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The Weekly Recap 3/10/19

Daniel Chase

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There’s something truly spectacular about going to the movies. When you first walk in, you’re greeted, with open arms, by the smell of popcorn cooking to perfection. If the smells aren’t intoxicating enough, the sights of posters with films coming out soon serve as the perfect reason to never leave the hallowed halls of the cinema. One of my favorite aspects of a film is that, when you rewatch it, you learn something new each time. Watching a movie again is kind of like the weekly recap when you really think about it. If you don’t believe me, let’s see how they compare in this week’s recap. 

Not So Fast, Mr. President 

Last week, we spoke about President Donald Trump’s intention to declare a national state of emergency to allocate funding for his wall project, and how Congress voted to pass a measure which would effectively block the President from doing so. Well, that measure went to the Senate and we’ve been patiently waiting to see how Senate members would vote. Interestingly enough, the measure has received bipartisan support because no member of government thinks President Trump has the right, or power, to spend money that was appropriated for other governmental operations. 

According to reports, Sen. Rand Paul may be the final vote needed to block President Trump from his emergency declaration. 

“I can’t vote to give the President the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress. We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”

Sen. Rand Paul 

The End Is Near 

The Democrats are celebrating, but possibly too soon, at the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration is nearly complete. Whether Mueller’s report shows anything about President Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia and the 2016 presidential election remains to be a mystery.

Perhaps the most important finding from Mueller’s report will be if Russia, in fact, meddled with the 2016 election. Interestingly enough, members of the Democratic leadership are more focused on finding the secret cause necessary to introduce articles of impeachment against the President, but after news emerging about countless morally questionable actions, and no consequences, I don’t believe Trump is going anywhere, anytime soon. 

“We’re waiting for a report by people who weren’t elected. Unfortunately, you put the wrong people in a couple of positions and they leave people for a long time that shouldn’t be there and all of a sudden they are trying to take you out with bullshit, okay?”

-President Donald Trump 

We Can Do Better

Ironically enough, at one of the more progressive tech companies in the world, Google, a recent TechCrunch investigation found male-identified Level 4 Software Engineers received less money than women in the same role. I bring this up not to pity the men who were paid less than women, but to highlight the fact that Google paid out $9.7 million to adjust pay for wage disparities occurring in the company. When it was found that men were being shorted, Google executives reacted immediately, but where was this response time when women were being paid less? 

“Our pay equity analysis ensures that compensation is fair for employees in the same job, at the same level, location and performance. But we know that’s only part of the story. Because leveling, performance ratings, and promotion impact pay, this year, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of these processes to make sure the outcomes are fair and equitable for all employees.”

Lauren Barbato, Google Lead Analyst for Pay Equity and People Analytics 

Even in the tech industry, where meritocratic hiring practices are known to be quite prevalent, women still manage to take home less dough than their male-counterparts. Female representation is a non-negotiable need for the workforce, as women are humans, and humans are invaluable specimens until proven otherwise. If anything, based on the train wreck of a situation facing domestic politics, its almost laughable that people aren’t insisting that women take a stab at running the federal government and/or the White House. Delving deeper into female representation in politics, women make up only 25% of the U.S. Senate, and 23% of the House, despite making up 51% of the population in America. 

The Democrats Are At It Again

Those whacky House Democrats are always up to something, whether its waging their ongoing war on President Donald Trump, or surfing on some blue wave, or whatever. In today’s news, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler announced a new investigation into President Trump’s campaign, businesses, transition and administration, making for a probe that could set the precedent for Democrats to finally introduce articles of impeachment against Trump. 

According to CNN reports, the Judiciary Committee on Monday sent letters to 81 people and entities seeking information for their newly initiated investigation. The requests include asking for documentation and communications on issues related to, but not limited to, FBI Director James Comey’s firing, Trump’s finances and foreign government relations, Trump’s contact with Russia, and a ton of other fun topics!

