Deadline reports the latest Rentrak data about DVD rentals:
Consumers spent $5.65B renting DVDs and Blu-ray discs in 2011, Rentrak says this morning citing data from its Home Video Essentials tracking service. That?s down 3.4% from 2010. But consumer defections from disc rentals appear to be accelerating. In the last three months of the year, rentals were -21.3% from the same period in 2010, as business at kiosks ? including Redbox, which charges $1.20 a night ? grew by 28%.
I’m not sure if this data includes Netflix rentals, but in any case, the same trend is roughly true for that company as well: now that subscriptions to Netflix DVD and streaming services are separate, subscriptions to the DVD-by-mail service are down. And we don’t have data yet about whether the end of Netflix’s streaming deal with Starz, which means that a bunch of content that was previously available streaming is now only available by mail, is driving consumers back to the DVD service.
My guess is that ultimately DVDs will become a luxury-item business. People will still want to buy fancy box sets with extra features that come all wrapped up in gorgeous packaging for their very favorite things. But most of us, they’ll become an inconvenience: the discs and the cases will take up space, and even a several day wait to get them will seem so irritatingly slow as to not be worth it for all but the most desirable content. And making both video and books impulse purchases that are instantly available may increase how much we use them. Netflix streaming’s grown to be a huge proportion of internet use, and while the numbers are self-reported, there’s some data to suggest that e-reader owners buy and read more books. It’ll just be interesting to see at which point television and music creating companies accept that they’re in the same position book publishers are, and offer dual formats rather than pushing DVDs over downloads. Ultraviolet is a step in the right direction, but I’m not sure getting cloud storage space with a disk is as attractive as getting cloud storage space with a download: the whole point of cloud storage is not having to deal with those pesky discs and format transfers.
This morning, the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) Maggie Gallagher was scheduled to discuss the controversy surrounding newly released internal documents showing how the organization recommend creating racial divisions to fight marriage equality with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts and Truth Win’s Out Wayne Benson. But in an indication of just how damaging the revelations are, Gallagher skipped the interview, leading Roberts to broadcast her empty studio chair in Seattle. Watch it:
According to Roberts, the reason for Gallagher’s absence was a mistake on the part of MSNBC booking.
Last year, Louis J. Marinelli came out for marriage equality after being exposed to hundreds who protested the National Organization for Marriage, for which he worked. Since then, he has revealed many of the anti-gay group’s internal documents, and today he added some fuel to the fire created by the confidential memos released earlier this week.
Marinelli has posted various internal emails that prove NOM has placed an emphasis on race, seeking to elevate the voices of anti-equality blacks to create barriers from the white-dominated gay community. Throughout the messages, Maggie Gallagher repeatedly requests pictures of black religious leaders participating in protests (typos are her own):
GALLAGHER: I believe these are COGIC bishops, black bishops. That’s why I’m saying make sure we feature and focus on thejm.
GALLAGHER: He’s black, he’s on our side, he’s COGIC, I need a closeup please advice.
GALLAGHER: I’m told the rally was two-third blacks. All the photos we have up are taken behind white people. Any phot that shows the crowd as it was? Please send it to me and Eve tushnet for use in this week’s newsletter.
GALLAGHER: Eve, take a look at these and see if any of them reflect a. large crowd 2-1 black and/or b. Fauteroy.
In two other emails, project leader Joe Giganti confirms that he has collected photos that portray a group of black NOM protesters clashing with white LGBT counter-protesters:
GIGANTI: I’ve been reviewing these shots this morning. From this first email, there are several good shots that demonstrate a majority Black American crowd.
GIGANTI: This is a great contrast shot of our people all happy and smiling (majority black, only one non-black in picture) versus the angry counter-protesters… Keep this one close for future use?maybe a dynamic picture point that rotates between positive, happy shots of our people versus our angry foes?
Like the Southern Poverty Law Center has pointed out, NOM is blatantly using the African-American community to further its opposition to the freedom to marry. This is unfiltered animus in action.
The high cost of college and other factors are causing American students to drop out before receiving their degree at higher rates than in other developed countries, according to a new study from Harvard University. Only 56 percent of the students who enter America’s colleges and universities graduate within six years, while only 29 percent of students who enter two-year programs complete their degrees within three years, the study found.
The Harvard study is backed by other research showing that Americans complete college at lower rates than the other, poorer countries tracked by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development:
The Harvard study’s assertions are supported by data collected by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development for its report “Education at a Glance 2010.” Among 18 countries tracked by the OECD, the United States finished last (46 percent) for the percentage of students who completed college once they started it. That puts the United States behind Japan (89 percent), and former Soviet-bloc states such as Slovakia (63 percent) and Poland (61 percent).
One factor in the higher drop-out rates, according to the Harvard study, is the rising cost of a college education. The cost of college has nearly sextupled since 1985 and the total amount of student loan debt held by Americans surpassed $1 trillion in 2011. With as many as 25 percent of borrowers behind on their loans, the number of Americans seeking relief from student loan debt has increased substantially.
At for-profit colleges, the problems are even worse. More than three-quarters of for-profit students fail to earn a degree after six years, according to a 2011 report, and for-profit students are even more likely to default on their loans than regular students.
If the arguments are any guide, then, the choice would be, in the event of the mandate being found unconstitutional, between tossing the regulations with the mandate, or tossing the whole law. The mandate won't come out alone, if form holds and everyone[...]
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Republicans: "Alright, alright! We'll help these kids. But in a very, very, very limited fashion. Now can you vote for us?" (Jeff Topping/Reuters)Nothing says, "Please vote for us in November" like saying, "We're going to help you, but in a very limited way."
