in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1990s, my professors used to point out that historically Brazil had been thought as having an enormous potential to become "o maior do mundo" -- the greatest in the world.

Fast forward 15 years or so: I have a PhD in economics and assiduously study development issues at the World Bank's Latin America unit; in the meantime, Brazil has yet to "graduate" into the big leagues of the world's richest economies (for various reasons that are beyond the scope of this blog).

In spite of this, Brazil and many other emerging economies (including several in Latin America) have experienced a momentous change. This so-called rise of the South has in fact been deep and widespread.

Here are five astounding takeaways from this phenomenon:


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Countries pick sides in global fight for the Internet | Corey Bennett | The Hill

The world is choosing sides in a fight over what the Internet will look like in the years to come.

In recent months, countries have rushed to sign cybersecurity pacts that not only secure cyberspace allies, but also promote their vision of the global Internet.

“It’s kind of indicating how the battle lines are being drawn,” said Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst for security consulting firm IT-Harvest.

While a coalition of nations, including the U.S., is pushing to turn the Internet into a borderless global entity, others such as Russia and China are pressing to give local governments more control over the flow of data.

How the competing visions play out is “a huge question,” Chris Finan, a former military intelligence officer and adviser to the Obama administration on cybersecurity policy. “We don’t know the answer to that yet.”

Over the past four weeks, the U.S. has inked cyber deals with Japan, South Korea and the Gulf states.

Some were standalone cyber pacts, others part of broader security agreements. All pledged to share more data on hacking threats, exchange military cyber tactics and establish international cyberspace standards.

Meanwhile, in what some saw as a response to the spate of U.S. deals, Russia and China unveiled their own wide-ranging cyber pact. The two — seen as the United States’ two main cyber adversaries — vowed not to hack each other and jointly work to repel technology that can “disturb public order” or “interfere with affairs of the state.”

The deals were received as “mainly symbolic,” said Steven Weber, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information and an expert on international politics and cybersecurity.

But the symbolic markers are an indication the Internet is splintering.


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How 'Mathiness' Made Me Jaded About Economics | Noah Smith | Bloomberg View

How 'Mathiness' Made Me Jaded About Economics | Noah Smith | Bloomberg View | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Celebrated growth economist Paul Romer -- whose name is regularly shortlisted for the Nobel Prize -- recently caused a big stir with a paper in the American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings called “Mathiness in the Theory of Economic Growth.”


The paper is a blast of frustration against people that Romer thinks have abused mathematical theory by failing to draw a tight link between mathematical elements and the real world. Most prominent among Romer’s targets are Nobel-winning macroeconomists Robert Lucas and Edward Prescott.

To me, Romer’s essay shows two things. The first, and more entertaining, is just how many top-level economists have been annoyed by Lucas and Prescott. The second, and more important, is that there is a quiet crisis in macroeconomic theory as a whole.


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The Robots are Coming: How a Caring Economy Is the Best App for a Shrinking Job Market | Riane Eisler Blog | HuffPost.com

The Robots are Coming: How a Caring Economy Is the Best App for a Shrinking Job Market | Riane Eisler Blog | HuffPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The tech and automation job-quake is finally gaining attention, with predictions that nearly half of American jobs will be lost within a couple of decades. Yet too many leaders still avert their eyes, making decisions through a rear-view mirror rather than planning for a horizon already upon us. Even worse, the only "solution" floated so far is that government hand everyone an annual stipend for doing nothing at all.

Already, technology performs countless functions earlier done exclusively by people. When tablets on restaurant tables take people's orders, software guides our shopping online (while automation increasingly controls warehouses), and driverless cars presage huge job losses in the transportation sector, we see the convulsed employment markets of tomorrow.

Even now, jobs are polarized, with large numbers of people relegated to low-wage jobs that are often part-time and without benefits. And the U.S. industrial job base is predicted to shrink as radically as the agricultural job base shrank earlier. But unlike industrialization, automation does not offer large numbers of replacement jobs.

So, what are we to do with the "surplus" populations that technological advances such as apps, "sharing economy" business models, artificial intelligence systems, and automation leave in their wake? Long ago, the liberal economist Robert Theobald proposed a guaranteed annual income, and even conservative economic godfather Milton Friedman proposed a negative income tax providing people with no-or-low earnings a government stipend.

