I Beg Your Pardon

June 5, 2018

This Thursday, June 7, 2018, in Newark there will be a short town hall meeting on Addiction and Recovery. It is at Newark high school from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. There will be a panel of speakers, folks actively involved with the everyday of the subject on behalf of some institution or organization meant to address the issue. Some attending will likewise be given the opportunity to speak, address the panel or ask questions. Serendipity would have it that the New York Times presents an inquiry which gets to the heart of the tragedy: She Went to Jail for a Drug Relapse. Tough Love or Too Harsh? (Jan Hoffman, 6-4-18). “Should an addict’s relapse be punished with a criminal sanction?” “In Commonwealth v. Julie Eldred, the [Massachusetts] justices, presiding over the state’s highest court, are wrestling with whether this condition of her probation amounts to cruel and unusual punishment for an offender with a substance use disorder. In reaching a decision, expected imminently, the justices must weigh competing scientific studies. Is addiction a brain disease that interferes with one’s capacity to abstain? Or a condition, rather than a disease, that is responsive to penalties and rewards?” Prior to a knee jerk response, Analysis bears in mind other aspects from the article: “Ms. Eldred’s lawyers rely on a 1962 United States Supreme Court case, Robinson v. California, which struck down a statute making it a crime for a person “to be addicted to the use of narcotics” — noting that while selling or possessing illegal drugs was against the law, the state could not punish people solely for the status of their illness.” “Law enforcement officials argue that the threat of jail protects not only offenders but society from potentially more drug-related crimes. Yet numerous addiction specialists say that the criminal justice system is the most blunt and clumsy of instruments for addressing a public health disaster.” “In a brief supporting the prosecution, psychiatrists, psychologists and legal scholars assert that the brain-disease model is contested. Changes in brain structure from drugs do not necessarily translate into an inability to resist them, they said. With carrot-stick prompts, many addicted people can choose to abstain. And, prosecutors said, two such prompts include an expunged record for completing probation or, for relapse, jail. A brief submitted by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals on behalf of 3,400 drug courts noted that the success of these programs depends on a judge being able to apply graduated sanctions, to propel a defendant through treatment.” On the town hall panel will be institutional health and addiction specialists (people paid to be there) as well as those employed by law enforcement and the courts (also paid to be there); the former experts on disease but not so with the law, the latter officers of the law but uncertain of pathology. Analysis is disinterested in the answer. Like it or not the court will decide. Whether that happens in Ohio is a completely other question. Analysis is interested in the disposition of those asking the questions. A disposition assuming the “inevitability” of the disease diagnosis doesn’t translate into inevitable material outcomes, only a rather insecure sense of self righteousness. Those embracing this “inevitability” need also consider embracing the mundane (and political) nitty-gritty of changing the law, and those employed or elected to interpret it. The law itself is no guarantor of security. And as we all know way too well, innocent folks have been convicted, even executed, by solemn, dutiful, and sober officers of the law.

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Who Hit The Snooze Button?

June 1, 2018

Two items of note in the news with regard to public transportation (you remember public transportation – what most growing areas of the world rely on to move their population from home to work in an accessible and affordable manner, reliably, sustainably). In a mostly promotional press release, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance headlined Downtown Cleveland’s commuter options drive economic development (6-1-18). The opening line reads: “In cities across the U.S., businesses are beginning to think differently about the importance of mobility options when it comes to talent attraction and real estate decision-making.” The centrality of public transportation is underlined a few lines later by “A robust and growing multi-modal transportation system fuels this growth.” Of particular interest to the public transportation infidels in Newark and Licking County is “Recognized by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy as the leading example of bus rapid transit (BRT) innovation in North America, the Healthline connects Downtown Cleveland and University Circle — Ohio’s largest and fourth largest job hubs — with 24-hour service. Since its inception, the Healthline has helped attract more than $6 billion of investment along its route. RTA continues to build upon this innovation with additional BRT service like the Cleveland State University Line and MetroHealth Line, making downtown employment further accessible to residents of surrounding neighborhoods and suburbs.” Butt weight, there’s more! Remember the chatter about Mound Builders State memorial (Great Circle Earthworks), World Heritage status and converting the old Meritor factory site into a “tourist destination”? Of course you do. In Ohio, the two major tourist destinations are western Lake Erie (the islands, Cedar Point, etc.) and the Hocking Hills. The AP, through US News, headlined Shuttle Expected to Ease Parking Headaches at Hocking Hills (5-28-18). “Officials say the shuttle bus between downtown Logan and Old Man’s Cave will run on weekends through Oct. 28.” “The shuttle departs downtown Logan beginning at 10 a.m. and runs every 30 minutes, with the last shuttle at 6:30 p.m.” It’s reliable, sustainable, affordable and accessible public transportation that will draw people to downtown Logan when their destination is really the Hocking Hills parks. Even Logan has recognized it is of value not to be stuck in the past. Analysis wonders when Newark and Licking County will wake from their Rip Van Winkle Z’s. Who hit the snooze button?

