(Online definition of moment: “a very brief period of time.” The italics are mine.)
September’s blog numbers were high with more than a thousand views, despite the fact I only published four posts. (I know. I have to do better on that. And I can’t complain about the time, but each takes many hours to get – hopefully – just right!)
Amazon claims the median salary for a full-time employee in the U.S. is $34,123, and not the $28,446 figure Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) claimed when he proposed a bill that
“would impose a 100 percent tax on government benefits received by workers at companies with 500 or more employees. For example, if an Amazon employee receives $300 in food stamps, Amazon would be taxed $300.”
That’s a win for Amazon’s lowest-paid workers, but there’s a loss for Warner Wolf (not that he works at Amazon).
“Let’s go to the verdict!”
I’ve said many times I don’t want to live in Florida and that was even when I lived there. I think the Sunshine State has nothing to offer except a short time to thaw out at the beach in the winter. Oh, and low taxes and some family.
“In a ruling released last week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James d’Auguste wrote that the 80-year-old Wolf’s residence in the premier state for retirees means the suit fails on jurisdictional grounds.
“‘Due to the fact that Wolf is a Florida resident that worked in Florida, he lacks any viable claims…since the impact of any alleged discriminatory conduct would have been in Florida,’ d’Auguste wrote.”
The judge also noted Imus lives in Texas and at 78, he’s in the same age category.
From radio and TV, to your computer and smartphone.
Sunday was a big day and not just for football fans. This involves every single one of you who uses the Internet.
Last December, the Federal Communications Commission under President Trump’s appointed chairman Ajit Pai repealed many net neutrality rules passed in 2015 during the Obama administration. Those rules prohibited internet service providers (ISPs) from slowing down or blocking content, or charging for access to certain sites. Consider it Internet freedom and equal access. You pay for a month and should be able to use it as you like.
But later Sunday, the Justice Department sued to prevent the law from taking effect. It argued broadband communications are interstate commerce and that’s regulated by the federal government, not the states.
The FCC wants to deregulate the industry and its repeal actually, specifically forbids states from passing their own net neutrality rules. Pai, a former Verizon lawyer (think Fios), claims net neutrality stifles investment and burdens ISPs with regulation.
The feds’ net neutrality rules are set to take effect in January for the rest of us.
Unfortunately, this post isn’t ending as happily as it started.
I’ve watched and studied politics for decades, and written about it many times here. But lately, I’ve come to hate the subject. Any wonder why?
TV news anchor Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) probably had a similar feeling in the 1976 movie Network.
We may even be at the point where he screamed,
“We know things are bad — worse than bad. They’re crazy!”
(Let me know in the comments section below.)
“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
became so popular, it ranked number 19 on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema, released June 21, 2005, for the organization’s 100th anniversary. Network itself came in number 66 in the movie category. (The number 1 quote was Clark Gable as Rhett Butler saying
And thanks, Todd, for having me watch this years ago. New readers will come to learn I’m not the best with movies. Last month, I finally watched another 1976 movie classic, shot right across the street.
Rocky became the highest-grossing film of the year (spawning six sequels) and went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture. As for the AFI, it’s movie number 78, number 2 in sports after Raging Bull (click here for genres) and quote number 80.
And the scene there last week, if you follow me on Twitter, or just look at the feed on right side of this page (below on mobile):
Now, what you can do (rather than sticking your head out the window in the rain):
The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 midterm elections – just 35 days away – is a week from today (Oct. 9) in Pennsylvania, two weeks from today (Oct. 16) in New Jersey, next Saturday (Oct. 13) in Delaware, next Friday (Oct. 12) in New York, and next Thursday (Oct. 11) in Florida (and I meant what I said). That should cover most of you. (Click here if it doesn’t.) Make sure you’re registered, learn about your candidates, and take a moment to note Tuesday, Nov. 6, on your calendar right now. (You may even get a sticker!)
Again, please leave your comments in the section below, and don’t miss out. If you like what you read here, subscribe to CohenConnect.com with either your email address or WordPress account, and get a notice whenever I publish. I’m also available for writing/web contract work. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennycohen
I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure you’ve had a busy week, between getting used to having your kids in school or planning what to do on this long holiday weekend.
Sorry for the folks in “sunny Florida” with plans ruined while dealing with Tropical Storm Gordon. (But you’re welcome for this souvenir to help you remember the occasion.)
I’ve been doing a lot of reading, besides taking my Google IT Support Professional Certificate class on Coursera, so I haven’t been able to share them on this blog like I should. I say “should” because they follow-up on issues I’ve raised here and you deserve a resolution to what you read here. Often, I put information on social media (my Twitter feed @feedbaylenny is on this page), or in the comments section of blog posts, but it’s only right to follow through in the format you saw it, and update the original. Unfortunately, most media don’t do so.
“no evidence, nor even the suggestion, of impropriety, unscrupulous behavior, favoritism toward Sinclair, or lack of impartiality related to the proposed Sinclair-Tribune merger.”
Of course, the deal never happened since the FCC eventually questioned Sinclair’s candor over necessary sale of some stations. Tribune backed out and sued Sinclair for $1 billion for alleged breach of contract. According to Reuters, Tribune said Sinclair
“mishandled efforts to get the transaction approved by taking too long and being too aggressive in its dealings with regulators.”
Now, Sinclair is countersuing.
“In Delaware Court of Chancery, Sinclair rejected Tribune’s allegations and suggested the companies had been very close to winning U.S. Department of Justice approval.”
It accused Tribune of pursuing a
“deliberate effort to exploit and capitalize on an unfavorable and unexpected reaction from the FCC to capture a windfall.” Tribune called Sinclair’s counterclaim “entirely meritless” and “an attempt to distract from its own significant legal exposure.”
