Archive for April, 2018

Buried Lead

April 18, 2018

Seen the TV ad of Larry Householder in camo with locked and loaded 12 gauge shooting a television set out in a corn field, ending with “we stick to our guns”? Of course you have. And along with Analysis, you haven’t a clue what all that is about. Cleveland.com’s Andrew Tobias headlines Ohio State Rep. Larry Householder sues political groups over attack ads (4-18-18). “Householder alleges the TV, radio and printed ads — which make reference to an FBI investigation, which closed without charges in 2006, into Householder’s activities as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives in the 2000s — are false and defamatory, and asks a judge to pull them off the air. The ads were produced by the Honor and Principles PAC and the Conservative Alliance PAC, two Virginia-based groups that are named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed in Householder’s home Perry County on Wednesday.” “The lawsuit is the latest turn in the heated, months-long, behind-the-scenes political battle among Republicans to be the next leader of the Ohio House of Representatives for the session beginning next year. Householder is among the candidates vying for the position, which is chosen by Ohio House members. The position’s future is more uncertain than ever after former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger’s sudden resignation last week. Rosenberger stepped down eight months before his term was to have expired, appointing a temporary successor, amid an FBI probe into a trip he took to London last summer with lobbyists for the auto title-loan industry.” Same day, same news source, Laura Hancock headlined Payday lending bill advances out of Ohio legislative committee. Analysis found the opening line significant. “A House committee advanced a bill Wednesday morning that would cap fees and interest rates on payday loan businesses – after more than a year of the bill stalling and less than a week after the chamber’s speaker, Cliff Rosenberger, resigned amid a reported FBI inquiry into his ties with the industry. The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee cleared House Bill 123 with a vote of 9 to 1.” Of equal importance “But Rep. Ryan Smith, who is running for House speaker, said it was time to move the bill. “Quite frankly the idea that we’re making progress in (negotiation) meetings when everything is stalled, stalled, stalled,” he said. “it’s pretty obvious what’s happening.” Later, Smith said his comment wasn’t a critique on Rosenberger but on the payday lenders, who he doesn’t believe want any changes in the law.” What could be more rural than shotguns, camo fatigues, cornfields and TV sets? Still the same day, Columbus Business First’s Robin Smith headlined: Central Ohio’s fastest-growing school districts are largely rural. “Delaware County leads off with the top two districts, with the top five rounded out by districts in Licking, Fairfield and Union counties. Another Delaware County district and four Franklin County districts fill out the top 10.” The rural burbs, not just corn sprouting and growing there! Analysis referenced all that to reference the AP’s Andrew Taylor’s headline House panel moves to curb food stamps, renew farm subsidies (4-18-18). “The hard-fought food stamp provisions would tighten existing work requirements and expand funding for state training programs, though not by enough to cover everybody subject to the new work and training requirements. Agriculture panel chair Michael Conaway said the provisions would offer food stamp beneficiaries “the hope of a job and a skill and a better future for themselves and their families.”” The bulk of the article is about the nuances. Toward the end: “The measure mostly tinkers with those programs, adding provisions aimed at helping rural America obtain high-speed internet access, assist beginning farmers, and ease regulations on producers. “When you step away from the social nutrition policy much of this is a refinement of the 2014 farm bill. So we’re not reinventing the wheel. That makes it dramatically simpler,” said Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., a former chairman of the committee. “Most folks are generally satisfied with the fundamentals of the farm safety net.”” The final lines of the article are “The House measure also would cut funding for land conservation programs long championed by Democrats, prompting criticism from environmental groups. At the same time, it contains a proposal backed by pesticide manufacturers such as the Dow Chemical Company that would streamline the process for approving pesticides by allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to skip reviews required under the Endangered Species Act.” Analysis finds various continuous coverage of the impact of pesticide use, in conjunction with rural gentrification (the 21stcentury’s version of the burbs) on insect population as well as those dependent on insects (like birds, aquatic life, amphibians, etc. and humans!). Just a few (from many available): from The Guardian (Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say, 2-14-18) “Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.” Burb bug zappers and Raid aside, have you seen a lot of bugs around outdoor lights at night? Or on your windshield? And from Wired (Not Just Bees: Controversial Pesticides Linked to Bird Declines, 7-9-14) “As neonicotinoid levels rose in streams, lakes and wetlands, populations of insect-eating birds declined. The pesticides appear to have eliminated the insects on which they rely. … There they can poison aquatic invertebrates or be absorbed by plants, eventually harming plant-eating insects.”  Along with Rachel Carson, the lead of the farm bill story has also been buried.

