Monthly Archives: July 2017

The White House used a familiar excuse to dismiss Trump’s comments about roughing up police suspects

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President Donald Trump speaks at Suffolk Community College on July 28, 2017 in Brentwood, New York.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Donald Trump wasn’t being serious when he seemed to endorse rougher treatment of suspected criminals last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday.

“I believe he was making a joke at the time,” Sanders said at a press briefing.

Trump earned widespread criticism for his comments, made on Friday during a speech to law-enforcement officers in Brentwood, New York. In an unscripted rant, Trump said police shouldn’t be “too nice” with suspects as they’re placing them in the backs of police cars.

“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over. Like, ‘don’t hit their head,’ and they’ve just killed somebody,” Trump said, as law-enforcement officers in attendance broke out in cheers and applause. “‘Don’t hit their head.’ I said, ‘You can take the hand away.’ OK?”

Several police departments, including those in New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, released statements over the weekend denouncing the president’s comments.

“The President’s comments stand in stark contrast to our department’s commitment to constitutional policing and community engagement,” New Orleans Police Department chief Michael Harrison said on Saturday.

A familiar excuse

In claiming Trump’s remarks were a joke, the White House retreated to a familiar tactic to excuse the president’s controversial, off-the-cuff statements.

It’s the same one Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price used on Sunday to dismiss Trump’s vow to fire him if he couldn’t corral enough Republican votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“Oh, I think that statement was a humorous comment that the president made, but I think what it highlighted is the seriousness with which he takes this issue,” Price said on ABC.

Last month, then-press secretary Sean Spicer argued that Trump was “joking” in 2016 when he urged Russian hackers to go after Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“He was joking at the time,” Spicer said at a press conference. “We all know it.”

Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, West Virginia, U.S., July 24, 2017.
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REUTERS/Carlos Barria

And Trump himself used the “just-kidding” excuse on multiple occasions during the presidential campaign, like in August 2016, when he made the shocking claim that Barack Obama was “the founder of ISIS.”

“Ratings challenged @CNN reports so seriously that I call President Obama (and Clinton) ‘the founder’ of ISIS, & MVP. THEY DON’T GET SARCASM?” Trump said in a tweet.

Trump also claimed he was joking when he erroneously claimed in a 2012 tweet that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

“I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China,” Trump told the hosts of “Fox and Friends” in January 2016. “Obviously, I joke. But this is done for the benefit of China.”

And in an interview with a Wisconsin TV station in March 2016, Trump dismissed lewd comments he’s made about women over the years.

“Well, number one, I’m no different than anybody else, and people joke, and I joke,” Trump told the local FOX 11 station. “And I never knew I was going to be running for office. And you joke, and you kid and say things, but you’re not a politician so you never think anybody cares.”

Trump tweets ‘great day at the White House’ after Anthony Scaramucci was forced out

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U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with John Kelly after he was sworn in as White House Chief of Staff in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington
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Thomson Reuters

Hours after communications director Anthony Scaramucci was forced out of the White House on Monday, President Trump tweeted, “A great day at the White House,” seemingly glossing over the unceremonious end to what had been Scaramucci’s tumultuous week-and-a-half in the Trump administration.

It was unclear what Trump was referring to specifically, though the president had awarded his first Medal of Honor to US Army veteran James McCloughan for his actions during the Vietnam War.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly was also sworn in as White House chief of staff on Monday.

The Yankees have made two major trades and are now positioned to make a run at the American League pennant

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Joe Robbins/Getty

The Yankees have exercised a lot of caution at the MLB trade deadline in recent years, but they made a return to their aggressive ways this season.

On July 19, the Yankees made a deal with the Chicago White Sox, sending Tyler Clippard and three prospects to the South Side for third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. On July 30, they sent a pair of minor leaguers to the Twins for starting pitcher Jaime Garcia. Finally, on July 31 — the day of the non-waiver trade deadline – the Yankees flipped three prospects in exchange for Sonny Gray, one of the two biggest names to be dealt this year.

Add it up, and the Yankees sacrificed eight young players to reinforce their big-league roster with four live arms and a powerful corner infielder. That’s a surprising turnaround for a team that’s been so careful in recent years – despite sitting at or above .500 at the All-Star in back-to-back seasons between 2015 and 2016, New York either stood pat or unloaded assets in both years.

