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OND Editors  OND is a community feature  on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary.  Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing each day near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

OND Editors  consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editor annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you.

BBC:Ukraine crisis: Yanukovych 'concessions' fail to end unrest

Ukraine crisis: Yanukovych 'concessions' fail to end unrest

Violence has continued in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, after President Viktor Yanukovych promised to make concessions to try to end the country's crisis.

Huge fires burned in the city centre overnight as protesters threw rocks, fireworks and petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas.

Mr Yanukovych pledged to amend anti-protest laws and reshuffle the cabinet.

But opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko said the protesters now wanted the president to resign.

Editorial Note: Yesterday Russia worked out the Details of a $15 Billion Dollar Ukraine aid package

BBC:Syria foes 'to meet face-to-face' at Geneva II talks

Syria foes 'to meet face-to-face' at Geneva II talks

Syria's opposition and government will meet "in the same room" in Geneva on Saturday after the first day of a peace conference ended with no direct talks.

UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who held talks with both sides on Friday, said they all understood that the conference was trying to "save Syria".

The two sides have blamed each other for a lack of progress.

Diplomats say they are now aiming at small concessions such as local truces rather than an overall peace deal.

BBC:Argentina to ease foreign exchange controls after peso slump

Argentina to ease foreign exchange controls after peso slump

Argentina is to relax its strict foreign exchange controls, a day after the peso suffered its steepest daily decline in 12 years.

Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said the country would reduce the tax rate on dollar purchases and allow the purchase of dollars for savings accounts.

The measures would take effect from Monday, he said.

On Thursday, the peso fell 11% against the dollar, its steepest fall since the country's 2002 financial crisis.

BBC:Egypt militants step up campaign with Cairo blasts

Egypt militants step up campaign with Cairo blasts

Militants have stepped up their campaign against security forces in Egypt with a series of explosions in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Six people were killed and some 100 others wounded, with the biggest blast outside Cairo's police headquarters.

The attacks come on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak.

Meanwhile, 10 were reported killed in clashes between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

BBC:Thailand Constitutional Court says polls can be delayed

Thailand Constitutional Court says polls can be delayed

Thailand's Constitutional Court has ruled that polls scheduled for 2 February can be legally postponed.

But it said any postponement must have the agreement of the election commission and the prime minister.

The election commission says polls should be delayed because of political turmoil. The government insists elections should go ahead as planned.

A state of emergency is in place in Thailand as protesters call for PM Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.

BBC:Blasphemy case: Briton in Pakistan sentenced to death

Blasphemy case: Briton in Pakistan sentenced to death

A court in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi has sentenced a 70-year-old British man to death after convicting him of blasphemy.

Muhammad Asghar was arrested in 2010 after writing letters to various people claiming to be a prophet, reports say.

His lawyers argued for leniency, saying he has a history of mental illness, but this was rejected by a medical panel.

Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws carry a potential death sentence for anyone deemed to have insulted Islam.

Reuters:Big Four firms, China in talks over corporate audit impasse: KPMG

Big Four firms, China in talks over corporate audit impasse: KPMG

(Reuters) - In the midst of a U.S.-China quarrel over corporate auditing, the global chairman of audit giant KPMG said on Friday that a "constructive dialogue" was under way to defuse the dispute, which led days ago to U.S. sanctions against the Chinese arms of the world's largest accounting firms.

"We are in dialogue with the Ministry of Finance in China on the matter," KPMG KPMG.UL Chairman Michael Andrew told the Reuters Global Markets Forum, an online community, in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum meetings.

Months of tension over U.S. regulators' attempts to examine audits in China of U.S.-listed Chinese companies boiled over on Wednesday when a U.S. administrative law judge sanctioned the Chinese units of the so-called Big Four.

The Chinese arms of the Big Four - KPMG, Ernst & Young ERNY.UL, Deloitte & Touche DLTE.UL and PricewaterhouseCoopers PWC.UL - have refused to hand over to U.S. officials the records of audit work done by the Chinese units for U.S.-listed Chinese companies.

Editorial Note: FWIW Jim Cramer of CNBC has attributed the stock market hit to China but more specifically some obscure bond in China Financial Markets. It seems more likely this kerfuffle with KPMG is closer to the problem......

