Tag Archives: News

The ‘feel-good’ horror of late-stage capitalism [ThinkProgress]

These kinds of feel-good stories drive me crazy when they turn up on the news. If we offered maternity leave, a livable minimum wage, and affordable healthcare, people wouldn’t have to rely on handouts from co-workers. Nobody should have to walk to work twenty miles because they can’t afford a car and we don’t provide public transit. We should not celebrate our societal failures as feel-good news.

Serious conversation with a funny man: Daily Show host Trevor Noah

This is a serious conversation with a very funny man.Trevor Noah is the host of Comedy Central’s the Daily Show. He’s also a stand-up comic who grew up in apartheid South Africa, the son of a black mother and a white father. That was illegal in apartheid-era South Africa, so Noah grew up hiding his real parentage, only seeing his father in carefully controlled circumstances. Somehow, he managed to turn this into a very funny, very incisive stand-up act. Today, he occupies one of the commanding heights of American comedy, and when you talk to him, you can see why: he’s funny, but he’s also damn smart, with an outsider’s perspective on America’s very unique problems.

Trevor Noah, host of the Daily Show (The Ezra Klein Show, podcast)

Noah is smart and insightful — but not enough to make me watch the Daily Show. I like my news straight up nowadays, not mixed with comedy.

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Dana Liebelson and Ryan J. Reilly investigate jailhouse suicides and other deaths for the Huffington Post:

Suicide has been the leading cause of death in jails in every year since 2000, according to the latest Justice Department data. This is not the case in prisons, where inmates are more likely to die of cancer, heart and liver disease. There’s a reason for this difference. People land in jail right after they’ve been arrested. They’re often angry, desperate or afraid. They may be intoxicated or have psychiatric conditions that officers have no way of knowing about.

The experts we spoke with emphasized that entering jail is an instantly dehumanizing process. “You get clothes that don’t fit you, you get strip-searched, you lose any semblance of privacy, you don’t get to make many decisions that we all take for granted,” said Jeffrey Metzner, a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado in Denver who specializes in inmate mental health. “I don’t think most of us realize just how frightening that experience is,” added Steve J. Martin, a corrections expert who is monitoring reforms at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City. “You have a total and absolute loss—immediate loss—of control over your being, over your physical being.”

Under these circumstances, people can deteriorate at an alarming speed. About two weeks after Bland’s death, 20-year-old Brissa Lopez was arrested for allegedly fighting with her boyfriend, and arrived at a Texas jail around 4:47 a.m. She was “very cooperative” and “chuckled as she removed her tongue and lip ring,” according to a sergeant who admitted her. Staff checked on her at 6:15 a.m. Some 40 minutes later, she was found hanging from a fire alarm cage by a bedsheet.

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Greg Sargent at The Washington Post excerpts Trump’s statements:

We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.

The senseless, tragic deaths of two motorists in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much more needs to be done….Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope. Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better. This isn’t the American Dream we all want for our children.

This is a time, perhaps more than ever, for strong leadership, love and compassion. We will pull through these tragedies.

 

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Kevin Liptak has more at CNN:

“If communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement offers who are doing a great job, who are doing the right thing, that makes their lives harder,” Obama said, insisting that recognizing problems within law enforcement doesn’t equate to being anti-police.

“When people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean that blue lives don’t matter,” Obama said, referring to police officers. “But right now, the data shows that black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. There is a particular burden that is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens.”

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They kept their cool and never forgot that their job is to protect the citizens of Dallas of all races, most definitely including the men and women who peaceably assembled for Black Lives Matter that day.

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Freakonomics Radio: Are Payday Loans Really as Evil as People Say?

Maybe. Data goes either way, and everybody doing a study seems to have a vested interest.

A deeper problem, notes Freakonomics: You need to have a job and a bank account to get a payday loan. Millions of people in the US have both jobs and bank accounts, and yet need to get loans at shockingly high interest rates just to make it from paycheck to paycheck. That’s wrong.

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Obama can appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if the Senate does nothing

If the Senate refuses to consider President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Obama has the Constitutional authority to declare that the Senate has failed to exercise its right and declare the appointment done, says Gregory L. Diskant, senior partner at the law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler and a member of the national governing board of Common Cause, writing at the Washington Post.