In remarks to Efe, a spokesman for [Republican Sen. Marco] Rubio, Alex Burgos, said Tuesday that the Florida senator "wants to help these young people and do it in a more limited way than the DREAM Act would do."And how might they limit a bill that would grant residency status to innocent children if they go to college or join the military? Well, they are Republicans. You can guess.
In January, however, [Mitt] Romney suggested that he would support the legalization of undocumented students who serve in the U.S. military.It's convenient for these assholes?the military needs bodies, yet they don't want their own kids put in harm's way. I mean, has any of Romney's bazillion boys gone anywhere near a recruiter's office? Of course not. People who have car elevators and their country club pals don't fight wars.
In the House of Representatives, Florida Republican David Rivera is promoting the ARMS Act, a type of DREAM Act that only opens the way to legalizing undocumented students who serve in the military.
That's not to say that serving in the military is not honorable. It was obviously the decision I chose to make when I was 17, and if I had my way, both my kids would follow in my footsteps. I wouldn't be who I am today without my service to this country. But that's not a choice innocent kids should make out of duress.
Fact is, there is already a DREAM Act on the table that would legalize children who serve in the military. It just so happens that it would also legalize children who decide to go to college, and we know how much Republicans hate education. And, particularly, educated brown people.
Then there's Rubio's apparent approach, which is to deny those kids any chance of citizenship:
?You can legalize someone?s status in this country with a significant amount of certainty about their future without placing them on a path toward citizenship, and I think that is something that we can find consensus on,? [Rubio] said.Ah yes, let's put these kids, Americans in every possible way, in a legal limbo that sure, doesn't get them deported, but doesn't give them the full rights afforded to all Americans. Here's my compromise?let's change the current policy for Cuban immigrants (automatic asylum if they reach dry land) with this one. Then we'll see how humane Rubio thinks it is.
But the fact that they're scrambling for something to "show" Latinos is telling. Republicans are headed toward an epic drubbing among Latinos?a loss so substantial, that it would guarantee a presidential loss and a great deal of carnage down the ballot. Yet they can't do the right thing because they'd have an uprising among their nativist base.
For their part, Democrats aren't buying it, and they shouldn't. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in particular, has his job because of the Latino vote, and he's not about to sell them out to the watered-down piece of shit the GOP offers up.
?While you?re here in town, don?t take the bait that will be given to you by my Republican friends,? said Reid, who acknowledged that a surge of support from Hispanic voters helped him win reelection in 2010 despite his low approval ratings.
?I?m going to do everything in my power to stop a watered-down version of the DREAM Act,? he said. ?That?s what they?re pushing now.?
I’m concerned over what happened and didn’t happen yesterday in the Supreme Court. From[...]
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Allen West, poster child for compassionFlorida Republican Rep. Allen West is outraged! It's not about wanting President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to "get the hell out of the United States." That was in January.
And it's not about Debbie Wasserman Schultz being "the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives." That was last summer.
Nope. This time, it's about handicap accessibility:
"This is another example of the bureaucratic nanny-state not considering the economic ramifications of its insidious regulatory policies," said West, a Republican from Plantation. "I have talked with and received letters from several South Florida hotels saying this is a wasteful exercise that will cost Florida businesses a lot of money and accomplish nothing."So what is this horrible nanny-state imposed wasteful exercise that will accomplish nothing?
[T]he regulation, which takes effect in May, requires hotels, state and local governments, resorts, swim clubs and others to install fixed lifts.Oh no! A new regulation allowing physically disabled citizens to have access to swimming pools? Why, it's the end of freedom as we know it! Sure, if we were talking about Mitt Romney's cars, it might make sense. But expanding accessibility for actual people? What a waste!
The Supreme Court heard arguments this morning on sort of a hypothetical in the Affordable Care Act case: If they were to decide that the individual mandate was unconstitutional, what would then happen to the law? The attorney for the states bringing suit, Paul Clement, argued that the entire law would have to be struck. Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler argued for the government that striking the mandate would also take down the community rating and guaranteed issue insurance reforms (that include dropping or refusing people for pre-existing conditions and forcing certain groups of people to pay outrageous premiums compared to others). The Court appointed attorney Bartow H. Farr to argue that the mandate would be completely severable, that it could be struck without affecting the rest of the law.
SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston, who was at the Court to hear the argument firsthand, sees some careful reconsideration of the individual mandates coming from today's questioning.
A common reaction, across the bench, was that the Justices themselves did not want the onerous task of going through the remainder of the entire 2,700 pages of the law and deciding what to keep and what to throw out, and most seemed to think that should be left to Congress. They could not come together, however, on just what task they would send across the street for the lawmakers to perform. The net effect may well have shored up support for the individual insurance mandate itself.Scalia and Kennedy both also "seemed to harbor doubts that the lawmakers would be up to the task of working out a new health care law if this one failed, either totally or partially," says Denniston.
The dilemma could be captured perfectly in two separate comments by Justice Antonin Scalia ? first, that it ?just couldn?t be right? that all of the myriad provisions of the law unrelated to the mandate had to fall with it, but, later, that if the Court were to strike out the mandate, ?then the statute?s gone.? Much of the lively argument focused on just what role the Court would more properly perform in trying to sort out the consequences of nullifying the requirement that virtually every American have health insurance by the year 2014.
The Court is now hearing the final arguments on the Medicaid expansion in the law. Adam Bonin will have full recaps of both sets of today's arguments a little later.
Rick Santorum is trailing Mitt Romney significantly in Wisconsin, according to a new poll by Marquette Law School. The poll has Romney up by eight points a week out from the April 3rd primary. For Santorum to have even a slim chance of winning the[...]
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