Make America great with great broadband

One of the most powerful metaphors in American politics is John Winthrop’s memorable sermon urging his fellow Puritans to create a “city upon a hill.” Many presidents have drawn on that vision, but none more memorably than President Reagan, who, in his farewell address, described his American dream as a city “teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

If that vision animates the new administration, then it should look to broadband policy for a major area of such opportunity. If America is going to be or continue to be “great,” it has to have great, world-leading broadband.

The other issues—the appropriate criteria for eligibility and how to distribute the funds—are linked. I can think of seven potential approaches, none of which are exclusive and many of which are complementary:

  1. Target anchor institutions—schools, libraries, health facilities, and other community institutions—to assure they have abundant bandwidth.
  2. Target middle-mile facilities—the networks between the internet backbone and the local, final connection– to lower operating costs for multiple providers in low-density areas.
  3. Target final-mile facilities, with a focus on communities that lack access to a network offering a certain speed threshold. One could build on the Federal Communications Commission’s current Connect America Fund structure to accelerate a next-generation buildout in rural areas, something I’ll discuss in more detail in a future post.
  4. Target next-generation 5G mobile networks and the Civic Internet of Things to bring intelligence to the water, sewer, electricity, and transportation grids underlying our communities. Both these new platforms will share a need for, and operate over, a fiber network. The infrastructure fund could accelerate such deployments either through a model cities approach of funding demonstration projects or by funding many projects to create scale and standards.

How to Reload a Defensive Shotgun

Even though our series on defensive shotguns more or less wrapped up earlier this year, we left a lot of ground uncovered. If the comments on our previous articles and videos are any indication, you guys still have a lot of questions about shotgun-related gear, techniques, and strategies for deploying the shotgun as a home defense tool. So, much like our defensive revolver series, we’ll keep bringing you periodic shotgun content in between our coverage of other topics.

Today, we’ve got a video on reloading a shotgun in a home defense context. Low ammo capacity is often cited as one of the weaknesses of the shotgun, so if you’re going to use one, you’d better know how to keep the beast fed. As with most technique-oriented topics, this stuff is much easier to communicate via video than in writing. However, since I know not all of you are the video watching type, I’ve deviated from my normal format of simply pasting the video transcript below, and instead I’ve attempted to paraphrase the content of the video into a more text-friendly form along with some screen captures to help illustrate the techniques. I still think the video is much easier to follow, but I know how it is when you’re sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and you don’t want to frighten the other sick people with shotgun noises coming out of your phone. So just for you, enjoy the pseudo-transcript below.

Cannabis Companies Need to Stop Stealing Intellectual Property

Did you know that the can of Coca Cola you are holding has a color and logotype that is trademarked? Or that you cannot use Tiffany blue on any product? Even that yummy Cadbury bar has its own shade of purple.

Most of us live our lives without thinking about intellectual property; we grab our smart phones, put on our favorite athletic wear and jump into our hybrids.

But did you know just about any product you use is covered by copyright laws? You would never think of using the Nike swoosh on a line of shoes you are manufacturing or taking the design of an iPhone and creating your own line of smartphones. You wouldn’t because someone would say to you eventually, “

By the way, that is so and so’s logo, I really don’t think you can use that.” However in the cannabis industry there is a culture of being underground and transient; there is no one to say “oh man that bar sure looks like a Hershey candy bar” because the industry was in a gray area that created a legal limbo and products were sold at small gatherings or in stores that were also operating in the gray.


Twenty-eight states have legalization of cannabis, either medical or recreational; this means money pouring into companies and the rush to market with greater oversight. In the last three years there has been greater enforcement of IP laws against companies that have taken designs lock stock and barrel from major corporations because those companies now can be found via websites and state registries. With greater regulation come rules of conduct that other industries have to adhere to. You would not think of taking an idea from another person and claim it as your own, so why would you appropriate a well known brand? It is one thing to snub your nose at the corporations; it’s another to loose your entire company for doing that snubbing.


One case from 2014 should have sent warning signals out: Tincture Belle vs. Hersheys.



Tincture Belle appropriated the designs, logotypes of iconic Hershey brands, from Reese’s to Almond Joy. How similar are these names: Hashees, Ganjay Joy, Hasheath or Hasheats to familiar Hershey brands? They did not stop there, they also took the look and feel of each Hershey brand. Tincture Belle settled out of court and agreed to destroy all edibles and remaining packaging.

But it didn’t.

Two months ago I walked into a local dispensary and was perusing the wonderfully designed packages on the shelves, as I walked across the store I noticed a wall of snack chips. My jaw dropped, hit the floor and slapped back into my face; there in front of me was a bag of medicated chips named “Weetos”, the colors, the fonts, the branding was “Cheetos”, also on the shelf was “Fruit Poofs”, from the same company Baked Goods. The next visit to the same dispensary showed the products removed from inventory.