But this is a different Yankees team, one with a significantly better chance to make a World Series run. The organization’s long-awaited young players – Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino – have reached the major leagues for good and achieved varying levels of stardom. Judge is an MVP candidate, while Severino is one of the league’s better young pitchers and Sanchez is a reliable two-way catcher. They’ve also gotten productive performances out of their more experienced core, with CC Sabathia, Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro all meeting or exceeding expectations.

The Yankees own a 56-47 record through July 30, giving them a half-game lead over the Red Sox in the American League East. With the Houston Astros looking like the only true juggernaut in the league, general manager Brian Cashman had reason to believe that his team was just a few midseason acquisitions away from being a bona fide World Series contender, and he pulled the trigger.

“We’re back to the same old Yankees,” said Sabathia, according to Bryan Hoch. “The goal is to win the World Series. We’re here now.”

The early returns from the summer deals have been encouraging. Robertson and Kahnle have combined to surrender just two runs in 11.1 innings, good for an ERA of 1.62. Frazier has not been as productive, posting a .212/.366/.303 slash line in 11 games, but with a career slugging percentage of .459, the power should come in time.

Garcia and Gray have yet to throw a single pitch in pinstripes, but they should be a nice fit for an overachieving rotation that clearly needed help. Sabathia and rookie Jordan Montgomery were nice first-half surprises, but it wouldn’t be too surprising to see one or both fade down the stretch.

Of course, it will be difficult to catch the Astros – no matter how things go over the next two months. Houston has a 68-36 record, the second-best in baseball, and the loss of franchise shortstop Carlos Correa to injury hasn’t hurt them much.

But the Yankees have one crucial advantage over the Astros: their bullpen. New York is currently carrying six relievers with an ERA of 3.00 or below, and Aroldis Chapman, the hardest thrower in the game, isn’t among them. Shutdown relief pitching is a well-defined path to postseason success, so if these two stacked squads wind up meeting, the Bronx Bombers should have a great chance to pull off the upset.

But first, the Yankees would love to win their division and avoid the sudden death Wild Card Game. They will continue their season on Monday against the Detroit Tigers.

Top Republican senator says his party is in ‘denial’ about Trump

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Jeff Flake.
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Pool/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona wrote in an article published by Politico on Monday that his party was in “denial” about President Donald Trump.

Flake, who is up for reelection in 2018 and is one of the more vulnerable GOP senators in the coming election, held little back in the Politico op-ed article, which was excerpted from a book of his, “Conscience of a Conservative.” The excerpt described an executive branch “in chaos” and a president who has “seeming affection for strongmen and authoritarians.”

The Arizona Republican also took issue with his party’s mission while President Barack Obama was in office.

“Who could blame the people who felt abandoned and ignored by the major parties for reaching in despair for a candidate who offered oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions and managed to entertain them in the process,” he wrote. “With hindsight, it is clear that we all but ensured the rise of Donald Trump.

“I will let the liberals answer for their own sins in this regard. (There are many.) But we conservatives mocked Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his pledge to change the tone in Washington even as we worked to assist with that failure. It was we conservatives who, upon Obama’s election, stated that our number-one priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president – the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime.”

He said conservatives were “largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us.”

He continued: “It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a coequal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued. To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial.”

Dating back to the presidential campaign, Flake has been one of Trump’s most vocal critics among Republican senators. He wrote that he had been “sympathetic to this impulse to denial” that he earlier mentioned. But he added that the Constitution did not provide much of an ability for others in government to “do something about an executive branch in chaos.”

“There was a time when the leadership of the Congress from both parties felt an institutional loyalty that would frequently create bonds across party lines in defense of congressional prerogatives in a unified front against the White House, regardless of the president’s party,” he wrote. “We do not have to go very far back to identify these exemplars – the Bob Doles and Howard Bakers and Richard Lugars of the Senate. Vigorous partisans, yes, but even more importantly, principled constitutional conservatives whose primary interest was in governing and making America truly great.”

Flake ended his piece by providing three suggestions for his party.