Non News News

June 1, 2018

The end of May saw news affecting the residents of The Newark Advocate’s coverage area. And news not included in this area. The Advocate chose the latter, not bothering with the former at all. Has The Newark Advocate branched out into the business of cultivating mushrooms? The online 6-1-18 Advocate runs a story on “9 new stores to check out at Easton Town Center.” Old timers will recall that at the time of Easton Town Center’s opening, most area business proprietors predicted the decline of the local crown jewel for shopping in Newark/Heath/Granville – Indian Mound Mall. The reader can judge the outcome over the years. The Newark Advocate’s customers are its advertisers. A story on something outside the “news” source’s present coverage area makes excellent business sense. By expanding its coverage area, it can grow its potential customer base. Within the “heirloom” coverage of The Advocate, the Zanesville half marathon received reporting space. Not covered, though encompassing all of The Advocate’s coverage area, was the news that Melanie Leneghan has requested a recount of the May GOP primary results where Troy Balderson (from Zanesville) squeaked out a win by just more than 600 votes (for Pat Tiberi’s 12th congressional seat). The Advocate is quickly becoming like syndicated radio stations pre-programmed to give ostensibly “local news” (the local sports coverage or a local resident’s obituary) while grinding out infomercials 24/7 – all the non news news that’s fit to report (digitally or otherwise).

Thoughts And Prayers…

May 27, 2018

Memorial Day, when we remember. Memory is often conflated with history, the two being not the same. But memory always feels historical while history none too often relies on memory to jar open the doors of the past. Memorialized this week were the victims of the again repeated school student shootings, in Santa Fe Texas. Writing for the Washington Post Tim Craig and Brittney Martin covered some of this with Praying the pain away: Christianity’s presence at Santa Fe High grows after shooting (5-26-18). Same day the NY Times ran an article on When Anti-Trump Evangelicals confront their brethren. Other news outlets have been tracking the recurring ritual of memory, history and “coping” that repetitively follows these killings, almost as if scripted. In 2016 nationally recognized Evangelical minister Rob Schenck (who had previously come to the defense of Roy Moore’s 10 Commandments monument) and Lucy Bath (mother of senseless and racist gun violence victim Jordan Davis) embarked on a soul searching encounter of the relationship of gun ownership and Evangelical faith in a documentary titled The Armor of Light. Americans seem almost obsessed in wrestling with “the gun issue” while eliding questions of memory, feeling and history. “Memory is often conflated with history, the two being not the same.” Part of American History that is never memorialized and hardly ever remembered would be anarchy and fascism. The former is quickly mouthed with the travesty of Sacco and Vanzetti. The latter, if mentioned at all, with the likes of Charles Lindberg, Henry Ford, the KKK and a host of other Americans from the first half of the 20thcentury. Anarchy has loose and vague affiliations with some philosophical/theoretical roots (Wiki gives Proudhon, Analysis suggests Thoreau). But what are the philosophical/theoretical roots of fascism? The knee jerk response is “Oh, Nietzsche and Wagner’s operas” in regard to the Nazi contemporaries of Lindberg and Ford. Little energetic inquiry is made as to the origins of thinking associated with myth, fiction, duplicity, violence and the incessant manufacture of enemies. The violence of Santa Fe materialized a specific manifestation covered by the Craig and Martin report: “Communal displays of faith have defined this district’s response to the shooting that left eight students and two teachers dead inside Santa Fe High on May 18. While some other schools affected by shootings have turned to politics — whether calling for armed teachers or demanding gun-control measures — Santa Fe’s concerns have been less about guns than God.” “Danielle Mason, 35, also has memories from her years as a student at Santa Fe High. There was prayer at lunch, prayer at graduation. Around Easter, churches set up tables inside the school and gave out Bibles near the building entrance, she said. Though she was raised Southern Baptist, Mason and her parents were uncomfortable with the ubiquitous presence of Christianity in the school. When Mason chose not to take one of the Bibles that a group was handing out at the school, students started treating her like an outcast and called her a Satanist, she said. “The town, from what I know from when I lived there, would rather have Bible study and prayer, then arts and music,” Mason told The Post in a Twitter direct message. Mason left Santa Fe in 2003 but still has relatives there. She said she’s been told the town’s views on religion haven’t changed: “A prayer and god will stop gun violence,” she said.” “On Sunday night, Arcadia First Baptist Church hosted the town’s annual baccalaureate service for Santa Fe High’s graduating seniors. About 100 graduates attended, as did the schools superintendent, who was recognized from the dais. Jack Roady, Galveston County’s district attorney, spoke to the students from the pulpit. His office is prosecuting Pagourtzis. “You are entering into a war zone, and it’s a spiritual war zone,” Roady, a Republican, told students. “And you are entering into an area where you will have to deal with — and you are already dealing with — the full effects of sin in our world. “For those of you who know him, truly know him — Christ — this time is for you,” Roady continued. “Because, believers, we shouldn’t be surprised about what we’re seeing.”” In a recent book (The Road to Unfreedom: Russia Europe America, 2018) Yale historian Timothy Snyder considers the politics and motivation of Vladimir Putin and Russia, and its spread westward. He spends considerable attention on Putin’s revered (and frequently iterated) Russian philosopher of fascism, Ivan Ilyin (Putin even going so far as likening himself to Ilyin’s aspired strong man). From page 25: “The men who redeemed God’s flawed world had to ignore what God said about love. Jesus instructed his disciples that, after loving God, the most important law was to love one’s neighbor… For Ilyin there were no neighbors. Individuality is corrupt and transient, and the only meaningful connection is the lost divine totality. So long as the world is fractured, loving God means a constant struggle “against the enemies of divine order on earth.” To do anything but to join this was to enact evil: “He who opposes the chivalrous struggle against the devil is himself the devil.” Faith meant war: “May your prayer be a sword and your sword be a prayer!”” Analysis finds a contemporary American update would read “May your prayer be a gun and your gun be a prayer!” Thoughts and prayers…