Reuters:The “R” word becomes taboo for global elite

The “R” word becomes taboo for global elite

By Chris Hughes and Rob Cox

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Spare a thought for the business and financial elite as they slide along the icy byways of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Life is undeniably picking up for them and it would be nice to say so. But the economic recovery has its winners and losers, and it looks bad to be a beneficiary at a conference whose overarching theme is “inclusive growth.”

Most of the chief executives, bankers and politicoes gathered at the WEF are, at best, only mildly optimistic in public. From panel to podium, many delegates acknowledge there’s more to cheer about than last year. A G2 comprising the United States and China is leading global growth. A slowdown in emerging markets – even the implosion of an Argentinian peso or Turkish lira – won’t change that.

On the sidelines, WEFers are much more positive. There’s talk of boosting productivity by making investments instead of opting for crude job cuts. January’s M&A boomlet could become self-perpetuating. In the words of one senior Wall Street banker, executives are “looking for validation of what the markets are telling them.” They are being told what they want to hear. Business hasn’t felt this good since before the crisis.

But to say openly that things are better than that would be unseemly. It takes the chutzpah of a Jamie Dimon, the outspoken chief of JPMorgan, to say “the moon, stars and sun may be aligned” for better times.

Reuters:Davos executives see data theft as too costly, too hard to beat

Davos executives see data theft as too costly, too hard to beat

(Reuters) - Fighting online data fraudsters is almost impossible as their ability to hack into new technology often outpaces companies efforts to protect it, senior businessmen and bankers gathering for the World Economic Forum (WEF) said.

The mammoth data breach at U.S. No. 3 retailer Target (TGT.N) has made executives even more aware of the need to improve safety standards, but the cost is often prohibitive.

"It's next to impossible to stop data leakage. It's a constant battle. You can't beat it completely," IT company Wipro (WIPR.NS) Chief Executive TK Kurien told Reuters, calling the hunt for increasingly valuable information "modern piracy".

While losses on complex derivatives transactions could punch a big hole in a banks' balance sheet or even compromise its stability, the potential losses resulting from the theft of retail customers' data are often minimal.

Reuters:UK's Cameron tells Davos he can keep Britain in the EU

UK's Cameron tells Davos he can keep Britain in the EU

(Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday he was confident he could renegotiate Britain's relations with the European Union to allow it to remain in the 28-nation bloc.

In some of his most pro-European remarks to date, Cameron told the World Economic Forum in Davos that changes needed to make the euro zone function better meant the EU would need to alter its treaties.

That would give Britain an opportunity to recalibrate its own relations with the EU.

"I'm confident that we'll have a successful renegotiation and a successful referendum," Cameron told delegates, referring to his plan to reshape his country's EU ties before offering Britons an in/out referendum if his Conservative party is re-elected next year.

"I'm confident this is do-able, deliverable and, as I say, winnable for Britain to stay in a reformed European Union."

Reuters:Japan government forecasts show Abe missing budget-balance promise

Japan government forecasts show Abe missing budget-balance promise

(Reuters) - Japanese government calculations indicate that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cannot meet his budget-balancing promise in coming years on the current course, suggesting he may come under greater pressure from fiscal hawks for future tax increases.

Forecasts by the Finance Ministry, reviewed by Reuters on Friday, show that even in the rosiest of four scenarios, the government will run a primary budget deficit - which excludes debt service and income from debt sales - for the fiscal year to March 2021.

Under existing policy, Abe's government has promised to halve the primary deficit by fiscal 2014/15 and bring it into balance five years later. Finance Minister Taro Aso reaffirmed that goal on Friday at the opening of Parliament.

Private economists have long considered the government's fiscal-reform goals to be ambitious, but the new forecasts represent the first time that official figures have essentially confirmed that view.

Reuters:Khodorkovsky associate Lebedev freed after Russian court ruling

Khodorkovsky associate Lebedev freed after Russian court ruling

(Reuters) - Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's business partner Platon Lebedev walked free on Friday after more than 10 years in prison, following in his better-known associate's footsteps after the Russian Supreme Court shortened his sentence.

Lebedev, whose arrest in 2003 foreshadowed Khodorkovsky's months later, had been the former Yukos oil company chief's co-defendant in two trials that President Vladimir Putin's critics called part of a politically charged campaign of revenge.