That these measures are being proposed again makes no sense. Neither gives recipients the opportunity to do meaningful work, robbing us of necessary contributions to our socio-economic life. Nor do they reward positive behaviors and discourage harmful ones, address irresponsible economic policies and business practices, take into account the damage to our health and natural habitat of such policies and practices, or address the power imbalances that lie behind chronic economic inequity and inefficiency.

In starkest terms: the Baltimore riots may have relaunched conventional discussions about economic opportunity for communities in crisis, but we've heard nothing new as entire segments of employment careen towards crisis.

Yet an effective response is available to the challenges of the postindustrial world: economic policies that support and reward activities that machines and high-technology devices, no matter how sophisticated, cannot perform: being creative, flexible, and caring.

A caring economy is the best app for solving the looming jobs crisis.


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ME: Tech company bringing jobs to Belfast | Katharine Bavoso | WCSH6.com

ME: Tech company bringing jobs to Belfast | Katharine Bavoso | WCSH6.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Massachusetts-based technology company is expanding to Belfast.

OnProcess Technology will soon be occupying a vacant building on the old MBNA campus off of Route 3, a space that also houses two of Belfast's largest employers, Athenahealth Network and Bank of America.

City officials helped the company secure an $800,000 community development start-up grant to help with initial costs. OnProcess specializes in managing the flow of goods and services of other companies to make them more efficient. It will be hiring 50 full and part time employees over the next two months, and will have the capacity to hire up to 350 people.

"We convinced them that they can find the workforce they need for the jobs they need now, those first 50 as well as ramping up to 350 some day. I think it's better, all things being equal, that you have a multitude of sizable employers in case one should leave or go out of business. I think it adds some stability," said City of Belfast economic development director, Thomas Kittredge.


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The Cleveland Model—How the Evergreen Cooperatives are Building Community Wealth | Community-Wealth.org

The Cleveland Model—How the Evergreen Cooperatives are Building Community Wealth | Community-Wealth.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Something important is happening in Cleveland. The Democracy Collaborative, in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, the  City of Cleveland , and the city's major hospitals and universities—is helping to implement a new model of large-scale worker-owned and community-benefiting businesses. The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative is beginning to build serious momentum in one of the cities most dramatically impacted by the nation's decaying economy.


Increasingly, this model is being referred to nationally as The Cleveland Model. Other cities nationwide have begun the process of replicating and adapting this innovative approach to economic development, green job creation, and neighborhood stabilization.


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Reno, NV: Silicon Valley without the sky-high rent | John Solari | Reno Gazette-Journal

Reno, NV: Silicon Valley without the sky-high rent | John Solari | Reno Gazette-Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Every month it seems that there is a new economic development darling that is suddenly the "Next Silicon Valley." We've got Silicon Alley in New York and Silicon Beach in Southern California. There's even a Silicon Mountain group in Tahoe.


The obsession with supplanting or re-creating Silicon Valley sometimes loses track of the reality that Silicon Valley blossomed in the early days of a technological revolution that has now spread across the world. Silicon Valley remains the epicenter of this tech economy, but dozens of cities and communities have grown their own vibrant technology economy off of many of the innovations pioneered in San Jose and South San Francisco.


Just like Napa Valley still reigns supreme as the gold standard in wine production, but surrounding areas like Healdsburg and Sonoma have benefited from the region's national acclaim, Silicon Valley's long-term regional influence will continue to propel the economies of surrounding communities like Reno. Reno is carving out its own niche in this economy, banking on attractive commercial real estate prices, a favorable location near Silicon Valley, a competitive tax climate and a high quality of life.

The allure of Reno is its promise and potential to become a vibrant technology city without all of the downsides of a tech capital like Silicon Valley. If we can attract Tesla, Switch, Microsoft and Apple, but keep at bay the sky-high commercial real estate prices, snarled traffic and exorbitant housing prices, Reno will remain a magnet to maturing technology and logistics companies.

Reno has a nationally-ranked university with strong research departments. It has competitive technical schools and community colleges. It is turning out both the white-collar and blue-collar workers that will propel technology-driven manufacturing and logistics companies.


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TN: IBM awards Memphis Smart Cities Challenge Grant | Heather Johnson | SiliconANGLE

TN: IBM awards Memphis Smart Cities Challenge Grant | Heather Johnson | SiliconANGLE | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Memphis, TN, Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. presented a life-saving challenge to IBM. His proposal, to streamline the city’s EMS service, earned the city an IBM Smart Cities Challenge Grant. As a grant recipient, Memphis will receive assistance from a team of IBM professionals to develop a solution to the challenge.

