Tuesday, October 22, 2019

United States of Distraction - Is slow news the antidote for "fake news?"

Chapter one

Is slow news the antidote to "fake news?"

Today we will begin studying the ideas in the United States Of Distraction: Media Manipulation in Post - Truth America (and What We Can Do About It) by Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff. Get a copy and read along and comment as you are moved.

I don't agree with Donald Trump about much but his complaint about "fake news" seems to me to be legitimate. With the advent and growth of electronic, digital communication platforms and the dying of newspapers and other forms of communication which benefited from editing, it seems that conspiracy theories, misinformation, disinformation, and downright lies and manipulations no matter how suave and sophisticated seem to be the rule these days. Without a public educated in what is called "media literacy" our democracy is doomed to "alternative facts," sensationalism, manipulation, and mob rule.

Ralph Nader writes the forward for the book and he writes in the first paragraph, 

Given the inherent pragmatism of the human mind, the oppressed have often found it safer to believe rather than think, to obey rather than dissent. Today, such a path is reinforced by a plutocratic political economy that allows corporations to dominate mass media, education, and the production of knowledge and memory.

Huff, Mickey. United States of Distraction (City Lights Open Media) . City Lights Publishers. p.15

And so we begin a study of how the corporate media and the digital communication platforms do damage to our national mind and soul.

So much of our media these days are sensationalized, exaggerated, and designed to be "click bait" because it is emotionally arousing rather than informative. To counter act this practice of hyperbole and "breaking news!!!" we have created this blog devoted to what some call "slow news," meaning news that has stood to some extent the test of time. The news cycle for slow news is measured in months and years not in hours and days. As you watch or read the news, you might ask yourself, is this going to important to me one year from now, five years from now, ten years from now?

Action steps:

Name the 3 media providers that you most trust and 3 that you don't trust. Explain your choices.

Privatizing the commons - Commercializing spring water in Florida

From The Week September 27, 2019

Stop giving away Florida’s spring water

Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec

The New York Times

Nestlé is set to renew its permit to bottle freshwater from one of Florida’s bountiful springs, said Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec. This permit “allows Nestlé to take 1 million gallons per day at no cost, with just a one-time $115 application fee.” The arrangement to take millions of gallons from Ginnie Springs is one of many deals that Nestlé has to “take water directly from the source” in Florida. As a result, the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world is being devastated. Some springs have already dried up, while “others have shown signs of saltwater intrusion and harmful algae blooms.” Florida is not the only state where Nestlé’s favorable bottling arrangements have rankled communities. The company pays Michigan just a $200 annual “administrative fee” to extract millions of gallons of that state’s water too. Meanwhile, residents of Flint “are faced with high bills for poisoned water and have to rely on purchased bottled water.” In California, groups are “battling Nestlé’s water-bottling operation in the San Bernardino National Forest, an area suffering from drought.” At the very least, companies like Nestlé should pay a meaningful tax that reflects the value they’re getting. Or even better, and simpler: Stop issuing extraction permits that let big companies siphon off water from our streams.
Editor's note - Water is the new oil. It is being bottled and sold. The commercializing of the commons is one of the sins of capitalism.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Use Wikipedia? Thank me whenever you're ready.

Dear David,

About a year ago, you donated $52 to keep Wikipedia online for hundreds of millions of readers. I'm surprised by and deeply grateful for your continued support. You are part of the 2% of readers who donated to support Wikipedia. We need your help again this year.

Will you renew your solidarity with a $52 donation?

This is awkward to admit, but I have to be honest: 98% of our readers don't give; they simply look the other way. And without more one-time donors, we need to turn to you, our past donors, in the hope that you'll show up again for Wikipedia, as you so generously have in the past.

If all our past donors gave a small amount today, our fundraiser would be over. But most people will ignore this message. We have no choice but to turn to you: please renew your gift to ensure that Wikipedia remains independent, ad-free, and thriving another year.

