Merchants of Alarming Truth and the Reality of Media Bias

first_imgAlong about New Year’s Eve, Sports Illustrated ran a piece on the firing of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter.“For the seventh time in eight years,” wrote Jonathan Jones, “the Bucs finished last in the NFC South, a level of ineptitude to which only the Browns can lay claim… At 5–11, the Buccaneers have missed the playoffs for the 11th consecutive year, and it’s the seventh time in that span that Tampa Bay has had double-digit losses.”“Ineptitude.” Ouch. That’s kind of… judgmental. But funny thing about what did not happen next. There were no howls about S.I.’s bias. Nobody questioned Jonathan Jones’ journalistic ethics or declared him the purveyor of Fake Sports News or castigated him as the Enemy of the Tampa-St, Petersburg-Clearwater metroplex.Because, objectively, the Buccaneers suck.Elsewhere on the meteorological disaster front, over the years the National Review has called Hurricane Katrina a “killer storm,” Newsweek called Cyclone Nargis a “killer storm” and Popular Mechanics called Hurricane Irma a “killer” storm. I don’t recall there being a trial verdict—in this country one is innocent until proven guilty—yet not a single accusation was forthcoming about the media’s anti-weather agenda. Evidently, the accuracy of the reporting spoke for itself.So now comes ex-New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson’s new book, “Merchants of Truth,” in which she concludes that the paper’s negative coverage of the Trump Administration violates the paper’s founding values and panders to its—she says—mainly liberal audience. It’s mainly a digression in her examination of the overall (treacherous) media landscape, but of course the right-wing-media-o-sphere swooped in like seagulls spying a stray boardwalk french fry. If you Google “jill abramson bias,” your tops hits will be: the New York Post, Realclearpolitics.com, Washington Times, Fox News, Russia Today (!) The Hill, and National Review.The liberal-bias narrative, after all, is their raison d’etre, their obsession and their business model. And it has been at the core of conservative politics since Nixon. But is it, you know, true? Is there a liberal bias in mainstream media? Yes. And, also, no.In the Venn diagram of values, journalism and liberalism do have a huge overlap. Questioning authority, suspicion of big money, “reform” in general, afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted—which is really another way of saying “social justice.” Journalism isn’t a political party, much less an “opposition party,” but it is inherently progressive and inherently adversarial to the sitting government. Among recent victims: Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. And would-be president Hillary Clinton? Ask her. On the other hand, while the latest survey numbers are a bit outdated, in 2013 only 7 percent of journalists self-identified as Republican. (52 percent identified as independent). So the bleeding-heart sensibility is not a figment of the right’s imagination.But does that prove political bias? No, it does not.With some notable and horrifying exceptions, large news organizations—especially the ones dismissed as hubs of liberal bias—are rigorous in their work. Their publishing protocols police fairness and accuracy, and are difficult to circumvent within a newsroom. When a story is deemed particularly explosive, the caution is even greater. (Indeed, here the press tends toward the more insidious sin of false balance.) Nonetheless, when things happen, we report them, and when bad things happen we report them louder. That is not evidence of bias. It is evidence of observation and judgment.We have a president who told three bald-faced lies on his second day in office, one about the CIA, one about crowd size at his inauguration and one about the weather. Since then, fact checkers have documented thousands of presidential lies, falsehoods and misstatements. According to the Washington Post, in 2018, he made 15 false claims per day. Plus the schoolyard ad hominem against his critics. Plus his attacks on the press, the judiciary, the Congress, the intelligence community, the Justice Department and NATO. Plus his nakedly racist and unconstitutional statements and actions, blocked again and again by the courts. Plus his embrace of dictators in Russia, North Korea, Philippines and Turkey (and, this just in, now a fascist in Brazil). Plus his sleazy business conduct. Plus his sleazy “charity.” Plus his hidden tax returns. Plus his unabashed misogyny.These are all observable, and they are manifestly unique in the history of the presidency. This stuff is also not a figment of anyone’s imagination. The statements, the tweets, the insults, the executive orders, the firings, the defense of Charlottesville Nazis—they are all on the record and unfolding before our eyes. Yet when the media report on the wreckage, it’s seen as a smoking gun of bias and partisanship.Has the press piled on Donald Trump? Of course it has. For that you can blame Donald Trump. It is simply an eyewitness account of historic… hmm… I was going to say “depravity,” but let’s just go with ineptitude.Sarah Sanders wonders why we don’t report on Trump’s achievements, instead of focusing on Robert Mueller and Vladimir Putin and Stormy Daniels. Yeah, well, Dirk Koetter’s Tampa Bay offense gained more yards than any team in Bucs’ history. They still fired his ass.last_img read more

