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Local News Anchors Now Have to Read Pro-Trump Propaganda

jwz
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Every news station under Sinclair's umbrella is required to syndicate commentary that comports with its owners' ideological views.

When Trump took office, Sinclair was on the cusp of purchasing Tribune media, a merger that would give the firm ownership of enough local stations to reach 70 percent of U.S. homes. But there were two obstacles to such a deal: Federal rules put a cap on the number of local news stations any single entity could own, and also prohibited any company from owning a newspaper and television station in the same media market. Taking on Tribune's assets would put Sinclair in violation of both those laws.

But by the end of Trump's first year in office, his appointees to the Federal Communications Commission had abolished both of those regulations. [...]

Now, Sinclair is taking its "covert state media" game to new, Orwellian heights: By the end of this month, Sinclair will require all of its local news anchors to condemn "national media outlets" for publishing "fake stories" and "using their platforms to push their own personal bias," according to internal documents obtained by CNN. Those documents instruct local news directors to air these criticisms of "biased and false news" -- criticisms that, of course, echo the president's own -- over and over again, so as "to create maximum reach and frequency."

Sinclair's new media-bashing promos rankle local anchors:

The instructions to local stations say that the promos "should play using news time, not commercial time." Like the Epshteyn commentaries, this takes away from local news time.

"Please produce the attached scripts exactly as they are written," the instructions say. "This copy has been thoroughly tested and speaks to our Journalistic Responsibility as advocates to seek the truth on behalf of the audience."

The promos begin with one or two anchors introducing themselves and saying "I'm [we are] extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that [proper news brand name of local station] produces. But I'm [we are] concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country."

Then the media bashing begins.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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dukeofwulf
101 days ago
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The John Oliver story on Sinclair is a great briefing on this not-great company, if you missed it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvtNyOzGogc
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101 days ago
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JimB
101 days ago
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Scary power misuse.
jhamill
103 days ago
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Wow, this is horrible.
California

Here's a Novel Idea: Hold Both Caller and Police Officer Responsible for Deadly 'Swatting'

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Tyler BarrissA Los Angeles man has been arrested for telling police a hostage situation was underway at a home in Wichita, Kansas. His claim was a lie, and the police fatally shot a man in the ensuing raid.

Tyler Barriss, 25, is accused of calling city hall in Wichita claiming that a shooting and hostage situation were unfolding at a local home. Barriss apparently was attempting a "swatting" prank on somebody he was having an argument with online over the video game Call of Duty.

"Swatting" pranks are nasty stunts where a caller draws a SWAT team out to an innocent party's home by calling the authorities and pretending a dangerous crimeis taking place there. They've grown increasingly popular over the past few years as a way of frightening or getting revenge on somebody.

Barriss was not having a dispute with Andrew Finch, 28, a father of two in Wichita, nor anybody else at the address he sent police to. The person Barriss was arguing with had given him a fake address. A SWAT team showed up at Finch's door, and when he went outside to see what was going on, a police officer shot and killed him.

This appears to be the first time somebody has been killed by a swatting prank, though people have previously been shot and injured. Barriss has a criminal background and was previously arrested for calling in phony bomb threats to ABC Studios in Los Angeles.

An example of how pioneering this case is: Right now the police and prosecutors don't seem able to tell the media what Barriss is actually being charged with. He's being held on a felony warrant without a bond, but the charges might not be revealed until his first court appearance this week.

The case has unfortunately quickly and predictably turned into a "Who's to blame?" question. It's literally in the headline of New York Times' coverage of Finch's death: "Fatal 'Swatting' Episode in Kansas Raises Quandary: Who Is to Blame?" Is it Barriss, who fabricated a crime? Or is it the officer, who shot an unarmed, innocent man?

This is a false dilemma. Both are to blame.

If Barriss is indeed the man who called the police, he is responsible for sending a group of armed people into an environment where they believed violence was happening and innocent lives were at stake. Now, what that looks like in terms of holding Barriss criminally responsible is a complicated and challenging problem. Libertarian lawyer Ken "Popehat" White has suggested rewriting laws to make swatting somebody a felony. Read his explanation here.

But that doesn't mean the officer who shot Finch behaved appropriately. It's frustrating and depressing to see that, even when the police know they made a very serious mistake, they are circling the wagons. From The New York Times:

Chief Livingston said Mr. Finch, who was unarmed and apparently not the intended target of the online prank, did not immediately comply with officers' commands and moved his hands to his waistline, leading one officer to fear he had drawn a weapon.

