Late Edition, May 8, 2021
An update on the local arts scene, what's up in Lansing, and a feature about mysterious shapes in the local landscape.
I got my 2nd vaccine shot on Monday afternoon, and Tuesday was spent under a blanket with a low-grade fever. Nothing too bad, just enough to be an excuse to watch TV all day, and to assure me the vaccine was taking some effect. I was back at it on Wednesday morning, and I’m feeling a lot bolder about going out into public spaces now.
I’m working on some more in-depth reporting for the rest of the month as well as a couple of photo-essay outings. Despite my fever-shortened week, I’m happy to bring you April’s legislation update (with a new, more streamlined format) and Art’s Corner from Miriam Pickens. I’ve also included a feature story from Bruce Johanson that highlights a mysterious ground formation near the Ontonagon River.
By Miriam Pickens
This month’s story from Miriam Pickens focuses on what new art you might find as we venture back into public, with a focus on the Gallery on 5th in Calumet.
April in Lansing
Sen. Ed McBroom introduced several new bills in April, and Rep. Greg Markkanen has voted on several important bills in the House of Representatives, too. Check out my quick breakdowns of local officials’ actions in Lansing.
May has already had a busy week, too. I focused on April here, though, I didn’t want to make it too terribly long this month.
Ontonagon River has a “pyramid”
By Bruce Johanson
This kind of story, with a touch of ancient mystery, always excites me. It’s anchored in reality but has the kind of loose ends that spur creative, adventurous thinking.
Big Tech’s Big Advantage
What I’m going to write here is related to this story about Trump being banned from Facebook.
Today’s big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and even Substack were given a huge gift in 1996. In fact, it’s the only reason they can exist the way they do today. Under the Communications Decency Act, they’re protected from any legal liability for the things other people post on their platforms.
This is why politicians, dictators, Hollywood stars, and your weird uncle can share outlandish untruths (or violent threats) to thousands if not millions of people, instantly, without Facebook getting sued. The internet “giants” of 1996 got Congress to agree that if they’re simply sharing someone else’s words, it shouldn’t count against them. It would be unfair to make them responsible for everything people say using their platform.
But that’s never been the case for other platforms. Newspapers, radio stations, and television broadcasters are all responsible for what they share on their platforms. That’s why Dominion Voting Systems can sue Fox News for what their anchors said last year, and for platforming guests, as defamation.
If the Daily Mining Gazette publishes the wrong thing, even if they didn’t author it, they can get sued, too.
If I wrote something seditious here, I could be put into legal jeopardy.
Substack is protected even though they’re the ones who deliver it to you.
It’s as if you could only get arrested for manufacturing heroin. Selling it has been legal since 1996, as long as you didn’t make it yourself.
Beyond that, websites also have legal protection for what they choose to remove from their sites. While most social media platforms have some kind of policy they follow to determine what is removed and what stays, they can really remove anything they want without legal repercussion, under current law. Even the president has little recourse if Facebook decides to remove him.
Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, and other social media sites simply are not “the public square”. They are private property, and the owners have near-total authority over who can be there, and what the topic of discussion is.
Should it be that way?
Should social media sites be responsible for everything on their website? Should they, can they possibly, review each and every post to ensure it meets their own policies? Should their policies be required to live up to the expectations of the law? Should they be liable for the words that they amplify and spread, but don’t create?
Facebook has repeatedly said no, and I can’t blame them. Publishing Late Edition, for instance, would be a lot easier if I didn’t read every last word of everything I share first.
Ultimately, I think we all have some responsibility for the things we share with other people, whatever they may be. The question is what kind of legal ramifications should there be if that responsibility is shirked by a company that derives profit from other people’s postings. Right now, there are none.
Other News (aggregated, not sponsored)
You may have noticed this section has changed. That’s because I’m changing the content a bit based on what you all seem to like to read. In an effort to bring you more local, Upper Peninsula-centric news, I’m going to be trying to review stories from more local outlets and writers. These outlets don’t always bring top-notch journalism, but that’s not to say what they do has no value. And sometimes their writers still knock it out of the park, so credit where credit is due.
I’ll still share some state, national and world-level news here, but for the most part, you know where to find that when you need it. If not, go to the AP.
Click on the headlines to read the full story.
Garrett Neese, Daily Mining Gazette
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved more than a million dollars in increased funding, with a 25% match from the city.
Collin Binkley, Associated Press
This is an important story for rural areas that are still hard-pressed to find good, broadly available internet access.
Jason Beaubien, Morning Edition
In a country where the average age is 23 and homes are normally ventilated with plenty of open windows, COVID-19 is low on the list of concerns.
Garrett Neese, Daily Mining Gazette
If you haven’t read this, it’s worth it to see the judge’s comments. She said she would issue a written ruling later, so we’ll have to wait to see what she ultimately decides.
Alanna Durkin Richer and Colleen Long, Associated Press
Those who weren’t caught joining in violence or property destruction may not see much if any time behind bars.
A few final notes
-If you find this email in your spam folder, add this email address to your contacts list and that should stop happening.
-I’m still working on the Sunshine Calendar. Recording the meetings is tricky. If I record the stream from home, I can add labels that help explain what part of the meeting is happening and who is talking, but the audio and video are often pretty terrible.
I can probably get better audio and video if I go there in person to capture it, but then I can’t add the labels for more context. I really wish I were two people sometimes.
Hancock met this past week, and both Houghton City Council and Houghton County Board are meeting this week.
-I’m always happy to have new financial supporters on my Patreon page, and as I get “The Lawnmower” running, I hope to be able to share more interesting behind-the-scenes photos, video, and documents with those “patrons”. I haven’t shared much lately because all my work has been in my living room. It’s nice enough, but not that nice.
-And I’d like to encourage you to share Late Edition with a friend or relative. I don’t spend any money on promotion, so “word of mouth” is the only way Late Edition can grow. Thanks, and have a great week!