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Absentee Landlord-Type Situation

April 12, 2018

4-11-18 Robert Channick, writing for the Chicago Tribune headlined Chicago Tribune Newsroom Seeking To Unionize. Analysis found this intriguing to consider that in this day and age, this country, workers would attempt to unionize; cultural workers at that. Why not, you ask? Of note from the report (which according to the current “conversation” would be heavily biased since it is being presented by one of those very same cultural workers. Including the self in the “conversation”, what a novelty!): “Organizers notified editors and sent a recruitment memo to staffers Wednesday, urging them to join the effort to form the paper’s first newsroom union. The stated goals include regular raises, advancement opportunities, better parental leave policies and a more diverse newsroom. But more than specific demands, the organizers say they seek to give voice to a newsroom buffeted by downsizing and shifting corporate leadership, most recently under Chicago-based Tronc.” “Formerly known as Tribune Publishing, Tronc owns the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times and other publications.” “”There’s been a real sense of anxiety and instability, and frankly chaos, in the newsroom, particularly in the past few months,” said Megan Crepeau, 29, a criminal courts reporter and eight-year veteran of the Chicago Tribune who helped organize the union effort. “I think that directly stems from our corporate ownership.”” “Last month, the Chicago Tribune began implementation of a newsroom reorganization that included layoffs.” Analysis needs to note that just recently Sinclair Broadcast Group reappeared in the news with its intentions to buyout Tribune Media, all of which received the Dear Leader’s tweeted blessing. Analysis fills in the back story from Wiki: “Prior to the August 2014 spin-off of the company’s publishing division into Tribune Publishing (now called Tronc, Inc.), Tribune Media was the nation’s second-largest newspaper publisher (behind the Gannett Company), with ten daily newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, Sun-Sentinel and The Baltimore Sun, and several commuter tabloids.” The Advocate is a Gannett product (or process, whatever). Butt weight, there’s more. From the transcript of the PBS 4-9-18 Newshour entitled ‘We have got an absentee landlord’: Denver Post calls out owners for dramatic newsroom cuts. “In a blistering editorial, journalists at the Denver Post sounded the alarm about years of devastating job cuts and took the newspaper’s own hedge fund owners to task, begging to be sold. Amna Nawaz speaks to Chuck Plunkett, editorial page editor of the Denver Post, who co-wrote the editorial.” “The front-page editorial came after years of devastating cuts ordered by Alden Global Capital, a New York City hedge fund that stepped in to buy the paper in 2010. In it, the editorial page editors referred to Alden as vulture capitalists and wrote, “Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom. If Alden isn’t willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will.” Just today, two dozen more staffers left The Post, the latest in a series of layoffs that have taken the 125-year-old paper from a newsroom of 250 journalists to fewer than 100.”[Plunkett projected it to hit 60] Mr. Plunkett: “Newspapers have a proud tradition of calling out the powerful, being the voice for the voiceless. And we even have a tradition that we run letters to the editor and op-eds written by outsiders who are critical of our work. On the editorial page, we are critical of government and private businesses who we don’t feel are living up to the job that they are supposed to perform. And in this situation, we believe that our owners are failing their readers, not just in Denver, Colorado, but in their many holdings across the United States, and that it was only proper to call them out and ask for better.” “We lost our publisher earlier this year. He has not been replaced with someone who spends time day in and day out in the Denver community. And that’s the problem that I’m beginning to see, is that we have got an absentee landlord-type situation.” The Denver metro area has a population of over 3 million. Sounds a bit like Columbus where the Dispatch’s landlord, Gatehouse Media, was likewise in the news with its purchase of the Akron Beacon Journal. Gatehouse Media is a holding company. Wiki gives “A holding company is a company that owns other companies’ outstanding stock. A holding company usually does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies to form a corporate group. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow the ownership and control of a number of different companies.” It is akin to a hedge fund. Talk about hedging, Mark Zuckerberg was also in the news this past week. Continuously he stressed that Facebook is only a platform for advertising and this is their main source of revenue. This puts him, and it, in company with Sinclair, Gannett, Alden, Tronc and Gatehouse. His digital “product” (actually a process) is unique in that it is a monopoly of choice, where the absentee landlord is totally absent! By choice, because during the late 90’s the slogan was “the internet can be whatever it is you want it to be”. But Analysis digresses. The facts on the ground are that Gannett discontinued the Advocate’s paper printing operation (and contracted outside Newark for that), has its downtown building up for sale (would have been a great county 911 center), and has no office to speak of – to pay bills, report community events or news, submit advertising, etc. requires accessing someone virtually (in another city?). The Advocate’s customer is the advertiser which it serves not only through traditional ads but also product placement stories, features, infotainment, op eds and even news. In a municipality where almost half the residential properties are non-owner occupant “that’s the problem that I’m beginning to see, is that we have got an absentee landlord-type situation.”