That's right—they went straight to the well-worn "The officer thought he was reaching for a weapon" defense even though we all know by now that he was just some random guy. Finch's mom says the police never announced themselves. Finch had no way of knowing that he was in danger of getting shot. And yet police are instinctively trying to pin the mistake on Finch.

The Times notes that laws typically allow officers to shoot people when they "reasonably believe" they are in danger. This has created an environment where police officers are incentivized to exaggerate a sense of danger because it will allow them an excuse for mistakes and even for reckless behavior.

Livingston's responses to the shooting are very much a concern, because they don't suggest that he sees any sort of problems in the way his police responded to this call. In the Times piece, University of Kansas Law Professor Jean Phillips even suggests that Livingston's insistence on defending the cop could actually undermine efforts to hold Barriss responsible for Finch's death. If Finch's shooting is deemed "justifiable," what is the extent that Barress could be held criminally liable?

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dukeofwulf
167 days ago
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Hypothetical: Someone shoves a pedestrian into traffic, and the oncoming car has plenty of room to stop, but they accelerate instead, killing the pedestrian. Is the shover a murderer, or the driver? Yes. Yes.
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167 days ago
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sirshannon
168 days ago
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Yep.

Real Estate

6 Comments and 14 Shares
I tried converting the prices into pizzas, to put it in more familiar terms, and it just became a hard-to-think-about number of pizzas.
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dukeofwulf
270 days ago
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The US national debt is 61k per citizen, 167k per taxpayer. Hopefully those numbers are more relatable. The government is racking up a credit card on our behalf, and our descendants will get the bill. http://www.usdebtclock.org/
kbenson
269 days ago
Debt to assets or net worth might of the country be a more intuitive way to look at this, which would naturally include companies and corporations, which definitely should be included for a number like that. Unless the goal of the number is to incite fear and outrage instead of illustrate and educate. But who would do something like that?
dukeofwulf
269 days ago
The goal was to but a big number in a relatable context. If we're looking for a more fair ratio, that would be debt over GDP. That said, companies and corporations are ultimately owned by (mostly) citizens, so ultimately it comes back to a debt to personal income ratio.
dukeofwulf
269 days ago
Another thing... sure, I feel fear and outrage is appropriate. Our country has a spending problem. Both in government and individually. We can't keep spending at this rate without raising taxes.
benzado
269 days ago
I agree with dukeofwulf, it's about time we raised taxes back up to sustainable levels!
olliejones
269 days ago
Yeh. Big sovereign debt. Due to big sovereign delusion that we can have highways and airports and military adventures without paying for them.
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tante
269 days ago
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Me doing any sort of adult financial stuff.
Oldenburg/Germany
mindspillage
269 days ago
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yep.
Mountain View, California
rclatterbuck
270 days ago
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This! And to an order of magnitude (or so) less extent, car buying.
Covarr
270 days ago
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The average price of a house and the US national debt are both "more than I make in a year".
Moses Lake, WA
alt_text_bot
270 days ago
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I tried converting the prices into pizzas, to put it in more familiar terms, and it just became a hard-to-think-about number of pizzas.

Stack Overflow Survey: Developers Who Use Spaces Make More Money Than Those Who Use Tabs

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David Robinson, writing for Stack Overflow:

There were 28,657 survey respondents who provided an answer to tabs versus spaces and who considered themselves a professional developer (as opposed to a student or former programmer). Within this group, 40.7% use tabs and 41.8% use spaces (with 17.5% using both). Of them, 12,426 also provided their salary.

Analyzing the data leads us to an interesting conclusion. Coders who use spaces for indentation make more money than ones who use tabs, even if they have the same amount of experience.

As a devout user of tabs, I find this hard to believe. Jiminy. This is like finding out that people who move their lips while they read make more money.

Peter Bright’s reaction:

Developers who use tabs to indent their code, developers who fight for truth and justice and all that is good in the world, those developers have a median salary of $43,750.

But developers who use spaces to indent their code, developers who side with evil and probably spend all day kicking kittens and punching puppies? Their median salary is $59,140.

