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June 4, 2019
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Lady Liberty Deletes Her Facebook
The two US agencies that handle antitrust matters are splitting their oversight responsibilities vis-a-vis tech giants. The Justice Department will handle complaints about Google and Apple, and the Federal Trade Commission will oversee complaints against Facebook and Amazon. The decision to share the workload doesn’t mean official federal investigations are being opened, but it does suggest the agencies are signaling the potential for greater scrutiny.
Regulators have struggled to keep up with the rapid growth of technology companies that dominate large portions of the economy. Facebook is the beating heart of millions of people’s online social lives; Amazon is the 1000 pound gorilla of online retailing; and the starting point for many people searching online is Google. App developers are tremendously influenced by Apple.
There has been growing discomfort among American regulators, and some politicians and consumer groups, with the enormous power wielded by a handful of Silicon Valley companies. Competitors and academics have voiced their concerns against the biggest tech companies for years with little to show for it.
More recent additional issues with consumer privacy, labor conditions and public discourse have gotten political attention and ramped up the debate. The FTC is nearing the end of an investigation into Facebook’s handling of data privacy, for which the company is expected to pay up to $5 billion in settlement. Taking on antitrust issues would be a separate inquiry, necessitating new assignments for Justice and the FTC to explore competition in search, e-commerce and social networking.
- A Brief History of How Your Privacy Was Stolen: Google and Facebook took our data — and made a ton of money from it. We must fight back (NYT, $)
- U.S. Requiring Social Media Information From Visa Applicants (NYT, $)
Good News: A Plan to Reduce Homelessness
- Just over a decade ago, Finland came up with a radical idea to solve its homelessness problem — it would provide a home for everyone who needed it. Now Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is declining. The Housing First principle was the brainchild of four people, a social scientist, a doctor, a politician and a bishop.
- Launched in 2008, its first goal was to build 2,500 new homes. It built 3,500. Since Housing First’s launch the number of long-term homeless people in Finland has fallen by more than 35 percent.
- Rough sleeping has been all but eradicated in Helsinki, where only one 50-bed night shelter remains, and where winter temperatures can plunge to minus 20C. Helsinki’s deputy mayor said that in her childhood, “hundreds in the whole country slept in the parks and forests. We hardly have that any more. Street sleeping is very rare now.” (Guardian)
Tank You, Thank Man
- It’s been 30 years since the world watched the Chinese Army crush demonstrations on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Many images of the crackdown showed streets engulfed in carnage and chaos.
- But the most memorable image remains that of a lone individual in a crisp white shirt, holding two shopping bags, photographed on June 5, 1989 standing in front of a convoy of hulking armored tanks attempting to move east on Changan Boulevard. The defiant individual was never identified. He is simply known as “Tank Man,” and his singular act of defiance has become for many outside China an enduring code for Western values and desires.
- Inside China, the government has worked to eliminate the memory of Tank Man, censoring images of him online and punishing those who would evoke him. (NYT)
Massacre In Khartoum
- Heavily armed paramilitaries attacked the site of a sit-in in Khartoum, Sudan, shortly after dawn on Monday, killing at least 30 people.
- The capital has been the center of a long campaign to bring democratic reform and end the repressive rule of former president Omar al-Bashir. Bashir was ousted in April by the army following months of massive pro-democracy demonstrations.
- Factions within the military decided to put an end to the pro-reform protests after lengthy negotiations with civilian leaders and activists for transition to democracy. Witnesses said the aggressors were members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a group heavily armed by the former president. (Guardian)
You Don’t Have To Go Home But You Also Can’t Go Home
- A government inquiry has found that Canada is complicit in “race-based genocide” against indigenous women. The 1,200 page report released Monday cited research that found indigenous women were 12 times more likely than other women to be killed or to disappear.
- Deep-rooted colonialism and state inaction was blamed for the crisis. Among more than 200 recommendations is a call for all Canadians to help end violence, including by learning indigenous history. (BBC)
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Partisanship Sails This Ship Straight Into An Iceberg
- Congress is facing two urgent deadlines that if not met could result in a disastrous default on the federal debt and automatic domestic and military spending cuts of $125 billion.
- In the past lawmakers had been able to overcome bouts of fiscal brinksmanship by coming together to waive the spending caps over the last four years, and to suspend or waive the statutory limit on federal borrowing.
- But now the partisanship is so paralyzing that few bills have made it through both chambers in the first few months of Congress, and President Trump, who has shown a willingness to blow up deals at the last minute, has often demonstrated a lack of concern about the soaring federal debt. Lawmakers need to act before recesses in July and August to avert a crisis. (NYT)
Additional USA News
- Republican Matt Gaetz becomes first US politician to be ‘milkshaked’: British import made its debut on Saturday when Gaetz was hit with what appeared to be a milkshake while leaving a town hall (Guardian)
- ‘Completely Catastrophic’: Flooding And Tariffs Causing Chaos For Farmers (NPR)
- ‘They are amazed’: New York City sees extraordinary leap in whale sightings: A total of 272 whales were spotted last year, compared with five in 2011, thanks to legislation mopping up pollution, experts say (Guardian)
- ‘So much land under so much water’: extreme flooding is drowning parts of the midwest: As relentless rain wreaks havoc in the farm belt, many struggle to cope (Guardian)
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- “Procrastination is not a time-management problem, it’s an emotion-management problem,” says Tim Pychyl, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University and blogger at Psychology Today.
- In his book Solving the Procrastination Puzzle, Pychyl explains that “Procrastination is a voluntary delay of an intended act despite the knowledge that this delay may harm us.” In other words, procrastination is by definition an irrational behavior because it runs counter to our own idea of what will make us happy. Specifically, procrastination is an “emotion-focused coping strategy to deal with negative emotions.”
- This emotional avoidance technique is similar to that which underlies many types of anxiety. People with anxiety often do everything they can to avoid a perceived external threat. By procrastinating, we’re avoiding a task with the assumption that the task won’t feel good.
- Pychyl has found links between procrastination and negative emotions like frustration and resentment, which makes it even more difficult to cope with the potential negative emotions we predict our task will create. Stop treating procrastination like a time-management issue and it will become easier to manage. (Fast Company)
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