Until There’s A Cure 

Today, it was reported that there may be a second patient who was cured of his HIV virus. According to Vox, the new patient, who has remained anonymous, had a form of cancer and underwent treatment involving chemotherapy to clear his immune system and, through a stem cell transplant, receive cancer-free donor cells. Back in 2017, nearly a year after his transplant, the patient stopped taking his antiretroviral drugs for HIV and miraculously tested negative for HIV. Outside of the incredible fact that this man was cured, the question remains whether the disease can ultimately be cured. 

According to Vox, of the dozen patients with HIV who received a similar transplant like the London patient and the Berlin patient, eight individuals died from transplant-related side effects. No matter how you look at it, its clear that medical experts are still eons away from finding a mass-production cure for the HIV virus, especially because, in the two cases where the two men were cured, the treatment nearly killed each of them. 

“At the moment the only way to treat HIV is with medications that suppress the virus, which people need to take for their entire lives, posing a particular challenge in developing countries. Finding a way to eliminate the virus entirely is an urgent global priority, but it is particularly difficult because the virus integrates into the white blood cells of its host.”

Professor Ravindra Gupta, University of Cambridge 

A Twister

We cannot explain why mother nature reacts the way she does, but we are often forced to handle the consequences of natural disasters. Presently, there has been an outbreak of tornadoes ripping across the state of Alabama, which unfortunately took the lives of twenty-three people on Tuesday. According to reports from local officials in Alabama’s Lee County, up to eight invidious remain missing. 

No one can predict the devastating effects of a natural disaster, but it is our responsibility as Americans to offer our support to the people of Alabama in their time of need. If you would like to help people affected by disasters, consider donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

Facebook Is Going Ghost 

In the case of apps like Instagram, when someone posts to their “story,” these media bites last twenty-four hours before disappearing into the ether of the cosmos. In a recent blogpost, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook, which also owns Instagram, spoke about how, for years now, Facebook and Instagram have existed as a digital equivalent to that of a “town square.” He continued to explain that “people increasingly want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room,” referring to the notion that some people choose to message friends privately, as opposed to in a Facebook group or on somewhere more public. Zuckerberg goes on to share that predicts privacy-based communications platforms will soon become all the more important, which is interesting given Facebook’s track record with data privacy-related issues. 

“I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform — because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protection services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing…but I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services..and we plan to build this the way we’ve developed WhatsApp and Facebook, including in private messages and stories..”

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder, Facebook 

It’s a bold strategy for Zuckerberg to suggest that Facebook take the steps necessary to make its platforms more secure, and ephemeral, especially at a time where data transparency is a primary concern for users across all social platforms. 

This Is Why Men Shouldn’t Be In Office 

It amazes me that, despite headlines popping up everyday about how men holding governmental positions, exercise their power to sexually abuse or assault women, and think there’s nothing wrong with doing so. Let me rephrase that, it’s absolutely disgusting that this is taking place. On Wednesday, during a congressional hearing on military sexual assault, Sen. Martha McSally informed the press that, when she served in the Air Force, one of her commanding officers raped her. 

“I also am a military sexual assault survivor, but unlike so many brave survivors, I didn’t report being sexually assaulted. Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system at the time. I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless…”

Sen. Martha McSally

Airbnb + HotelsTonight 

In an attempt to bolster its portfolio following a $31 billion valuation, Airbnb will acquire HotelTonight ahead of its initial public offering. Assuming the deal goes through, this will satisfy Airbnb’s desire to become the authoritative travel platform with home sharing, hotel booking, experiences and more. Per the details of the agreement, the HotelTonight platform will continue to operate independently from Airbnb, but HotelTonight’s CEO Sam Shank will report to Greg Geeley, Airbnb’s president of homes, according to TechCrunch. 

“We started HotelTonight because we knew people wanted a better way to book  an amazing hotel room on-demand, and we are excited to join forces with Airbnb to bring this service to guests around the world. Together, HotelTonight and Airbnb can give guests more choices and the world’s best boutique and independent hotels a genuine partner to connect them with those guests…”

Sam Shank, co-Founder and CEO, HotelTonight

Airbnb is slowly but surely redefining what it means to travel. Whereas travel logistics have historically been challenging and often frustrating, Airbnb has made key investments in companies to alleviate these stressors and build a better platform. 

