Company v. Country
October 2, 2019
“It is an underacknowledged truism that, just as you are what you eat, how and what you think depends on what information you are exposed to.”
“It is no coincidence that ours is a time afflicted by a widespread sense of attentional crisis, at least in the West – one captured by the phrase ”homo distractus,” a species of ever shorter attention span known for compulsively checking his devices.”
– Tim Wu
Companies Larger Than Countries: Techopolies vs. Countries
- Mark Zuckerberg and Elizabeth Warren have met each other in a confrontation for the ages: government vs big techopolies. A recently leaked transcript of an internal meeting for tech giant Facebook revealed that Mark Zuckerberg was starting to prepare for what he considers the worst possible outcome in the upcoming presidential election: an Elizabeth Warren win.
- In the transcript released by The Verge, some major talking points between Zuckerberg and his employees included the growing threat of political interference in big tech, the rising threat of competitors such as TikTok and China’s Alibaba and Tencent, and on the future launch of Libra, Facebook’s cryptocurrency which was announced a few months ago.
- Elizabeth Warren has been extremely vocal about her plans to break down the tech giants (techopolies) who currently rule the internet, as they currently control an unbelievable amount of influence and unregulated power. The Massachusetts senator made her promise in March, when she made a blogpost stating that big tech companies had too much power and have been using “our private information for profit.”
- Warren has performed strongly in recent polls, in some cases passing former vice-president Joe Biden at the top of the Democratic primary field, casting more doubt and concern over the future of major tech companies such as Facebook, which has recently been undergoing major investigations and paying major fines due to their lax privacy and security policies when managing their vast databases of data.
- Stating that there would be legal challenges mounted if Warren wins the presidency, Zuckerberg is ready to fight for his own company, and the legacy and technology he has built over the past decade. Warren responded in kind by saying she would gladly take the fight back to them if prompted to.
- Andrew Yang proposes that your digital data be considered personal property (Fast Company)
- At Tech’s Leading Edge, Worry About a Concentration of Power (NYT, $)
17 Million Dollar Sugar Baby
- Since 2013, the Prime Minister of Lebanon has given $16 million to a South African bikini model who he was reportedly in a romantic relationship with. While the money passed hands between his terms in office, Prime Minister Saad Hariri is still under fire for the transactions due to the state of finances in Lebanon.
- The Lebanese government has recently announced its intentions to declare an economic state of emergency and begin austerity measures due to recent financial downturn. The state of the economy has also sparked anti-government protests in the country.
- Prime Minister Hariri likely met Candice van der Merwe, the model, at a resort for the ultra-wealthy in the Seychelles Islands called The Plantation Club. She was 20, and he was 43.
- While van der Merwe claimed the funds as a non-taxable gift, South African tax authorities suspected the money was meant for her father, a businessman who had had problems with the tax authorities before. Hariri sent another $1 million to cover the legal fees for the lawsuit.
All Your Base is Hidden to Us
- In a defensive move against the threat posed by Russia, Sweden’s navy is moving their headquarters back to a vast underground cold war fortress designed to withstand a nuclear attack. The first time their presence has been made in 25 years, the navy will once again be commanded from beneath billions of tonnes of granite due to the perceived threat of Moscow.
- Completed in 1969, the top secret naval base on Musko boasts cavernous underground docks that can shelter warships, with miles of tunnels, offices and a hospital. Sweden’s army and air force commands are also moving out of the capital and into more fortified locations, spreading out to be less vulnerable against attacks.
- Like most other European nations, Sweden cut their military budget by a large margin following the end of the cold war, but began ramping up defenses and military spending after the Crimea incidents in 2014. According to the military officers’ trade union, the underground command centre will not be fully equipped until 2021 or 2022. (Guardian)
- Additional quote: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” – Sun Tzu
Hong Kong Escalation
- For the first time since the beginning of Hong Kong protests, police have fired a live round at protestors. The bullet hit an 18-year old high school student, who has since been taken into police custody and treated for his wounds. The student may face charges of assaulting a police officer.
- The escalation comes on the 70th birthday of the Chinese Communist Party, with military parades in Beijing contrasting the escalated conflict in Hong Kong.
- Representatives of the Hong Kong police maintain that the shot was fired in self-defense and that the officer had no other choice but to pull the trigger.
- Conflicts in Hong Kong have been escalating, with 51 people sent to Hong Kong hospitals on Tuesday alone. Police claim that protestors have been participating in “rioting acts”, including looting and destroying public property. Footage of a police officer firing a handgun at a protestor has also been circulating the internet, with protestors throwing a gasoline bomb at the officer in response.
Additional World News
- The secret tapes of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder (BBC)
- Car Bombers in Somalia Hit U.S. and European Military Bases (NYT, $)
- Russian alcohol consumption down 40% since 2003 – WHO: Reputation for heavy drinking on the slide since Putin measures including curbs on alcohol sales (Guardian)
- Iran sentences four men for spying for US and UK: One man sentenced to death and others receive long sentences in further blow to efforts to calm US-Iranian tensions (Guardian)
- Global Trade Is Deteriorating Fast, Sapping the World’s Economy (NYT, $)
The Eruption of Mount Pompeo
- Democrats delayed the first of their prepared series of depositions regarding the Ukraine situation following opposition from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday.
- The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, intended to meet with the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday but has been rescheduled to Oct. 11. The second deposition, which is scheduled for Thursday with another former delegate to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, has been established to go ahead as planned.
- The State Department was further entangled in the impeachment investigation after press reports revealed that Pompeo was one of the individuals to have listened in on the July 25 phone call made from the President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president.
- On the call Trump asked Volodymyr Zelensky on numerous occasions to work alongside Rudy Guiliani (who is now Trump’s personal attorney) and Attorney General William Barr.
- Before the phone call, the White House had ceased military aide approved by Congress for Ukraine. In response to this, Zelensky then brought this up to President Trump and in return the President requested Zelensky investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
- “The committees are investigating the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election and by withholding security assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression,” the chairmen wrote. (NPR)
Additional USA News
- Ex-Dallas Officer Who Killed Man In His Own Apartment Is Found Guilty Of Murder (NPR) And How White Liberals Became Woke, Radically Changing Their Outlook On Race (NPR)
- 87-Year-Old Killed Her Disabled Grandson With Overdose, Police Say: The woman, Lillian Parks, “purposely overdosed” her grandson over worries about who would care for him after she died, according to the authorities. (NYT, $)
- Generally, suits can be connected to refinement, power and expertise but a growing trend has shown that suits have now become associated with individuals who have lost strength and influence.
- In current times, suits are often worn in times of crisis, when one has lost the ability to control others’ perceptions of him. More frequently, the suit is being shed in favor of a vest or bomber jacket for men and a blouse or shell top for women.
- In 2016, JP Morgan altered its dress code to favor business casual for the majority of its 237,000 employees as well as Goldman Sachs eliminating its suit stipulation in March.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the Consumer Price Index for suits in June 2019 decreased by 25 percent compared to June 2000.
- An example of how things have changed: Attorney Christopher Kratovil had run out of clean business casual wear and was forced to wear a suit, causing one of his partners to question if he was interviewing for another job.
- Others suggest a recycling of old values is approaching and suits will return. One factor is the emergence of a recession. Recessions lead to uncertainty, and people are drawn to old traditions as a form of gratification. (Vox)
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