Do you have access to the internet? Of course you do, since you’re reading this. (OK, maybe you’re reading a friend’s printout of this post.) Regardless, in December, the FCC under Ajit Pai repealed many net neutrality rules passed in 2015 during the Obama administration. Think of it as price up or speed down. Those internet service providers (ISPs) you love to hate, according to Variety, had been banned from
“blocking or throttling traffic, or from selling ‘fast lanes’ so websites and other types of content can gain speedier access to consumers.”
But luckily, denying all Americans equal access to a free and open internet got very controversial. Friday, California lawmakers passed a bill what Variety called “the strongest government-mandated protections in the country” and it’s now on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Brown hasn’t said whether he’ll sign it. But the FCC ’s repeal forbids states from passing their own net neutrality rules. If Gov. Brown signs California’s bill, this could go to court. Pai, a former Verizon lawyer (think Fios), claims net neutrality stifled investment and burdened ISPs with regulation. Since June, ISPs have been able to make changes as long as they’re disclosed. So far, Reuters reports major providers have made no changes in internet access.
Here’s more controversy from the FCC, and something I hadn’t written about before. This time, the agency is accused of lying to its watchdog, Congress, and it involves a TV comedian. More than a year ago, during the height of the net neutrality debate, the FCC claimed its “comment filing system was subjected to a cyberattack,” according to The Verge. On May 7, 2017, our old friend John Oliver, who I’ve shown on this blog several times, asked Last Week Tonight “viewers to leave pro-net neutrality comments on the commission’s ‘Restoring Internet Freedom’ proceeding.” Oliver encouraged them
“to flood the FCC’s website with the use of memorable links like gofccyourself.com and justtellmeifimrelatedtoanazi.com. That night, the FCC’s filing system crashed.”
LANGUAGE: Viewer discretion advised.
The next morning, senior officials concluded, according to emails uncovered by the inspector general, “some external folks attempted to send high traffic in an attempt to tie-up the server.” Of course, the site was shut down by a surge of valid complaints. Several people disputed the unsubstantiated fabricated traffic claim in emails, but the DDoS theory was passed on to commissioners, like Pai, who told members of Congress (Fake News Alert!) what happened that evening was “classified as a non-traditional DDoS attack.” Now, the agency’s inspector general is reporting
“there was no distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, and this relaying of false information to Congress prompted a deeper investigation into whether senior officials at the FCC had broken the law.”
Turns out, an Oliver producer gave the FCC a “heads up” days before running the episode but it never responded, and the commission knew Oliver’s show had the power to move enough viewers to crash their system! According to that busy inspector general’s report, “We learned very quickly there was no analysis supporting the conclusion” that it was a DDoS attack. That’s when FCC officials started being investigated for allegedly breaking the law by providing false information to Congress. But the Justice Department decided not to prosecute.
Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of….
It also reported Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wrote a formal letter to the Federal Trade Commission, released Thursday, asking it to “reconsider the competitive effects of Google’s conduct in search and digital advertising.” But it wasn’t just Google for Trump.
CNN is working frantically to find their “source.” Look hard because it doesn’t exist. Whatever was left of CNN’s credibility is now gone!
The hatred and extreme bias of me by @CNN has clouded their thinking and made them unable to function. But actually, as I have always said, this has been going on for a long time. Little Jeff Z has done a terrible job, his ratings suck, & AT&T should fire him to save credibility!
“I think what Google and what others are doing, if you look at what is going on with Twitter and if you look at what’s going on in Facebook, they better be careful because you can’t do that to people. …I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful.”
What’s going on at @CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks – with @NBCNews being the worst. The good news is that Andy Lack(y) is about to be fired(?) for incompetence, and much worse. When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!
And as you just read, the president also claimed NBC Nightly News anchor “Lester Holt got caught fudging” his tape on Russia, but the peacock network fought back and posted the video of Trump’s extended, unedited interview with Holt last year.
No wonder he hates the media!
Of course, I won’t completely defend the news media from allegations of dumbing down and doing anything for profit in too many cases. But I’d love to see some of these disagreements fought out in open court. I don’t care who sues who. I just want the evidence presented so the truth becomes obvious to everyone.
Also, I want to know why all Lenny Cohen searches show Leonard Cohen the musician instead of me!
As for the big tech companies, Yahoo! Finance reports,
“Wednesday morning, the Senate Intelligence Committee will question Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on their responses to foreign disinformation campaigns. The committee also invited Google CEO Sundar Pichai, but he declined to testify — another Google representative will testify in his place.
“Wednesday afternoon, the House Energy & Commerce Committee will quiz Dorsey on Twitter’s ‘algorithms and content monitoring.’”
NBC News has reported Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced changes to the platform’s news feed product since the data issue March, with “more posts from friends and family” and “less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.” Now, NBC continues,
“The goal was to make Facebook more social with fewer commercial and product posts. Publishers ranging from big businesses to mommy bloggers are forced to post more content that they create personally, rather than sharing products or affiliate links.
“With these changes, some small publishers claim to see a massive downside.”
What I want to know is why in July, Zuckerberg decided Facebook would not ban Holocaust deniers! Fortune reported,
“Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, said he found Holocaust deniers ‘deeply offensive.’ Then he said, ‘but at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong—I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong. It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent.’”
So Holocaust deniers are simply uninformed? Are you kidding me, Mark? I would’ve hoped Sandberg, who grew up in North Miami Beach, whose brother David was my high school class valedictorian, would’ve set him straight. The Times of Israel reports Sandberg “said in an interview last year that, as a tech company, Facebook hires engineers — not reporters and journalists.” Personally, I find this would be one fight losing my job over. There has to be a line somewhere. Go far enough and you’re “just following orders” and we know what made that phrase so well known.
“I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.” Then, he “reiterated a distinction he tried to draw in the interview: Posts that advocate violence will be taken down, but those that peddle misinformation will stay but ‘would lose the vast majority of its distribution in News Feed.’”
Sounds like he has lost the vast majority of his mind!