"Free!" Khodorkovsky's website said in a brief statement. "On Friday, January 24 at 22:20 Moscow time, Platon Lebedev left the prison colony where he spent the last 2-1/2 of his 10-1/2 years in custody. He was met by relatives."

His release three months early from a remote jail in northern Russia came a month after Khodorkovsky was freed and flown to Germany following a surprise pardon from Putin, who is seeking to improve his image before the Sochi Olympics next month.

Discovery:No Black Holes? More Like Grey Holes, Says Hawking

No Black Holes? More Like Grey Holes, Says Hawking

On reading a new paper by Stephen Hawking that appeared online this week, you would have been forgiven in thinking the world-renowned British physicist was spoofing us. Hawking’s unpublished work — titled “Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes” and uploaded to the arXiv preprint service — declares that “there are no black holes.”

ANALYSIS: Hawking: Great Scientist, Bad Gambler

Keep in mind that Hawking’s bedrock theory of evaporating black holes revolutionized our understanding that the gravitational behemoths are not immortal; through a quantum quirk they leak particles (and therefore mass) via “Hawking radiation” over time. What’s more, astronomers are finding new and exciting ways to detect black holes — they are even working on an interferometer network that may, soon, be able to directly image a black hole’s event horizon!

Has Hawking changed his mind? Are black holes merely a figment of our collective imaginations? Are all those crank theories about “alternative” theories of the Cosmos true?!

Fortunately not.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (24+ / 0-)

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 08:58:14 PM PST

  •  An update... (13+ / 0-)

    Dan Bacher has an interesting diary on a subject I posted about last year.

    Belo Monte is one of many dams proposed for the Amazon that would affect hundreds of thousands of indigenous people, including some of the world’s last un-contacted tribes, allowing further destructive mining and deforestation practices. The Amazon Basin, about the size of the continental U.S., is home to 60 percent of the world’s remaining rainforest, and holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh water.

    In Northern California and Southern Oregon a diverse coalition of Native Americans and river activists have campaigned for the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. Currently,  dozens of key Klamath Basin stakeholders, including dam owner PacifiCorp, have agreed to remove 4 Klamath River dams pending congressional action.

    This project represents the largest dam removal in world history and is poised to restore one of North America’s largest salmon runs, allowing indigenous people to repair broken cultures and communities. Our delegation will discuss the correlation between the struggles of indigenous people of the Amazon, and the lessons of indigenous struggles in North America, as well as the environmental hazards that dams have caused in the Klamath Basin. Native youth activists that have long fought for their culture will travel to the Amazon to learn about indigenous struggles in the Amazon Basin, engaging lifelong partners for the protection of the Amazon and its indigenous people.

    All sane people detest noise. Mark Twain

    by Man Oh Man on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 09:03:38 PM PST

  •  First Pluto (13+ / 0-)

    then Black Holes. Where will the nihilists strike next?

    No Black Holes? More Like Grey Holes, Says Hawking

    Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

    by side pocket on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 09:15:59 PM PST

  •  FBI Makes Arrest In Lufthansa Heist Case (13+ / 0-)

    I remember watching Goodfellas as a kid, and wondering where the hell Idlewild Airport was? I knew you could fly into Laguardia and Kennedy. I didn't know they had renamed Idlewild to Kennedy back in the 60s.

    From the New York Times: As Seen in ‘Goodfellas’: Arrest Is Made in ’78 Lufthansa Robbery

    The crime gripped the public’s imagination, for both its magnitude and its moxie: In the predawn hours of Dec. 11, 1978, a group of masked gunmen seized about $6 million in cash and jewels from a cargo building at Kennedy International Airport.

    The Lufthansa heist, as it was known, was billed as the biggest cash robbery in United States history, and it played a starring role in the 1990 Martin Scorsese movie “Goodfellas.” It remained unsolved for four decades, perhaps because many of those who might have known something turned up dead.

    But more than 35 years later, federal authorities on Thursday charged a 78-year-old man, Vincent Asaro, with playing a role in the robbery, saying they had four cooperating witnesses from organized crime families who linked Mr. Asaro, a reputed capo in the Bonanno crime family, to the robbery.

