Category Archives: Corpocracy

Blood on the newsroom floor: Layoffs, a ban


UPDATED, after the jump. . .

Two major developments today.

First, the New York Times announced major layoffs in Paris as emphasis shifts from print to digital, with job losses concentrated in printing and editing. And then there’s the resignation of a Nevada journalist specializing in casino reporting after his boss barred him from reporting on the paper’s owner, a thuggish Right-winger and GOP megadonor who just happens to be the state’s leading casino owner.

The Paris layoffs affect production of the International New York Times/International Herald-Tribune.

Here’s a key section of the memo sent to staff announcing the cuts, via media blogger Jim Romenesko:

Readers today, particularly our highly traveled international readers, have different needs and expectations of print publications than even a few years ago. Our goal with this proposed redesign is to increase the breadth and depth of analysis, opinion and other coverage on topics that are most meaningful and pertinent to international audiences.

Another goal of the proposal is to simplify our production process and enable us to produce the paper far more efficiently than we do today, a step that is critical to its financial viability. Without these proposed changes, we do not believe that an international print New York Times is sustainable over the long term.

Stephen Dunbar-Johnson and Joe Kahn, who are leading our international efforts and overseeing the proposed redesign, will share more details with our colleagues at the INYT, but the proposal we announced today would result in the closing of the editing and pre-press print production operation in Paris, with those responsibilities moving to Hong Kong and New York.

France remains a vital market for us and we will maintain a robust news bureau in Paris as well as a core international advertising office there.

We regret that the proposal includes the elimination of jobs in Paris and we want to express our appreciation to colleagues – past and present – who through their hard work, have contributed to maintaining a tradition of excellence in global journalism at the IHT and INYT.

We believe that the proposal we have put forth today is necessary to sustain our global journalistic mission and best serve our valued international print readers and advertisers well into the future

Next, and more troubling, is the resignation of Nevada’s most able journalist covering the casino beat.

John L. Smith has worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal for decades, covering the casino industry and its often shady players.

The Review-Journal was where we landed our first job on a daily newspaper at the ripe old age of 19 covering, among other things, racial discrimination in the city’s gaming palaces, stories for which we won the state’s highest journalism award, one Smith himself would win a couple of decades later.

The handwriting was on the wall for Smith last year when the city’s biggest casino owner, Sheldon Adelson, bought the paper, in part, we suspect, because it was the only way he could shut Smith up.

And now it’s over.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Old growth forest buffer against climate change


To listen to corporate mouthpieces for Big Timber, a forest is a forest is a forest.

To them it doesn’t matter if the forest is an ancient and constantly evolving ecosystem or a tree farm planted by machines and harvested [also by machines] just like any other crop.

And those pesky tree-hugging environmentalists who say otherwise are just a bunch of airheads, right?

Well, no.

And, as it now it turns, those magnificent old growth forest are farm more than simply glorious sights for human eyes. They are also havens capable of protecting otherwise threatened species from some of the worst impacts of climate change

Differences in microclimate conditions across a gradient in forest structure. (A) Principal components analysis (PCA) showing how vegetation structure metrics differ between mature/old-growth forest sites and plantations. The ellipses represent 68% of the data assuming a normal distribution in each category (plantation and mature/old growth). (B) Three-dimensional LiDAR-generated images of plantation forests [(i) side view; (ii) overhead view] and old-growth forests [(iii) side view; (iv) overhead view] at the Andrews Forest. (C and D) Results from generalized linear mixed models show the modeled relationship between forest structure [PC1, the first component of a PCA on forest structure variables (A)] and the residuals from an elevation-only model of mean monthly maximum during April to June (C) and mean monthly minimum during April to June (D) after accounting for the effects of elevation. Closed circles represent 2012 and open circles represent 2013. Maximum monthly temperatures (C) decreased by 2.5°C (95% confidence interval, 1.7° to 3.2°C) and observed minimum temperatures (D) increased by 0.7°C (0.3° to 1.1°C) across the observed structure gradient from plantation to old-growth forest.

