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How ‘Cops’ shaped public opinion about police and people of color over the last 30 years

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COPS reality TV show has been cancelled.

Courtesy Paramount Network

When a writers’ strike paralyzed the television industry in the late 1980s, networks were forced to find new, alternative programs to fill its air. 

That’s how “Cops” found a home on Fox Television. The low budget program, which had no union writers, was a welcome solution — and it ran for 32 seasons. That is until earlier this week. 

Now owned by ViacomCBS, “Cops” was canceled in the wake of of protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.

The show has long been criticized for its depiction of police interactions with criminal suspects, but high ratings kept the show running and even inspired other networks to create reality TV shows featuring cops. A&E’s “Live P.D.,” one of the highest-rated shows on cable, has also been canceled. 

“As an early reality program, it came across to people as raw documentary,” said Jack Bratich, associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University. “Nowadays audiences are more savvy about how reality programming is produced, edited and staged. Viewers are aware of how programs present perspectives and invite audiences to identify with those perspectives.”

The appeal of “Cops,” and other shows like it, was the idea that it was an unfiltered look at what police face everyday while on the job. However, this lens was more filtered than most audiences were aware of at the time of its inception and, as the program gained popularity, it began to reinforce racial stereotypes about the Black community.

The reality of ‘Cops’

“One of the first reality TV shows, ‘Cops’ observational style seemed to show the police as the thin blue line holding back the violence and chaos of American inner cities,” said Zoe Druick, a professor at Simon Fraser University, who teaches media studies and cultural theory. 

The show didn’t have a script or a narrator. Audiences were thrust into the action, watching as patrol cars sped toward violent incidents that were already in progress. 

At the time of “Cops” inception, the U.S. was in the middle of its “War on Drugs,” which led to the militarization of police and higher incarceration rates. 

“Their violent policing style was justified by the extreme situations they found themselves in,” Druick said. “In reality, the show was highly edited, with the majority of police work dealing with the outcomes of poverty, addiction and mental illness being left on the proverbial cutting room floor.”

“Cops” filmed in more than 140 cities over the course of its 30 years on television. Police departments granted permission to the program to film in their areas and had approval rights over the footage.

In many cases, police departments asked “Cops” to come and film in their town or city in order to assist with rebranding their reputation and as a means to recruit new officers.

“‘Cops’ was terrific PR for police departments,” said Dan Simon, professor of law and psychology at The University of Southern California Gould School of Law. 

Simon noted that there is a sense of accountability that most people feel when they are being observed. The police officers knew they were going to be filmed for the series, were aware of the norms and expectations people have for officers of the law and were working to uphold that image.

“Some reality shows are games — participants are also contestants, creating personas for the audience as well as for other contestants,” Bratich said. “In the case of ‘Cops,’ this meant creating personas of amused, beleaguered and effective police officers. They constructed images of themselves as ordinary heroes just doing their jobs on the front lines. This peek into the backstage of patrol cops eclipsed the institutional and systemic problems of policing.”

Reinforcing stereotypes

While police officers were glorified, suspects, regardless of their eventual guilt, were criminalized.

“The show drew a line between police and criminals, using the observational format to suggest that we could simply see who was good and who was bad in the situation,” Druick said. “‘Cops’ therefore also implicitly suggested that courts were irrelevant. You could see with your own eyes who was guilty — the very ones police came for.”

Simon noted that studies have shown that over the course of the show’s run it statistically skewed toward Black and Brown suspects, more so than the actual rate of crime in the U.S. Often, he said, these suspects were shown intoxicated, in poor neighborhoods and in poor physical condition. 

“You catch people at the worst moments in their lives and that reinforces the stereotypes,” Simon said.

The structure of “Cops,” which didn’t provide background or context for incidences, pushed audiences to identify with the police, Druick said. Even the “Bad Boys” theme song assisted in criminalizing the suspects even before they were on camera.

“Over the years, [‘Cops’] most likely contributed to the dehumanization of poor, desperate, drug-addicted African Americans and the justification of harsh, militarized policing,” she said.

ViacomCBS and A&E, which is owned by Hearst Communications and Disney Media Networks, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The representation of suspects on reality police shows is part of the reason that protesters have called for their cancellation over the years. Those calls were ultimately answered in the wake of nationwide rallies against police brutality and the bias against people of color.