    The man thought to be the mastermind of the robbery, James Burke (who was played by Robert DeNiro in Goodfellas), died of lung cancer in prison back in the 90s. As depicted in the movie, after law enforcement was able to locate the van used in the robbery, a combination of greed and paranoia led Burke to begin killing off most of the people who could connect him to the heist.

  •  Thank you JML9999. (12+ / 0-)

    I just returned from seeing "American Hustle." Good acting, some laughs and who could resist a movie about crooked New Jersey politicians, the mafia and an FBI sting gone nuts.

    The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by maggiejean on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 09:48:27 PM PST

  •  Police's stingray tracks protesters via own phones (12+ / 0-)

    Boing Boing: Ukraine government sends text to protesters: "Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance"

    Ukraine's dictatorship is revelling in its new, self-appointed dictatorial powers. The million-plus participants in the latest round of protests received a text-message from the government reading Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.

    The identification of protesters was almost certainly accomplished with a "Stingray," a fake cellphone tower pioneered by police in the USA, who routinely and secretly deploy them around cities and especially during protests. The Stingray tricks nearby phones into associating with it, giving police a census of who was where, with whom, and where they went. A federal judge found this to be legal, even without a warrant, because he believes you have no expectation of privacy when it comes to having your movements and associations tracked by the police in secret.

    Which is to say that the thing that the Ukrainian police did to those protesters is something that US police forces do routinely to protesters, all the time. The only difference is that American cops don't brag about the fact that they are building dossiers on participants in peaceful, lawful protests by sending taunting and intimidating texts to protesters. Instead, they just build the databases in secret against the day that they're looking for a pretense to arrest someone.

  •  Congress largely oblivious to ocean acidification (12+ / 0-)

    Seattle Times: Acidification fight faces political hurdles

    When U.S. Rep. Brian Baird tried a few years ago to get his colleagues to put more money toward ocean-acidification research, few even understood the issue.

    One congressman, Baird said, confused souring seas with acid rain, and asked, “Didn’t we deal with that 20 years ago?”

    The corrosion of the oceans by carbon-dioxide emissions has barely made a ripple among Washington, D.C.’s power brokers. Little money gets earmarked for research. Ocean change has inspired few stabs at curbing CO2.

    In fact, aside from West Coast lawmakers and scattered others from coastal regions, few in Congress seem to grasp the scale of the challenge, said current and retired lawmakers from both parties.

    So West Coast states, led by Washington, are now forging ahead largely on their own.

    “This is a profound and unprecedented threat,” said Baird, a Washington Democrat, who stepped down in 2011 and is now president of Antioch University in Seattle. “The existence of marine life as we know it could be profoundly changed by this. And we are scarcely attending to it.”

  •  Thank you, JML9999... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, maggiejean, HoundDog, palantir, wader, Trix

    Have a good weekend everybody.

    All sane people detest noise. Mark Twain

    by Man Oh Man on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 10:03:17 PM PST

  •  For Trix (10+ / 0-)

    Apparently, through lack of thoroughness, I missed responding to this comment by Trix:

    I watched a really interesting episode of the PBS documentary series "American Experience" earlier. Ostensibly it was about the birth of Silicon Valley, but the focus was really on the so-called "traitorous eight" who left Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in the late 50s (shortly after their boss, William Shockley, co-inventor of the transistor, had won the Nobel Prize and become a real dick) to form Fairchild Semiconductor—which eventually gave birth to dozens (100s?) of companies that inhabited the Valley.

    . . .

    I can't think of a single company which operates like that nowadays. I mean, there are plenty of tech companies that have experimental divisions (e.g., Google Labs & Yahoo Labs), but no companies I'm aware of that are primarily focused on innovation for the sake of innovation.

    I mention this all as a sort of corollary to our earlier discussion about invention vs. innovation, vis-à-vis Elon Musk.

    Even the small, startup app-development efforts usually have a money idea in mind as the eventual goal, I feel.

    However, many of those build off technology that was developed for the sake of building something new or creating a cool, highly useful mashup that didn't previously exist.

    e.g., Waze is a great social and gaming-style transportation assistance app . . . but the owners had money in mind from the get-go.  However, they initially built much of it from the earlier, open source RoadMap project.