Differences in microclimate conditions across a gradient in forest structure.
(A) Principal components analysis (PCA) showing how vegetation structure metrics differ between mature/old-growth forest sites and plantations. The ellipses represent 68% of the data assuming a normal distribution in each category (plantation and mature/old growth). (B) Three-dimensional LiDAR-generated images of plantation forests [(i) side view; (ii) overhead view] and old-growth forests [(iii) side view; (iv) overhead view] at the Andrews Forest. (C and D) Results from generalized linear mixed models show the modeled relationship between forest structure [PC1, the first component of a PCA on forest structure variables (A)] and the residuals from an elevation-only model of mean monthly maximum during April to June (C) and mean monthly minimum during April to June (D) after accounting for the effects of elevation. Closed circles represent 2012 and open circles represent 2013. Maximum monthly temperatures (C) decreased by 2.5°C (95% confidence interval, 1.7° to 3.2°C) and observed minimum temperatures (D) increased by 0.7°C (0.3° to 1.1°C) across the observed structure gradient from plantation to old-growth forest.

From Oregon State University:

The soaring canopy and dense understory of an old-growth forest could provide a buffer for plants and animals in a warming world, according to a study from Oregon State University published  in Science Advances [open access].

Comparing temperature regimes under the canopy in old-growth and plantation forests in the Oregon Cascades, researchers found that the characteristics of old growth reduce maximum spring and summer air temperatures as much as 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to those recorded in younger second-growth forests.

Landowners who include biodiversity as a management goal, the scientists said, could advance their aims by fostering stands with closed canopies, high biomass and complex understory vegetation.

Management practices that create these types of “microclimates” for birds, amphibians, insects and even large mammals could promote conservation for temperature-sensitive species, the authors wrote, if temperatures rise as a result of global warming.

“Though it is well-known that closed-canopy forests tend to be cooler than open areas, little is known about more subtle temperature differences between mature forest types,” said Sarah Frey, postdoctoral scholar in the OSU College of Forestry and lead author on the study. “We found that the subtle but important gradient in structure from forest plantations to old growth can have a marked effect on temperatures in these forests.”

Temperature is also strongly affected by elevation and even small changes in topography, but the way forests are managed was a critical factor in explaining temperature differences. Researchers at Oregon State and Pacific Northwest Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service conducted the study at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest east of Eugene.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Iceland’s president nailed by the Panama Papers


Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the Icelandic president first elected to office in 1996 as a political science professor turned politician, has become the second national politician linked by the Panama Papers to offshore bank accounts, coming only three days after he denied an such connections.

The revelations come less than a month after the nation’s then-Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was driven out of office over similar ties discovered in the massive leak of emails and files from a Panamanian law firm.

From the Reykjavík Grapevine:

President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson does in fact have connections to at least one offshore account, despite contentions to the contrary with CNN.

While the President told viewers of CNN that neither he nor his wife, Dorrit Moussaieff, have any connection to offshore accounts, The Grapevine has received documents that show this contention to be false.

The matter concerns a British company called Moussaieff Jewelers Limited (MJL), which is Dorrit’s family’s business. According to the Directors’ Report and Financial Statements for MJL in 2006, Lasca Finance Limited (LFL) – a company registered in the British Virgin Islands of which Dorrit’s parents are shareholders – was paid interest payments by MJL from at least 2000 until 2005, which was the last time we saw reported interest. Lasca also appears in the widely-reported Panama Papers leak.

In 2006, LFL all but disappears, and a new company appears in Hong Kong: Moussaieff Limited, of which Dorrit’s mother is the sole director and shareholder, and has been active through at least March 31, 2015. While not defined as a tax shelter by Icelandic law, Hong Kong does rank in second place on the Financial Secrecy Index.

Grapevine art director Sveinbjorn Palsson has created the perfect video mashup to accompany the story:

H/T to Birgitta Jónsdóttir.

Map of the day II: Where two dangers intersect


From Maptitude:

Headline of the day II: Corporate predator alert


From The Hill:

Clean water crisis threatens US

  • Hundreds of cities and towns are at risk of sudden and severe shortages, either because available water is not safe to drink or because there simply isn’t enough of it.
  • The situation has grown so dire the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence now ranks water scarcity as a major threat to national security alongside terrorism.
  • The problem is being felt most acutely in the West, where drought conditions and increased water use have helped turn lush agricultural areas to dust.

UPDATE: With a new headline from Truthout:

“Nestlé Is Trying to Break Us”: A Pennsylvania Town Fights Predatory Water Extraction

Donna Diehl, a 55-year-old school bus driver from Kunkeltown, Pennsylvania, a small historic town located on the edge of the Poconos, wanted to do three things this year: drive the bus, paint her bathroom and learn to crochet. Instead, Diehl, along with dozens of her neighbors, is spending her time trying to stop the largest food and beverage corporation in the world from taking her community’s water, putting it in bottles and selling it for a massive profit.