There are two questions here:

Why would a dispensary sell products that are they are liable for copyright damages and
Why would any start up put themselves at risk for civil damages and injunctions?
Baked Goods cannot argue that they did not know they were infringing on Frito Lay’s trademarks, nor could the dispensary.

Cheetos has an iconic look that has millions invested in the branding; and as one of their top brands Frito Lay is going to go after any company that could damage that brand.

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Denver struggling to get the growing number of 16th Street Mall goers to stick around

For most visitors, Denver’s 16th Street Mall is a essentially a hallway.

Only about 3 percent of people sat, shopped or stayed on Denver’s 16th Street Mall on a typical Sunday this summer, according to new data from the city.

The number of people sticking around the mall on a summer Sunday is essentially unchanged from 2015, despite the area seeing a 27 percent uptick in pedestrians.

Denver might need to add more seating, activities and better store fronts to get people to stick around, according to a report Denver City Planning Director Brad Buchanan shared during a forum Thursday.

The report shows that this summer 49 out of 1,795 people (or 2.7 percent) took time to hang out on the mall. That’s compared to 49 out of 1,419 people (or 3.5 percent) spending quality time on the mall in 2015.

People staying on the mall could help with some of the mall’s perception issues, the report indicates.

More people staying on the mall discourages soliciting behaviors from petitioners, homeless people, urban travelers and others, said Andrea Burns, spokeswoman for the Denver Community Planning & Development office.

Full findings on who is using the mall and how are expected to be released during the beginning of 2017.

Congress Finally Approves Funding To Fight Zika — But What Does This Mean?

After months of bickering, Congress agreed Wednesday to allocate $1.1 billion toward curbing the spread of the Zika virus, a primarily mosquito-borne disease that has raised public health alarms.

The package is part of a larger spending bill to keep the federal government running until Dec. 9. It comes as the virus — which can cause birth defects if contracted by pregnant women — is actively spreading in Florida. More than 3,000 cases have been reported in the continental United States, though most were contracted by people traveling abroad.

So what exactly has Congress done? And, from a public health standpoint, how much will it help? Here is a breakdown of what you need to know.

First Things First: A Reminder Of Why Zika Causes Concern

Zika is a virus that has been spreading globally since last year. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and also through sexual intercourse. The virus has already moved through African and Latin American countries. Currently, mosquitoes are carrying it in parts of Florida. Experts worry these mosquitoes will spread to other Gulf Coast states — such as Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, where hot, humid climates are particularly friendly to the insects.

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This KHN story can be republished for free (details).
For most of the population, Zika doesn’t appear to be a huge deal. About 80 percent of people who are infected don’t show symptoms at all. Those who do typically suffer a flu or maybe a bad rash.

But for pregnant women, it’s a different story. Zika can cause severe birth defects in children — including but not limited to microcephaly, which stunts brain development — and has been linked to other complications in pregnancy.

It’s unclear how often those complications result, though, and researchers are still investigating other possible consequences Zika might have in terms of fetal development and for both mother and child’s long-term health. So, long story short: The virus can be incredibly damaging. How often that’s true, though, remains unclear.

This $1.1 Billion — What Will It Actually Do?

The funding consists of two pots: one, totaling almost $935 million, for efforts curbing Zika’s spread at home; and another, for about $175 million, targeting it abroad.

Domestically, the money’s split among prevention, responding to the virus and developing treatment. So far, there’s no vaccine or cure for Zika. Congress has approved $152 million for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is researching potential vaccines.

KHN Zika Coverage
— Reporter’s Notebook: Pregnant And Caught In Zika Test Limbo
— In Battle Against Zika, Researchers Seek Foolproof Test For Infection

— As Aerial Spraying Continues In Miami’s Zika Fight, Effectiveness Up In Air

— Women And Zika: Smart Questions And A Few Solid Answers


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gets $394 million, which the agency can use in areas affected by Zika. Another $387 million is for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ public health emergency fund and will be used for activities like providing Zika testing and caring for people who have been affected by the virus.

That money will be essential in states and territories where Zika poses a threat, said Chris Gould, senior director for federal government relations at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. The CDC’s funds, for instance, could support programs that eliminate mosquitoes, monitor the virus and educate people at risk.

“This amount, even though it’s long overdue, still will certainly go a long way in terms of helping states get what they need,” Gould said.

On the foreign aid side, the money will go to the State Department to support activities such as evacuating eligible pregnant Americans from countries where Zika is spreading and helping hard-hit foreign nations address their own Zika issues.

How Does This Funding Amount Compare To What Public Health Experts Want?

This falls short of the $1.9 billion President Barack Obama originally sought. But it’s fairly similar to a package the Senate first floated in May. Here, the key difference is increased funding for domestic efforts, with less for the State Department’s international efforts.

How does this hold up, then? Public health advocates said more money, of course, would have been better but said this is a meaningful start.

In this measure, Congress provided less research funding than the NIAID requested — the agency would ideally get $40 million more, said director Anthony Fauci. That said, the funds should be enough to maintain “critical vaccine studies,” though the agency will have to trim other Zika work, he added, such as “more fundamental research” on the virus and its properties.