Also coming up this shortened Labor Day week, Morning Brew reports Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will “introduce a bill requiring major employers—like Amazon, Walmart, and McDonald’s—to cover the cost of government assistance programs its workers rely on…programs like food stamps, public housing, Medicaid, and more.” For years, there has been criticism years about the way Amazon pays and treats workers at its warehouses. According to The Washington Post, the Democratic Socialist said his goal
“is to force corporations to pay a living wage and curb about $150 billion in taxpayer dollars that go to funding federal assistance programs for low-wage workers each year. The bill … would impose a 100 percent tax on government benefits received by workers at companies with 500 or more employees. For example, if an Amazon employee receives $300 in food stamps, Amazon would be taxed $300.”
Keep in mind, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos (another who spent years in Miami) also owns The Washington Post!
Two last things: The cemetery near Detroit finally fixed my grandfather’s grave. In June, it took hours to find the marker since it was buried under inches of dirt. Now, it has been raised and leveled.
And this weekend is the 3?th anniversary of my bar mitzvah. The party had an animal theme, of course, and all the kids got t-shirts like this. (Yes, I’m keeping the specific year as evergreen as the narrator says on that Philadelphia show The Goldbergs on purpose, even though there are readers who were there!)
So that’s about it. All the original pages I found have been updated.
Before I go, I also have to thank every one of you for more than 16,800 page views on this site! The numbers have risen exponentially recently, and I wonder why. Please let me know if there’s anything I should be doing more here.
Leave your comments in the section below, and don’t miss out. If you like what you read here, subscribe to CohenConnect.com with either your email address or WordPress account, and get a notice whenever I publish. I’m also available for writing/web contract work.
Industry leaders have been meeting in Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters Show and Adam Symson, president-CEO of the E.W. Scripps Co., made an interesting comparison between broadcast and digital.
“Broadcasting has been traditionally a very protected business — protected by regulation and economically protected because not everybody could have a television station in a market,” he said, according to TVNewsCheck. “That protection allowed us to develop our business in a certain way, historically.”
Running a digital business, on the other hand, “you’re forced to deal with a truly capitalistic, competitive environment,” he said.
What he’s saying is that there is not a level playing field.
If you want to own a TV station or FM radio station, you need to find one and buy it. It has already been allocated to the area and licensed to operate using the public airwaves, under Federal Communications Commission rules, in the public interest.
(For AM radio stations, just find an unused frequency in the area, get the required technical tests done to sow you’re not interfering with anyone else. That should include antenna height and signal power, probably less at night, and then apply. The rules were different way back!)
As I’ve said for years, workers don’t have the First Amendment right to freedom of speech; the station owner does.
But there aren’t really a lot of rules when it comes to digital. Anybody can have a website. What you’re reading proves it. So there’s unlimited competition from all over the world, as in World Wide Web.
No, people under 13 should not be filling out information. No porn without at least a warning (and maybe more, as if that works). And it’s not nice to post fake news.
Don’t forget all the advertising you can sell, since like a newspaper or magazine, digital publishers can have as many pages as they want and even make them longer. TV and radio stations are limited to 24 hours a day. Keep in mind programming and any other content is just to get people from one commercial break to the next, so you can charge more, but too much advertising will cause people to look or listen somewhere else.
Of course, looking or listening is free to them and somebody has to pay the bills. Subscriptions usually mean fewer or no commercials since money is coming in. (See: basic cable.)
So, keeping this simple, would you rather have your own TV station or website?
I’d go for the TV station. Yes, it costs more to operate (and even more than that if you want the product to be good). Digital can be done by one person and two cats with a computer connected to the internet.
But the number of TV stations is limited. They used to be referred to as a license to print money. Now, not as much as 50 years ago since, due to the growth of UHF and then cable, but there are still a limited number of stations.
And since they use the public airwaves (not cable, which has its own rules), they have to serve the public. But you’re the owner. You can hire engineers. You can own more than one station. And the number of rules you have to follow is dropping.
Pai said his approach to broadcast regulations is, “You either believe in scrapping outdated regulations or you don’t. We do.”
So now, eight rules are gone. They include ending the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban and also the main studio rule, which Pai claims “gives broadcasters greater flexibility without sacrificing transparency or community engagement. And it’s already making it easier for broadcasters to add new service or maintain existing service in rural communities” but the rule simply required broadcasters to maintain a main studio in or near their community of license. Think that’s important? Would somebody quite a distance away be an expert or even know enough about your town? So much for localism!
And there are more rules to go.
As for what’s next to go, according to Pai, “In particular, Commissioner [Michael] O’Rielly is now leading an effort to update our children’s television rules so that they better reflect the way that kids watch video these days, and I look forward to getting his recommendations.”
Instead, he expects it to be “more directive” than a call for reform ideas but didn’t have any definite proposals.
The commissioner said his goal is to
“further understand the market and determine if each requirement has produced the benefits to our nation’s children and families and examining these rules to see if they have resulted in any unintended consequences.
“Can we breathe some flexibility into our rules and make them more dynamic and responsive to the needs of kids? For example, studies show that children have shorter attention spans … but our rules only count programming that is 30 minutes in length.”
Jessell also said O’Rielly got “a call from an Ohio broadcaster who said his plans for a Saturday morning news program were ‘derailed’ by the need to make way for children’s programming.” I don’t know which station but will go to go out on a limb and say the news program would be much cheaper using a set already in the studio and an announcer already on staff. And where was the required children’s programming anyway? That’s just my two cents.
And BGR reports Pai, the former Verizon lawyer (gotta love THAT!), is still trying to keep the net neutrality rules dead. Those rules regulate telecom companies and the speed in which they get your computer to certain websites, but the FCC killed them in December. You shouldn’t have to pay more and neither should the owner of the website to see it faster. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all data on the internet the same.
However, the Illinois proposal “would ask internet service providers who contract with the state to disclose if they don’t plan to follow net neutrality rules.” That’s allowed through transparency rules. U.S. News & World Report says “The Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and IT Committee voted 6-2” in favor of it today, so it’ll move to the state House floor.”