“By focusing on ordinary situations, reality TV often normalizes certain behaviors,”  Bratich said. “The call to cancel ‘Cops’ was a refusal of police normalization.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/13/how-cops-shaped-public-opinion-about-police-and-people-of-color.html

Fintech

Accept.inc secures $90M in debt and equity to scale its digital mortgage lending platform

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A lot of startups were built to help people make all-cash offers on homes with the purpose of gaining an edge against other buyers, especially in ultra-competitive markets. 

Accepti.inc is a Denver-based company that is attempting to create a new category in real estate technology. To help scale its digital mortgage lending platform, the company announced today that it has secured $90 million in debt and equity – with $78 million in debt and $12 million in equity. Signal Fire led the equity portion of its financing, which also included participation from existing seed investors Y Combinator and DN Capital.

Accept.inc describes itself as an iLender, or a “technology-enabled lender” that gives people a way to submit all-cash offers on a home upon qualifying for a mortgage.

Using its platform, a buyer gets qualified first and then can start looking for homes that fall at or under the amount he or she is approved for. They can purchase a more expensive home, but any amount above what they are approved for would have to come out of pocket. Historically, most buyers don’t know that they will have to pay out of pocket until they’ve made an offer on a specific home and an appraisal comes under the amount of the price they are paying for a home. In those cases, the buyer has to cough up the difference out of pocket. With Accept.inc., its execs tout, buyers know upfront how much they are approved for and can spend on a new home “so there are no surprises later.”

SignalFire Founding Partner and CTO Ilya Kirnos describes Accept.inc as “the first and only iLender.”

He points out that since it is a lender, Accept.inc doesn’t make its money by charging buyers fees like some others in the all-cash offer space.

“Unlike ‘iBuyers’ or ‘alternative iBuyers,’ Accept.inc fronts the cash to buy a house and then makes money off mortgage origination and title, meaning sellers, homebuyers and their agents pay no additional cost for the service,” he told TechCrunch.

IBuyers instead buy homes from sellers who signed up online, make a profit by often fixing up and selling those homes and then helping people purchase a different home with all cash. They also make money by charging transaction fees. A slew of companies operate in the space including established players such as Opendoor and Zillow and newer players such as Homelight.

Image credit: Accept.inc. Left to right: Co-founders Adam Pollack, Nick Friedman and Ian Perrex.

Since its 2016 inception, Accept.inc says it has helped thousands of buyers, agents and sellers close on “hundreds of millions of dollars” in homes. The company saw ”14x” growth in 2020 and from June 2020 to June 2021, it achieved “10x” growth in terms of the size of its team and number of transactions and revenue, according to CEO and co-founder Adam Pollack. Accept.inc wants to use its new capital to build on that momentum and meet demand.

Pollack and Nick Friedman met while in college and started building Accept.inc with the goal of “turning every offer into a cash offer.” The pair essentially “failed for two years,” half-jokes Pollack.

“We basically became an encyclopedia of 1,000 ways the idea of helping people make all-cash offers wouldn’t work,” he said.

The team went through Y Combinator in the winter of 2019 and that’s when they created the iLender concept. In the iLender model, the company uses its cash to buy a house for buyers. Once the loan with Accept.inc is ready to close, the company sells back the house to the buyer “at no additional cost or fees.”

“Basically what we learned through those two years is that you have to vertically integrate all of your core competencies, and you can’t rely on third parties to own or manage your special sauce for you,” Pollack told TechCrunch. “We also realized that if you’re going to build a cash offer for anyone who could afford a mortgage, you’ve got to make it a full bona fide cash offer that closes in three days as opposed to a better version of what existed. And you have to own that, and take the risk that comes with it and be comfortable with that.”

The benefits of their model, the pair say, is that buyers get to be cash buyers, sellers can close in as little as 32 hours, and agents “get a guaranteed commission check.” 

“Our mission is that everyone should have an equal chance at homeownership,” Friedman said. “We not only want to level the playing field, we want to create a new standard.”

Buyers using Accept.inc win 6-7 times more frequently, the company claims. With its new capital, It also plans to double its team of 90 and enter new markets outside of its home base of Denver.

SignalFire Partner Chris Scoggins believes that Accept.inc is different from other lenders in that its focus is on “winning the home, not just servicing the loan, with a business model that’s 10x more capital-efficient than other players in the market.