    And, I think that Linux (and other free *ix systems) + open source (as seen at SourceForge), add-ons for web browsers, etc. still represent a greater concentration of pushing technology ideas out there to see what you can do next.  Many are already targeted, but even those are based on the foundation of more raw, open source work from other efforts with much less direction and/or scope.

    I could go on and on about what has seemingly happened in research from a business standpoint, but that gets quickly into the potential for confidential information related to my employer - and, even though I can generalize a lot, my conduct guidelines keep online behavior highly careful when I see a track crossing for any given topic, so to speak.

    That said, look at the example of Intel and their hard science groups: much of it appears to be towards directed needs, or at least confined within such.  Efforts aimed at decreasing fabrication size and the issues of discrete circuits as you go smaller, materials involved, potential areas for memory density increases, I/O path inefficiencies, etc.  They appear to have taken research paths which circle around their core business goals, rather than letting the science go where it might.

    Similar to open source efforts by volunteers, government groups - e.g., in NASA, the Air Force I/T division, etc. - used to explore all different kinds of weird ideas without knowing how they might apply to future needs.  I worked in their more directed project world, but knew of more abstract efforts 20+ years ago.  Those may still exist, but we've recently been seeing DARPA, NASA and other project areas being displayed to Congresscritters and industry Execs to attempt drumming up continued funding as something applicable to both public defense and private business channels.  You can see this on YouTube, now.  That type of exposure was unheard of not many decades ago, I feel.

    The Top 2% want returns on their investment and much of their money is enabled by government giving them - or not taking from them - a huge share of public funds.  I feel this has impacted both private and public sector research missions severely since at least the 1980s.

    Disclaimer: Again, I am not describing my employer's situation or revealing anything confidential about what they have done or do - hence, why I have only referenced entities which are not employer.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 10:03:37 PM PST

  •  Thanks JKL9999 (6+ / 0-)

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 10:13:54 PM PST

  •  8 (0+ / 0-)
    Brother John Foster Dulles presided over the phony Goldman Sachs trusts before the 1929 stock market crash and helped his brother overthrow governments in Iran and Guatemala.  Both were Skull & Bones, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) insiders and 33rd Degree Masons.

    30,000 people a year die in fatal highway accidents - 40,000 people are killed with guns: It is reported everyday and nothing is done about it legislatively and people don't lose their offices because of it. ~ Wes Clark

    by anyname on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 01:13:53 AM PST

  •  8 campaigns 2014 election (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    From Florida to California to New York, the following eight campaigns are the ones to watch.

    Florida's 13th District

    The candidates: Alex Sink, the former chief financial officer of Florida who lost her gubernatorial bid in 2010, is the Democrat in the race. She faces Republican David Jolly, a lobbyist and former staffer for the late Rep. Bill Young.

    The big issues: Health care reform will be front and center in this race. Jolly opposes the Affordable Care Act and is running on a platform of repealing it. The Sink campaign plans on making Jolly's background as a lobbyist a main talking point.

    The context: Young died in October of 2013, leaving the seat open. The special election, which will be held March 11, is considered a bellwether for the midterms, because the district is up for grabs in a decidedly purple state. Young won re-election in 2012 with 58 percent of the vote, but President Obama also carried the district that same year. (Obama won it in 2008 as well.) This is one of the seats Democrats are going to have to pick up if they have any hope of gaining control of the House.

    What the polls say: This is Sink's race to lose. No surveys have been released with a head-to-head matchup, but officials from both parties say she's going to win.

    The money war: Sink holds the fundraising advantage. She's raked in $1.1 million so far, while Jolly started the year with $142,000 cash on hand.

    The fiercest ad: The Republican Party of Florida released a YouTube video attacking Sink for losing $27 billion in pension funds. Politifact called the video misleading because normal market fluctuations explain the decline, not corruption or incompetence.

    Arizona's 2nd District

    The candidates: Rep. Ron Barber (D) is running for re-election. Martha McSally, a retired Air Force officer, is his GOP opponent.

    The big issues: Like most other races this fall, the Affordable Care Act will be a major talking point. Outside groups have already begun running ads against Barber, trying to tie him to the botched rollout. Also, gun control.

