On today's program: The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board approved a proposal to waive liquor license fees to provide financial relief to restaurants and bars hit hard by the pandemic; researchers try to take down disinformation using science and technology; and how Donald Trump’s and Joe Biden’s differences on environmental and energy policies could affect Pennsylvania.
PA Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association says waiving liquor license fees ‘is not going to go far enough’ for bars and restaurants hit by pandemic
(00:00 — 6:15)
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board approved Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to waive nearly $28 million in liquor license fees through 2021 to provide financial relief to restaurants and bars. The decision could affect about 16,000 restaurants, bars, clubs, and hotels, and would save them about $1,500 apiece.
Wolf said the suspension of the liquor license fees is a step “toward helping bars and restaurants retain the capital they need to weather the storm of COVID-19.” He also proposed $100 million in forgivable loans and grants for the hospitality, leisure and service industries, including restaurants and bars.
But it might not be enough, says Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association Executive Director Chuck Moran.
“I’m not sure there’s any amount of money at this point to keep people to survive in the upcoming months,” he tells The Confluence.
According to Moran, bars and restaurants have “been the tip of the spear since Day 1; there’s been no other industry that has sacrificed more for the good of the public health, but this is not going to go far enough, and it needs to be combined with a number of other things.”
Between the pandemic and the election, CMU professor estimates “tens of thousands of disinformation bits” circulate online
(6:18 — 12:32)
Researchers studying how wrong information spreads on social media in 2020 had two very big issues to look at: the pandemic and a contentious national election. Misinformation (errors spread unintentionally) and deliberate disinformation spread rapidly online and can be difficult to stop.
Disinformation “is at a level of magnitude that we have never seen before,” says Kathleen Carley, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science's Institute for Software Research and director of the Center for Informed Democracy and Social Cybersecurity (IDeaS).
Earlier this month, Facebook and Twitter took down more than a dozen disinformation networks used by political and state-backed groups in multiple countries to deceive users on their platforms, but Carley says it would be very hard for any single company to eliminate disinformation completely.
“All of these things are so interconnected that if just simply one company decides to stop a particular piece of disinformation, it’ll just go to the other channels and then re-pop back up,” she says.
While Carley thinks disinformation will always exist, she says the question we should be asking is “whether we can reduce the extent to which it is overwhelming.”
“Most elections, you know, there’s a few hundred lies,” she says. “But this time we’re talking about—between the pandemic and the election—tens of thousands of disinformation bits going out there. So I think that we’ll be able to reduce that number, but I think you’ll probably always have some.”
Trump and Biden offer Pennsylvania voters vastly different takes on environmental policies
(12:33 — 17:47)
The two presidential candidates differ sharply on a number of issues. That’s especially true when it comes to their stances on the environment. How would these differences affect Pennsylvania?
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.