Category Archives: MSM

Map of the day: Britain’s loss of local language

From a new study from Cambridge University comes a demonstration of the BLOG Map Keypower of mobility and [though it’s not called out in the report] mass media to destroy the local linguistic quirks of an entire nation.

The map charts the transition of words used to describe what we’ve only heard described as a splinter. The map key is to the right.

From the University of Cambridge:



Quote of the day: Mere anarchy is loosed. . .

And with apologies to William Butler Yeats for our headline.

From Adam Curtis, brilliant documentary filmmaker and cultural critics, writing at his BBC blog:

Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events.

But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis — leaving us bewildered and disorientated.

And journalism — that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative — now also just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information.

Events come and go like waves of a fever. We — and the journalists — live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog — and then disappear again, unexplained.

And the formats — in news and documentaries — have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them.

In the face of this people retreat from journalism and politics. They turn away into their own worlds, and the stories they and their friends tell each other.

I think this is wrong, sad, and bad for democracy — because it means the politicians become more and more unaccountable.

Brazil’s acting president hews to neoliberal line

Michel Temer, Brazil’s acting president and chief neoliberal, is setting about the most ruthless privatization of the nation’s commons since the Portuguese colonialist first arrived.

And just as with the Portuguese, the nation’s indigenous peoples are shapping up to be the first victims of the relentless drive to turn everything public into a center of private profit.

From the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

Brazil’s interim government is moving ahead with plans for a constitutional amendment that would weaken indigenous land rights and pave the way for new plantations and dams to encroach on lands inhabited by native peoples, a United Nations official said.

Erika Yamada, a member of the U.N’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a human rights advisory body, said the proposed constitutional change would result in Brazil moving backwards on indigenous land rights.

The procedures used to identify and indigenous territories could be altered to give lawmakers more power to decide which territories belong to native peoples, she said.


“They (lawmakers) will try and move forward with changes to the constitution that would make it much harder to defend indigenous rights,” Yamada told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview this week.

“I think they will also weaken the process of authorization for large development projects with great social and environmental impact for traditional communities.”

And it’s not just the land and water of the indigenous that are marked for the auction block

From Bloomberg:

Brazil’s Acting President Michel Temer is studying the sale of state assets to shore up public accounts, as well as an audit of the country’s largest savings bank, said a government official with direct knowledge of the matter.

A government task force will consider selling stakes in companies such as power utility Furnas Centrais Eletricas SA and BR Distribuidora, a unit of Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the oil producer known as Petrobras, said the official, who asked not to be named because the plans haven’t been made public. The intention is to help plug a near-record budget deficit and improve the efficiency of state-owned enterprises.

Petrobras’s preferred shares rallied as much as 1.6 per cent on the report, after posting losses during most of the morning.

The plans are the clearest sign yet of a policy shift since the Senate’s suspension last week of President Dilma Rousseff, who had increased the role of the government and state companies in the economy.

Temer has also take the first steps to privatizing the national public broadcaster, reports teleSUR English:

Michel Temer, head of the coup government in Brazil, fired the head of the Brazil Communications Company, the public firm that manages the country’s public media outlets.

The action was rejected by the firm’s board of directors on the grounds that the law that regulates the company prohibits political interference.

“The notion that the president-director of the company should have fixed term, that does not coincide with a presidential mandates, was enshrined precisely to ensure the independence, impartiality and guiding principles of public outlets,” read a statement by the board of the Brazil Communications Company.

“The aim is to ensure autonomy from the federal government and protect the right of Brazilian society to free and public communications, which ensures the expression of diversity and plurality — foundations of a modern and democratic society,” added the statement.

The head of the company, Ricardo Melo, was appointed by democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff for a four year term earlier this month.

The coup government, however, ignored the concerns of the board.

Melo was replaced by Laerte Rimoli, who served as spokesperson for Aecio Neves, the right-wing candidate defeated by Rousseff in the 2014 presidential election. He also previously served as press officer for Eduardo Cunha, the embattled former head of the Chamber of Deputies who was recently suspended by the Supreme Court.

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

Greece criminalizes Web hoaxes, fines anti-vaxer

While we loathe malicious journalistic hoaxes such as the one that drew the judicial ire of a Greek court, we have very mixed feelings about criminalizing them.