“First, we shouldn’t hesitate to speak out if the president ‘plays to the base’ in ways that damage the Republican Party’s ability to grow and speak to a larger audience,” he wrote. “Second, Republicans need to take the long view when it comes to issues like free trade: Populist and protectionist policies might play well in the short term, put they handicap the country in the long term. Third, Republicans need to stand up for institutions and prerogatives, like the Senate filibuster, that have served us well for more than two centuries.”

Read Flake’s full commentary, which was adapted from his coming book, ‘Conscience of a Conservative,’ in Politico>

The Trump administration plans to remodel the EPA’s climate-focused museum — and may feature coal

The Environmental Protection Agency has a one-room museum inside the Ronald Reagan International Trade building in Washington, DC that is open every weekday and free for the public to attend.

It was the brain child of former administrator Gina McCarthy, and opened under her watch just days before President Donald Trump’s administration took charge.

Heralding accomplishments of the EPA, the museum outlines the agency’s history, including milestones in fighting climate change like signing the landmark global Paris agreement.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that the tiny museum may be seeing some changes after career EPA employees made Trump officials aware of it. According to The Post’s report, the museum will be redesigned to reflect the current administration’s priorities.

A career official told the Washington Post that Obama era-focused exhibits on the Clean Power Plan, the Paris agreement, the 2009 “endangerment finding,” and a panel featuring a Dr. Seuss themed poster reading “Join the Lorax and Help Protect the Earth From Global Warming,” will be removed.

Trump announced in June he will withdraw the US from the Paris agreement, and in March ordered the EPA to scrap the Clean Power Plan. He, and his EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, have both rejected the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change.

According to The Post, the administration hasn’t decided exactly what the exhibits will be replaced with due to budgetary questions, but the official said coal and agriculture may be featured. Pruitt has had close ties to the fossil fuel industry, and has drawn a number of his new hires directly from the coal, oil, natural gas, or chemical and pesticides industries, Business Insider reported.

Anne Gorsuch (the mother of Trump-nominated Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch) will be added. She is the only EPA administrator not currently featured in the museum, possibly due to her short and controversial reign.

Until final decisions are made, a large poster board featuring a “back-to-basics” agenda has been installed, which is Pruitt’s main priority for the agency, refocusing the EPA on its original mission of protecting the nation’s air, land, and water. According to The Post, the temporary poster features Pruitt shaking hands with Pennsylvania coal miners, with a message of “sensible regulations for economic growth.”

Read the full Post report here »

Elon Musk took a jab at Volvo while talking about the Tesla Model 3’s crash test

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A view of the Tesla Model 3’s side-impact pole crash test.
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Tesla/YouTube

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took a jab at Volvo while talking about safety features on the Tesla Model 3, his company’s new entry-level electric car.

During a handover event at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, Friday night, Musk showed a video that he said displayed side-by-side clips of a Model 3 and a 2016 Volvo S60 undergoing the same crash test.

The test is a type of side-impact crash simulation that mimics a car colliding sideways into a pole at 20mph which, in this test, would typically cause major damage to the driver-side door and a portion of the roof.

The video appeared to show that the Volvo S60, which achieved a five-star crash safety rating in all categories according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was damaged more severely than the Model 3.

“There’s a lot of cars that say they’re five-star – they are five-star – though that’s not a scientific metric,” Musk said. “Even something like the Volvo – great car. By normal standards, very safe. The Volvo is arguably the second-safest car in the world,” he said, eliciting laughs and applause from the audience.

“It is obvious which car you would prefer to be in, in an accident.”

Watch the moment below, starting at the 4:14 mark:

There was some confusion about that test, after some internet commenters suggested the Volvo S60 was crashed at a higher speed than the Model 3. But the side-by-side comparison in the video above does appear to show two identical side-impact pole collisions occurring at 20mph according to NHTSA documentation, and Tesla confirmed in an email to Business Insider that the side-impact tests in the video were indeed the same.

Musk has made such a comparison in the past, hailing Tesla’s crash safety as the best in the world, a statement that has caught the attention of some industry veterans because Volvos have a longstanding reputation for safety. The company even has a plan to eliminate crash deaths in its new cars by 2020.