    The context: This is a rematch between Barber, a former Gabby Giffords staffer, and McSally, who was the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat. Two years ago, in November 2012, Barber eked out the win against McSally by just 2,500 votes, so most people are expecting this race to be a close one, too. Barber won the seat in a special election in 2012 to replace Giffords, who retired after surviving a gunshot wound to the head during a constituent event in the district. Barber, who was also injured in the shooting, is a strong supporter of gun control, making him a target for conservative groups like Americans For Prosperity.

    What the polls say: Few polls have been conducted on this race, but a survey commissioned by the National Republican Congressional Committee last summer found Barber and McSally in a virtual tie. That poll, which showed Barber getting 46 percent to McSally's 45 percent, was done before the latter officially announced her candidacy.

    The money war: Between July and September of last year, Barber's donors chipped in $318,585 for his re-election, while McSally received $394,881 in contributions. Barber raised an additional $293,000 in the second quarter.

    The fiercest ad: Americans For Prosperity released an ad in October that uses news footage to criticize health care reform. The spot urges voters to "call Congressman Ron Barber" and "tell him Washington can do better than ObamaCare."

    Colorado's 6th District

    The candidates: Conservative GOP Rep. Mike Coffman is squaring off against Democrat Andrew Romanoff, a former speaker of the Colorado House.

    The big issues: Strategists for both parties say this campaign is going to be a referendum on how voters feel about President Obama and Republicans in the House. Most district-level campaigns are at least, in part, about local issues, but this race will come down to national issues: The economic recovery, immigration reform, the government shutdown, and the ObamaCare rollout.

    The context: This race is being billed as the toughest House contest of the 2014 midterms. Coffman won a third term by a mere two points in 2012, but President Obama carried the district with 52 percent of the vote that same year. The area is emblematic of the greater demographic shifts taking place across the country. Since 2009, the year Coffman took office, the district's share of Latino residents has increased from eight percent to 20 percent. The Democrats will slam Coffman for changing his position on immigration. In 2010, he called the DREAM Act a "nightmare." A year later, he introduced legislation to require ballots be written in English. More recently, however, he began advocating for comprehensive reform that includes citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants. (Romanoff, who helped pass a law that required proof of residency for non-emergency aid, may have his own problems with Latino voters.) The National Republican Congressional Committee is pouring money into the race to help Coffman fend off the challenge, but the liberal-leaning House Majority PAC has zeroed in on the race to help flip the seat blue. The Democrats think they have a strong candidate in Romanoff, who is a household name across Colorado thanks to his time in the state House. Because the race is expected to be close, turnout will be key for this district, which encompasses Aurora, the Denver suburb made infamous by the movie theater shooting that killed twelve people in 2012.

    What the polls say: This race is a toss-up, according to both the Cook and Rothenberg political reports. The voters are evenly split in thirds between Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

    The money war: Coffman and Romanoff have raised impressive war chests, amassing $1.2 million and $1.3 million, respectively, by the end of September 2013.

    The fiercest ad: The House Majority PAC released an ad in October linking Coffman to the shutdown. "Madness. Full-blown insanity," the narrator of the 30-second spot intones. "That's what newspapers are saying about Mike Coffman and Republicans in Congress who are holding the economy hostage to pursue their extreme agenda."

    Idaho's 2nd District

    The candidates: Eight-term incumbent Mike Simpson (R) is hoping to fend off a tough primary challenge from Tea Party favorite Bryan Smith.

    The big issues: Federal spending and the government shutdown will be important topics in this contest. Smith, a lawyer, has slammed Simpson's recent vote for a $1.1 trillion spending bill, and accused the congressman of adding to the country's debt.

    The context: This race is all about the primary, which is scheduled for May 20. Party insiders are preparing for a grueling fight that will be a crucial test of whether establishment Republicans can fend off insurgent campaigns by Tea Party activists. (Even former presidential candidate Mitt Romney has waded into the race to back Simpson, an endorsement that could prove decisive as much of the district is Mormon.) Simpson is a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), whose presence in the race will give the incumbent a financial boost, but may wind up hurting Simpson in the closed Republican primary where voters tend to be more conservative. Smith has the backing of the Club for Growth, an anti-tax group targeting Republicans who don't strictly hew to its vision of fiscal austerity. (Simpson voted for the bank bailout and to end the latest government shutdown.) A dentist by trade, Simpson is hoping his seniority in the House — and his high-ranking position on the Appropriations Committee — will appeal to voters. Smith's strategy is to paint the incumbent as a Washington insider with liberal leanings.