Army to Cut 15000 ActiveDuty Forces in 2016

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR The Army’s end strength is scheduled to drop by 30,000 soldiers by Oct. 1, 2016, including 15,000 active-duty troops, under the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill awaiting President Obama’s signature.The annual policy bill calls for the Army’s active component to shrink to a level of 475,000 soldiers. The service ended FY 2015 with 491,365 soldiers, nearly 17,000 fewer troopers than it had one year earlier on Oct. 1, 2014, reported Army Times.In recent years Congress has allowed the services to miss their end strength targets by 0.5 percent to account for short-term fluctuations in recruitment and attrition. The overage of 1,365 soldiers at the end of FY 2015 fell within the variance allowed under statute. This year’s authorization bill includes language increasing the permitted wiggle room at the end of the fiscal year to 2 percent as insurance against sharp declines in recruiting, or an unexpected slowdown in separations and retirements, reported the Times.The Army’s active-duty end strength is slated to drop to 450,000 by the end of FY 2018.The Army National Guard is scheduled to shrink by 8,200 soldiers to an end strength of 342,000 by Oct. 1, 2016, while the Army Reserve is scheduled to drop by 4,000 soldiers to a size of 198,000 by the end of FY 2016.Over the next two years, the Army plans to eliminate 2,400 civilian positions, with further cuts possible afterward, an Army spokesman said last week.last_img read more

JBLM to Trim Civilian Workforce to Reflect Army Restructuring

first_imgJoint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) plans to eliminate about 900 civilian and contractor positions, or 5.5 percent of its existing civilian workforce, over the next two years, according to Army data released to the Tacoma News Tribune.The news comes on the heels of the Army’s announcement in July about its plans to shrink its active-duty end strength from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers by the end of fiscal 2018. Officials at the time said the restructuring would be accompanied by civilian cutbacks, but as recently as last November the Army said it had not yet determined how many civilian employees would be affected.The Army’s latest restructuring is slated to eliminate 1,251 soldiers at the installation in the South Sound region of Washington state.Leaders at JBLM have been meeting to figure out how they’ll cope with hundreds fewer workers to support the installation’s day-to-day operations. Those reductions, along with additional staffing cuts expected through 2022, “will fundamentally change how we operate on base,” said Greta Powell, chief of the base’s resource management office.“It’s bleak,” Powell said.The Army plans to achieve the cutbacks primarily through attrition and retirements, said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino.As the Army draws down from two wars, it will need fewer civilians to run its installations, according to the story. One reason is that some functions filled by civilians now can be handled by soldiers, such as gate security. In other cases, the shrinking number of military personnel will require a smaller installation support staff.“This isn’t a crisis or a catastrophe,” said Tom Knight, the base’s chief of staff. “This is an opportunity to reassess ourselves to change the way we’re doing business here for a lot of the right reasons. We have much more of a home-station military right now,” Knight said.In advance of the cuts, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) in July directed state agencies to develop a plan for helping service members and civilian workers find new careers. Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img read more