Memphis wanted to weed out the nonemergency calls from the true emergency calls in its EMS service. “Of the 120,000 calls a year we receive, about 25,000 are not emergencies,” Wharton told theCUBE during IBM Edge2015. “That takes valuable time and resources away from the true emergency calls.”

Memphis will also receive a Twitter Data Grant, which will allow it to use Twitter data to make decisions. Certainly, Memphis, a city steeped in musical history, is technologically up to date.

Wharton plans to call upon IBM’s expertise to help it leverage Twitter data as part of the EMS project.

“We know Memphis, but IBM knows the world,” Wharton said. He believes that the IBM Smart Challenge team will help the city determine how to use the data to provide day-to-day solutions.

“For our EMS project, we’re looking at using nurses as dispatchers or possibly sending nurses to the homes of individuals that we call ‘frequent fliers,’ who often call when it’s not truly an emergency,” Wharton explained. “You have to have the ability to analyze data in real time and apply the right solution. This is why IBM’s expertise on a worldwide basis is so critical.”


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Is there a better model to spur Wisconsin job growth than WEDC? | Mike Ivey | The Capital Times

Is there a better model to spur Wisconsin job growth than WEDC? | Mike Ivey | The Capital Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

So what’s next for job creation in Wisconsin after a damaging week for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation?

Gov. Scott Walker has already moved to limit the political fallout after a Wisconsin State Journal report found that top aides to Walker successfully lobbied for a risky loan to a campaign donor that was never repaid. Walker has called for an end to the WEDC loan program and the state is now suing one of its recipients, BCI of Milwaukee, saying the failed construction firm falsified its loan application.

But just killing the loan program will do little to address problems in Wisconsin’s economic development agency, said Thomas Cafcas, a researcher with Good Jobs First. The liberal Washington D.C. think tank has been highly critical of so-called public-private partnerships like WEDC.

“Given that small businesses are the key to job growth, to simply withdraw from a loan program is shocking,” Cafcas said.

Walker made WEDC a centerpiece of his 2010 campaign pledge to create 250,000 jobs during his first term in office. Five years later, the state has yet to hit that target.

Cafcas said as a presidential contender, Walker is in the tight spot of trying to distance himself from the BCI loan scandal at the same time he touts his economic record. Wisconsin ranked 49th among the states in new company formation, according to a 2014 report from the Kauffman Foundation.

“I just don’t see how you can see running on your economic record at the same time you are discontinuing these kinds of loan programs,” he said.

Troy Vosseller, co-founder of the business incubator gener8tor, said if job creation is the goal, Wisconsin would be better served by a “bottom-up approach starting with entrepreneurial ventures.”


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MI: Google's move reveals challenges for downtown Ann Arbor | Nathan Bomey | Detroit Free Press

MI: Google's move reveals challenges for downtown Ann Arbor | Nathan Bomey | Detroit Free Press | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google's decision to build a new corporate campus in northern Ann Arbor is another sign of the city's economic momentum, but it also exposes a lurking crisis for the growth prospects of downtown.

Construction cranes dot Ann Arbor's bustling urban core, erecting several new high-rise luxury apartment complexes geared primarily at wealthy students and young professionals.

What you won't see across the shifting skyline is new office construction. Tech companies are aching to locate downtown, but real estate developers say it doesn't make financial sense to build new offices to house them.

So as downtown Ann Arbor's thriving tech companies grow, they won't just be tempted to leave. They'll be forced to leave.

"If we had more space would we able to have more companies downtown? I think the answer is yes," said Paul Krutko, CEO of economic development group Ann Arbor SPARK. "Right now it's a restrictor."

It's already happening. Google ran out of space at the McKinley Towne Centre complex at the corner of Liberty and Division in the heart of Ann Arbor's technology corridor, where it was previously leasing 85,000 square feet.

With more than 400 employees at its Ann Arbor sales division and smaller Birmingham office, Google's decision to leave downtown was inevitable. Google signed a deal with First Martin to lease an existing office on the city's north side and construct an adjacent new facility, all totaling about 140,000 square feet to accommodate its growth.