Also, “a lawsuit involving several attorneys general against the FCC is pending.” There are 23 attorneys general signed on. Gizmodo named them: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia. Personal note: I don’t see Florida.
“Right now, I’m working with my Senate colleagues to pass a resolution in Congress to overturn this disastrous decision. My resolution would reinstate the rules that guarantee us an open Internet. With 50 votes at the ready, we only need one more Republican who is willing to work across the aisle and stand up against corporate special interests.
“The Internet doesn’t belong to a wealthy few.”
“rolled back several provisions meant to protect internet access for low-income and rural citizens, undoing a rule that would force providers to at least maintain existing DSL internet lines, and axing a subsidy for wireless service for low-income residents.”
He quoted an unnamed politician: “Cable companies panicked at [the Internet’s] threat to their business, so they monopolized Internet connectivity themselves.”
My take? They went too far. If cable and internet companies want to dig to serve one person in a municipality, then they should be forced to serve everyone in that municipality, whether they care to subscribe or not. Don’t electric and phone companies have to? But poor, rural people don’t make these companies money.
In May 2017, John Oliver encouraged viewers to voice their displeasure to the FCC in a particularly creative way:
But acting completely different from gutting rules, the UHF discount is back, putting Pai under investigation by the FCC inspector general. (That rule started because it used to matter whether a local TV station was VHF or UHF, due to antennas and how old TV sets were made for the UHF band. UHF stations were not as accessible, so the FCC decided the amount towards a company’s ownership cap should only be half for those stations, compared to VHF stations. It was ended because today’s technology means it doesn’t matter anymore.) Regarding the UHF discount’s revival, The New York Times wrote, “A few weeks later, Sinclair Broadcasting announced a blockbuster $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune Media — a deal those new rules made possible.”
— UPDATE: The FCC inspector general cleared Chairman Ajit Pai of being unfairly biased in favor of the Sinclair Broadcast Group–Tribune Media merger. —
“Sinclair’s top lobbyist, a former F.C.C. official, also communicated frequently with former agency colleagues and pushed for the relaxation of media ownership rules. And language the lobbyist used about loosening rules has tracked closely to analysis and language used by Mr. Pai in speeches favoring such changes.”
An FCC spokesman representing Mr. Pai countered the allegations of favoritism were “baseless,” and
“For many years, Chairman Pai has called on the F.C.C. to update its media ownership regulations. … The chairman is sticking to his long-held views, and given the strong case for modernizing these rules, it’s not surprising that those who disagree with him would prefer to do whatever they can to distract from the merits of his proposals.”
Pai is not very popular among many Americans who know who he is. According to Jessell, he ended by “thanking broadcasters for their personal support during some of the ‘challenges’ he has faced.” There were death threats after he led the FCC in eliminating the net neutrality rules.
At the end, Pai told the broadcasters,
“I do want … to let you know that … I very much cherish your statements, emails, tweets … personal conversations when I see you in the hallways, and for your thoughts and prayers from afar. They mean more than you know.
“So, on behalf of myself, the Pai family, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you. Thank you for being there for me and for us when it counted. I’ll never forget it.”
That was after, Jessell reported,
“Pai also patted himself on the back for helping broadcasters secure an additional $1 billion from Congress to insure that they will be fully reimbursed for moving to new channels in the wake of the FCC incentive auction.”
So much for helping the poor and the children! Ain’t government great?!
Then, “Hamas militant shot machine guns towards the aircraft, triggering rocket alert sirens throughout southern Israel in the regional councils of Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev.”
And Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s assistant and Representative for International Negotiations, tweeted that Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza and has been galvanizing weekly violent protests there, must cede control to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which rules Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
In a speech a few days ago, Hamas’s Gaza leader, Yahya Al-Sinwar says (in Arabic) that they will “tear down the wall and tear out their (meaning Israeli’s) hearts.” This message is monstrous. 1/3
Is this what a leader does? This only hurts the Palestinians of Gaza. This old-line of thinking and ideology hurts all Palestinians. This can cause the situation to escalate and many lives could be lost. Will Hamas ever learn? 2/3
Hamas must relinquish its control of Gaza to the PA and disarm. If it wants to join the REAL world, it must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and decide to abide by past agreements. It’s time for Hamas to make some real decisions. 3/3
Palestinians have been burning tires at the Israeli border — more than 10,000 last Friday alone — at the Israeli border, “to obscure the vision of the security fence separating Israel from Gaza so that Israeli troops could not not see infiltrators into the land,” according to The Daily Wire.
This video, in which you see that thick black smoke, is less than a minute long.
Muhammad Hamdan: “We have been informed by the Israeli side that imports of tires have been halted until further notice. There is no doubt stopping tire imports will have a negative effect on Palestinians in Gaza especially considering there is a shortage of them there. We are going to exert all efforts so that Israel reverses its decision.”
The Times of Israel is reporting the Hamas-run Gazan health ministry claims, “The Israel Defense Forces has so far killed 30 Palestinians in border clashes over the past two weeks.”
— The Times says there’s still much “unclear or unconfirmed about the attack” and that includes what could happen in the future involving other countries, namely Russia.
— In the meantime, The Gray Lady reports, “Syrian government forces prevent access to Douma for journalists, aid workers and investigators.”
— It says several independent medical and rescue groups report, “About 500 people … had symptoms consistent with a chemical attack: burning eyes, breathing problems and white foam coming from their mouths and nostrils.”
— The World Health Organization said, “About 70 people died while sheltering in basements” and “Of them, 43 had signs of being exposed to ‘highly toxic chemicals.’”
— According to medical and rescue groups, “Videos circulated by anti-government activists showed graphic images of families sprawled out in their homes, dead from apparent suffocation. A stream of victims rushed into clinics on Saturday.” You probably saw some of it on TV, as did I.
— The next day, Sunday, “Thousands of rebel fighters in Douma agreed … to hand the area over to the government and be bused to an area outside the government’s control in the country’s north.”
That’s all considered confirmed.