No Government Is Politics By Other Means

May 22, 2018

Well, this is actually quite old, only now it is so much more overt than covert. How so? News blackout in Newark, The Advocate has definitely NOT been covering the Payday lender news in its editions. As pointed out in this blog’s Buried Lead posting (4-18-18), the resignation of House Speaker Cliff Rosenbeger had beaucoup to do with the definitely weird and unaccountable primary reelection campaign ads by Larry Householder (whose win was, to use the liberal term for a conservative cause celebre, “inevitable”, aside from also being within The Advocate’s coverage area. As mentioned in previous posts, The Advocate’s customer base is its paying advertisers, not readers). Those ads positioned Householder (and the various other state rep candidates he backed so they would back him) for election as Speaker of the House in 2019. Though a bit odd, he is not one of the candidates to replace Rosenberger who resigned, to run out the rest of the Speaker’s term in 2018. Most voters will find this strange as there were two separate lists of primary candidates for the 12thUS Congressional district – one to fill out Pat Tiberi’s recent term, and one to run for the next term. These two lists included the same names. Ditto for Ohio House Speaker? Emphatic nyet! Yet Householder’s “inevitable” campaigning was all about the speaker’s job. Confused? Following all this for the Dayton Daily news, Laura Bischoff headlined Payday lender made 3 international trips with ex-Ohio House speaker (4-25-18). In it she reports on various overseas trips to China, Great Britain and France by Rosenberger accompanied by Advance America exec Carol Stewart. “Advance America, which has 2,000 stores across the nation, employs lobbyists to influence legislation, including House Bill 123, a payday lending reform measure that had been stalled in the Ohio House for months.” Since then, other lobbyist for various umbrella groups of the Payday Lending industry have been named as being involved in financing other such trips (as well as accompanying Mr. Rosenberger). For Cleveland.com Jackie Borchardt headlined Payday loan ballot measure advances while Ohio lawmakers debate bill (5-21-18). After originally refusing to allow a citizen initiative petition, Ohio Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine eventually certified the Short Term Loan Consumer Protection Amendment. “The effort now goes to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will decide whether the proposal is one or multiple ballot issues. After it clears the Ballot Board, supporters can begin collecting the 305,591 signatures of Ohio registered voters to put the measure on a statewide ballot. The deadline for the November ballot is July 4.” The citizen Amendment initiative is in response to the constipated effort of the Ohio House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee to move HB 123. As mentioned in this blog’s posting “Buried Lead”, the committee moved the bill along immediately following Speaker Rosenberger’s resignation. Committee member and House Speaker candidate Ryan Smith supports and promotes the bill as is. Smith is running for filling out the unexpired speaker’s term as well as opposing Householder for the next session. What does this have to do with The Advocate and all the trips to China, etc.? The House Speaker’s position is one of the most powerful in the legislature, determining not only what legislation moves along (and what never sees the light of day) but also what is funded, etc. For the unfulfilled speakership term the GOP caucus is currently deadlocked which means no special sessions of the house can be assembled. Though a vote on HB 123 is on tap for the regular scheduled session later this summer, the bill still needs to pass the Senate in the fall (an election year) before seeking Governor Kasich’s lame duck approval. With a new session (and speaker) in 2019, HB 123 would need to start all over again from scratch. Rosenberger’s trysts with the Payday lenders association, along with Mike DeWine’s footdragging and now the failure of the GOP to fill out Rosenberger’s unexpired term have effectively killed the possibility of any meaningful short term loan regulation. None of which is newsworthy for The Advocate. It is often said that “war is politics by other means.” In the US today it is more like “No government is politics by other means.”