The Senate would most likely sue.

It would break the logjam in our system to have this dispute decided by the Supreme Court (presumably with Garland recusing himself). We could restore a sensible system of government if it were accepted that the Senate has an obligation to act on nominations in a reasonable period of time. The threat that the president could proceed with an appointment if the Senate failed to do so would force the Senate to do its job — providing its advice and consent on a timely basis so that our government can function.

I love this idea just in anticipation of hearing the Republicans scream.

Politics, news and editorial video slashed in Mashable restructuring

20 reporters and editors reported to have been laid off, including executive editor Jim Roberts, a 27-year veteran of the New York Times. Hard to say what, precisely, is going on there, but it seems likely the site is “pivoting” (as the say in Silicon Valley) to 100% fluff and advertorial.

Mashable used to be a pretty good site for covering Internet technology and business. Then it tried to become a Buzzfeed clone, mixing serious news and frivolous memes and listicles. I don’t think it was successful at either.

My Spidey-sense tells me that it’s hit the final stage of death for a giant consumer-facing Web business, where the body is feeding on itself, maximizing traffic in any way that it can to maximize revenue in the short term before the investors cash in and shut the doors for good.

“Branded content is the business model for media going forward” [CEO Peter] Cashmore told staff. “It’s very, very clear that branded content is the future.”

In other words, “Advertisers dictate editorial policy here from now on. Any content that might offend our advertisers is forbidden.”

Asked about Mashable’s editorial focus, Cashmore compared it to old-school MTV, explaining that the site covers culture through the lens of technology the same way that the cable network once covered culture through the lens of music.

I don’t know what that means. I suspect it doesn’t mean anything.

Politics, news and editorial video slashed in Mashable restructuring [Peter Sterne and Hadas Gold – Politico]

Mashable video producer Nadja Oertelt was given the news while she was in Ohio for a video shoot, hours before the shoot was scheduled to begin, stranded without access to her company email so she couldn’t retrieve her itinerary homeward.

Mashable Axes At Least 20 Editorial Staffers As the Web Hurtles Towards Its Video Future [Jordan Sargent – Gawker]

Also:

Mashable executive editor Jim Roberts will leave the company and at least two dozen members of the site’s editorial staff will be laid off as part of a “strategic shift” toward video, CNNMoney has learned.

The layoffs, which will effectively deplete the site of its news editors and reporters, come one week after Mashable received a $15 million round in funding to build video content in partnership with Turner Broadcasting. (Turner is CNN’s parent company.)…

In a staff meeting, Mashable chief operating officer Mike Kriak said the site was “moving away from harder news” and toward an “entertaining digital culture,” two sources familiar with his remarks said.

Mashable lays off staff in ‘strategic shift’ toward video [Dylan Byers – CNNMoney]

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Mouse_and_the_Motorcycle

The author of the Ramona and Mouse and the Motorcycle books turned 100 Sunday but does’t want to make a big deal out of it. She planned to celebrate with a slice of carrot cake.

Cleary is as feisty and direct as her famously spirited character Ramona Quimby — an observation that she hears often and doesn’t care for. “I thought like Ramona,” she says in a phone interview, “but I was a very well-
behaved little girl.”

Today, Cleary lives a quiet, well-behaved life in a retirement home in Northern California. She gets up at 7:30 a.m. and spends the day reading the newspaper and books (on her night stand when we talked in mid-March: Alexandra Fuller’s “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight”) and doing crossword puzzles. She watches “Doc Martin” and CNN and enjoys visits with her family. She doesn’t have a computer, and though she enjoys writing letters, she notes dryly that “when you get to be 99, there aren’t many people to write letters to.”

In her youth, she points out, “mothers did not work outside the home; they worked on the inside. And because all the mothers were home — 99 percent of them, anyway — all mothers kept their eyes on all the children.” This is part of the reason, she says, that the children in her books were so often out tromping through the neighborhood without adult chaperones.

Feisty Ramona is her favorite character, and well-behaved Ellen Tebbits is a close second. Cleary says she’d have both girls over for dinner, “but not at the same time.”