But The Times reports, “The state news media in Syria denied that the government had used chemical weapons, and accused a rebel group of fabricating the videos to drum up international support.” Russia and Iran agree. The U.S. and its allies don’t. The United Nations hasn’t decided and members disagree on how to investigate.
The U.S. is still trying to figure out what was used, or whether the attack “was launched by the Syrian government or forces supporting the government.” I wonder, does it really matter?
And who knows what President Trump is going to do, despite these tweets this morning?
Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!
Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?
His next tweet also mentions Russia, but for a different reason. Is that telling?
Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!
This is far from the first time chemical weapons have been used in the Syrian civil war. The Times says it started in August 2013, there ave been several types of chemicals and it “has shown no signs of abating.”
The Times remembers, President Trump’s response to an April 2017 attack that killed dozens of people in Khan Sheikhoun, in northern Syria, didn’t work. He ordered a military strike against the airfield where the weapons were launched, but that had little practical effect. The monitoring group The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrians were using the airfield again within 24 hours.
So limited strikes don’t work, “but stronger responses carry significant risk of escalation,” according to the paper. Escalation could cause the collapse of the Syrian government, which I think sounds good “but could prolong the war and sow chaos for millions of Syrians. It could also invite a direct military confrontation with Russia, which warned that it would shoot down any missiles.”
But something has to be done. President Obama doing nothing after drawing a “red line” was an embarrassment to America and a disgrace to the free world.
It seems “the Obama administration’s determination to close the Iran nuclear deal is to blame for the failure to act on its own red line in Syria.” In case you haven’t realized, I wasn’t pleased with President Obama on the Middle East, I don’t trust the Iranians (and the Arabs don’t either, except Syria) and I had higher hopes for President Trump on the Middle East issue.
“When the president announced his plans to attack [the Assad regime] and then pulled back, it was exactly the period in time when American negotiators were meeting with Iranian negotiators secretly in Oman to get the nuclear agreement.
“US and Iranian officials have both told me that they were basically communicating that if the US starts hitting President Assad’s forces, Iran’s closest Arab ally … these talks cannot conclude.”
And the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps reportedly “would not accept a continued engagement with the US if its closest ally was being hit.”
According to Business Insider, “Ned Price, spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, denied that US policy on Syria was a part of the Iran nuclear talks.” I don’t think there’s any good excuse for not doing anything.
The magazine was able to look back four years, from 2012 to 2016.
It said in 2012, President Obama said
“his red line with the Assad regime would be the use of chemical weapons. Later that year, Assad’s forces killed nearly 1,500 people in a chemical-weapons attack.”
It also reported,
“Obama gave The Atlantic several reasons for not enforcing the red line — uneasiness about a strike against Syria not being sanctioned by Congress, a lack of support from the international community and the American people, the possibility that the intelligence on the chemical-weapons attack wasn’t 100% solid.”
Still no excuse if you draw a red line.
Business Insider concluded,
“The Iran deal is thought to be the crowning foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration, and experts have speculated previously that his determination not to compromise the deal affected his policy on Syria.”
For one, I’d like to see Assad’s palace turned into rubble. It would be a form of punishment and create a lasting impression for anyone considering sing chemical weapons yet again.
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So the plan is for Tribune’s WPIX-New York (CW) and WGN Chicago (independent) to be sold, but still operated by Sinclair, which wants its stations to be seen all over the country and is how it has operated around the rules for years.
Really gone will be Tribune’s Fox affiliate KSWB-San Diego.
Expected to be gone are Tribune’s Fox affiliates in Seattle (KCPQ), Denver (KDVR, which Fox once owned), Salt Lake City (KSTU, which Fox once owned), Sacramento (KTXL) and Cleveland (WJW, which Fox once owned). Let this show Fox owned but sold three of those five stations, which shows a lack of commitment to those communities.
Imagine the Fox network buying Miami’s WSFL. I’m sure Fox affiliate WSVN’s owner Ed Ansin would have something to say about that. He has more experience than anyone in that situation because NBC did it to him twice: in Miami in 1989 and Boston in 2017.
Tomorrow, I’ll have details from history on why he should be worried, even though the status quo since 1989 has been good for both him and Fox.
Here is a hint: I used the phrase “a lack of commitment to those communities” a few paragraphs ago.
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And one more thing about the FCC’s chairman, Ajit Pai. Last Friday, he won the National Rifle Association’s “Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award” at the Conservative Political Action Conference for successfully pushing to repeal his agency’s net neutrality rules that are popular with the public.
Just today, The Washington Post reported, “Surveys last year showed that more than 80 percent of Americans, and 75 percent of Republicans, preferred keeping the FCC rules on the books rather than repealing them.”
The Hill reported, “Pai’s award is a handmade Kentucky long gun, which will be housed in the NRA’s museum in Fairfax, Va.”
Those net neutrality rules made internet companies common carriers like your phone or electric company, equal to all. But according to the American Civil Liberties Union, “What you can see on the internet, along with the quality of your connection, are at risk of falling victim to the profit-seeking whims of powerful telecommunications giants.”
The Post reports, “There are still “opportunities to challenge the FCC in court and in Congress,” and this afternoon, Ars Technica announced, “The Washington state legislature has approved a net neutrality law that applies to all wired and wireless Internet providers in the state and prohibits blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.”
If worst comes to worst, the fight to keep net neutrality could become a state by state issue — harder than convincing the FCC, but already being discussed in “more than half of US states.”
Keep in mind, Sinclair owns 193 TV stations in 89 cities. See if they’re on the air where you live. They may be soon! Not too shabby!
That’s because FCC rules were recently loosened — reportedly cheered on by President Trump — so it can buy the Tribune Media stations around the country. That’ll get Sinclair’s controversial perspective on a tremendous number of new screens in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Miami, among others, for the first time. Not too sympathetic!
Sinclair requires conservative commentaries sent from its Maryland headquarters to air during its stations’ local newscasts. That causes viewers to think the biased people they see every night, tossed to by their local anchors, are local as well.