The team is driven…to level the playing field for homebuyers who today lose out against all-cash offers from home-flippers and wealthy individuals,” he added. “We see an enormous opportunity for Accept.inc to become the backbone of the future of mortgage lending.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/accept-inc-secures-90m-in-debt-equity/

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Apple’s AirPods Max fall to a new all-time low of $489 at Amazon

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All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

With good looks, quality construction and great natural sound, Apple’s AirPods Max headphones tick all the right boxes, but they’re mighty expensive at $550. However, you can now pick up a pair from Amazon at $490, the lowest price we’ve seen yet. That’s still not inexpensive by any means, but it’s a substantial savings on high-end headphones that only came out seven months ago. 

Buy Apple AirPods Max (pink) at Amazon – $490 Buy Apple AirPods Max (sky blue) at Amazon – $489 Buy Apple AirPods Max (space gray) at Amazon – $489

With an Engadget review score of 84, the AirPods Max earned a spot in our list of the best headphones you can buy. They look and feel great thanks to the aluminum and metal design, breathable mesh fabric and large earcups. A rotating crown and dedicated button let you switch between ANC and and regular modes, and it’s easy to switch seamlessly between iPhones, Macs and iPads. They offer hands-free capability with Siri, and you can go for up to 20 hours between charges with both ANC and spatial sound enabled.  

AirPods Max offer a more natural sound experience than other headphones, with bass that’s not overcooked. Active noise cancellation quality is right up there, though not quite on par with Sony’s WH-1000XM4 ANC headphones. And they support Apple’s Dolby Atmos-powered spatial audio on iPhones, iPads and Macs right now, and will come to Apple TV this fall. The main drawback is that they won’t stream Apple’s new lossless audio. 

Still, they deliver in nearly every other area and are especially useful for folks with Apple devices. $60 is a substantial discount for an Apple product this new, so if you’re interested, it would be best to act soon. 

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/apple-airpods-max-good-deal-amazon-124026253.html?src=rss_b2c

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SA agritech releases AI-enabled OmnioFarm to modernise African poultry farming

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The founders of South African cryptocurrency investment platform Africrypt have disappeared along with $3.6 billion (R51.4 billion) worth of Bitcoin, according to a report….

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Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/sa-agritech-releases-ai-enabled-omniofarm-to-modernise-african-poultry-farming/

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Fintech

Visa to acquire open banking platform Tink for more than $2 billion

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Visa has announced plans to acquire Tink for €1.8 billion, or $2.15 billion at today’s exchange rate. Tink has been a leading fintech startup in Europe focused on open banking application programming interface (API).

Today’s move comes a few months after Visa abandoned its acquisition of Plaid, another popular open banking startup. Originally, Visa planned to spend $5.3 billion to acquire the American startup. But the company had to call off the acquisition after running into a regulatory wall.

Tink offers a single API so that customers can connect to bank accounts from their own apps and services. For instance, you can leverage Tink’s API to access account statements, initiate payments, fetch banking information and refresh this data regularly.

While banks and financial institutions now all have to offer open banking interfaces due to EU’s Payment Services Directive PSD2, there’s no single standard. Tink integrates with 3,400 banks and financial institutions.

App developers can use the same API call to interact with bank accounts across various financial institutions. As you may have guessed, it greatly simplifies the adoption of open banking features.

300 banks and fintech startups use Tink’s API to access third-party bank information — clients include PayPal, BNP Paribas, American Express and Lydia. Overall, Tink covers 250 million bank customers across Europe.

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Tink operations should continue as usual after the acquisition. Visa plans to retain the brand and management team.

According to Crunchbase data, Tink has raised over $300 million from Dawn Capital, Eurazeo, HMI Capital, Insight Partners, PayPal Ventures, Creades, Heartcore Capital and others.

“For the past ten years we have worked relentlessly to build Tink into a leading open banking platform in Europe, and we are incredibly proud of what the whole team at Tink has created together,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said in a statement. “We have built something incredible and at the same time we have only scratched the surface.”

“Joining Visa, we will be able to move faster and reach further than ever before. Visa is the perfect partner for the next stage of Tink’s journey, and we are incredibly excited about what this will bring to our employees, customers and for the future of financial services.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/visa-to-acquire-open-banking-platform-tink-for-more-than-2-billion/

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