Volvo XC90 front crash

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A Volvo XC90 crash test.
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Volvo Car Group

It started with the seat belts

The 90-year-old Swedish automaker was the first to install three-point seat belts in a car in 1959 and has achieved top ratings in crash-test categories for decades. Business Insider asked Volvo Cars US CEO Lex Kerssemakers last year for his take on Musk’s ambition to have Tesla dethrone Volvo as the safest cars on the road.

“In the end, we need to create a society where 33,000 people aren’t killed [in auto accidents] every year, so I can only encourage him in making safe cars,” Kerssemakers said of the Tesla CEO. “I know which is the safest car company, and we’re not going to give that up,” he said.

The Volvo executive said that ultimately he’s not concerned with titles, saying vehicle safety is a long-term journey.

“It’s not about ‘we’ve got to win this year and that year.’ We collect data from real-world accidents, and we’ve got a really good idea how cars react in different accident scenarios,” Kerssemakers said.

Tesla has previously taken a less charitable view of Tesla crash-test results that were anything less than perfect – notably after a recent test of a Model S that received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) second-highest rating in a frontal collision.

Tesla hit back at the IIHS, suggesting the agency was motivated by “subjective purposes.”

US Navy pilot explains how he shot down a Syrian fighter jet

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F/A-18E Super Hornet.
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Boeing

On June 18, a US Navy pilot shot down a Syrian fighter jet south of Tabqah after it dropped bombs near US-backed forces, also known as Syrian Democratic Forces, according to US Central Command.

It was the first time a US pilot made an air-to-air kill since the Kosovo conflict in 1999.

And now, for the first time since the incident, pilot Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel, explained to savetheroyalnavy.org exactly what happened that day.

“The whole incident lasted about eight minutes,” Tremel told the site. “I did not directly communicate with the Syrian Jet but he was given several warnings by our supporting AWACS aircraft.”

Central Command said that after pro-Syrian fighter jets bombed the SDF-held town of Ja’Din around 4:30 p.m., they called Russia on the ‘de-confliction line’ to get them to stop the air raids. At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian Su-22 dropped more ordnance, and in response, Tremel, flying an F/A-18E Super Hornet, shot the fighter jet down.

Here’s the rest of Tremel’s story:

“So yes, we released ordnance and yes it hit a target that was in the air, but it really just came back to defending those guys that were doing the hard job on the ground and taking that ground back from ISIS … I didn’t see the pilot eject but my wingman observed his parachute … When you think about the shoot-down, in the grand scheme of things … we [our squadron] flew over 400 missions in support of friendly forces on the ground … [Russia] behaved with great professionalism at all times.”

Tremel also said that he first shot at the Su-22 with an infrared guided AIM-9X Sidewinder short range air-to-air missile, but the Syrian jet released decoy flares, and the missile missed.

He then fired a second radar-guided AIM-120 AMRAAM missile, which destroyed the Su-22.

Tremel made the call himself to shoot down the Su-22 in accordance with the rules of engagement, according to Military.com.

There’s a 95% chance the world will warm beyond a crucial tipping point — here’s what that means

    There’s only a 5% chance that the world won’t warm more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, according to a new study. Two degrees is what’s usually considered the threshold at which warming becomes catastrophic. That gases we’ve already emitted guarantee close to 1.5 degrees of warming.

By 2100, the world will be different.

A newly published study estimates that there’s a 95% chance global temperatures will rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. That’s the level that’s frequently considered the tipping point beyond which the consequences of climate change become catastrophic.

The goal of the Paris Agreement was to set emissions standards that could keep the world from hitting that point – ideally less than a 1.5-degree increase – though experts noted that global reductions would have to be even more aggressive to truly accomplish that aim.

But according to the authors of the new study, it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll be able to stay below the 2-degree threshold.

Even if we do take action on emissions, the authors suggest, we’ll still probably see a median temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius. That’s based on their expectations for global population growth, rising GDP per capita, and the amount of carbon dioxide that can be expected to be emitted based on those GDP levels.

That’s significantly higher than the temperature rise that many experts said would lead to drastic consequences.