Subtle Creep

May 2, 2018

In these recent years one often encounters articles and essays suggesting that democracy is on the decline. Could democracy have reached its end? With the various “revolutions” (velvet, orange, etc.) as well as the various “springs” (the Arab spring, etc.), great promise was forecast on behalf of democracy around the world. That all changed with the recent elections, in America and elsewhere. Head scratchers have attributed this to divisive power structures, social media, global technologies, etc. ‘Nuff said. Democracy is suspected of being under siege or threat locally as well as globally. Ever since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in the late 80’s, begrudging accolades have been festooned on the triumph of, not democracy, but capitalism. It has literally become the only game in town. Formally communist or socialist regimes have divested themselves of strict adherence to ideology and become, well, capitalist. Few holdouts remain in the world. “Communist” China is actually a state capitalism. Karl Marx (remember him?) couched much of his prognostication within the logic of dialectic. The online dictionary gives one definition as “inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions. • the existence or action of opposing social forces, concepts, etc.” It informs this with several examples, one of which is “Hegel applied the term to the process of thought by which apparent contradictions (which he termed thesis and antithesis) are seen to be part of a higher truth (synthesis).” Marx was much taken with Hegel and formulated most of his thought along Hegel’s dialectic. Put crassly, Marx’s dialectic follows the simplistic interpretation that as one aspect increases or grows, another diminishes and dies. This happens at one and the same time. Few who bemoan the demise of democracy, as well as those celebrating the success of capitalism, link the two. After all, western European democracy (which includes the U S) was established by avowed capitalists to function as democracy. So one would think the two would thrive together and be mutually compatible. Wrong. As capitalism succeeds world wide, democracy disappears. The antithesis of capitalism is not communism, but democracy. Case in point would be the recent courthouse lighting for the first Pride event in downtown Newark, Ohio. The back story is that 3 GOP commissioners, Duane Flowers, Rick Black, and forever commissioner Tim Bubb, formulated a strict ideological courthouse lighting policy after receiving a written petition to light the courthouse in rainbow colors for the first Pride event. The policy stipulates 19 colorations with no exception except if the commissioners decide to make exception (outside input excepted). Tim Bubb’s newly renovated courthouse, which includes fully computerized lighting, is now an issue of contention within the county seat. Analysis calls the reader’s attention to the 4-29-18 Newark Advocate Our View, submitted by the “editorial board” (they all sat together in one room and collaborated on the essay? Who wrote it? The reader is to believe that this is “the view” of the corporate entity): “But more importantly, the policy adopted is wrong for the community. The county should have an inclusive policy that allows outside civic organizations and events to petition for the courthouse to be lit in their colors. Such petitions should require those groups to cover the entire cost of programming and operating the lights, whether that’s $100, $1,000 or more.” This resembles a “reasonable” resolution until one does the math – the computerized lighting is already installed and paid for, there are 365 days in the year (not 19), and any teenager who has a smart phone where their hand ought to be could program the lights in less than half an hour. The Advocate’s resolution of this contentious issue embraces the SCOTUS Citizens United ruling whereby corporations are deemed “persons” and money is speech. What else would one expect from Our View’s corporate speak? No, it is a dialectical matter. As the purchase of elected officials and policies becomes more “natural” (capitalism) so the self-governance of the actual living inhabitants by the actual living inhabitants diminishes and dies (democracy).

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.

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.”