    What the polls say: Smith is considered the underdog, but his long lead time to the primary (the challenger jumped into the race in June) has given the voters time to get to know him.

    The money war: Simpson has received more than $1.25 million in donations while Smith has raised $525,000, which includes some of his own money. Boehner has contributed $5,000 to Simpson's campaign. The American Dental Association, the American Chemistry Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and Main Street Advocacy, a group that supports centrist Republicans, have vowed to support Simpson, though they haven't announced how much they will spend.

    The fiercest ad: A radio ad released by the Smith campaign in September labeled Simpson a "liberal" and attacked the congressman's values. "He even opposes efforts to defund ObamaCare," the announcer says in the 60-second spot. "That’s right. He won’t join conservatives like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and our own Raul Labrador, Jim Risch, and Mike Crapo in opposing any government spending bill that funds ObamaCare."

    Nevada's 3rd District

    The candidates: Republican Rep. Joe Heck, an emergency-room doctor and Army Reserve officer, is seeking a third term. He faces Erin Bilbray-Kohn, a Democrat who founded Emerge Nevada, a non-profit that encourages women to run for political office.

    The big issues: Immigration reform will dominate this race. Sixteen percent of the district is Latino and 12 percent is Asian-American.

    The context: Heck was re-elected in 2012 by almost eight points even though President Obama won the district. Democrats still think this seat is a prime pickup opportunity thanks to shifting demographics. In the last two years, the Latino population has grown by five percent and the Asian population by more than 6 percent. There are now 10,000 more Democrats than Republicans in the district, which sits just south of Las Vegas. The congressman has a record that's hard to pigeonhole. He's voted dozens of times to repeal health care reform, but declined to support a budget that would assume ObamaCare was defunct. He voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, but then supported a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. Bilbray-Kohn is a political legacy — her father was a Nevada congressman — and will focus her campaign on creating jobs and helping the middle class.

    What the polls say: No polls have been released yet on this race, but operatives from both parties think it's going to be a close one.

    The money war: From July to September, her first quarter as a candidate, Bilbray-Kohn raised $254,000. Heck has taken in more than $844,000 this cycle, and Boehner has traveled to Nevada to help boost that number.

    The fiercest ad: The Democratic-leaning House Majority PAC is running an ad that hits the GOP over the idea a default wouldn't be that big of a deal. "They're playing a dangerous game," the narrator says. "But Congressman Heck votes with Republican leadership 90 percent of the time... Tell Congressman Heck to stop playing dangerous Republican games and start siding with us."

    West Virginia's 3rd District

    The candidates: Republican State Sen. Evan Jenkins is looking to unseat Democrat Rep. Nick Rahall. Richard Ojeda II, a retired Army officer, is challenging Rahall in the primary.

    The big issues:Energy policy will be the top concern among West Virginia voters. Coal drives the state's economy, and President Obama's plan to regulate the industry's carbon dioxide emissions is very unpopular in the Mountain State.

    The context: Rahall is a top target for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which placed the 19-term lawmaker on its "Red Zone" list of vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Romney carried the district by more than 32 points two years ago, and the GOP thinks it has a competitive candidate to take on the incumbent. Jenkins, who was a Democrat until July, has some baggage of his own. His party switch has opened him up to charges of political opportunism and flip-flopping. A centrist Democrat, Rahall has opposed Obama's efforts to regulate the coal industry — including the president's cap-and-trade plan — but will have to distance himselffrom his party even further to survive this race.

    What the polls say: A poll commissioned by the Jenkins campaign shows Rahall leading by a four-point margin. Forty-five percent of voters have a favorable view of the incumbent, while 44 percent don't, and more than half believe he doesn't deserve a 20th term. The Cook Political Report has moved the race from "leans Democrat" to the "toss-up" column.

    The money war: Jenkins' fundraising haul topped Rahall's in the third quarter of last year. Donors contributed more than $207,000 to the challenger's campaign, while Rahall took in $158,530. Rahall still had the edge with $474,000 cash on hand at the end of September.

