Google Books just won a decade-long copyright fight
By Andrea Peterson
The Washington Post
The decade-long legal fight over Google's effort to create a digital library of millions of books is finally over. The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge from authors who had argued that the tech giant's project was "brazen violation of copyright law" -- effectively ending the legal battle in Google's favor. Without the Supreme Court taking up the case, a federal appeals court ruling from October, which found that the book-scanning program fell under the umbrella of fair use, will stand.
Should Facebook rig the election against Trump?
By Trevor Timm
While the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency is a terrifying one, perhaps this is scarier: Facebook could use its unprecedented powers to tilt the 2016 presidential election away from him–and the social network’s employees have apparently openly discussed whether they should do so. Facebook employees are probably just expressing the fear that millions of Americans have of the Republican demagogue. But while there’s no evidence that the company plans on taking anti-Trump action, the extraordinary ability that the social network has to manipulate millions of people with just a tweak to its algorithm is a serious cause for concern.
Smartphone App Lets Anyone Report ‘Suspicious People’
By Carimah Townes
A wealthy New Orleans real estate developer has created “Uber for cops,” an app that allows anyone with a smartphone to report nonviolent criminals, drug dealers, homeless people and others they feel may be “suspicious.” According to the creator, Sidney Torres, the app is a user-driven platform that allows bystanders to identify and photograph suspicious behavior and alert cops about where the suspected culprits are located. The app focuses on petty nonviolent crime not usually considered emergencies by law enforcement. After hearing about the app’s implementation in New Orleans, the head of a St. Louis neighborhood security group that operates outside of city law enforcement wants to pay the $1,200 subscription fee to adopt the technology and pressure police to crack down on “quality of life” issues, such as public urination or homeless people sleeping on the street.
Read the full article here.
SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT
How cheap does solar power need to get before it takes over the world?
By Brad Plumer
As more solar panels are installed “value deflation” could be debilitating to the industry as solar power goes mainstream. Scientists are trying to develop alternatives to silicon-based solar cells, like perovskites, quantum dots, and yes, robots.
SUNY-ESF researchers look to restore American chestnut tree population
By Taylor Watson
The Daily Orange
Researchers at the School of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York have been working on a blight resistant American chestnut tree for about 30 years now. It looks like their persistence has paid off as “The Darling 58” has proved to be completely resistant to the blight. Reintroducing the American chestnut into the ecosystem is good news for birds like the passenger pigeon, which is nearly extinct since its main food source disappeared. It’s also good news for people with a bit of a sweet tooth because The American chestnut is sweeter than the European and Chinese versions.
LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY
Can a New Worker-Owned Platform Create a More Equitable Sharing Economy?
By Alissa Quart
The Beyond Care Cooperative is a new sharing economy startup composed of about 45 workers who are also "owners," as well as several hundred active clients, ranging from the politically sympathetic to those who simply need a good nanny. Members advertise their services together and pay co-op dues. Beyond Care is supported by the Cooperative Development Program at the Center for Family Life (CFL), which also develops cooperatives like Si Se Puede! Women’s Cleaning Cooperative, a co-op that has become a local symbol of worker empowerment in New York.
UK economy could be 6% smaller after EU exit, warns Treasury
By Kamal Ahmed
Britain's national income could be 6% smaller by 2030 if the UK leaves the European Union, a major report by the Treasury will say. The 200-page report says the size of the cut in gross domestic product would be the equivalent of about £4,300 a year for every household. Trade barriers will be higher - hitting exports - and investment will be lower both within the UK and from abroad after an EU exit, the report argues.
GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT
Universal basic income is about to get first big test
By Ben Popper
GiveDirectly, a New York City-based charity, will be giving 6,000 people in randomly selected Kenyan villages a steady flow of cash for the next 10 years. The amount will be similar to past GiveDirectly projects, between $255 and $400 per person, per year. That’s based on the average annual income and meant to cover basic needs like food, shelter, and healthcare. Unlike its earlier projects, these grants are universal, meaning every member of the local population will get the same amount, regardless of their employment status or financial health.
Why Baghdad's political crisis matters for the war on ISIS
By Jennifer Williams
On Monday, Iraqi government ministries located in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone were closed and staff was evacuated out of fear of riots from thousands of protesters led by the influential Shia cleric and militia leader turned politician Muqtada al-Sadr. The protests over perceived corruption and mismanagement by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi have been running off and on since August, and restarted most recently on Friday. The protests are over relatively narrow political demands: Sadr wants the prime minister to appoint a new cabinet. The political turmoil is even affecting the fight against ISIS—the Iraqi government has reportedly recalled some troops who were fighting ISIS back to Baghdad, in case of clashes with the protesters. But beyond the immediate fight against ISIS, Baghdad's political chaos raises concerns about the future political stability of the country.
Rio Warns of Fiscal Collapse as Brazil States Seek Debt Relief
By Carla Simoes
Rio de Janeiro said it’s running out of money to pay for basic services months before the Olympic Games while other Brazilian states warned of similar financial crises if the federal government doesn’t provide debt relief. Six state governors and a representative for Rio de Janeiro said on Tuesday their fiscal woes are forcing them to make cutbacks that could lead to a breakdown of social services. Rio has been delaying payment of salaries to public servants since the beginning of the year.
Americans Lose When They Ignore the Realities of
Race and Economics
By Oscar Perry Abello
In a recent Urban Affairs Review article, “Place Matters, and So Does Race.”, J. Phillip Thompson argues that in order to get federal and state attention and real big changes in policy around poverty and community development, there’s going to have to be a coming together between people in central cities and suburbs. People will also have to come together across races. His argument begins with the notion that place trumps race in actually shaping economic policy agenda or community development programs. “I think race matters more than geography,” he writes, paraphrasing race scholar Cornel West. There are other policy areas, Thompson says, where the fact that race matters is more obvious and more widely understood, like policing and criminal justice. It’s clear from growing media coverage of long-standing violence against black and Latino communities that being a person of color in this country is undeniably different from being part of the white majority.
How American oligarchs created the concept of race to divide and conquer the poor
By Courtland Milloy
The Washington Post
While teaching U.S. history at a public charter high school in the District, Julian Hipkins III noticed that students tended to assume that “race” was as old as mankind. “Almost like it was natural, a given,” as he put it. So, using some specialized lessons, Hipkins helped the students explore the invention of race and the reasons for it, as laid out in colonial law. Especially the Virginia slave codes enacted between 1640 and 1705. Question: How did wealthy landowners thwart the efforts of enslaved Africans and European indentured servants to join forces in a common struggle for economic justice? Answer: Divide and conquer through the invention of race. Make the white servants feel superior to black slaves by virtue of skin color; manipulate poor whites into believing that any perceived gains by blacks had come at their expense.
New York Had the Second Lowest Voter Turnout This Election Season
By Ari Berman
The Kings County Board of Elections purged 126,000 registered Democrats from the voting rolls in Brooklyn, prompting an outcry from Mayor Bill de Blasio and an audit from Comptroller Scott Stringer. Polling places didn’t open on time, voting machines malfunctioned, and voters showed up to find their names weren’t on the rolls. Some voters had their party affiliations mysteriously switched from Democratic or Republican to Independent or Non-affiliated and, therefore, couldn’t vote in the closed primaries. Three million New Yorkers, 27 percent of the electorate, didn’t get to vote because they weren’t registered with the Democratic or Republican parties, and the deadline to change party affiliation was an absurd 193 days before the April 19 primary.These problems could have been avoided if New York had electoral reforms like same-day voter registration and early voting. Comptroller Stringer recently proposed a number of good policies that would make it easier to vote and have been introduced in the New York legislature.