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dukeofwulf
371 days ago
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Only half of respondents provided salaries. Possible sampling bias?
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371 days ago
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wmorrell
371 days ago
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17.5% using both tabs and spaces? I mean, I know it's *possible* to indent with tabstops then align with spaces, but I have never seen it done that way in practice for *any* code touched by more than one person. Usually I see some monstrosity that has random spaces interspersed between tabs, or tries using tabs for visual alignment, usually by the genius that sets the editor tabstop to 5 spaces because prime numbers.
reconbot
371 days ago
Probably not at the same time
vl
370 days ago
For example, Google mandates spaces for C++ and tabs for Go. If you use both languages at work...
samuel
371 days ago
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My first job out of college I was forced to switch from tabs to spaces. Good thing, too, because spaces ensure accuracy and correctness between different environments, whereas tabs mean multiple developers will see different documents. It shouldn't be that way but it is.

Tabs reflect principle, spaces reflect reality.
The Haight in San Francisco
tdknox
371 days ago
Agreed. Devout user of spaces here. I've been hosed way too often by multiple people committing Python code to a repo with different tab stops. Was forced to mandate spaces only. Much bitching, wailing and gnashing of teeth followed, but amazingly, a lot of the code conflicts disappeared as if by magic. :)
codesujal
371 days ago
Could the growth of spacing sensitive languages like Python have driven the salary delta? Python is huge in machine learning, which is red hot. Each of those developers could affect the average more than a group of web developers... :)

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Requiem for a Dil

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
It haunts me too. It haunts me too.

New comic!
Today's News:

It's coming in FIVE MINUTES

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dukeofwulf
472 days ago
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Shared for the realistic illustration of Dilbert.
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drchuck
472 days ago
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Bonus panel is worth the click.
Long Island, NY
jlvanderzwan
472 days ago
Damn, you'd almost think this entire comic was written just as an excuse for that panel!
francisga
473 days ago
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"Waiting for Upper Management" by Samuel Beckett
Lafayette, LA, USA

Socialism Is Bad

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I get a worrying sense that socialism is becoming cool again. You can see it all over social media where people brag about joining the Democratic Socialists of America, and in the popularity of the socialist magazine Jacobin. If Trump fails terribly, I worry that left populism will be what replaces it and the end result will be a more socialist U.S. That’s bad because socialism is bad. Given the growing popularity of socialism, I think it’s worth talking about why socialism is bad specifically.

Matt Bruenig has written a useful piece on socialism that I think is a jumping off point. As usual with Matt, it’s written with clarity and specificity that is appreciated. Unlike a lot o vague paeans to how socialism is good and we should have it, Matt offers specific plans for how we could get to government ownership of business.

The plan calls for the gradual socialization of existing companies, and Matt tells me on twitter that this would apply only to large firms. It may be appealing to think of a massive, centralized company like Apple and assume that it wouldn’t matter whether the government slowly became the sole shareholders. After all (ignoring the importance of options in executive compensation for the moment) the shareholders aren’t doing the innovating, the employees are. What does it matter who the dividend checks go to?

One issue is that the government would not just own but control companies, and this plan doesn’t tell us what they would do with that control. And yes, Matt does see this control as a benefit and not a cost to be avoided. Would Apple be free to innovate with the government controlling it? Or would they be forced to onshore all their production? It would be a lot easier for Trump to push Ivanka’s clothing line if the government owned and controlled Nodstrom, Sears, and K-Mart. It is hard to both desire control presumably as a means to some unspecified end and also to assume this control won’t have negative consequences for productivity.

Second, even if we could easily socialize every large company in the U.S. without negatively affecting them, this does not tell us about the future large companies who don’t exist yet. If socialism was in place in 1995 would we have Google today? If we were socialist in 1975 would we have Apple today? Why would small business founders grow their businesses knowing that this would cause them to be socialized? This is especially true given that you can’t socialize the globe at once and companies on the cusp of growing large enough to be socialized would be free to locate in, say, New Zealand.

Fast growing, small companies are a very important source of new job creation and innovation. More productive firms are more likely to grow, and less productive ones more likely to exist. Telling firms to stay small or be socialized is going to give small, successful companies incentive to avoid the important growth dynamics that are essential to a productive economy. To take one recent example for how costly inefficiencies like this can be, Garicano, Lelarge, and Van Reenan examine laws in France that affect only firms with 50 or more workers. They find that this creates more small firms than would otherwise be the case, and the distortions lower GDP by 3.5% by increasing unemployment and keeping productive firms below their optimal size.