Jessell called the “sponsored news” rule antiquated and discriminatory, and claimed “native advertising has been around forever” under “names like advertorial, sponsored content, promoted content and infomercial.”
He also said it’s everywhere, and that print and digital media companies even get paid to invent it.
Plus, the rules may have been OK decades ago when broadcasters were becoming more powerful, rather than today when they face new competition from “aggressive digital giants.”
And he trusts viewers will eventually spot the advertising and change channels or media.
But I disagree. First, I don’t give viewers as much credit. There needs to be a separation — between news and opinion, as well as advertising — and I’d hate to be a journalist losing credibility by following Sinclair’s unique requirements.
I do admit with more competition, a broadcast license is no longer a license to print money as it used to be.
But the airwaves belong to the public. TV stations have special responsibilities. Owners who don’t like them should be in a different business.
Anybody can print a newspaper, start a website, or even shoot material for a cable channel if they can get it carried.
Meanwhile, broadcasters get special protection like must-carry on cable systems, or they can demand money to be carried — which is much more common. (Then, of course, the network they’re affiliated with will demand a chunk of cash. It’s called reverse compensation.)
There used to be strict limits as to how many stations an owner can own. They’ve practically disappeared. Orders come from out of the area.
Owners were not allowed to own two stations in the same city. Now they can under certain circumstances.
Owners were not allowed to own two stations in neighboring cities (a grade-B overlap), since people who live in between can pick up both. Now they can.
Station owners are fighting like hell to be able to own newspapers. I believe the only one allowed without being grandfathered in that was OK was WNYW-Fox 5 in New York. Otherwise, the New York Post would’ve gone out of business. But then Fox also bought WWOR-Channel 9 and got rid of its news department — a big blow to New Jersey. (Fox’s newspaper business was later spun off into a different company.)
The two Democrats on the five-member FCC pretty much called the Sinclair fine peanuts because Sinclair aired the sponsored content 1,723 times on 77 stations, has had trouble with the FCC before and grossed $2.7 billion in revenue last year. The fine could’ve been $82 million.
Go to the article’s website and check out the comments. My favorite:
Fair enough Harry. (1) Remove broadcasters’ FCC licenses. (2) Charge broadcasters 8% of gross annual revenue for the right to transmit on the public airwaves. (3) Remove all special treatment regarding cable/satellite “must carry and retrans.”
1) broadcasters could police airwaves privately; 2) station owners paid plenty for most of their frequencies; few got them for free; 3) retrans could be privatized and broadcasters would get the same amount of money. I have no love of must carry.
Did you notice the first part? Somebody else commented:
Harry Jessell – is this particular article “End Discriminatory Regs Against Broadcast” – PAID FOR, in any way, shape or form?
What I wrote (using my own name):
Broadcasters use the public airwaves. Unlike other media, the airwaves broadcasters use belong to the people. They need to be protected, and the government has every right to regulate broadcasters in exchange for letting them use those airwaves. Throughout the decades, the government has been more and more lenient with broadcasters, letting them own more and more stations, and in closer proximity to each other, and licencing them for a longer time. If broadcasters don’t like it, then they should give up using the public’s airwaves that don’t belong to them and get into one of those other businesses you mentioned. Then they won’t have to worry about public service.
I think Sinclair should consider itself lucky. Very lucky.
I hope the underdog Eagles are as lucky in the NFC Championship against Minnesota and make it to the Super Bowl!
Most of you know I was a web producer for the Fox station in Philadelphia, but fewer of you know I haven’t worked there since last August.
The reasons are still to be discussed, and probably won’t be public.
However, I’ve come across some interesting and incorrect content from that station while working on my computer at home — material that would’ve caused me to be questioned, but not everyone there is treated the same.
For example, while I was still working there, a colleague was working on a story about “captured Georgia inmates” but used another picture — one of Bill Cosby, a police officer and a member of the fallen star’s entourage — by accident, instead. The mistake was caught by somebody at another Fox station and corrected. I don’t know how long it was up. The person who did that still works there.
At least in that case, somebody at another Fox station looked at the Philadelphia site better than the Philadelphia people themselves!
I’d love to have nothing to do with a place I used to work, but on Christmas, I accidentally hit Firefox on my home computer and the homepage for WTXF-Fox 29 came up. I never use Firefox and that was the home site for that particular browser.
Since I used to work on the website, I scrolled down to see what they would have on Christmas Day. Most was typical. The web team probably didn’t have its full staff in place on that Monday. (I know the guy who worked Christmas last year wasn’t there this year!)
Then, I got to the section on the homepage about their show The Q, starring Quincy Harris, and it was blank! It simply went from the title, to a link for “More Stories” on the bottom, with no links to the latest videos from his show in between. It looked bad for the station, the show, and the star. Didn’t anybody know?
Quincy may have been on vacation for some time since Thanksgiving, but that shouldn’t matter. The latest should have remained there. Instead, there was nothing — just blank space that was an obvious error.
Quincy is a great guy, like so many of my former co-workers, and also incredibly talented. It was just a few of the managers who made my life a living hell. The living hell part has been brought up and will be discussed ASAP.
So I privately tweeted to Quincy and his team about the computer situation but if they told anyone, then nobody cared.
The next day, I was back on the computer and decided to check in again. Maybe a member of the station’s web team repaired Quincy’s section, which was probably a really quick fix. Still nothing.
I tweeted that publicly with a big circle where the missing links should’ve been. Maybe you saw it. I also supplied a link to Quincy’s page that contains his content. I hope it helped. Quincy shouldn’t have had to suffer.
Then, on Day 3, I was prepared to do something similar, like put a CBS3 logo in that area, but it didn’t come to that. Somebody, somewhere, changed the section to Entertainment. So the good news is, at least there’s content instead of blank space. The bad news is, there’s nothing special in that feed section that’s not on dozens of other websites and our local talent Quincy loses out, along with promotion for his show, weekdays at noon.
