Opinion | The Roots of Big Tech Run Disturbingly Deep – The New York Times

” “Big tech” companies like Google and Facebook are, in reality, the products of hundreds of mergers. Each root below represents a company acquired by a tech giant at a particular moment in its history. A vast majority of these acquisitions, funded by public markets, have received minimal media coverage and limited regulatory scrutiny. But that is changing, given new concerns about consolidation in the tech industries.

Google
(Alphabet)270 Total Acquisitions171 Competitive 55 Conglomerate 44 Others

David Lindsay:  Yes, yes, yes. We should break up Amazon, Facebook, Google, and California.

Seriously, Amazon should be forced to sell every company it forced to sell to itself, like Diapers.com, as reported in Bloomberg Businessweek.

It appears that the other two giants are also guilty of throwing their weight around.

BUARLH!   Break Up And Regulate Like Hell!

Warning of ‘Pig Zero’: One Drugmaker’s Push to Sell More Antibiotics – The New York Times

“Facing a surge in drug-resistant infections, the World Health Organization issued a plea to farmers two years ago: “Stop using antibiotics in healthy animals.”

But at last year’s big swine industry trade show, the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, one of the largest manufacturers of drugs for livestock was pushing the opposite message.

“Don’t wait for Pig Zero,” warned a poster featuring a giant picture of a pig peeking through an enormous blue zero, at a booth run by the drugmaker Elanco.

The company’s Pig Zero brochures encouraged farmers to give antibiotics to every pig in their herds rather than waiting to treat a disease outbreak caused by an unknown Patient Zero. It was an appealing pitch for industrial farms, where crowded, germ-prone conditions have led to increasing reliance on drug interventions. The pamphlets also detailed how feeding pigs a daily regimen of two antibiotics would make them fatter and, as any farmer understands, a heavier pig is a more profitable pig.

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David Lindsay: Excellent article, thank you.
Here is my favorite comment so far:
Ron From Chicago
Chicago

This is a HUGE problem. We will soon be exiting the antibiotic age, and will be back to the same place humans have been most of our existence-completely at the mercy and randomness of not catching a bacterial infection. We have developed one of the most remarkable life-saving advances in human history-antibiotic drugs, and through greed and recklessness have squandered this advantage. Our children will look back on this and curse our collective actions.

2 Replies124 Recommended

Opinion | Make America Graze Again – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

Margaret Renkl

By Margaret Renkl

Contributing Opinion Writer

Ewe lambs grazing.CreditWilliam DeShazer for The New York Times

“NASHVILLE — Just past the intersection of Highway 70 and Old Hickory Boulevard, in the Bellevue section of Nashville, stands a tiny patch of native wilderness. Four acres of pristine woodland tucked behind a condominium complex, the Belle Forest Cave Arboretum is a stone’s throw from restaurants, shops and big-box stores. I’ve passed it probably a hundred times over the years with no idea it was there.

Last week, on a drizzly spring afternoon, I found it. The pocket park provides the perfect habitat for a huge range of plant and animal life: In addition to the usual songbirds, mammals, turtles, and wildflowers that can make a home of even the tiniest wooded opportunity, Belle Forest boasts salamanders and tri-colored bats and at least 39 species of trees.

It is also home to a wide range of invasive plants: bush honeysuckle and Chinese privet and a host of others that pose a serious threat to native plants and the wildlife that depends on them. But clearing this densely woven environment of unwanted vegetation, especially without harming native plants, is a challenge: herbicides would poison the creeks, and heavy machinery would dislodge the trees and compact the soil — if machinery could make it up the steep terrain at all.”

Opinion | The Richest Man in China Is Wrong. 12-Hour Days Are No ‘Blessing.’ – The New York Times

Bryce Covert

By Bryce Covert

Contributing Opinion Writer

CreditIrene Rinaldi

 

 “Jack Ma, the richest man in China and founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, is a big fan of extreme overwork. He recently praised China’s “996” practice, so called because it refers to those who put in 12-hour days — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. — six days a week. This “is not a problem,” he said in a recent blog post, instead calling it a “blessing.”