We're a non-profit. That means we aren't selling the articles that millions of people read on Wikipedia each day. We don't profit from the knowledge you seek. In fact, we firmly believe that knowledge should exist outside of the realm of supply and demand. But that's hardly a given nowadays; profit has contaminated most of the internet and the big sites we all use only care about boosting their earnings.

Wikipedia is different in that it doesn't belong to the highest bidder, the advertisers or the corporate giants. It belongs to you, the readers, editors and donors. You're our community, our family. You're the reason we exist. The fate of Wikipedia rests in your hands and we wouldn't have it any other way.

It's folks like you who safeguard our non-profit mission. You help us maintain our integrity, quality, and accessibility. And today, you have the power to keep this wonderful website free and independent for another year.

Now is the time we ask: can we count on you to renew your solidarity with a small donation? It will keep Wikipedia online, ad-free, and growing another year.


Katherine Maher
Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Editor's note:

I did donate another $52.00 to wikipedia today because I appreciate its ad free knowledge distribution service. If you haven't donated to support wikipedia which 98% of its users do not do and you can thank me and the other 2% who do support the platform. 

Katherine send me a nice boiler plate note already thanking me for my donation. I hope to hear from you. You're welcome in advance.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Job loss increasing due to Trump's trade war with China

Click on image to enlarge

The Week reported in its September 27, 2019 issue that Yahoo Finance reported that because of President Donald J. Trump's trade war with China the U.S. economy has suffered 300,000 job loses according to Moody's Analystics and that figure is expected to rise to 450,000 by the end of 2019 and to double to 900,000 by the end of 2020.

Editor's note:
Donald Trump bragged that being a billionaire and the world's best businessman he could create jobs and make America great again bringing back jobs to America. In fact, his trade policies have done the opposite. And while employment is at low levels this is due to low wage jobs in the service sector where working class Americans can not earn a sustainable income.

Is it accurate to say that working class non educated white Americans got conned?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Chris Collins resigns his congressional seat in anticipation of pleading guilty to felony charges of insdier trading.

From The Week on 10/01/19

GOP Rep. Chris Collins resigns
Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) resigned, effective Tuesday, ahead of a scheduled hearing to change his plea to guilty in an insider trading case. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) received Collins' resignation letter Monday. Collins was arrested last August on insider trading charges, and his plea change hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in New York. A trial was scheduled for early 2020, but Collins was narrowly re-elected last fall to represent his heavily Republican district, although he was stripped of his congressional committee seats. Collins' 2018 Democratic challenger had already pledged to challenge him again next year, while several local Republicans had also announced they'd compete for Collins' seat. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will likely call a special election to fill the seat. [The Buffalo News]
Editor's note:
When I lived in Batavia NY Chris Collins was my congressman. He was the first congressman to support Donald Trump's run for president. Back in 2018 he was accused of insider trading and announced he would not run again for his congressional seat in November of 2018. However, later he changed his mind and ran with the charges pending.

Western New York is heavily Republican and even though the charges were very credible, the voters re-elected him anyway. Due to his felony charges he has been crippled as a representative of the people in his district not being given a committee assignment. Now, in September of 2019 he has resigned the seat he was elected to, and will pled guility on October 1, 2019 to the charges.

It seems ironic that a corrupt congressman who is ethically challenged would be the first supporter of the most corrupt President in the history of the United States. It also is interesting that my fellow citizens in Western New York would vote for a corrupt congressman and a corrupt President. What is wrong with the moral compass of my fellow citizens? They seem like nice people on the surface, but at a deeper level there is something seriously flawed.

Here at Markhams Slow News we will continue to research the origins of the voters tolerance and support for moral deviance.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

4 ways to improve the use of email.

Editor's note: 

I have found increasingly that people don't use email effectively, especially people under 40 who prefer text. I have found that email isn't reliable because people don't read it or it gets buried in their inbox and never perceived as relevant. I have begun once again to use the telephone to call people and actually talk to them.