    The fiercest ad: In a 30-second spot, the NRCC accuses Obama of "strangling" the coal industry. "Nick Rahall is helping him do it," the announcer says, adding that Rahall's votes in Congress are killing the local economy. "Once Washington kills coal jobs, it kills all kinds of jobs in coal states like West Virginia. Waitress jobs. Realtor jobs. Carpenter jobs. Maybe next even your job."

    New York's 19th District

    The candidates: GOP Rep. Chris Gibson was elected to the seat in 2010. His main challenger is Democrat Sean Eldridge, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

    The big issues: Given the large number of farms in the district, immigration reform is sure to be a top issue. Gibson's votes to repeal ObamaCare will also factor heavily in the race.

    The context: Eldridge has the star power, the friends with deep pockets (Project Runway's Tim Gunn has contributed to the campaign), and the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who will also be on the ballot next year. But the 27-year-old multimillionaire didn't purchase a home in the district until January of 2013, and it will be difficult for him to overcome charges of carpetbagging since he initially bought a house in another town where he was also considering running for Congress. Gibson, a decorated Army vet who served in the Gulf War, Kosovo, and Iraq, has deep ties to the community and lives near where he grew up. The congressman, who was named the most liberal Republican in the House by National Journal, was re-elected by a six-point margin in 2012 even though President Obama carried the area by six points as well.

    What the polls say:A survey conducted last Fall by Public Policy Polling showed Gibson trailing a generic Democrat by one to six points.

    The money war:By the end of September, Eldridge had raised $1 million, though $250,000 of that came from his own pocket. Gibson's campaign reported $713,021 in donations through the third quarter.

    The fiercest ad: Two months before Eldridge announced his candidacy, the National Republican Congressional Committee released an ad painting him as a carpetbagger. "On today's episode of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Out-of-Touch," the spot begins, "Sean Eldridge! $700 million. Multi-million dollar homes all over the state of New York." The advertisement, which also accuses Eldridge of schmoozing with political elites and Hollywood starlets, warns him that he can't buy his way into Congress.

    California's 17th District

    The candidates: Rep. Mike Honda (D), a seven-term incumbent, is facing a tough primary challenge from Ro Khanna, a lawyer and former Commerce Department official in the Obama administration. Dr. Vanila Singh is running as a Republican.

    The big issues: This district is basically ground zero for the tech industry, so expect issues like net neutrality, immigration reform, and the government's (formerly secretive) big data collection programs to be front and center in this contest.

    The context: On one side we have Honda, a well-liked and grandfatherly figure, who has racked up endorsements from President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. On the other side is 37-year-old Khanna, who has drawn support from many of Silicon Valley's heavy hitters, including Yahoo! CEO Melissa Mayer, and has several of the president's top campaign advisors on his staff. Both have raised massive amounts of money at this stage in the game, leading observers to predict an all-out Democratic civil war for this district. Making things more complicated is California's new "jungle primary" system in which all of the candidates compete against each other in the primary regardless of party. The top two will face each other in the November general election, and it's increasingly looking like Honda and Khanna are in for a bruising nine-month fight. The district, which is now the first Asian-American majority district in the continental United States, leans heavily Democratic.

    What the polls say: Honda has maintained a commanding, if slightly shrinking, lead in the polls. A survey in March done for the incumbent's campaign showed Honda with a 52-point advantage. By August, Khanna had closed the gap and was down by 34 points.

    The money war: This could be the most expensive primary ever. Khanna has a substantial cash advantage, bringing in $402,000 in the last quarter of 2013 for a total haul of almost $2 million. Honda raised $250,000 from October to December and has $622,000 in the bank. Singh raised $100,000 in the first five days of her campaign, but that included $25,000 of her own money.

    The fiercest ad: Despite the large sums of money flowing into the candidates' coffers, this race has been relatively light on the advertisements. Expect this to change once we get past the primary, when Honda and Khanna zero in on each other.

    30,000 people a year die in fatal highway accidents - 40,000 people are killed with guns: It is reported everyday and nothing is done about it legislatively and people don't lose their offices because of it. ~ Wes Clark

    by anyname on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 01:47:34 AM PST

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