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January 22, 2011

Comcast says "Fuck you!" to Sen. Franken, fires Olbermann

Keith Olbermann -- Fired By MSNBC | TMZ.com
Keith Olbermann was fired by MSNBC sources tell TMZ, and we're told it had everything to do with Comcast's acquisition of NBC. Sources connected with the network tell us ... Comcast honchos did not like Keith's defiance and the way he played in the sandbox. Our sources say Keith has around two years left on his contract, and he'll be paid his salary -- around $7 million a year. We don't know if Comcast will let Keith make a deal with another network as part of an exit agreement, but it's a good bet he'll be benched for a minimum of 6 months, and probably longer.

January 21, 2011

Inside AOL's ongoing massive scam

Yglesias -- You’ve Got Ripped Off! AOL’s Scam Economics
The economics of scams continues to be, in my opinion, an underexplored subject. Here Nicholason Carlson from Business Insider extracts the fact that AOL’s business at this point is mostly dependent on a pretty crude ripoff—selling internet access to old people who already have internet access: In his big New Yorker profile on AOL this week, Ken Auletta explained that 80% of the company’s profits STILL come from AOL’s subscription business. What’s troubling about AOL’s subscription business is who the subscribers are and why they may be sticking around – in Auletta’s words, “older people who have cable or DSL service but don’t realize that they need not pay an additional $25 a month to get online and check their email.” A former AOL exec explains that this is AOL’s “dirty little secret” – “that 75% of the people who subscribe to AOL’s dial-up service don’t need it.”

Hanging pensioners out to dry: Sovereign state bankruptcy

State Bankruptcy Option Is Sought, Quietly - NYTimes.com
Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers. Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign. But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid. Beyond their short-term budget gaps, some states have deep structural problems, like insolvent pension funds, that are diverting money from essential public services like education and health care. Some members of Congress fear that it is just a matter of time before a state seeks a bailout, say bankruptcy lawyers who have been consulted by Congressional aides. Bankruptcy could permit a state to alter its contractual promises to retirees, which are often protected by state constitutions, and it could provide an alternative to a no-strings bailout. Along with retirees, however, investors in a state’s bonds could suffer, possibly ending up at the back of the line as unsecured creditors.

January 19, 2011

USF quietly sells popular student radio station to private concerns without telling anyone

KUSF staff, listeners caught by surprise
It was business as usual on Tuesday morning for KUSF music director Howard Ryan, who played an eclectic mix of music while promoting a 10 a.m. in-studio appearance from local band the Pickpocket Ensemble. When that hour arrived, his show abruptly went off the air - part of a complicated deal that gives classical music station KDFC the college station's 90.3 frequency - and leaves KUSF off the FM dial for the first time since 1977. University of San Francisco officials said the station's blend of music and community programming will still be available by webcast. At the station late Tuesday morning, the somber group of DJs and staff felt angry and betrayed, saying that they didn't learn about the deal until minutes before the signal went dead. "We weren't told anything that was happening," said Irwin Swirnoff, another music director at the station. "We were never able to mobilize our listeners or do those things that would at least get us the opportunity to meet the bid."

January 11, 2011

The banal horror of Sarah Palin's Facebook Wall

A blogger monitors Sarah Palin's Facebook wall. Every negative comment about Palin is deleted within a minute. However, post saying it was acceptable that 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green died in the attack because she would have grown up to become a bleeding-heart liberal -- "...as 'they' say, what would you do if you had the chance to kill Hitler as a kid? Exactly." -- remained a day later. Obama London: Inexplicable Edits on Sarah Palin's Facebook Page
But in the wake of the terrible events in Arizona, with many commentators pointing out the obvious fact that Gabrielle Giffords had been targetted by Palin in the November election on a map that used a chilling gun site graphic, I thought it would be worth watching her page for a little while to see if her team were indeed deleting negative comments routinely. But I had no idea how incredibly, almost comically, efficient her people would turn out to be in deleting comments that were even slightly critical of the former Governor. And then I came across... well, what I guess you'd have to politely call an appalling example of editorial misjudgement at best.