‘If not hell, then a place with a similar temperature’

“Huge swaths of the world will be living in places that by the end of the century will have heat waves so deep that people won’t be able to deal with them, you have sea level rising dramatically, to the point that most of the world’s cities are drowning, the ocean turning into a hot, sour, breathless soup as it acidifies and warms,” environmentalist and author Bill McKibben recently told Business Insider.

McKibben’s predictions for what that warm world would look like weren’t pretty.

“If not hell, then a place with a similar temperature,” he said. “We have in the Earth’s geological record some sense of what happens when you run carbon levels up to the levels we’re running them now – it gets a lot hotter.”

The gases we’ve put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels so far already guarantee that the world will continue to get warmer.

Another paper published July 31 argued that it’s fairly likely we’ve already “committed to” around 1 degree C of warming – and that there’s a 13% chance we’ve already guaranteed 1.5 degrees. Even if the world stopped emitting carbon dioxide today, that course might already be set.

“Our estimates are based on things that have already happened, things we can observe, and they point to the part of future warming that is already committed to by past emissions,” Thorsten Mauritsen, lead author of that paper, said in a press release. “Future carbon dioxide emissions will then add extra warming on top of that commitment.”

hottest year

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REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Reasons for hope

It might be tempting to respond to these predictions by throwing up our hands, further condemning future generations to suffer the consequences. But that ignores the most important thing that these two new papers highlight: By the calculations of these researchers, it is still possible to make changes that could prevent us from hitting these levels of warming.

Despite decades of inaction on climate, there are movements now that offer some encouragement. Activists around the world are pushing countries to take steps that could prevent warming from getting too out of hand. In the US, cities and states have vowed to try to meet the country’s Paris Agreement goals despite the fact that President Donald Trump plans to pull the US out of that accord.

There are also a growing number of lawsuits around the globe that argue governments are violating their citizens’ constitutional rights by engaging in actions that contribute to climate change despite long-held knowledge of its dangerous consequences.

There are even natural economic trends towards clean energy and away from fossil fuels.

These efforts may not stop the world from warming 2 degrees. But they could – or might at least limit warming to 2.5 degrees instead of 4.

Some researchers, like climate scientist James Hansen, think we may need to develop “negative emissions” technologies that would allow us to suck carbon out of the atmosphere and store it away. There are even last-ditch geoengineering schemes that might offer ways to buy more time to deal with the problem (though many experts hope it never gets to that point).

But if we want to prevent the most dire effects of rising global temperatures, action needs to be taken sooner rather than later. These two new papers highlight just how urgent that threat is.

Voice activated speakers, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, are pumping new life into Pandora’s business

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The Harman Invoke, a Microsoft Cortana-powered rival to the Amazon Echo.
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Harman

Pandora’s number of active users declined by 2% in the second quarter, but the group of people using the streaming music service on a voice activated device, like Amazon’s Echo, grew by a whopping 282% year-over-year, the company said on Monday.

That’s 1.6 million listeners on voice activated devices, out of the 76 million Pandora listeners.

The surge in listeners accessing the music service from voice-activated devices reflects the growing popularity of the Amazon Echo, Google Home and other new smart speaker devices (Even Apple has a speaker launching soon). And it could represent an important ray of hope for Pandora’s business, which has experienced a steady decline in listeners in recent years.

With voice-activated speaker devices, a user can quickly request whatever song, artist or type of music they’re in the mood for simply by speaking to the device. If that kind of convenience and ease of use entices people to spend more time on Pandora, or more people to pay for Pandora’s subscription service, that could be a big boon for the company.

Pandora executives on Monday’s earnings conference call noted that voice activated devices are a “natural platform” for Pandora, and noted that Pandora is benefitting from connected consumer electronic devices and car-based interfaces.

“In the back half of the year, we will deepen our existing relationships with partners like Amazon, Google and Sonos, and add new partnerships to expand our suite of over 2,000 connected devices,” Pandora said on the call.

Despite a tumultuous morning, in which the company announced the end of its services in Australia and New Zealand, it was successful quarter for the music streaming service. Pandora beat Wall Street targets in both revenues and earnings per share in Q2.