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Comcast's Xfinity Home works with automation tech you already own | Billy Steele | Engadget.com

Comcast's Xfinity Home works with automation tech you already own | Billy Steele | Engadget.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast's Xfinity Home has been automating living spaces for a while, but now the company is opening up the cloud-based system to more gadgets.


Starting this summer, customers can add devices from August, Automatic, Cuff, Leeo, Lutron, Rachio, SkyBell and Whistle to the kit that already wrangles motion sensors, connected outlets, cameras and more.


We're talking about things like August's smart locks, Automatic's car tracker and Cuff's smart jewelery.


What's more, Comcast is teaming up with Nest as part of the Works with Nest effort to bring that smart thermostat into the fold, too.


In addition to those new partners, Comcast will open up an SDK later this year alongside a Works with Xfinity Home certification program to make sure approved devices can be used with minimal headaches.


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No, Uber drivers can’t game the ‘surge pricing’ system the way one driver claims | Abby Phillip | WashPost.com

No, Uber drivers can’t game the ‘surge pricing’ system the way one driver claims | Abby Phillip | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Uber's "surge pricing" algorithm is both critical to its success and a huge proverbial target on the company's back.


It is, Uber says, supply and demand in its most basic form: When drivers are scarce, and demand is high, prices go up.


That's good for drivers who are now being paid less on the Uber base rate since the company began dropping prices to beat the competition and generate demand. And it can be good for those who are desperate for a ride — and are willing to pay.


Critics say that surge pricing can result in truly absurd fares at peak times, and the company admitted making a misstep by allowing surge pricing to go into effect in the middle a natural disaster.

Recently, a video, purportedly from an Uber driver, was published online claiming to show a strategy that Uber drivers can use to manipulate the system by inducing higher and higher surge fares.

There's no narration of what's happening, but over the course of about three minutes, the "driver" demonstrates how to do this by accepting rides, then immediately canceling them. The person does this several times, and by the end of the video, surge pricing increases to 2.1 times the normal fare in some areas.


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FBI Spied On Activists Because Protecting Corporate Interests Is Roughly Equivalent To Ensuring National Security | Tim Cushing | Techdirt

FBI Spied On Activists Because Protecting Corporate Interests Is Roughly Equivalent To Ensuring National Security | Tim Cushing | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

That whole thing about the FBI not surveilling people based solely on First Amendment activity? The thing that's been in all the (FISA) papers (and agency policies)? Yeah, the FBI hasn't heard of it either.

The FBI breached its own internal rules when it spied on campaigners against the Keystone XL pipeline, failing to get approval before it cultivated informants and opened files on individuals protesting against the construction of the pipeline in Texas, documents reveal.

Internal agency documents show for the first time how FBI agents have been closely monitoring anti-Keystone activists, in violation of guidelines designed to prevent the agency from becoming unduly involved in sensitive political issues.

"Unduly involved" is right. First of all, a majority of what was monitored was First Amendment activity, something no federal intelligence or investigative agency is supposed to be doing. Certainly, there can be law enforcement monitoring of protests as they occur, but there's no provision in the law that allows the FBI to monitor people solely because of their activism.

Unless, of course, these activists are declared "extremists." Then all bets (and Constitutional protections) are off.


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Colorado Springs 'innovation' nonprofit lands $250k grant from the state | Wayne Heilman | The Gazette

Colorado Springs 'innovation' nonprofit lands $250k grant from the state | Wayne Heilman | The Gazette | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Rocky Mountain Innovation Partners, which replaced the Colorado Springs Technology Incubator as the Air Force Academy's partner in turning laboratory research into products, received a $250,000 grant Monday from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, or OEDIT.

The one-year grant was one of six totaling $918,000 that OEDIT awarded under its Advanced Industry Accelerator Infrastructure Grant Program, which is designed to have a broad reach across one or more of the state's advanced industries. Advanced industries include engineering- and research-intensive companies in the manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience, electronics, energy/natural resources, infrastructure engineering, and technology and information sectors.

"We're elated about this award because it represents a validation about what we are doing," said Ric Denton, CEO of Innovation Partners. "We feel strongly about organizing technology transfer around the Air Force Academy. That model for economic success has worked in many communities."

The Colorado Springs incubator shut down last month, but its work in helping startup companies grow is continuing with Innovation Partners. The nonprofit outfit works out of the Catalyst Campus, a new downtown enterprise designed to be a home for technology, engineering and innovation.