Also, the bill passed by the Senate in May snagged after the House of Representatives argued that Congress would somehow have to offset any new funding — repurposing dollars intended for use elsewhere, for instance — and pressed to include language barring Planned Parenthood affiliates in Puerto Rico from getting federal dollars.

Planned Parenthood isn’t mentioned in the final agreement. About $400 million of the new package comes from repurposed money, much of it originally meant for combating the Ebola virus and for implementing provisions of the 2010 federal health law.

Borrowing against Ebola funding is problematic, argued Lawrence Gostin, a professor at Georgetown University and faculty director of its O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. “That money is needed to fulfill our promise to be vigilant about Ebola,” he said.

Congress Has Been Fighting About Zika For A Long Time. Has That Delay Had Any Consequences?

Yes. Mosquito season generally peaks in the summer, though it’s certainly longer in states like Florida and Texas. So for many at-risk states, it’s too late to do any real prevention work — at least this time around.

For instance, it’s possible that Zika is being actively spread in states other than Florida, said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. No one would know, he said, because there has not been enough money to support thorough surveillance.

“We will not know how well we’re doing until next April or May when we see if babies with microcephaly are being born,” he said. “We have to be on top of it — we have to hold our breaths until April or May.”

In the meantime, he added, while the funding may be too late to really make a difference this year, it could lay the groundwork to undermine future Zika threats.

So What’s Next? Is The Zika Problem Solved?

Probably not. While mosquitoes die down in the fall, experts say Zika will likely present a public health concern for the next few summers and that, in all likelihood, more money will be needed if Congress hopes to keep the virus at bay.

Right now, states should be able to appropriately respond to Zika with the funds Congress is allocating, Gould said, assuming the virus does not suddenly spread much more quickly than it has been so far. But there needs to be an understanding that “when this money runs out, Zika may not run out.”

“We’re not going to measure Zika in this one cycle,” Gould said. “We’re talking years.”

Auto slowdown signals narrowing of advanced-sector growth

Hazards ahead: That’s what data about the auto sector are signaling. Economic leaders and workers may want to buckle up.

Caution lights are definitely blinking for the auto industry – and the manufacturing sector more generally. This month, Metro’s new update on growth and change in America’s 50 critical advanced industries showed that output growth slowed markedly in the three major auto industries during the last two years while employment growth – still positive – leveled off.

Meanwhile, sales for the three top automakers selling in the U.S. slippedin July as the strong growth rate that has defined the past six years slowed to a crawl – another indication that growth is plateauing after a six-year boom. A few weeks ago Ford jolted the industry by saying sales have peaked and projecting a slower fall and a tough 2017.

As such, auto industries – with their long supply chains – contribute hugely to the prosperity of something like a quarter of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, arrayed along a corridor sweeping from the Great Lakes states into Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Alabama. Immediately below you can see the distribution of large metro areas with elevated shares of their employment in auto. It’s a significant swath of the country’s Midwestern and Southern heartland.Auto-related industries, after all, delivered fully 70 percent of the nation’s advanced manufacturing employment growth during the last two years, given the slow growth other manufacturing industries experienced in the face of a strong dollar and global headwinds. In keeping with that, the sector has become a crucial source of innovation, output, productivity, and new jobs (90,000+ “direct” ones in the last two years).

Advanced industry auto share

All of which underscores that a further slowing of the auto sector – as appears to be beginning – could be an unfortunate development for the nation’s steady but uninspiring economic expansion. The auto industry’s recovery has been a bright spot for the U.S. economy, with the three major auto industries and four digital services delivering two-thirds of the nation’s vital and sustaining advanced-sector growth. If that goes away, the nation’s advanced sector and multiple states and metro areas will have to contend with a further narrowing of an advanced-sector growth base that is already too narrow.

Losing auto as a strong job creator would for one thing take away one of the nation’s few sizable sources of well-paying jobs for workers without a BA. The auto industry and other manufacturing industries are notable for continuing to pay decent wages to less-educated workers. The nation needs more growth from its most accessible high-value industries, not less! Similarly, a slowing of the auto sector would narrow the geography of growth across multiple heartland states and metropolitan areas. More dots would turn pink or red on the advanced industry employment growth map as hiring slowed. More regions would lose direct jobs, supplier jobs, and consumer spending

Advanced industry employment growth, 13-15

In that vein, a flattening of growth in the auto sectors could well emerge as a substantial issue in the first year of a new president’s administration. Momentum should keep hiring going through the election and keep a plateauing auto sector from worsening the distress already agitating the electorate in “battleground” states like Michigan and Ohio. But should auto growth slump and the mediocre 1.2 percent a year growth rate of the manufacturing sector slip further, the new president is going to be forced to address the status of the nation’s advanced-industries sector. Further slowing will make shoring up and expanding the advanced-industries sector even more imperative than it already is.

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