Comcast No Longer Tech Industry’s Biggest Spender on Lobbying

Comcast is no longer the tech industry’s biggest spender on lobbying. That distinction now belongs to Google. Comcast is in second place — by a mere $30,000.

Consumer Watchdog, which unveiled its annual report on the industry’s lobbying expenditures on Wednesday, said Comcast spent $16.8 million on lobbying in 2014. (That number is actually  a 10 percent decrease from $18.71 million in 2013.) Google, meanwhile, spent $16.83 million on lobbying during the year.

That’s somewhat surprising: After all, Comcast spent most of 2014 trying to persuade state and federal officials to approve its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. (That company spent $7.83 million in 2014, a 6 percent decrease from $8.29 million in 2013.) Time magazine reported in April that the company had as many as 76 lobbyists from a wide array of firms working to get federal approval for the merger.

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Perelman Gives $50 Million to CHOP

The Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania at UPENN.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Philanthropist Raymond G. Perelman has given $50 million to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which will be used to develop an 8-acre campus for health research and scholarship.

The new Raymond G. Perelman Campus “will serve as a hub of pediatric research taking on the most challenging pediatric illnesses and establishing Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a global center for innovative pediatric study,” 6ABC reports.
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Gosnell Co-Defendant Gets New Trial

Eileen O’Neill, who was a co-defendant to Kermit Gosnell when he stood trial for killing three infants born alive at his West Philadelphia abortion clinic, has been granted a new trial.

Though O’Neill was tried with Gosnell, she was convicted on theft and conspiracy charges related to her work with and billing of patients at the clinic. She was not implicated in the deaths that sent Gosnell to prison for three life sentences.

“Prosecutors said O’Neill pretended to be a licensed physician at Dr. Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic, the Women’s Medical Society, when in fact she was unlicensed. She did, however, have a medical degree,” NBC 10 said at the time of her conviction. “The Commonwealth also argued O’Neill lied to insurance companies and patients and billed for services she was not allowed to perform. Her attorney argued there was no evidence O’Neill charged for her services.”
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Docs: Grand Jury Recommended Charges Against Kane

Documents released today by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court confirm that a grand jury has recommended charges be brought against Attorney General Kathleen Kane for the leak of information from an earlier grand jury.

The documents were unsealed as part of a broader court battle involving Kane, who is challenging the authority of the special prosecutor who led the grand jury, as well as the judge who appointed the prosecutor.

“Kane’s defense team argued a Montgomery County judge had no authority to appoint a special prosecutor to run a grand jury under state law and the state constitution’s separation of powers clause prohibits the court from investigating a member of the executive branch, Kane,” The Morning Call reports. “The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the motion to quash the grand jury and unsealed the records as requested by Kane’s defense lawyers.”
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Snow Enters Region; Commute Will Be Messy

As expected, it’s snowing.

What’s more, it’s snowing just as the region’s workers are about to start commuting home. That means they’ll be sharing the roads with PennDot crews trying to make those roads safe — and PennDot officials hope drivers are patient with the process.

“You get on routes like the Schuylkill Expressway and the Blue Route, we’re pretty much at a crawl — that’s about the rate we can spread salt. We can’t go out ahead of everybody. We have to go with the flow,” Penndot assistant district executive John Krafczyk told KYW Newsradio.

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Two Pennsylvania Wrestlers Sue WWE in Federal Court

You’ve probably heard by now about the lawsuit filed against the WWE by two former wrestlers, Evan Singleton and Vito Lograsso, both from Pennsylvania. The complaint they filed (below) is a fascinating, brutal piece of reading that alleges that many of the league’s wrestlers have suffered brain damage and even committed suicide because of the damage they’ve suffered during matches.

Wrestling may be “scripted” — that is, not quite real — but the pain wrestlers suffer, it seems, is authentic. Why? The lawsuit says this is what happens, essentially, when you get large men beating on each other, falling off of steel cages and whacking each other with metal chairs — even when it’s all in fun:


Though he’s not a part of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ attorneys rely heavily on the wrestler Mick Foley’s experiences in making their case. Why? Because he might be the closest thing to an intellectual the wrestling circuit has produced. He’s authored several books about his time in the ring — and gets credit for actually writing them instead of, like most jocks, having them ghost-written. He’s written for Slate and is generally known as funny and thoughtful.

Here are the lawsuit’s top references to Mick Foley (who is, incidentally, competing in this year’s Wing Bowl), as a summary of what the plaintiffs’ case is all about.
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Could Ed Rendell Take Pat Toomey’s Senate Seat?

It’s tough for us to see Ed Rendell in the Senate. The man is a chief — not somebody who would risk getting his voice drowned out by 99 others. He just seems bigger than that, somehow.

There’s only one reason to believe he would ever make the run, in fact: Because he could win.

A new poll from Public Policy Polling suggests that Rendell — who has given no indication of desiring a Senate run — is actually the leading candidate for the Senate seat now held by Pat Toomey.

“Former two-term Governor Ed Rendell leads the pack of potential Democratic challengers, besting Toomey 44-41 in a hypothetical matchup. Rendell owns a substantial 17-point advantage with Independents, and leads with both men and women (+1 and +6, respectively),” PPP reports. “Should Rendell decide to enter the race, he would start with a decided name recognition advantage over Toomey, 85-63.” (See the full poll results below.)

Now it’s true Rendell thinks — or has said, at any rate, that Toomey is vulnerable. “I would love to be a Democrat running against an incumbent Republican senator in 2016,” Rendell told the Inquirer back in November. But you’ll note he didn’t say he wanted to be the Democrat making the run.

Besides, aren’t we all waiting for him to swoop in and run for mayor again?
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Comcast to Stream Super Bowl Online for Free

This is why big giant events like the Super Bowl mean so much to the networks that air them — and the companies that own the networks.

This year’s Super Bowl will basically be an ad for Comcast’s Xfinity cable and Internet services — the company is providing the game (and surrounding program) online for free, so that even cord-cutters on their laptops can take part in the programming smorgasboard.

Comcast is dubbing the whole thing “Super Stream Sunday.” “Consumers will be able to stream 11 continuous hours of NBC content on Super Bowl Sunday,” the company said in an announcement. “NBC live stream programming will include: Super Bowl XLIX; Super Bowl XLIX halftime show starring Katy Perry; Super Bowl XLIX pre-and-post-game shows; and the midseason debut of The Blacklist.
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Jury Now Considering Tollefson Charges

A jury now has Don Tollefson’s fate in its hands. Final arguments in the former sportscaster’s trial were heard Tuesday, and the jury began deliberations that resume today.

“After five hours of deliberation, a jury could not decide the fate of Don Tollefson,” NBC 10 reports. Closing arguments finished Tuesday in the trial of the disgraced former Philadelphia sportscaster. By 9:30 p.m., a judge ordered the jury to go home after they were unable to come up with a verdict. They will return Wednesday morning.”
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