While intentionally bad journalism is morally offensive, we have to note that under such a law both Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe would have been criminalized.

On the other hand, there’s Fox News. . .

From eKathimerini:

A journalist who owns a website that deals with parenting issues received a suspended six-month prison sentence and was fined 500 euros by a court in Veria, northern Greece, on Monday for reproducing false news over the Internet.

The journalist was convicted in absentia for an article published in 2009 titled “Shock: See how companies are spreading cancer through a vaccine” – in reference to a girl who received the MMR vaccine and then died from a brain tumor.

The site “fraudulently” linked her death to the vaccine drawing a storm of protests and complaints from doctors and health authorities.

This was the first conviction in a Greek court for the reproduction of hoaxes and fraudulent news over the Internet. Since 2009, the article has been reproduced by dozens of websites and blogs.

Los Angeles Times publisher edges closer to sale

The company that owns the largest paper in the West, the Chicago Tribune, and other newspapers across the country is inching closer to a sale to the nation’s leading newspaper publisher.

From the Los Angreles Times:

Gannett boosted its all-cash offer to acquire Tribune Publishing to $15 per share, raising the stakes after the owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other major newspapers earlier this month rejected an unsolicited $12.25-a-share bid.

The revised offer, disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday, values Chicago-based Tribune Publishing at $864 million, rather than $815 million, including the assumption of debt.

The sweetened bid is nearly double the price that Tribune Publishing’s stock was trading at before Gannett made its initial offer public April 25. It increases pressure on Tribune Publishing’s board to open the door to discussions in advance of the company’s annual meeting June 2, where Gannett is enlisting shareholders for a mostly symbolic proxy fight.

“We’re looking for the board to … move forward so that we can get in and start our due diligence,” said Robert Dickey, president and chief executive of Gannett. “We’re ready to go tomorrow, if they give us the heads-up.”

More from an analysis by Ken Doctor at Politico Media:

The end of one newspaper era is clearly ending. With print ad revenue in a death spiral, consolidation — deeper and wider cost-cutting is happening, usually quietly, across the country. Consolidation — rounding fewer wagons around smaller cash flows — is the name of the game. Gannett now surpasses Gatehouse, which rapidly bought largely smaller dailies, in that strategy.

To build his company, Gannett’s Dickey is willing to pay a market-puzzling premium of 99% over Tribune’s share price, pre-offer. As a percentage, it shoots way above the 67% that Rupert Murdoch paid for Dow Jones in 2007 –an investment he had to write down by half soon after. Dow Jones was Rupert’s trophy; is Tribune Dickey’s? Still, at $15 a share, Tribune sits well below the $25.50 it was valued at less than two years ago, when it was split off from the bigger Tribune Company newspaper/broadcast conglomerate.

Gannett had lowballed the savings it thinks it can wring out of the merger. Dickey had estimated $50 million in synergies, but I had pointed out that they would likely run to double that number or more, given Gannett’s infrastructure extensions across all operations. This offer, then, better reflects more short-term value to Gannett – even it raises still larger questions about Gannett’s ability to maintain profitability as print revenues continue to crater into the next several years.

Inspirational: Movie house air mirrors viewer moods

Our language is filled with metaphors for breathing: Conspiracy ion the Latin means literally “breathing together,” just as inspiration means breathing in.

In recent years we’ve learned that plants communicate by airborne signals, most notably when an injury to one plant triggers defensive reactions in other nearby plants a process some scientists are hoping to thwart through genetic engineering.

And then there’s this 2007 report from the University of California, Berkeley:

Just a few whiffs of a chemical found in male sweat is enough to raise levels of cortisol, a hormone commonly associated with alertness or stress, in heterosexual women, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, scientists.

The study, reported this week in The Journal of Neuroscience, provides the first direct evidence that humans, like rats, moths and butterflies, secrete a scent that affects the physiology of the opposite sex.

“This is the first time anyone has demonstrated that a change in women’s hormonal levels is induced by sniffing an identified compound of male sweat,” as opposed to applying a chemical to the upper lip, said study leader Claire Wyart, a post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley.