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Minnesota and North Dakota acting in tandem for broadband policies. Hmmm. | Ann Treacy | Blandin on Broadband

Nothing like a rainy, long weekend to help me catch up a little. It gave me a chance to read an interesting article on broadband in North Dakota. Interesting for two reasons. First – it’s good to know what the neighbors are doing. Second, it’s good to know when the neighbors are thinking about inviting you to plant a tree.

According to the Grand Forks Herald, here’s what they’ve done…

Recently signed into law by Gov. Jack Dalrymple, HB 1385 passed both legislative chambers with zero dissenting votes—a bold endorsement of a new policy approach that encourages technology.

The act prevents the state from applying old telephone regulations on Internet protocol-enabled or voice-over-Internet protocol services and promotes a regulatory environment in North Dakota that can attract private-sector investment in broadband deployment and development.

The benefits of next-gen broadband connectivity, both wired and wireless, are essential. Faster Internet speeds, streaming video uninterrupted by buffering, more powerful mobile devices and innovation and expanded services in underserved areas — all of that can be just the beginning.

And here’s what they might have in mind for Minnesota…


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When to Forget the Rearview Mirror | Harvard Business Review

When to Forget the Rearview Mirror | Harvard Business Review | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

How can marketers predict whether audiences will pay to see a new film or download a new song? Such forecasts are notoriously tricky. Academic researchers call films and songs “fashion products,” because their sales are driven by volatile consumer tastes. Fashion products often have short life cycles and rely on impulsive purchase decisions.

One way to improve forecasts is to seek more data. But new research suggests that with fashion products, this doesn’t always help. IE Business School’s Matthias Seifert and a team of colleagues examined the joint role of historical and contextual data in human judgments about which products will take off and which will sputter. For example, how does a music company weigh historical data (“Taylor Swift’s previous album sold X copies”) against contextual data (“We plan to spend Y marketing this album”) when evaluating upcoming releases?

Because creative industries are highly dynamic, historical data isn’t always useful on its own. Although you might assume that, say, a movie with a big-name actor will be a hit, studies have found that star power isn’t actually a significant predictor of box office receipts. And contextual data tends to be subjective and qualitative, which increases the complexity of the judgment at hand.


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Massachusetts's economic future hinges on robust intellectual property rights | Stefan Bokamper OpEd | MassLive

Massachusetts's economic future hinges on robust intellectual property rights | Stefan Bokamper OpEd | MassLive | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center just announced that it will supply some of its physicians with Google Glass to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. These wearable computers will provide doctors with instantaneous, hands-free access to patient data and other information.

Such technology may revolutionize the way doctors deliver health care. But without strong intellectual property rights, inventions like Google Glass would never emerge from the realm of science fiction.

Protections for IP encourage businesses to invest in new products and services – and they're vital to the economic health of Massachusetts.

IP laws empower artists, scientists, and other innovators to commercialize their ideas. They grant an idea's originator a temporary market monopoly – and thus a reasonable chance of recouping the investment he or she made developing and perfecting that idea.

Sometimes, those development expenses are huge. Consider automobile manufacturing.

Developing a vehicle typically requires hundreds of engineers to meticulously design and test parts. Manufacturing specialists, assembly line workers, sales experts, and accountants work together to bring the vehicle to market.

The cost of that work adds up. The production process for the average American-made car takes up to four years and costs between $1 billion and $6 billion.

Without proper protections for IP, competitors would be free to steal the ideas underlying a new vehicle and produce replicas at a fraction of the innovator's cost. The organization that came up with the ideas would lose out on sales – and might fail to generate an adequate return on its investment.

Unfortunately, these concerns about IP theft aren't hypothetical. For several Massachusetts-based companies, they've been real.


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CO: Boulder Economic Summit to focus on the talent pool | Vince Winkel | The Daily Camera

CO: Boulder Economic Summit to focus on the talent pool | Vince Winkel | The Daily Camera | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Boulder, CO is a magnet for people searching for a great place to live and work, but holding onto that talent and keeping employees engaged remains a challenge.

That challenge is one of the topics being presented at Thursday's Boulder Economic Summit.

The summit, the Boulder Economic Council's signature annual event, will begin Thursday morning at the University Memorial Center on the University of Colorado campus. This year's theme is the "talent-driven economy."

