All posts tagged: Hiltzik

Hiltzik: Why were USC and Columbia so wrong about protests?

Hiltzik: Why were USC and Columbia so wrong about protests?

[ad_1] Students are massed peacefully on campus, making politically charged demands on university presidents. The police are summoned, leading to mass arrests and even to violence — and to the collapse of confidence in the administration. You may see the punchline coming: This picture isn’t drawn from USC and Columbia University of the present day, but Berkeley in 1964. The lessons should be obvious. Bringing police onto a college campus on the pretext of preserving or restoring “order” invariably makes things worse. It’s almost always inspired not by conditions on campus, but by partisan pressure on university administrators to act. Often it results in the ouster of the university presidents who condoned the police incursions, and sometimes even in the departure of the politicians whose fingerprints were on the orders. Arresting peaceful protestors is also likely to escalate, not calm, the tensions on campus — as events of the past week have made abundantly clear. — American Civil Liberties Union In other words, nobody wins. Perhaps in recognition of the astonishing ignorance of college administrators …

Hiltzik: The revival of network neutrality

Hiltzik: The revival of network neutrality

[ad_1] In the midst of its battle to extinguish the Mendocino Complex wildfire in 2018, the Santa Clara County Fire Department discovered that its internet connection provider, Verizon, had throttled their data flow virtually down to zero, cutting off communications for firefighters in the field. One firefighter died in the blaze and four were injured. Verizon refused to restore service until the fire department signed up for a new account that more than doubled its bill. That episode has long been Exhibit A in favor of restoring the Federal Communications Commission’s authority to regulate broadband internet service, which the FCC abdicated in 2017, during the Trump administration. This is an industry that requires a lot of scrutiny. — Craig Aaron, Free Press, on the internet service industry Now that era is over. On Thursday, the FCC — now operating with a Democratic majority — reclaimed its regulatory oversight of broadband via an order that passed on party lines, 3-2. The commission’s action could scarcely be more timely. “Four years ago,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel observed …

Hiltzik: The folly of public financing for stadiums

Hiltzik: The folly of public financing for stadiums

[ad_1] The longest-running melodrama in sports is less about events on the field of play than on machinations in the ownership suite of baseball’s Oakland A’s, who are close to finalizing a move to Las Vegas three or four years from now. At least, that’s the hope of Major League Baseball and the team’s billionaire owner, John Fisher. That the deal will ultimately close as expected is the way to bet, to speak the language of Las Vegas. But increasingly there are grounds to take the under. As my colleague Bill Shaikin reports, two challenges to the public funding for the team’s proposed new Vegas ballpark have emerged from a Nevada teachers union. During the last Legislative Session, with important education issues outstanding,…Nevada politicians singularly focused on financing a ‘world-class’ stadium for a California billionaire. — Nevada State Teachers Assn. Strong Public Schools Nevada, a political action committee of the Nevada State Education Assn., has filed a lawsuit questioning the public funding as unconstitutional. A separate committee of the union is pressing to qualify for …

Hiltzik: Is the death of salmon fishing drawing near?

Hiltzik: Is the death of salmon fishing drawing near?

[ad_1] Snapshots from an environmental and economic disaster: Kenneth Brown, the owner of Bodega Tackle in Petaluma, reckons he has lost almost $450,000 in the last year. “I haven’t taken a paycheck in seven or eight months,” he says. He has had to lay off all but one employee, leaving himself, his son and the one remaining worker to run the business. James Stone, board president of the Nor-Cal Guides & Sportsmen’s Assn., says more than 120 guides who serve recreational fishing customers in and around the Sacramento River and San Francisco Bay have all but been put out of business, costing the economy as much as $3.5 million a year. Salmon have survived droughts in California for millennia. But when on top of that you have incredible water diversions and temperature pollution, you’re killing these baby fish. And when you kill the baby fish, they don’t come back as adults. — Scott Artis, Golden State Salmon Assn. Sarah Bates, the owner of a commercial fishing boat in San Francisco, has seen 90% of her …

Hiltzik: Truth Social is another crummy Trump venture

Hiltzik: Truth Social is another crummy Trump venture

[ad_1] With their life savings, childrens’ college funds and their own retirement prospects at stake, most people probably view investing in stocks as a serious business. Now and then, however, the markets produce comedy gold. Hello, Trump Media & Technology Group. The owner of Truth Social, a social media platform exclusively hitched to Donald Trump, staged an initial public offering March 26 amid a torrent of speculation over how many billions the IPO would produce for Trump himself. In the event, the figure was a paper gain of about $5 billion for him, virtually pure profit. It’s a scam. Just like everything he’s ever been involved in, it’s a con. — Barry Diller on Trump and Trump Media The cult of Trump had sent the shares soaring as high as $79.38 on that first day, valuing the company at about $9.5 billion. By the end of the day it had settled back to $57.99. Since then, it has mostly been on the schneid, falling steadily. As I write, midway in the trading day Tuesday, the …