Let’s get something straight. I know it was the holidays but this is the fourth largest TV market in the country, based on the number of potential viewers in the area. It’s a TV station owned by one of the big four networks, a company that plans to sell off almost everything it owns (except for the network, TV stations, Fox News, and Fox Business) which makes its 28 stations in 17 cities an even more important part of the company. (And Fox may be buying more over the next few months, so watch out in places like Seattle, San Diego, Kansas City, and who knows where else?)
Local TV stations are going to be much more important to New #Fox if it sells off so many assets to #Disney. Having worked at one, I wonder how many people at those stations think they’re being run right. https://t.co/ZvdB0VGDPl
Was there absolutely nobody at the station to fix it? Nobody who could’ve been called in to fix it? What about emergency procedures, where somebody from another of those 28 stations in 17 cities can get in there and see what’s happening?
Disgraceful. There’s no excuse. I doubt there were even consequences after this major error it seems nobody noticed but should’ve. Well, they can’t try to blame me for this!
So to the Fox 29 web team, which for some reason was moved to the creative services department from the news department, you have issues: planning, scheduling, knowledge, not noticing something big missing from your home page, and not calling for help.
But apparently that’s how your bosses want it. Once, I had to put six job postings on the proper page. Five of the six were either part time or per diem. Only one was full-time. That’s what they budgeted. What did they expect to get? What would the head of Fox Television Stations say? What would Rupert Murdoch say? (Looks like several full-timers left the station since then. Several others left when I did. Notice a trend?)
Too many TV station managers like I worked with talk about how important Facebook is, and say it gets people to the station website which can make money, but putting up crap and doing it badly won’t get people to click. It only destroys any credibility left, and that’s happening faster in the age of Trump.
What people have been seeing is something that does not relay trust and stability.
Let’s take this past Friday as an example. It was a weekday, not a holiday, and a big news and weather day as well — the type of day journalists have to step up to the plate and be at their best.
I follow the station on Twitter and it follows me. First, I found somebody never learned how to use an apostrophe. Honestly, that skill isn’t needed to go on-air, but it’s very important for TV and web producers. Eventually, they got my message and fixed it. Then, it got better! I realized the story underneath was very fitting.
The error couldn’t have happened to better people. It’s just sad for the people of the Philadelphia region and beyond what’s left of this news-gathering group for the web.
Look what else I found they posted that day while I was going through my Facebook feed.
Ever heard of purple drank? Probably not. Does this post tell you anything specific about it? No. Care to guess if the Arlington is in Virginia or Texas? I wouldn’t waste my time. There’s no Arlington around Philadelphia, and I’ll explain where this came from in a moment. Plus, WHOA should probably be followed by an exclamation point.
A Connecticut man? I think I’m seeing two. Unless one is from a different state. Am I supposed to guess? Does this post tell who the second guy is? No. Does it matter? No. Would I click? Not unless I’m into the gruesome. And what’s with the MORE and link at the end when someone can simply click like in the purple drank article? We called those MORON teases. A real tease would tell me at least one new thing I’d learn if I clicked.
Here, it’s as if adding the word “police” somewhere near the top, even if it makes absolutely no sense, counts as attribution. Of course, the headline says he started out as a burglar. I don’t buy it. Probably an attempted burglar. Seems he was too busy to steal before he was caught! By the way, this was the only one of those three posts that did decently for the station. Viewers saw through the others.
None of these stories were exclusives, nor anything you’ll remember long-term. But you’ll find them on many of the other Fox-owned stations’ Facebook pages and websites because the stations share. I just looked at Los Angeles and Dallas. (LA mentioned the guy accused of breaking into the home happened in the Bay Area, and Dallas mentioned Arlington is theirs.)
The competition does, too, but there’s no verifying and the Fox stations that “borrowed” the article cannot change it, and that includes fixing mistakes. As for Facebook, the teases for those stories vary slightly but often not much. Too much trouble. Stations also repeat their posts, hoping they work better at a different time.
See for yourself. Click here for the Fox-owned stations website (rather than separately-owned affiliates around the country in places like Miami). Unfortunately, you may need to search by city name and the word Fox because the Fox Television Stations Group website doesn’t bother to list its stations nor their websites! (But you can complain, because there is press contact information listed: a phone number and email address!)
Then, go to their websites and Facebook pages. You won’t be overwhelmed by originality.
But there’s another issue at play here, and it’s a legal matter.
I seem to remember back on June 30, 2017, at 12:37pm, the senior web producer emailed:
Please be aware, new captioning guidelines go into effect tomorrow. If anything appears on TV and is then cut for the web or social, it MUST have captions. Reporter packages, short clips, what have you. All must have captions. (From Lenny: For the record, the emailed version’s bold part was in bright red.)
There’s video, rather than just a picture, in this Facebook post, and I’m impressed they spelled San Bernardino correctly, with the R in the middle. Of course, they tagged the sheriff’s department’s Facebook site, which knows how to spell its own name.
Shouldn’t the video have been captioned, like this example from Sunday night?
Those of us old enough have known about closed-captioning since the 1980’s. It replaced a person using sign language for people who are deaf or hearing impaired. It’s nice to have during entertainment programming but necessary during news — whatever you define that as, these days — especially emergencies.
These days, stations offer real-time closed-captioning. That means there’s somebody listening live, probably in another city, and getting all the words on screen.
Closed-captioning means you can turn it off if you don’t want it, and open-captioning means it’s there and you have no choice. Back in the 1990s, some stations used captioning that wasn’t real-time. In other words, if it was in the newsroom computer, then it appeared, misspellings and all. Ad libbing and live shots were not captioned.
This video, from the Los Angeles area, certainly aired, but the version chosen to put on Facebook is slightly different. For example, it doesn’t have the lower thirds for locators and people who speak, nor the station logo and maybe the time and temperature that are put on live when you see them on TV.