"The Boulder region is rich with a highly educated, skilled, creative and technology-literate population," said Clif Harald, executive director of the Boulder Economic Council. "The most-often cited reason given by Boulder employers for doing business here is the availability of world-class talent. The goal of this year's economic summit is to highlight and examine the critical contribution our talented workforce makes to our economic vitality."

This is the eighth year the Boulder Economic Council has planned, organized and presented the summit.

The event, which is open to the public, begins at 7:30 a.m. and features more than two dozen experts addressing topics such as talent attraction and engagement, building the talent pipeline and specifically how a talented workforce drives Boulder's economy.


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NJ: Rutgers receives nearly $500K from U.S. to build technology park | Sue Eptein | NJ.com

Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ received a nearly $500,00 grant from the U.S. to build the school's first technology research facility.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jay Williams visited the university's Busch campus in Piscataway, NJ today to announce the grant, one of 12 awarded nationwide to "advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country," according to a press release issued with the event.

"Supporting innovators and entrepreneurs at every stage is crucial to ensuring American remains competitive in the global economy," Williams said.

The grant is provided through the Economic Development Administration's Regional Innovation Strategies Program, which supports science and research park development.

The money is to be used for feasibility and planning studies.

"The Regional Innovation Strategies Program lays the groundwork from which centers of research and innovation can take root and thrive in cities across the country," Williams, who is the assistant secretary for economic development, said.

Christopher Molloy, Rutgers University's senior vice president for research and economic development, said the university is developing a "unique and creative" plan for the physical space and programs in the research park.

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MD: Downtown could be a learning center | Shaun Butcher | The Frederick News-Post

MD: Downtown could be a learning center | Shaun Butcher | The Frederick News-Post | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Frederick residents have heard a lot in recent weeks about potential and new development that has started in some of downtown’s largest vacant spaces.


Douglas Development, which owns the Union Mills building on East Patrick Street, recently announced that this building is beginning to undergo renovation in order to accommodate a new tenant, Regent Education. This is exciting news. There’s been a sign on the side of the building since I moved to town in 2003 stating that a new, exciting renovation project is on its way.


Regent Education, a provider of software solutions designed to optimize financial aid and enrollment processes for schools, is growing their business and needs to expand. The company will ultimately take up approximately half of the 50,000 square foot Union Mills building. As Richard Griffin, the city’s economic development director, was quoted saying in a recent Frederick News-Post article, technology companies “like the old buildings.”

And then, on May 13, the city of Frederick held a town meeting regarding the vacant Carmack-Jay’s property. This is another large footprint lot, over an acre in size and with a 20,000 square foot building on it that has been sitting empty for more than a decade. The refreshing takeaway from this town meeting is that it was well-attended by local citizens and lots of ideas were shared about what should go in that space.

I would like to suggest a specific one: A center for higher education. I am not suggesting we need a new college or university, but a satellite center from one of our existing campuses would have multiple benefits. That portion of our downtown needs an anchor that can help drive further investment and development in the area. I had high hopes a number of years ago when I learned that Frederick Community College was expanding some of its vocational programs off the main campus, including Chef Jon Kimbraugh’s training center for culinary artists. They, of course, settled in an obscure location off Monroe Avenue. Imagine if the opportunity and synergy of these young trainees were downtown side by side with some of our city’s top chefs. The city of Providence, Rhode Island, self-described as “The Creative Capital,” comes to mind with Johnson & Wales University located there.

Then I was equally excited to learn a number of years ago that Mount St. Mary’s University was opening a Frederick campus, but they too chose a location away from the center of town. I know that Hood College is pretty much landlocked, so my hope is that when they need to expand someday in the future they will look at large vacant properties downtown. Ideally, I would love Hood College to expand and even move its arts programs (visual and performing) to downtown, thereby further enhancing Frederick’s burgeoning arts and creative community.


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LA: Building the Austin, TX model here in Shreveport | David Smith | The Times

LA: Building the Austin, TX model here in Shreveport | David Smith | The Times | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The week of May 4,a dynamic group of Shreveport leaders in education, government, non-profit and business interests met at the University of Texas Austin campus to discuss our shared desire for increased economic development activity in Northwest Louisiana.