Apple defends controversial battery certification warning message

first_img $999 $999 Originally published on Aug. 8 at 3:08 a.m. PTUpdate, Aug. 14: Adds Apple comment and information. CNET may get a commission from retail offers. 8:10 Aug 31 • iPhone 11, Apple Watch 5 and more: The final rumors Mentioned Above Apple iPhone XS (64GB, space gray) Aug 31 • Verizon vs AT&T vs T-Mobile vs Sprint: Choose the best 5G carrier See it • Apple iPhone XS Best Buy Tags $999 That realization caused outcry and allegations that Apple is “locking iPhone batteries to discourage repair,” as iFixit put it. “Apple is effectively announcing a drastic new policy: only Apple batteries can go in iPhones, and only they can install them,” the site said. But Apple on Wednesday defended the move, saying it displays the message to keep customers safe and make sure battery replacements are done properly. “Last year we introduced a new feature to notify customers if we were unable to verify that a new, genuine battery was installed by a certified technician following Apple repair processes,” the company said in a statement. “This information is there to help protect our customers from damaged, poor quality or used batteries, which can lead to safety or performance issues. This notification does not impact the customer’s ability to use the phone after an unauthorized repair.”People are holding onto their smartphones longer than before, and for many, the battery is one of the biggest reasons to eventually upgrade. Being able to monitor the battery’s health, and cheaply replace it, lets people wait longer to buy newer models. Apple’s iPhone battery practices have drawn scrutiny in the past. In late 2017, the company admitted that software it released the previous year slowed down iPhones to offset problems with their aging lithium ion batteries. As batteries get older, they don’t hold their charges as well as newer batteries, and they can have worse problems when the charge is low or the temperature is cold. Apple ended up releasing new features to help iPhone owners monitor their batteries, and it offered a short-term, 63% discount on its battery replacement program.Battery healthThe warning message, which is found in the iPhone’s settings, usually indicates that your battery is degraded and must be replaced, iFixit said. The publication’s tests revealed that even a brand-new, genuine Apple battery caused the message to appear. It appears on iPhones running iOS 12 and the iOS 13 beta.iphone-battery-healthIf you replace your iPhone battery on your own, you won’t be able to monitor the battery’s health.  Apple The update won’t throttle the battery’s performance or prevent you from using your phone, but you won’t be able to see details of your battery’s health. The site compared this to a car displaying a Check Oil light that only a Ford dealership can get rid of.The only way to get rid of the message is to have an Apple Genius or an Apple Authorized Service Provider authenticate it — essentially forcing you to take the battery through official channels.Apple has over 1,800 authorized service providers across the US, including all Best Buy stores, and 5,000 around the globe. In a support page about batteries, the company noted that if the message appears, you should contact an authorized service provider to have the iPhone checked. “We take the safety of our customers very seriously and want to make sure any battery replacement is done properly,” Apple said in its statement Wednesday.  Sprint Apple wants you to make iPhone battery replacements through official channels, to ensure the battery’s safety. Angela Lang/CNET A teardown specialist said Apple is making it hard to replace your own iPhone batteries. But the tech giant on Wednesday defended how it authenticates the batteries used in its iPhones, saying it’s the only way to ensure they meet its standards.Starting with iOS 12.1 from October 2018, Apple included the ability to monitor the health of your iPhone XS, XS Max and XR battery. By going into settings, you can see the maximum capacity your battery is able to charge and whether it supports normal peak performance. You can also see if you should replace your battery.But if you swap your battery yourself or go to a nonauthorized vendor, you’ll see a Service message that warns Apple is unable to verify if your iPhone has a genuine Apple battery, as noted last week by teardown specialist iFixit. You can still replace your battery, but you won’t be able to monitor the health of the battery unless you’re using one from Apple or an authorized reseller.  Now playing: Watch this: Commentscenter_img $999 See It 17 Share your voice reading • Apple defends controversial battery certification warning message Aug 31 • Your phone screen is gross. Here’s how to clean it See All Boost Mobile Apple See It Three new iPhone 11 models coming in September, rumor… See It Phones Aug 31 • Apple iPhone 11 launches Sept. 10, Disney Plus in big demand Review • iPhone XS review, updated: A few luxury upgrades over the XR Preview • iPhone XS is the new $1,000 iPhone X iOS 13 iOS 12 Applelast_img read more

