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Tue, Oct. 22

Friday Catchall: Keep petitions local; NEWS not acronym

The Friday Catchall:

• PETITIONS — I read with interest an article about how an attorney for the state asked a federal judge to uphold a law that challengers say is designed to make it more difficult for people to propose their own laws.

Assistant Attorney General Joseph La Rue acknowledged that the measure requires a judge to throw out all signatures of paid or out-of-state circulators of initiative petitions if that person does not respond to a subpoena, regardless of whether the signatures gathered are actually valid.

That restriction, he said, is necessary to protect the integrity of the election process.

But the judge questioned why, if such automatic disqualification is necessary, that same provision does not apply when initiative signatures are collected by volunteers who are Arizona residents.

As someone who categorically does not sign petitions (I want to be able to say, as a newsman, I have shown no bias), I think it comes down to who is pushing the initiative, who is behind the effort.

A ballot measure gets a lot more validity from me if it is born of Arizona residents who are concerned about something, instead of a rich guy from California (which has happened) who wants all states to adopt his idea.

I live in Arizona, and want to be governed by Arizonans. I do not like someone from elsewhere foisting on me or my neighbors their version of life or law.

Some claim this infringes on their First Amendment rights. I don’t think so; I know things on the East Coast are different than they are here — that’s why I don’t live there.

The First Amendment is federal law, and states have the right of sovereignty. Fine line, but I see it.

• N.E.W.S. — Much to my surprise a friend told me earlier this week: “Did you know that ‘newspaper’ is an acronym? It stands for North East West South Past Present Reports.”

I had never heard such a thing, so I looked it up online.

Ever wonder “what is fake news?” Read on.

From what I can find, it started about two years ago with a tweet:

“On Monday, Twitter user @asteinmetz_21 popularized this complete myth that ‘news’ is an acronym for ‘notable events, weather, and sports.’”

It’s not. But his tweet went viral with nearly 28,000 retweets currently, and so here we are. (Mind blown.)

Others had their own opinions: “Notable Events Weather and Sports.”

That went viral too, with these entirely fabricated “facts” completely out of control.

At some point, days later, some people chimed in to debunk the new(s) “fact.”

The most common was: “Wow, I thought NEWS stands for … news.”

Thankfully, credible sources tried to shut it down. Merriam-Webster (the people who publish dictionaries) kept their response simple: “No.”

But later added: Definition of news — a report of recent events; previously unknown information; something having a specified influence or effect; material reported in a newspaper or news periodical or on a newscast; matter that is newsworthy.

And, while one source stated that “news” comes from the French “nouvelles,” some people recast the rumor as “north, east, west, south.”

Folks, it does not stand for that either. News or newspaper have no acronymic ties.

None.

Yes, we have entered a new dimension of “fake news.”

How about “news” stands for “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”

• QUOTE – “If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes truth.” – anonymous (with some people substituting “politics” or “policy” for the word truth.

• PICK OF THE WEEK – (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): The annual Yavapai Cattle Growers barbecue and calf sale is Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Maughan Ranch near Yarnell. Lunch is at noon.

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.

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