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August 13, 2014

The public debate over net neutrality isn't much of a debate, if the 1.1 million public comments on the Federal Communication Commission's proposed "open internet" rules are any guide. Wading through more than a million comments — the second-most the FCC has ever received on an issue, after the 1.4 million comments about Janet Jackson's 2004 wardrobe malfunction — is a daunting task. How do you make sense of that much data?

The Knight Foundation commissioned data visualization and analysis firm Quid to dig into the public comments and sift out common themes. Quid looked at a sample of 250,000 comments, then created this cluster map, shared via NPR's All Tech Considered:

(Quid, via NPR)

More than 30 percent of the comments were from letters or templates, primarily from five major advocacy groups — four in favor of net neutrality, one opposed — and Quid collapsed each template into one comment. The largest cluster of comments (15 percent) focused on how a pay-to-play system — proponents call it a fast-lane for web services willing to pay and a regular lane for everybody else — would harm the diversity of the internet.

But "taken with the entire body of comments sampled, there weren't enough unique or organic anti-net-neutrality comments to register on the map," explains NPR's Elise Hu.

The FCC's commenters are obviously a self-selected sample, and Quid also looked into their demographics. So, who are they? Men, mostly: Only 29 percent of the comments Quid studied appeared to be from women. And certain areas of the country were more prone to comment, as Quid shows in this map:

Historically, though, public comments don't have much impact on FCC rule-making, George Washington University law professor Richard Pierce told NPR in July. Data-rich input from industry sources is much more influential, he said, but there is a good way for the FCC commissioners to gauge the temperature of the country: "Take a look at things like public opinion polls," he said. "A public opinion poll is a far more reliable indicator of what the public thinks about an issue like net neutrality than a bunch of postcards or one-liners." Peter Weber

2:35 p.m. ET

With half a decade of experience under his belt, Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) shared his ideas for making "the world's greatest deliberative body," the Senate, even better on Friday. "To ensure bills are vetted, [require] mandatory hearings on major legislation," he tweeted as one idea. "Sixty-seven vote threshold to waive the requirement."

Schatz also proposed "flesh[ing] out and [formalizing] advice and consent to expedite routine, necessary nominations," "[reasserting] constitution appropriations authority of legislative branch," and eliminating the speed-voting tradition of Vote-a-Rama "to reduce churn, partisan 'gotcha' votes and save time."

Here are a few more:

Washington Post congressional reporter Paul Kane called Schatz's ideas "interesting" and "thoughtful," nothing that the Hawaiian senator has been in both majority and minority parties during his time on the Hill. "These aren't partisan ideas," Kane said. "Worth a look." Jeva Lange

2:32 p.m. ET
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is being investigated by the NFL, BuzzFeed News reported Friday, after an Uber driver alleged that Winston groped her during a ride in March 2016. The driver claimed that after picking Winston up around 2 a.m. in Scottsdale, Arizona, the quarterback grabbed her crotch while they were waiting for food at a drive-thru window.

The driver, Kate, declined to provide her last name to BuzzFeed News for fear of retribution from NFL fans. She said that Winston sat in the front seat of her car and was the only passenger for the ride, and that he held his hand over her crotch for several seconds. She said he moved only after she "looked up in shock and said, 'What's up with that?'"

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Uber confirmed that Kate had submitted a complaint report to the company after the alleged assault. Winston "is NOT safe for other female drivers," Kate wrote to Uber at the time. The company told BuzzFeed News that an account under the name Jameis Winston had been "permanently removed" from the app that evening, and that "the behavior the driver reported is disturbing and wrong."

In a statement Friday after BuzzFeed News published its story, Winston did not deny that his Uber account had been suspended, but called the groping accusation "false" and said that he believed Kate "was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her."

In December 2016, Winston settled a lawsuit with Erica Kinsman, who alleged that Winston raped her when they were students at Florida State University in 2012. Winston was never formally charged by the Tallahassee Police Department for the alleged incident, and a FSU investigation found that the school's star quarterback had not violated its code of conduct.

Read the full story at BuzzFeed News. Kelly O'Meara Morales

1:57 p.m. ET

Have you ever wondered what it would look like to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds? Probably not, because before yesterday, it was almost impossible. All that changed when on Thursday, Tesla's Elon Musk unveiled the second-generation Roadster, the Roadster 2, which is the fastest production car ever made, The Verge reports.

