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Democrats Have More Positive Image, But GOP Runs Even or Ahead on Key Issues

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Democrats Have More Positive Image, But GOP Runs Even or Ahead on Key Issues
Source: Pew Research Center

This week’s political battles over immigration, funding for the Department of Homeland Security and the Keystone XL pipeline have been waged by opposing parties that possess starkly different strengths and weaknesses.

Majorities say the Democratic Party is open and tolerant, cares about the middle class and is not “too extreme.” By contrast, most Americans see the GOP lacking in tolerance and empathy for the middle class, and half view it as too extreme.

Nonetheless, the Republicans more than hold their own with the Democrats in views of which party can better handle major issues. The Republican Party runs even on the economy and immigration and holds double-digit leads over the Democrats on terrorism, foreign policy and taxes.

Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective
Source: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective, written by Dr. Muki Haklay of University College London, examines European citizen science projects to understand how they can support or influence public policy (and how policy can support or constrain citizen science). The report concludes with suggestions for how projects around the world can be structured to meet policy goals—for example, through strategic partnerships, and by developing guidelines to facilitate the use of citizen science data.

The Political Assimilation of Immigrants and Their Descendants

February 27, 2015 Comments off

The Political Assimilation of Immigrants and Their Descendants
Source: Cato Institute

Many skeptics of immigration reform claim that immigrants and their descendants will not politically assimilate and will consistently vote for bigger government for generations. Political survey data suggest that this fear is unwarranted, as the political differences between immigrants and native-born Americans are small and, in most cases, so small that they are statistically insignificant. In the cases where the differences are significant, the descendants of immigrants rapidly assimilate into America’s political culture by adopting mainstream ideologies, political party identifications, and policy positions held by longer-settled Americans. The policy and political views of immigrants and their descendants are mostly indistinguishable from Americans whose families have been here for at least four generations. As a result of these small differences in opinion and the subsequent rapid assimilation of immigrants, they and their descendants are unlikely to alter America’s aggregate political attitudes.

Implementation of the European Citizens’ Initiative: The experience of the first three years

February 26, 2015 Comments off

Implementation of the European Citizens’ Initiative: The experience of the first three years
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) has been in operation for three years now. It was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty as an innovative instrument for transnational participatory democracy. It aims to involve citizens in political agenda-setting at EU level, by providing them with an indirect form of the right of legislative initiative. By 1 April 2015, the Commission is required to issue its first report on the application of the ECI Regulation. It is widely expected that this review will prompt a revision of that regulation. Observers have identified a number of shortcomings in its implementation, which impact negatively on the effectiveness and acceptance of this relatively new instrument of transnational participatory democracy.Against this background, stakeholders are calling for simplification and a substantial revision of the current ECI framework and its application, including its implementation in the EU Member States. This paper seeks to provide a systematic overview of the current weaknesses in the ECI process and summarises concrete recommendations actors have put forward for a better functioning ECI.

The state of city-run Internet

February 25, 2015 Comments off

The state of city-run Internet
Source: Center for Public Integrity

The fight against city-owned Internet networks may just be beginning.

The telecommunications giants including Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable have spent millions of dollars to lobby state legislatures, influence state elections and buy research to try to stop the spread of public Internet services that often offer faster speeds at cheaper rates. AT&T alone spent more than $250,000 on lobbying in Tennessee last year, the Center for Public Integrity reported in August.

In Washington, the money has flowed even more. The top Internet providers and their trade associations spent about $88 million on 568 lobbyists to influence federal lawmakers and regulators, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That was enough to place the group in the top 12 of all lobbyists. That spending goes to lobby on all kinds of telecommunications issues, not just municipal broadband.

The Center’s report illustrated how municipal broadband service, especially in rural communities, can help boost businesses and create jobs. It contrasted the experience of Tullahoma with Fayetteville, North Carolina, which was thwarted from allowing its residents to tap into the city’s gigabit broadband network by state law.

CRS — Water Quality Issues in the 114th Congress: An Overview (January 21, 2015)

February 24, 2015 Comments off

Water Quality Issues in the 114th Congress: An Overview (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Congressional Research Service)

Much progress has been made in achieving the ambitious goals that Congress established in 1972 in the Clean Water Act (CWA) to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. However, long-standing problems persist, and new problems have emerged. Water quality problems are diverse, ranging from pollution runoff from farms and ranches, city streets, and other diffuse or “nonpoint” sources, to toxic substances discharged from factories and sewage treatment plants.

There is little agreement among stakeholders about what solutions are needed, whether legislation is required to address the nation’s remaining water pollution problems, or whether regulatory authorities should be reduced. For some time, efforts to comprehensively amend the CWA have stalled as interests have debated whether and exactly how to change the law. Congress has instead focused legislative attention on enacting narrow bills to extend or modify selected CWA programs, but not comprehensive proposals.

CRS — Access to Broadband Networks: The Net Neutrality Debate (February 5, 2015)

February 20, 2015 Comments off

Access to Broadband Networks: The Net Neutrality Debate (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

As congressional policy makers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and non-discriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” While there is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network.

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