This team of Shreveport community leaders was led by members of the Biomedical Research Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program (EAP) and hosted by the University of Texas IC2 Institute. The IC2 Institute is the nation’s leading cross-disciplinary research organization in the theory and practice of entrepreneurial wealth creation.

IC2 has been instrumental in creating the Austin innovation ecosystem as well as the Austin Technology Incubator which has helped more than 250 companies collectively raise $1 billion of investment and create thousands of good high paying jobs.

The Shreveport delegation was eager to learn from the IC2 strategies and methods that enabled Austin to attract high-tech industry, create wealth and become one of the great urban renewal success stories in recent American history. In 1960, Austin and Shreveport-Bossier were similar in size. Today, Austin is four times the size of Shreveport-Bossier with an unemployment rate below 4 percent while Shreveport is shrinking.

Annual U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show a population decline in Shreveport-Bossier City from 2010 to 2014 with a rising unemployment rate currently hovering above 7 percent (current national rate 5.4 percent). I believe we can reverse the demographic trajectory by adding a proactive, regional collaboration in support of entrepreneurship and inclusive wealth creation.

As our community thought leaders came to learn, the incredible financial fortunes and job creation of Austin are not beyond our reach if we properly leverage Northwest Louisiana’s greatest assets. Regional strengths include a full range of proficient colleges and universities, a high-tech medical base and good quality of life.


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Reports: Charter Near Deal To Buy Time Warner Cable | Kent Gibbons | Multichannel

Reports: Charter Near Deal To Buy Time Warner Cable | Kent Gibbons | Multichannel | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Charter Communications is closing on an agreement to buy Time Warner Cable for a reported $195 per share in a deal said to be worth $55.1 billion, plus assumed debt, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal reported today. The announcement could come as soon as Tuesday, the reports said.

Bloomberg, which reported the moves first, said the price would be a mix of $100 per share in cash and the rest in Charter stock. The price is 14% over TWC's closing price on May 22. Charter also had been negotiating a deal to buy Bright House Networks, a smaller cable company which is affiliated with TWC. Combining Charter (about 4 million subscribers) and Time Warner Cable video subscribers together would total roughly 14.8 million, second to Comcast's 22.3 million.

Charter's big consolidation play was long considered a strong possibility, as Charter, with backing from key shareholder John Malone, had attempted to buy Time Warner Cable in January 2014, only to be turned down for not offering enough. Comcast then stepped in and signed a deal to merge with Time Warner Cable -- a merger that fell apart in April after regulators opposed it as being too big, especially where broadband customers were concerned.


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Derailing Amtrak: Tracking the Latest Disaster in the Infrastructure Crisis | Ellen Brown | Truthdig.com

Derailing Amtrak: Tracking the Latest Disaster in the Infrastructure Crisis | Ellen Brown | Truthdig.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The May 12th train derailment near Philadelphia, which killed eight people and hospitalized 200, was the deadliest Amtrak accident in recent history. The train barreled around a dangerous bend at 106 mph, more than double the 50 mph speed limit for the curve.


Whether this was due to operator error or mechanical issues is not yet known. But experts say the derailment might have been averted by a safety system called positive train control, which can automatically reduce the speed of a train that is going too fast. The system must be installed on both the train and the route. The Amtrak train had it, but on that stretch of track in that direction it was not yet operational.


Why not? The stretch was known to be dangerous. Nearly 80 passengers died near the spot in an earlier derailment in 1943. Absence of positive train control was also cited as a factor in the fatal 2013 crash of a Metro-North train in the Bronx.

The chief problem, as with infrastructure generally, is a woeful lack of funds. Railroads are under a congressional mandate to install the positive train control system on passenger routes and major freight lines by the end of the year, but they are seeking an extension because of the cost and complexity of the work.

In an article titled “Why You Can’t Talk About the Amtrak Derailment Without Talking About Our Infrastructure Crisis,” Aviva Shen observes that the Northeast Corridor is the busiest and most profitable rail route in the US. The line, which runs from Boston through New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore to Washington D.C. , is dealing with more riders now than ever. But Amtrak has been starved of the funds required to keep up with this increased demand. It faces a backlog of repairs on bridges and tunnels that date back to the beginning of the 20th century, obsolete rail interlockings, and trains that rely on 1930s-era components. Repairs for the Northeast Corridor are expected to require $4.3 billion in fiscal years 2015-2019, while federal funding is expected to dwindle to $872 million.


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