Puerto Rico, red meat to predatory banksters


The power of predators to draft American financial laws should be apparent to anyone by now, but it’s still shocking to see how viciously those laws impact the lives of men, women, and children who are both citizens and colonial subjects.

Puerto Rico is the classic example, a territory whose natives are by birthright U.S. citizens, yet are simultaneously exempt from laws created to protect citizens who happen to be born in states rather than territories.

Leave it to John Oliver and his gifted staff of researchers to get to bottom of things, with a little musical help from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the hottest ticket on Broadway.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Puerto Rico

Program notes:

Puerto Rico is suffering a massive debt crisis. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins John Oliver to call for relief.

More California newspapers up for grabs


One of the nation’s most voracious media giants has made a bid for the company that owns the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union Tribune, and if the deal is done, California’s newspaper economy would be almost entirely in the hands of two corporations known for ruthless labor relations and replacing local content with stories derived from others newspapers in their respective chains.

From Reuters:

Gannett Co Inc, publisher of USA Today, said it offered to buy Tribune Publishing Co in a deal valued at about $815 million, including debt, but the owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune refused to begin “constructive” talks.

“We therefore are prepared to consider all alternatives to complete this transaction,” Gannett Chief Executive Robert Dickey said in a letter to Tribune Publishing’s board on Monday.

Tribune Publishing, however, said in a statement that it had told Gannett it would engage financial and legal advisers to review the proposal and its “numerous contingencies.”

Chicago-based Tribune Publishing has been shaking up its top management, replacing its chief executive in February and said a month later that it would replace its chief financial officer.

Gannett, the publisher of USA Today, controls more of the country’s newspaper circulation than any other publisher, and if the company wins control of Tribune publishing, the merger would give them control of more than 17 percent of the nation’s total newspaper circulation.

From the Wall Street Journal:

BLOG Media r

Digital First, the number two company on the list, controls the largest share of newspaper circulation in California, and owns both the Los Angeles News Group and the Bay Area News Group.

The merger would leave the vast majority of California’s newspaper circulation in the hands of two corporate giants.

More from the New York Times, focusing on problems in Tribune Publishing’s California papers:

In recent years, The Los Angeles Times has become a flash point for disagreement between Tribune Publishing and its California newspapers. Austin Beutner, The Times’s publisher, was ousted last fall after only a year in the position because company executives viewed his ambitious plan to dominate California journalism as defiant and a threat to their centralized strategy. The newsroom has been reduced by job cuts. The philanthropist Eli Broad has long sought to buy the paper, but his moves have been spurned.

In a further sign of discontent between Tribune Publishing and its California newspapers — in addition to The Los Angeles Times, the company also owns The San Diego Union-Tribune — the two entities have sparred over financial projections.

More recently, Tribune Publishing failed in its bid for Freedom Communications, which owns The Orange County Register and The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif., after the Justice Department objected to the deal.

The Wall Street Journal looks at key differences between the two publishing giants:

Gannett owns 107 mostly small- and mid-market U.S. dailies in 34 states, as well as its flagship, USA Today. Last summer, after Gannett was spun off as a newspaper group from television properties that now make up Tegna Inc., Mr. Dickey said the company would aggressively pursue acquisitions of larger market publications.

Tribune Publishing also was separated from television holdings but has struggled to find its footing as an independent company since the split in late 2014, less than two years after its predecessor company emerged from bankruptcy. Tribune owns 11 big dailies in disparate markets that have made it difficult to combine costs as well as others have.

The company has reported declining year-over-year revenue in almost every quarter since the spinoff. Its stock price has tumbled 69% since then, from $24.50 a share to $7.52 at market close Friday. On Monday, following news of the proposal, shares of Tribune Publishing jumped 53% to $11.50.

Back when esnl came to California in 1967, all of the California papers involved were family owned, with the San Diego publications owned by the Copley family and the Los Angeles Times by the Chandlers. Both families are now gone from the business.

Otis Chandler, the last of his family to run the Times, was unique in that for all his considerable imperial ambitions and a reluctance to expose the misdeeds of some of LA’s rich and powerful, under his reign the Times accomplished some remarkable journalism and opened up bureaus on other continents.

He was ousted by his own family, who wanted cash more than Pulitzers, and the paper went steadily downhill until today it’s a mere shadow of what it was when Otis was at the helm.

The San Diego Union and Tribune, then two separate publications, were owned by the Copley family and managed by retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen Victor “Brute” Krulak. Investment bankers took over Copley’s papers, then sold them to Tribune Publishing, leaving California newspaper landscape more consolidated, as well as devastated.