Indeed, a broad literature shows that the inability of small successful companies to grow is an important factor that holds back economic development. Hsieh and Klenow show that in the U.S., as manufacturing firms age they get bigger. The effect can be seen in the graph below, from Charles Jones “The Facts of Economic Growth”.  Hsieh and Klenow estimate that if U.S. firms expanded as slowly as they do in India and Mexico, total factor productivity in the U.S. would be 25% lower.

klenow

Because he is Matt Bruenig, I know exactly how he will reply to this: if reducing firm size along some margin is bad, then making firms be bigger must be good so let’s just mandate all firms be large somehow. Of course this ignores the fact that it is not arbitrary size that is good, but a system that incentivizes the most productive firms to grow and the least productive to shrink or exist. It is the productivity increasing selection mechanism of capitalism that matters, and not just the mere outcome of firm size that should be mandated by politicians like some kind of dial to turn up or down.

Socialism is bad and it is bad that socialism is becoming cool again. Nevertheless I enjoy reading Matt Bruenig and other new socialists who clearly lay out their ideas for how it all would work. I think entrepreneurship, productivity, dynamism, and reallocation are first order factors for economic growth and socialists should address these issues. There are many other reasons why socialism is bad, but I think this is an important place to start.

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dukeofwulf
493 days ago
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People are rightly unnerved by companies with too much power, because we've seen how it can go wrong. Well, the largest company in the world by revenue is Walmart with $482 billion in revenue last FY. US government revenue in FY2016 was $3270 billion. Include state and local, and that jumps to $7030 billion.

One would think that, given the recent election, progressives would be backing away from philosophies that vests undue power in the government. We've just seen how easily those reins can be taken by a malefactor. We've also seen lots of large companies step up against that malefactor.
salsabob
493 days ago
duke, the vast majority of federal spending is for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - all that spending goes to individuals who then spend it in the private sector. Then there's Defense spending. Do you think Apple, Amazon or Google should be providing money to people instead? Do you believe they should be running our military? And at the local level, government spending goes almost entirely to schools, social services, roads, police and fire departments. You want Walmart to do that? Weird.
dukeofwulf
492 days ago
salsa, you're putting words in my mouth. I consider myself a moderate. Example: I support Dodd Frank and ACA, and think that neither went far enough. My point was that the US government is by far the largest organization on Earth, and it's fair to be skeptical of any attempt to increase its power further due to the risk of its abuse. - And yes, funds dedicated to SS, Medicare/Medicaid, schools, roads, etc are still under government discretion, and are a source of government power. I don't care if Amazon gets ripped off by their purchasing manager by giving a bid to their cousin, because I don't own Amazon; but if that happens to government, that's the people's money.
salsabob
486 days ago
dukeofwulf, your metric of government power ($'s spent) is just too simplistic particularly in regard to comparisons to the private sector. The public sector is not driven by profit motive or investors' best interest; instead, it is driven by poltical choice of the electorate - that's why most of government dollars go to safety nets and Defense spending at the federal level and schools and roads at the local level. No other entity is going to do that anywhere near the levels of the government because there is not enough PROFIT in it. What you are saying by confusing power with government spending is that you want less safety nets, less Defense, less education. less roads. If what you are concerned about is government power, you need metrics that address regulatory power. Whether you like it or not, Dodd Frank provides enormous government power and comparable at little actual government spending. The ACA is something in the middle, it has considerabe government spending in the form of subsidies to individuals buying health insurance and it provides considerable government regulatory power over the insurance sector. I'm just suggesting that if you become a tad clearer on what is actually power, you may find your government to be a tad less scary. On the other hand, if you delve into the power of information, you may find Amazon to be a tad more scary.
dukeofwulf
486 days ago
Uh... so you agree that the government has a scary amount of power, not only by the virtue of its massive budget but also due to its power to enact and enforce laws and regulations? You seem to be proving my point. Regardless, you continue to take my simple observation and expand it into a political philosophy that I simply don't hold.
popular
493 days ago
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Flubnut
493 days ago
Please don't confuse true Socialism (aka Venezuela) with a large social safety net (aka most of EU). Higher taxes and more government services != government ownership and management of major industries.
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kleer001
493 days ago
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Companies need to have lifespans like other living things. Different legal instars. Moultings and matings.
subbes
494 days ago
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this post is wrong :)
SF Bay Area
sfrazer
494 days ago
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Yeah, I'm seeing a lot of "socialism is bad" without much supporting evidence.

There's a middle-ground between 100% laissez-faire capitalism and complete government ownership of all businesses.
Chicago
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