Well, That Escalated Quickly

If you’ve managed to tune in, here and there, to the court proceedings regarding Michael D. Cohen, former personal lawyer and alleged fixer for President Donald Trump, then you know that things have been going less than smoothly as of recent. Cohen was sentenced to prison, disbarred from being a lawyer in the State of New York, and has had a rough time since his breakup with the President. 

In an attempt to secure reparations for his trouble, Cohen filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing the Trump organization of breaching a contract and “refusing to pay $1.9 million in legal fees once Cohen cooperated with federal prosecutors, according to the New York Times. In addition  to recovering his legal fees, Cohen is reportedly asking for an additional $1.9 million that he was forced to pay in fines, forfeitures, and other reasons after pleading guilty to his myriad of offenses. We shall see how this plays out in the next few days, please standby. 

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Politics

Here’s What You Missed (3/21/19)

Daniel Chase

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In many ways, babies are like full-grown adults. For starters, both are types of people, but that’s a rather easy similarity, so let’s move on. Both babies and adults get upset when they don’t get what they want, but whereas babies will let themselves feel their emotions, adults will bottle these up or choose to take their anger out via their car horn in traffic. Secondly, when inebriated, adults act almost identically to that of an infant. Both have trouble walking, getting words out correctly, and keeping whatever they put in their body down. Adults and infants are inherently needy, and want to feel constantly loved and supported. The list is rather exhaustive so I’ll just summarize by saying that some people need to act more maturely, and if they cannot do this, it’s just because it’s in their nature to act like babies. 

I hope all of that made sense, and if it didn’t, here’s what you missed in the news yesterday. 

Europe Doesn’t Trust Google 

] However, we’ve come to learn that behind all the glitz and glamor, some tech companies are always up to no good. On Wednesday, the European Commission slapped Google with a a fine for breaching EU antitrust rules. According to the official press release regarding the matter, Google has abused its market dominance by imposing a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites which hinders any rival of the Company from placing their own ads on these sites. 

In other words, Google has structured the online advertising playing field in their favor. 

“Today the commission has fined Google €1.49 billion for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts. Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition…”

Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner, European Commission 

The European Commission shared that over the course of the last few years, through AdSense for Search, Google has held market shared above 90% in the national markets for general search, making it near impossible for competitors in online search advertising to sell ad space within Google’s search engine results pages. 

He’s At It Again

Regardless of one’s political affiliations, we can all agree that President Donald Trump has an affinity for making sure he dominates the headlines on a near-daily basis. This time, President Trump is catching heat for accusing John McCain, the late Senator, of misleading the White House about his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Let’s make one thing clear, you’re really not supposed to speak ill of the diseased, no matter who you are. Moving on, it was proven that Trump’s claims regarding McCain’s vote on the ACA, back in the day, were false. Now, Trump is getting flack for both accusing someone who isn’t alive, and for doing so in falsehood. 

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Politics

Here’s What You Missed (3/20/19)

Daniel Chase

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In life you will meet a plethora of people, and, believe it or not, not every person will be someone you enjoy meeting. You’ll come across people with bold opinions, but not enough courage to share them with you, or maybe you’ll speak to someone with a relatively low-stakes opinion but they’ll talk your ear off about it. Of the people I’ve come in contact with, my favorites are the ones who look you dead in the eye, and make you feel like you’re heard when you speak.

These people, though potentially strange to you, will take a vested interest in what you have to say, and there’s no better feeling in the world. In addition to this, when you sense mutual respect in a dynamic, that’s also incredible. What I’m trying to say is that there are billions of people on this planet and, while many are afraid to admit it, some truly want to meet you. 

Get out there and meet some new friends, here’s what you missed in the news yesterday. 

Google Tron

Google on Tuesday announced the unveiling of a video game streaming service called Stadia which will allow users to play the game that they love without the need for purchasing wallet-emptying consoles or computers. In terms of rendering the games for user play, this work will be handled by Google’s cloud platform. Per the details of the official announcement, with Stadia, YouTube watchers will be able to click “Play now” at the end of a video and their game will start within five seconds. Perhaps the craziest part about Stadia is that the “data center is the platform,” meaning that players can start at one platform and continue where they left off on any advice capable of connecting to Google. 