NDTV denies reports of SpiceJet owner Ajay Singh picking up majority stake

first_imgRepresentational imageNDTV.comNDTV officials have denied reports of SpiceJet’s Ajay Singh taking a majority stake in the news channel. “Not even a single sentence of these reports is true,” a senior NDTV official told The Hindu on Friday.Earlier, on Friday, the Indian Express (IE) had reported that Ajay Singh, the co-founder and owner of SpiceJet, has tapped a majority stake in India’s first English language private news channel NDTV.”Yes, the deal has been finalised and Ajay Singh will take control of NDTV along with editorial rights,” a source had told IE. Sources further said that Ajay Singh will have a controlling stake in NDTV of around 40 percent, while promoters Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy will hold around 20 percent stake. IE had reported that Singh would also pick up NDTV’s debt of over Rs 400 crore and the total deal was valued at around Rs 600 crore, sources told the daily.Singh had played an important part in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 2014 poll campaign, and also coined the campaign slogan “Abki baar Modi sarkar.”Promoter shareholding in NDTV as of June 2017 stood at 61.45 percent, while the remaining 38.55 percent is held by the public, according to data available with Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). RRPR Holding, the parent company of NDTV, owned by founders Prannoy Roy and wife Radhika Roy is presently facing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe for allegedly concealing a share transaction. In June, the CBI had conducted searches at the residences of the Roys.NDTV had then called the raid a “blatant attack on the freedom of the press”. CBI had filed its FIR based on a “shoddy complaint” by a “disgruntled” former NDTV consultant who has not obtained a “single order from the courts,” the channel said in a statement then.Following rumours of the acquisition, the NDTV stock was locked in the upper circuit of five percent at Rs 53.10 on the BSE. On the other hand, SpiceJet was trading two percent lower at Rs 143 after hitting a low of Rs 142 on BSE.For the June quarter, NDTV’s standalone income dropped 36 percent sequentially to Rs 69.9 crore from Rs 109.6 crore in March 2017 quarter, while the net loss stood at Rs 15.94 crore.last_img read more

CJ quits for his corruption Law Minister

first_imgLaw minister Anisul Huq. File photoLaw minister Anisul Huq on Sunday said it was corruption that prompted chief justice Surenda Kumar Sinha to step down from his post.“The chief justice resigned as other judges refused to sit with him following 11 charges he is facing,” he said.The minister was addressing a programme at Taltala village in Kasba upazila of Brahmanbaria district after the inauguration of electrification of several villages, reports UNB.The minister claimed that SK Sinha had got angered when he told him that the Constitution is the supreme law.Mentioning that the next general election will be held in December next in a free and fair manner, he said Awami League will return to power.“No one will be allowed to create any chaos. Any attempt to foil the election will be dealt with an iron hand,” he added.last_img read more

UN might make peacekeeping operations more costeffective

first_imgUN secretary general António Guterres has said the UN is working hard to make all peacekeeping operations cost-effective and is constantly finding ways to reform, restructure and drive costs down.  “At the same time, UN peacekeepers are relentless in searching for new ways to build sustainable peace,” he said in a message marking the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers being observed today (Monday). Looking forward, the secretary general said they are aiming to do more to end operations that have achieved their goals. “We’re also reforming and adapting our peacekeeping missions to improve their effectiveness in the increasingly challenging environments in which they work.” The UN chief said peacekeeping operations have evolved from simply monitoring ceasefires to protecting civilians, disarming ex-combatants, protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law, supporting free and fair elections, minimising the risk of landmines and much more. He said they also work to ensure that women are fully represented in peace processes, political life, and in branches of government. “All these investments are fundamental to building lasting peace.” The UN secretary general paid tributes to more than 113,000 ‘Blue Helmets’, UN Police and civilian personnel deployed to 16 missions, according to the message received here from UN Information Centre here. “We acknowledge the contribution made by an ever-growing number of Member States to our operations,” said the UN chief in his message laying emphasis on investment in peace around the world. More than one million women and men who have served under the UN flag with professionalism, dedication and courage throughout our history. “And we honour the memory of more than 3,500 peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving,” said Guterres. Last year, he said, 117 peacekeepers paid the ultimate price and they included military, police, international civil servants, UN Volunteers and national staff from 43 countries. “So far in 2017, twelve peacekeepers have been killed.” “Our partnership is central to the success of peacekeeping missions, since Member States decide where troops go, what they will do, and what resources will support them,” said the UN chief. He said close cooperation from Member States is vital if they are to deliver on the promise of lasting peace, while peacekeepers create conditions on the ground to enable solutions to emerge and take root. “I’ve also prioritised ensuring that women play a far more active role in peace operations, as troops, police and civilian staff. Gender parity is essential for its own sake, and the presence of women increases the chances of sustained peace while reducing incidences of sexual abuse and exploitation,” the UN chief mentioned. The secretary general said for nearly 70 years, UN peacekeeping has proven to be one of the international community’s most effective investments in peace, security and prosperity. The demand for UN peacekeepers has risen steadily over the years, and deployment is now near an all-time high, said Guterres adding that peacekeeping has had a positive impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.last_img read more