 

Returning Citizens

April 5, 2018

The defunct (and “historic”) Licking County Jail, located on South Third Street in Newark, is of limited value to the people of Licking County. As a monument to discipline and punish it detracts and diminishes the highly promoted tourist attraction of Canal Market (“Look mommy. That building looks scary. Is it Dracula’s castle?” “No dear. It is the old jail where the police put bad people to languish and rot.”). Other than a party house for over age and nostalgic Goth’s, it is of no benefit to, and serves little purpose for, the people of Licking County. Cuyahoga County opted for something a little more practical and relevant to its current citizens. Cory Shaffer for cleveland.com (4-5-18) headlines: Former Bedford Heights Jail re-opens as comprehensive reentry facility. “Cuyahoga County leased the facility after Bedford Heights closed its jail in 2015. It spent $500,000 renovating the facility as officials hashed out details and logistics over the last two years, [Director of Corrections Ken] Mills said. The Bedford Heights center will house up to 200 male inmates sentenced to 60 to 90 days in jail for nonviolent, nonsexual, low-level felony and misdemeanor charges, Mills said. For the last three years, Cuyahoga County offered similar services to approximately 80 inmates in the Euclid Jail. That facility will continue to offer those services to female inmates.” “Towards Employment [“a nonprofit organization that provides job counseling and training services”] will teach job training, resume building and computer skills in the jail’s computer lab, and give them emotional counseling and conflict resolution training, [executive director Jill] Rizika said. The Cuyahoga County Library System will teach GED courses, and Mills said plans are in the works for Cuyahoga Community College to teach manufacturing skills. The facility will also allow the county to expand its culinary arts program, a nine-week course that gives inmates a certification to be a cook. The jail partners with Edwins Restaurant and different hospitality management groups in the area.” Practically speaking, Licking County has the same resources (CTEC, College, non-profits engaged in counseling and job training, etc.). Practically speaking, Licking County Commissioner Tim Bub would never express what his counterpart in Cuyahoga County had to say: “”We would expect somehow [former inmates] would rejoin the community and be productive members of society almost magically, and it just doesn’t happen that way,” Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said.”