Gamers can use keyboards and mice, or use a specially-designed Stadia controller that will be sold later in the year. According to Google, Stadia will support 4K gaming t 60fps with HDR, with plans to allow for 8K gaming in the near future. The only missing piece of Google’s into the billion-dollar gaming industry is that the Company has yet to sign on game studios to build a gaming library for Stadia. Because the platform won’t require a console, it may very well only work with games designed for Stadia.

“The power and accessibility of streaming will give billions unprecedented opportunities to play video games in the future. We are proud to partner with Google on Stadia, building on what we’ve learned with Project Stream via Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. This is only the beginning, and we can’t wait to continue collaborating closely with Google on what’s next for Stadia.”

Yves Guillemot, Chief Executive Officer, Ubisoft

Kamala The Way Up

We’re getting closer and closer to the upcoming 2020 presidential election and the candidates are hot on the trail to convince Americans to vote them into office. According to a new poll conducted by CNN, Sen. Kamala Harris shot up eight points on Tuesday, with her having only gained support in the week after the declaration of her candidacy. The poll also found that voter excitement is shaping up to outpace the level seen for any presidential election since 2000. 40% of respondents said they are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting for president. My hope is that those people actually get out and vote!

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Politics

Here’s What You Missed (3/19/19)

Daniel Chase

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Few people realize that what it means to be a kid, in society, has dramatically changed over the course of the last few years. It’s almost as if we are expecting kids to grow up so fast that we cut their childhoods short. For example, in America, there are pre-schools that parents give arms and legs to attend because, twenty years down the line, students who attended these pre-schools ended up attending Ivy League universities.

We’ve seen, firsthand, with the college scandal all over the news the last couple of weeks, that the majority of these parents cared more about attending elite schools than the kids did. Why can’t we place emphases on things like going outside, having good moral values, treating others with respect? Why do we need children to start thinking about college as soon as they’re born, or ask them what they want to do when they grow up?

Let kids be kids, and here’s what you missed in the news yesterday. 

Welcome To The Space Web

After four years and billions in funding requests, OneWeb launched and deployed the first of six satellites in a planned constellation of hundreds several weeks ago. For those unfamiliar with OneWeb, it is one of few companies, including SpaceX, determined to use thousands of satellites to create a global-internet system for every person on the planet. Per TechCrunch’s profile on the company, OneWeb plans on launching nearly one-thousand satellites to about a 1,100-kilometer low Earth orbit, where these devices “will be able to provide broadband to practically anywhere on Earth.” 

In their pursuit of covering every nook and cranny of the planet with internet, OneWeb has raised nearly $1.5 billion in funding to start mass production of their satellites. Prior to last month’s launch, investors were concerned with the future of the Company and its ability to meet its self-set deadlines. Following the launch, we now know that OneWeb means business. 

“With the recent successful launch of our first six satellites, near-completion of our innovative satellite manufacturing facility with our partner Airbus, progress towards fully securing our ITU priority spectrum position, and the singing of our first customer contracts, OneWeb is moving from the planning and development stage to deployment of our full constellation…”

Adrian Steckel, Chief Executive Officer, OneWeb

Donald Gets Twitter Happy 

Most Americans are aware of the fact that President Donald Trump has a slight inkling towards using Twitter to share his feelings on a multitude of happenings around the White House, or even the country for that matter. Having said that, over the weekend, President Trump broke his personal record for tweets when he birded out twenty-nine different tweets. Contrary to his track record, none of his weekend-tweets were jarring or racist, but more so quantitative and exhaustive. 

“We have a seriously dangerous normalcy bias, where we move on because we desperately want to pretend it’s okay. Trump’s Twitter meltdown today — which shows a deranged and unhinged person — will just be forgotten by Monday afternoon. But the deranged man will still control the nukes…”

Brian Klass, Political Scientist 

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