Can't quite wrap your head around that? Here's what it looks like, if you're the unlucky bystander watching the Roadster 2 peel off into the California night:

You can take a test drive below, or wait for the real thing to drop in 2020 for $200,000. Jeva Lange

1:51 p.m. ET

Democrats and Republicans alike are horrified after Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate and sitting state Supreme Court justice Bill O'Neill decided to "speak up on the behalf of all heterosexual males" on Friday following calls for Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign, Cleveland.com reports. "In the last 50 years, I was sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females," began O'Neill's extremely ill-advised Facebook post. "It ranged from a gorgeous personal secretary to Sen. Bob Taft (Senior) who was my first true love and we made love in the hayloft of her parent's barn in Gallipolis and ended with a drop-dead gorgeous red head who was a senior adviser to Peter Lewis at Progressive Insurance in Cleveland."

O'Neill claimed he was oversharing to "save my opponents some research time" and then asked: "Now can we get back to discussing legalizing marijuana and opening the state hospital network to combat the opioid crisis? I am sooooo disappointed by this national feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions decades ago."

O'Neill also defended Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is accused of pursuing, assaulting, and molesting teenage girls as young as 14. "He's been convicted of nothing and he's never had the opportunity to defend himself and that violates due process in America," argued O'Neill.

Members of both parties immediately reacted to O'Neill's post: "Not only have you lost any glimpse of support from me, [you've] also lost my respect," said Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach (D). Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor tweeted: "We have to be better than this." Read more at Cleveland.com, and read O'Neill's full original post (which has since been edited) below. Jeva Lange

1:01 p.m. ET

Elon Musk announced the fully electric Tesla Semi on Thursday night. The truck can haul 80,000 pounds and travel 500 miles on a single charge, as well as accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in just five seconds with an empty trailer, Wired reports. It also boasts "nuclear explosion-proof glass" because you never know.

Tesla has thought of just about everything for the cab, too. "[T]he driver's seat is now in the middle of the cab," writes Wired. "Because it didn't need to build around a bulky diesel engine, Tesla made the nose of the cab a vertical slab, and the main seat is so far forward, you can see the ground just in front of the vehicle. In a design touch that recognizes that truckers are human beings, there are overhead bins for storing stuff, and at least four cup holders." Two touchscreens allow the driver to navigate and monitor blind spots, and the vehicle is covered in cameras that assist with self-driving on freeways.

Musk said that on 100-mile routes, the Semi will cost truckers $1.26 a mile, compared to $1.51 for today's diesel trucks. Still, "500 miles is still far less than diesel trucks can travel," CNN writes. "And diesel fuel tanks can be refilled much more quickly than batteries can be recharged." Walmart, for one, is excited about the promise of electric trucks and preordered 15, which are expected to go into production in 2019, CNBC reports.

Learn more about the Armageddon-proof truck — adorably referred to as a "lorry" by Britain's ITV News — below. Jeva Lange

12:06 p.m. ET
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump may want to be friends with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, but it seems Pyongyang may not feel the same. A North Korean official told Reuters on Friday that negotiations over its nuclear weapons program were out of the question unless the U.S. and South Korea stopped conducting joint military exercises. The exercises on the Korean peninsula are an annual occurrence, but they have long been a point of contention for North Korea.

Trump has previously threatened to "totally destroy North Korea." During his trip to Asia last week, however, he implored the Hermit Kingdom to "make a deal," expressing a desire to open discussions with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program. While Trump may hope that muscular shows of military force and his "madman" theory of diplomacy will bring Kim to the negotiating table, Han Tae Song, North Korea's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, was clear that his country sees the U.S. military presence on the Korean peninsula as a threat to its existence: "As long as there is continuous hostile policy against my country by the U.S. and as long as there are continued war games at our doorstep, then there will not be negotiations," he told Reuters.

Although it has been two months since Pyongyang's last nuclear test, North Korea recently called Trump "a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people" — after the president kinda-not-really-but-sorta-definitely called Kim "short and fat." Kelly O'Meara Morales

11:59 a.m. ET
iStock.

Each fall, the small Alaskan village of Kaktovik experiences a tourism boom — and lately, it's coming due to climate change. Polar bears trek to the tiny town as rising temperatures melt the sea ice on which they live, and tourists with cameras follow, ABC News reports.

Scientists estimate that the presence of sea ice declines at a rate of 9 percent every decade. As the ice melts, it takes polar bear territory and hunting grounds with it. Alaskan locals told ABC News that hungry polar bears descend on the town to feed on the leftover carcasses from annual whale hunts.

Polar bears used to arrive in the town around late September, ABC News reports, but now they arrive as early as July. "We've been hunting whales for about 10,000 years. So they're not coming here because of the bones, the remains of the whales that we catch. They are coming because their habitat has gone away," said Robert Thompson, a local tour guide.

The animals can be vicious if provoked, so Kaktovik locals have set up bear patrols for safety. Still, that doesn't deter tourists, who take boats to get as close as possible to capture photos of the rare species.

Polar bears are at high risk of endangerment, and only 20,000 to 25,000 bears remain out of captivity. Elianna Spitzer

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