Discovery dropped $14.6 billion to buy the dying cable TV business model more time

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Discovery Channel/Shark Week

    Having spent $14.6 billion to buy Scripps, Discovery has more negotiating leverage with TV distributors and advertisers. That’s good news for smaller cable networks that could otherwise be on the chopping block. The Discovery-Scripps combo can also look to accelerate the growth of data-driven TV ads and digital.

There are many reasons that Discovery Communications is snatching up fellow cable TV stalwart Scripps Networks for $14.6 billion. But there’s one that stands out: this buys the dying cable TV business model more time.

In the short term Discovery gets more leverage to squeeze as much as it can out of the cable model. More specifically, the combined power of the two companies makes it easier to keep smaller yet solid revenue producing networks alive for a few more years until the cable business reinvents itself.

Earlier this year, the TV industry was abuzz with the news that NBCU was shutting down the Esquire network, while A+E was considering killing the cable network FYI, as Variety reported. Many saw this as the beginning of the end for the bloated universe of cable networks, in a world where most people only watch a handful of channels if they’re not streaming their favorite shows.

But now with Scripps, Discovery boasts of 19 cable channels, including five of the top 10 rated cable networks among women aged 25 to 54. Over the next few years, when it negotiates with traditional distributors like Comcast or Time Warner, it can say to those companies something like:

“If you want to offer Discovery or Food Network, you need to also pay us to carry smaller networks like Velocity or Great American Country.”

And as Discovery executives negotiate with newer cable alternatives (the so called “skinny bundles”) like YouTube TV or Sling TV, they also now have a much better chance to make sure their networks make the skinny bundle cut.

The company can have the same type of horse-trading conversations with advertisers: “If you want to run ads on our highest rated networks, well, you need to buy some ads on our smaller networks.”

In a few years, the TV business will likely have been reshaped dramatically. But cable executives believe that there are several more lucrative years ahead before cord-cutting and streaming do irreparable damage. So the Discovery-Scripps combo lets them wring as much cash out of cable’s envied dual revenue business model (where they make money from subscription fees and ads) for as long as they can.

Here are some other benefits for Discovery:

Discovery is now more of a digital player

It’s worth noting that Discovery recently invested in the digital content rollup Group Nine Media, which includes publishers like Thrillist and NowThis. Now, between Discovery and Scripps, the company believes it can better compete with the BuzzFeeds of the world in web video scale and video ad money.

Plus, like in the cable universe, Discovery has more clout when negotiating deals with the likes of Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat.

Discovery has a better chance to shape the future of ads

As digital advertising surges and traditional TV viewing dips, the TV industry has looked to embrace data and technology to offer more advanced ad targeting. That’s the premise behind Open AP, a joint initiative between Viacom, Turner and Fox aimed at accelerating this trend. Now with Scripps, Discovery can essentially build its own version of that data-infused TV ad platform, theoretically enabling advertisers to buy ads reaching specific audiences, such as new moms eyeing minivans in the next six months.

Here’s a key line from Discovery’s presentation announcing the deal:

    “Combined data expertise and strong short form/digital scale will offer a compelling proposition to buy targeted audiences across platforms”

Among Scripps’ quiet strengths in this realm: it has a large amount of data on consumers from an ongoing series of sweepstakes and special products it delivers to viewers, like HGTV’s “Smart Home” giveaway. And Scripps also makes web video content on behalf of many advertisers.

artificial intelligence

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Media companies are feeling pressure to invest in artificial intelligence
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REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

It should be easier to invest in new technology

For any big TV company, there’s an ongoing need to invest in technology and engineering talent. These are areas the TV business isn’t necessarily known for. Yet these companies can’t make every bet. They can’t build their own ad tech and VR studio and artful intelligence lab, for example. The combined heft of Scripps and Discovery lets the two companies spread out these costs more effectively.

There are lots of other motivations for the deal, such as:

    Scripps networks have lots of room to grow internationally, where Discovery is strong. The company is better positioned to launch its own “non-sports” skinny TV bundle. The company’s fledgling Discovery GO app, which allows cable subscribers to log in and watch shows on demand, already makes Discovery tens of millions of dollars, according to a person familiar with the matter. After this deal, that app can now be bolstered by all of Scripps’ shows. The two companies say they’ll save a lot of money, referencing an “estimated $350M annualized run rate cost synergies”