“I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”

April 3, 2018

2-19-18 WKSU’s Jeff  St. Clair did a radio report entitled Monogamy and Smiles are the Results of a Neurochemical Change That Made Us Human. It was recently rebroadcast. Analysis found it very compelling. From the broadcast: “Kent State professors Owen Lovejoy and Mary Ann Raghanti worked together on a recent paper that looks at how a neurochemical change in our brains became the turning point in human evolution.” ““Cooperation is something that’s very uniquely human. We start cooperating by the time we’re 1 year old. This doesn’t happen in other ape species, so it’s hard wired.” Raghanti believes that early in our history something switched-on in our brains that sent us on a different path than our closest relatives, and it wasn’t our smarts. “Our brain was the size of the chimpanzee. We hadn’t expanded the cerebral cortex yet,” says Raghanti, “so whatever it was that changed our personality occurred without that cerebral cortex.” Raghanti has been dissecting the brains of humans, chimpanzees and other primates over the past decade to see what could account for the differences in our behavior. She looked at the chemicals that trigger our thoughts and actions – the neurotransmitters – and where they’re active in the brain. It was a lot of work counting all the neural connections. “We very laboriously section every single brain into very thin sections, and then we stain it, and put it under the microscope and we have special software where we can quantify the number of axons which gives us a measure of the enervation.” She didn’t see many differences, until she got to the part of the brain called the striatum. Nestled deep in the brain, the striatum plays an important part in decision-making and is home to the all-important reward system, the same system that gets hi-jacked by drug addiction. But Raghanti found that in early human ancestors that reward system developed for another purpose. “Our reward system gets triggered by helping other individuals,” says Raghanti. The chimpanzee is our closest living relative, but we differ in how part of our brain is wired. In humans dopamine is dominant in the striatum, which coordinates social interactions, while in chimps acetylcholine, key for aggression, dominates. That pathway is missing in apes. Instead, Raghanti found they’re hard-wired for aggression.” “Lovejoy says if evolution is survival of the fittest, it doesn’t make sense if instead of competing, you’re helping each other, which is what humans do. “Why do you cooperate with other people unless it gives you more offspring? I’ve never really understood that on a basic selection basis, until Mary Ann made this discovery.” For Lovejoy, all the pieces come together knowing that the human brain is hard-wired for teamwork.” ““Hominids have a form of social structure that no other primate has,” says Lovejoy. “We have something we call social monogamy.”” Analysis finds it intriguing that “the same system… gets hi-jacked by drug addiction.”

Don’t Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way The Wind Blows

April 2, 2018

Anyone who has recently experienced the local evening news at Columbus ABC 6 or Fox 28 found themselves inadvertently subject to a kind of “Nicene Creed” solemnly articulated by the station’s anchors (sincere, earnest, and almost contrite). This goofy ritual has left many puzzled as to its origins or necessity. Sure, Sinclair, which owns the Cols. affiliate, has always used their format to editorialize on any and every news matter (something other stations have respectfully refrained from pursuing). But this daily profession of fundamentalist faith goes a bit above and beyond the call of duty. We learned this week (from many news sources) that it is de rigueur for all Sinclair news anchors to profess allegiance with each broadcast. Erin Nyren, for Variety (4-1-18), headlined “Sinclair Broadcast Group Faces Backlash Over Scripted Promos: ‘This Is Extremely Dangerous to Our Democracy’”. Some back story was given: “Earlier this year, CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest owner of local news stations in the country with over 200 owned or operated, would be requiring local news anchors to read a scripted promo that reflects a mistrust of the media.” More relevant back story (in light of Dear Leader’s tweeted promotion of Sinclair news as true and authentic): “The heightened scrutiny of Sinclair’s must-run segments comes as the FCC is nearing its final decision on Sinclair’s $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune Media. That deal promises to extend Sinclair’s reach into the nation’s biggest markets for the first time with more than 40 additional stations. Opponents of the deal have cited Sinclair’s centralized approach to aspects of its news operations as a reason that the FCC should limit the company’s expansion.” After the FCC’s recent Net Neutrality Nyet, Analysis wouldn’t count on Sinclair Broadcasting being restrained in its takeover. Nyren also included the full transcript obtained through ThinkProgess:

“Hi, I’m(A) ____________, and I’m (B) _________________…

 

(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our _____ communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that ____ News produces.

 

(A) But we’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.

 

(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.

 

(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.

 

(B) At ____ it’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.

 

(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to ____ news.com and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.

 

(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual… We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.

 

(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback.

 

Analysis wonders if the weather person will need to recite the creed.