Hiltzik: Clipping the right’s wings in court

Hiltzik: Clipping the right’s wings in court

[ad_1] Some lawsuits are won by smart lawyers and some on the facts. But nothing spells success as much as the ability to pick your own judge. That’s the lesson taught by conservative activists who have moved in federal courts to overturn government programs and policies on abortion, contraception, immigration, gun control, student loan relief and vaccine mandates, among other issues. In recent years they’ve gamed the judicial system to get their lawsuits heard by judges they knew would be sure to see things their way. The process is known as judge shopping, and the committee that makes policy for the federal courts just moved to put an end to it. The courts have now formally recognized the need to do something about a really troubling pattern of judge shopping. — Amanda Shanor, University of Pennsylvania constitutional law expert In a policy statement and official guidance issued last week, the Judicial Conference of the United States said that henceforth, any lawsuit seeking a statewide or nationwide injunction against a government policy or action should be …

Hiltzik: The TikTok frenzy in Congress

Hiltzik: The TikTok frenzy in Congress

[ad_1] In just the last few days, a couple of developments involving TikTok have arisen to illustrate the right and wrong way to think about the rapidly expanding social media platform. The first was a devastating exposé that independent journalist Jonathan M. Katz posted there of a misleading story Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) told during her official GOP response to President Biden’s State of the Union address. In his TikTok on March 8, the day after the speech, Katz expertly demolished Britt’s claim to have interviewed an immigrant who told of having been sold out as a sex slave and Britt’s attempt to tie the story to Biden’s immigration policy — never mind that the subject’s travails took place 20 years ago, in Mexico, and had nothing to do with immigration policy. It’s a great business and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok. — Ex-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin In doing do, Katz also exposed the laziness of our own political press corps, which had to scurry to follow his lead. This …

Hiltzik: The red states that love lead poisoning

Hiltzik: The red states that love lead poisoning

[ad_1] Here are a few things we know about lead in drinking water: ◆ There is no known safe level. More than a decade ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased setting minimum acceptable standards for children’s blood lead levels. That was because scientific studies couldn’t identify any concentration that didn’t have “deleterious effects” on children’s health. The only proper approach, the CDC said, is prevention “to ensure that no children in the U.S.” face any exposure to lead. Lead exposure causes damage to the brain and kidneys and may interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. — Environmental Protection Agency ◆ Removing all the sources of lead exposure is expensive, but over the long term a sound investment, for it eliminates long-term effects that lead to massive healthcare costs, cognitive deficits and higher crime rates. ◆ Children in low-income and minority neighborhoods are the most seriously affected, because their families have few options to avoid exposure. The lead crisis in Flint, Mich., …

Hiltzik: Vanguard stands firm against crypto

Hiltzik: Vanguard stands firm against crypto

[ad_1] After Jan. 10, when the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the first bitcoin exchange-traded investment products, the biggest investment firms jumped into the pool with both feet, jostling one another to offer their clients, big or small, access to bitcoin funds. All, that is, except the second-biggest private investment management fund on the planet, Vanguard Group. The firm has made clear, most recently in a Jan. 24 message to its clients, that it has no plans to offer a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) or any other cryptocurrency-related products. Nor will it allow any such products from other firms to be offered via its brokerage arm. While crypto has been classified as a commodity, it’s an immature asset class that has little history, no inherent economic value, no cash flow, and can create havoc within a portfolio. — Janel Jackson, Vanguard Vanguard spelled out precisely why it is shunning crypto despite the “headlines and buzz” the asset class generates. Put simply, it doesn’t think crypto belongs in retail investors’ portfolios. That’s a smart and responsible …

Hiltzik: Who’s winning in Sarah Silverman’s copyright suit against OpenAI?

Hiltzik: Who’s winning in Sarah Silverman’s copyright suit against OpenAI?

[ad_1] If you’ve been following the war between authors and the purveyors of AI chatbots over whether the latter are infringing the copyrights of the former, you might have concluded that comedian and author Sarah Silverman and several fellow authors suffered a crushing blow in their lawsuit against OpenAI, the leading bot maker. In his ruling Feb. 12, federal Judge Areceli Martínez-Olguín of San Francisco indeed tossed most of the copyright claims Silverman et. al had brought against OpenAI in lawsuits filed last year. That’s the way much of the press portrayed the outcome: “Judge dismisses most of Sarah Silverman’s copyright infringement lawsuit” (VentureBeat). And “OpenAI Scores Court Victory” (Forbes). And “Sarah Silverman, Authors See Most Claims Against OpenAI Dismissed by Judge” (Hollywood Reporter). If someone tells you it’s not about the money but the principle, they’re really talking about the money. — Robin Feldman, UC College of the Law Well, not really. Of the six counts in the authors’ lawsuit, one — whether OpenAI directly copied or distributed the plaintiffs’ works — wasn’t even …