However, you hear an anchor’s voice tossing to a reporter package and the video was clearly edited. In other words, everything here aired but not “100 percent exactly” as you see on Facebook.
Click here for the FCC’s page on Captioning of Internet Video Programming. It says:
FCC rules require captioned programs shown on TV to be captioned when re-shown on the Internet.
Look at the word re-shown. One would think this video was not not re-shown since it lacks the lower thirds, station logo, and time and temperature.
That got me wondering whether using video that has everything except the bells and whistles that were put on live when the newscast aired is a legal trick to get out of having to caption.
However, click here for the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, which says:
Title 47: Telecommunication
PART 79—ACCESSIBILITY OF VIDEO PROGRAMMING
Subpart A—Video Programming Owners, Providers, and Distributors
79.4 Closed captioning of video programming delivered using Internet protocol.
(a) Definitions. For purposes of this section the following definitions shall apply:
(1) Video programming. Programming provided by, or generally considered comparable to programming provided by, a television broadcast station, but not including consumer-generated media. (The underlining is mine.)
Leaving out bells and whistles that may help the TV viewer is definitely considered comparable to programming. Therefore, it seems to me stations including Fox’s in Philadelphia are putting up video without captioning.
Again, web producers were told anything that aired had to be captioned on the internet (website, Facebook page, etc.), per FCC rules.
Go ahead and look at Fox stations’ Facebook pages. I did on different browsers. Ignore pictures. Ignore raw video that didn’t air, like most long news conferences. Ignore viewer video of something cute that goes on and on.
Then, as you see above, put your cursor on the playing video and click the Captions button. Nothing? Then click More Settings, which is just below Captions. On this next screen, make sure your settings are correct.
If you’re still having trouble, you may want to click here and go down to the section ‘Video Programming on Television and Other Equipment’ for details on filing a complaint.
Keep in mind, video with graphics like this are NOT captioned. They are put on by a central hub for all Fox-owned stations as decoration. The sound is NOT transcribed.
I suggest you do it, if not for yourself, then millions of other Americans. Besides, who knows what can happen to you one day?
President Trump has talked and talked about getting rid of regulations. His allies in the FCC already gutted net neutrality. It would be another shame if they decide to get rid of the captioning rules as well. It would be a shame for our hearing impaired neighbors, especially as the American population ages.
No waiting until Christmas on Monday. Comcast, you obviously consider yourself too powerful.
Today, your hard-earned rate hikes take effect. Santa says you’ve been such a good company this year, only getting me concerned and wasting my time by forgetting when my Xfinity introductory offer ends.
Does anyone reading this have suggestions for me for when that offer actually does expire? I need the internet (keeping net neutrality, which nobody is counting on Comcast to do), and pretty much the local and basic cable stations, especially news. Nothing special. None of the new programs I’ve read about but never seen. There are a lot of companies’ names that I’ve read about but never understood. (See new information released today, below.)
Seems like I’ll be looking at something very different and unfamiliar, since my building doesn’t do Verizon’s Fios nor satellite.
Comcast, I know costs go up but Philadelphia is your hometown, you have more to lose here than elsewhere and here, you actually own so much of your own programming and channels, including one for local sports fans (now called NBC Sports Philadelphia) and two broadcast, over the public’s airways.
SIDEBAR: Looking at NBC10’s website, I noticed the Channel 10 homepage weather featured “StormTracker4” and thought that was weird. NBC also owns its station in the next city up: WNBC-4 in New York. WNBC also brands its homepage weather “StormTracker4” but that makes sense, since it’s Channel 4!
So I tried another NBC-owned station that’s not on Channel 4 (anymore): WTVJ-6 in Miami. Their homepage weather is called “First Alert Doppler 6000” which makes sense for Channel 6 and is different from NBC’s two northern stations that are bigger, have different channel numbers, but the same name (at least at this moment). I wonder if this is regular or something simply went wrong.
Don’t forget synergy saves parent company Comcast money, and should be factored into our fees, too. (And kudos to Miami for actually selling their web weather preview!)
ANOTHER SIDEBAR: Newswise today, I noticed NBC10 beat Philadelphia competitor WTXF-Fox 29 (where I worked, 2016-2017) that had two headlines way up above the fold that were known and could’ve been written long ago — seven months and 15 months ago, respectively. Their personnel decisions should be going under the microscope.
Second, a year and a half ago, in June 2016, I had trouble inserting my subway token at the Broad Street Subway’s Spring Garden station. There was no place to insert it. I ended up having to walk up and down steps at three of the four corners of that intersection to finally find a human to take my token and let me down to the train platform. So we knew tokens were being phased out. Besides, how many other cities already did away with them?
SIDEBAR OVER: So Comcast/Xfinity, for now, Merry Christmas, but I don’t know how long my even more costly business with you will last. We’ll have to find out if and when our relationship changes in the future. I can’t wait to see (with my own eyes) what you propose.
I also wonder, did @PHLCouncil, and especially my district’s @Darrell_Clarke, who happens to be city council president, allow your rate hike?
P.S. Readers probably figured out I had the Comcast portion of this blog post prepared since shortly after I got my bill (and read it) weeks ago. Coincidentally, I found several other articles on similar topics with updates and possible solutions, this morning alone!
First, The New York Times‘ “How to cut the cord on cable” which prepares us to use the internet and streaming services to save a ton of money. Our viewing habits are different, so we all should read it.
Third, the fighting between station owners, and cable/satellite operators, for retransmission consent money that probably cost you from watching something you wanted at some point (with both sides blaming each other) continues.
The article reports TV Everywhere, started in 2009, “was an attempt to appeal to young consumers by letting them access cable or satellite shows on any device.” Of course, that “any device” part led to piracy and password-swapping since companies like Charter/Spectrum only force paying customers to enter their passwords for each device once a year. Somehow, tens of thousands watched just one subscriber’s streams simultaneously for free!
Anyway, after all that, got a solution for my Comcast concern? I’d love to hear in a comment! (Got a web link?) And thanks!