Beverly Cleary on turning 100: Kids today ‘don’t have the freedom’ I had [Nora Krug – The Washington Post]

RIP Clare MacIntyre-Ross, who inspired the Harry Chapin song “Taxi”

She came from swank Scarsdale, N.Y. He was a guitar strummer from Brooklyn.

They met as summer camp counselors in the early 1960s, and the result was a weepy love song, “Taxi,” a hit for Harry Chapin in 1972.

MacIntyre-Ross spent her final years in Falls Church, Va., and died March 9 from complications of a stroke at age 73. Her father, Malcolm MacIntyre, was a lawyer who headed Eastern Airlines from 1959-63, and she had an on-again off-again romance with Chapin in the early 1960s.

Their split inspired the song, described by the musician as about 60% accurate, according to his biographer, Peter M. Coan.

In the song, a cabdriver discovers his old flame, now wealthy, in the back of his taxi. She hands him $20 for a $2.50 fare and says, “Harry, keep the change.”

In the song, it’s implied that the woman is a hothouse flower, living in idle dissipation in the mansion of a husband she doesn’t love, pining for her lost romance and dead dreams.

In reality:

Ms. MacIntyre lived in Argentina with her first husband before moving to New York and working as an institutional securities sales executive at Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1970s, when few women held such jobs. Her Spanish-language abilities helped her find Latin-American clients.

[Clare MacIntyre-Ross, Woman Who Inspired Song ‘Taxi:’ 1943-2016 / James R. Hagerty / The Wall Street Journal]

Stop blaming Israel for the violence. Stop blaming the Palestinians.

Stop saying that if Israeli children were dying, Palestinians would be celebrating.

Stop writing articles like this: “It’s a game of tit for tat, except one side is the world’s sixth largest arms exporter (11th in terms of “global firepower”) and the other an imprisoned slum with a poverty rate of 70 percent.”

And this: While Hamas tries to kill civilians, Israelis try to spare them.

Any attempt to paint one side of this conflict as more in the wrong than another just creates a more welcoming environment for violence.

You think that simply pointing out the enemy is wrong will help you win? You think that violence will help you achieve your goals? Not going to happen. If it could have worked, it would have worked already. It’s been at least 50 years. You want to go for another 50 years of blood and violence and death? You want more children to die? Keep finding blame.

Scott Rosenberg: As Amazon is to books, Facebook is to news

The donnybrook between Amazon and Hachette will repeat itself between Facebook and online news sites.

Over the past 2-3 years, Facebook has begun to assume an Amazon-like role in the ecosystem of online news. We have quickly moved from a Web in which you got your readers either from search or from “organic” traffic sources (home-page visitors, regulars, and e-mail subscribers) to one where you get an enormous chunk of your readers directly from Facebook shares.

Not true for business-to-business news sites. Facebook isn’t much of a source of traffic for B2B tech news.

Not true for this blog either. I get 3.5x more traffic from Google+ than Facebook. Twitter, Reddit, and search engines are also bigger sources of traffic for this blog.

Still, Rosenberg’s main point is correct: Online periodicals rely on social media for traffic, and it’s only a matter of time until the online news sites start putting the squeeze on.

Why Amazon vs. Hachette should have news publishers quaking

Francis Fukuyama still stands by “The End of History,” 25 years later

None of this means, however, that we can rest content with democracy’s performance over the past couple of decades. My end-of-history hypothesis was never intended to be deterministic or a simple prediction of liberal democracy’s inevitable triumph around the world. Democracies survive and succeed only because people are willing to fight for the rule of law, human rights and political accountability. Such societies depend on leadership, organizational ability and sheer good luck.

The biggest single problem in societies aspiring to be democratic has been their failure to provide the substance of what people want from government: personal security, shared economic growth and the basic public services (especially education, health care and infrastructure) that are needed to achieve individual opportunity. Proponents of democracy focus, for understandable reasons, on limiting the powers of tyrannical or predatory states. But they don’t spend as much time thinking about how to govern effectively. They are, in Woodrow Wilson’s phrase, more interested in “controlling than in energizing government.”

At the ‘End of History’ Still Stands Democracy: Twenty-five years after Tiananmen Square and the Berlin Wall’s fall, liberal democracy still has no real competitors