And a 2015 report from Indiana University:

A new study from Indiana University provides evidence in mice that males may play a positive role in the development of offspring’s brains starting before pregnancy.

The research, reported June 30 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, [$29.25 for access — esnl] found that female mice exposed to male pheromones gave birth to infants with greater mental ability.

“This is the first study to show that pheromone exposure exerts an influence across generations in mammals,” said Sachiko Koyama, an associate research scientist at the IU Bloomington Medical Sciences Program and visiting scientist at the IU College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who led the study.

“We found that male pheromones seem to influence the nutritional environment following birth, resulting in changes to the brain that could extend to future generations,” she added.

And now we’ve got all that out of the way, consider the implications for whta you’ve read when you peruse this report from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry:

Tapped Cinema air: Thomas Kluepfel installs a tube into the ventilation system of a movie theatre in the Mainz Cinestar to through which the exhaust air is directed into a mass spectrometer. This analysed the air during numerous screenings in 30-second intervals. Especially suspense and funny movies leave a unique chemical signature in the air. © MPI for Chemistry

Tapped Cinema air: Thomas Kluepfel installs a tube into the ventilation system of a movie theatre in the Mainz Cinestar to through which the exhaust air is directed into a mass spectrometer. This analysed the air during numerous screenings in 30-second intervals. Especially suspense and funny movies leave a unique chemical signature in the air. © MPI for Chemistry

It is now possible to determine whether a movie scene is full of suspense, funny or somewhat boring, using chemistry. The Mainz researchers investigated how the composition of the air changed when an audience watched movies from different genres such as comedies like “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “Buddy”, or fantasy movies like “The Hobbit” and the science-fiction thriller “The Hunger Games”. The researchers determined how the audience reacted to individual movies on a scene-by-scene basis. Using their analyses, they were also able to reconstruct which scenes were playing at the time. The chemical patterns are best defined during suspense or funny scenes.

“The chemical signature of ‘The Hunger Games’ was very clear; even when we repeated the measurements with different audiences,” says Jonathan Williams, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. “The carbon dioxide and isoprene levels in the air always increased significantly as the heroine began fighting for her life,” the atmospheric chemist continues. Williams and his team are more usually involved in the measurement of gases from the Amazon rainforest. Isoprene is one of more than 800 chemical compounds typically exhaled by healthy persons in tiny amounts in addition to carbon dioxide. However, it is not yet known what physiological processes are causing the formation of the molecules.

One explanation for the increasing carbon dioxide and isoprene levels, according to the Mainz researchers, is the fact that moviegoers tense up, become restless and breathe faster when watching scenes of suspense. Funny sequences consistently resulted in different molecular traces in the air than moments of excitement or suspense. “We can clearly differentiate the mass spectra,” says Williams.

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

A must-watch: Requiem for the American Dream

The definitive Noam Chomsky video, featuring an extended interview conducted over four years in which he outlines his view of the state of American democracy.

And do set it to high resolution and full screen.

Requiem for the American Dream

The synopsis from IMDB:

REQUIEM FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM is the definitive discourse with Noam Chomsky, widely regarded as the most important intellectual alive, on the defining characteristic of our time – the deliberate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few. Through interviews filmed over four years, Chomsky unpacks the principles that have brought us to the crossroads of historically unprecedented inequality – tracing a half century of policies designed to favor the most wealthy at the expense of the majority – while also looking back on his own life of activism and political participation. Profoundly personal and thought provoking, Chomsky provides penetrating insight into what may well be the lasting legacy of our time – the death of the middle class, and swan song of functioning democracy. A potent reminder that power ultimately rests in the hands of the governed, REQUIEM is required viewing for all who maintain hope in a shared stake in the future.
– Written by Jared P. Scott

Using interviews filmed over four years, Noam Chomsky discusses the deliberate concentration of wealth and power found in the hands of a select few.

Release date: January 29, 2016 (USA)

Directors: Kelly Nyks, Jared P. Scott, Peter D. Hutchison
Music composed by: Malcolm Francis
Screenplay: Kelly Nyks, Jared P. Scott, Peter D. Hutchison
Producers: Kelly Nyks, Jared P. Scott, Peter D. Hutchison
Cinematography: Rob Featherstone, Michael McSweeney