The response from others in China was swift. “If all enterprises enforce a 996 schedule, no one will have children,” one person argued on the same platform. “Did you ever think about the elderly at home who need care, the children who need company?” It even prompted a response from Chinese state media, which reminded everyone, “The mandatory enforcement of 996 overtime culture not only reflects the arrogance of business managers, but also is unfair and impractical.”

Managers who think like Mr. Ma can be found the world over. Here at home, Elon Musk, a co-founder of Tesla, has argued that “nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.” Uber reportedly used to use the internal mantra “Work smarter, harder and longer.” (It’s now just “smarter” and “harder.”) The company has also rebranded second jobs as clever “side hustles.” WeWork decorates its co-working spaces with phrases like, “Don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you are done.” Other tech and business gurus try to sell us on “toil glamour.” “

Source: Opinion | The Richest Man in China Is Wrong. 12-Hour Days Are No ‘Blessing.’ – The New York Times

No One Is Taking Your Hamburgers. But Would It Even Be a Good Idea? – by Kendra Pierre-Louis – The New York Times

Quote

. . . .    . . .    “The beef with beef
Agriculture was responsible for 9 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2016, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. While the sectors with the most emissions were transportation and electricity generation, at 28 percent each, United States agricultural emissions were still greater than Britain’s total emissions in 2014, according to data from the World Bank.

Cows and other ruminants are responsible for two-thirds of those agricultural emissions. Their guts produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that’s more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, though it also dissipates faster. Cows release some of that methane through their flatulence, but much more by burping.

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Deer, camels and sheep also produce methane. But in the United States, it’s cows that primarily account for the 26.9 percent of methane emissions, more than any other source. Natural gas accounts for 25 percent.

via No One Is Taking Your Hamburgers. But Would It Even Be a Good Idea? – The New York Times

China Experiences a Fracking Boom- and All the Problems That Go With It – The New York Times

“GAOSHAN, China — The first earthquake struck this small farming village in Sichuan Province before dawn on Feb. 24. There were two more the next day.

Sichuan is naturally prone to earthquakes, including a major one in 2008 that killed nearly 70,000 people, but to the rattled villagers of Gaoshan, the cause of these tremors was human-made.

“The drilling,” Yu Zhenghua said as she tearfully surveyed her damaged home, still officially uninhabitable five days later.

The drilling Ms. Yu referred to was hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The technology, which has revolutionized the production of natural gas and oil in the United States, has created a boom in China, too, and with it many of the controversies that have dogged the practice elsewhere.

In the hours after the quakes, thousands of residents converged outside the main government building in Rong County to protest widespread fracking in the rolling hills and valleys here now yellowing with the flowering of rapeseed.

A shale gas drilling station in Rong County. In the last decade, the China National Petroleum Corporation alone has invested $4 billion in fracking shale gas in the Sichuan Basin.CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times
 Image
A shale gas drilling station in Rong County. In the last decade, the China National Petroleum Corporation alone has invested $4 billion in fracking shale gas in the Sichuan Basin.CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times

The protesters jostled with security guards along a sliding metal gate and dispersed only after officials announced they had suspended fracking operations of a regional subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s largest oil and gas producer.”

Source: China Experiences a Fracking Boom, and All the Problems That Go With It – The New York Times

Tesla Swerves on Strategy- Trailed by Growing Doubts – The New York Times

By Neal E. Boudette
March 6, 2019, 313
“Tesla’s sleek stores embodied its green vision for upending the transportation and energy business: a one-stop shop for electric cars, solar panels and battery storage. Less than three months ago, the company announced 11 new store locations across the country.

Now Tesla is in retreat, shuttering most of its stores in a bid to cut costs. The move signaled the broader vulnerabilities of an upstart that for a time was the most highly valued American car company.

A spate of price cuts in the United States points to a slowdown in sales, and the company says it is currently making cars for Europe and China only. But plans to bring the company’s mass-market car, the Model 3, to overseas buyers have been hamstrung by logistical challenges.

A long-promised $35,000 version of the Model 3 is finally being offered, but the price will test the company’s profitability. Tesla now expects a loss in the first quarter, rattling investors’ faith in the company and its enigmatic founder, Elon Musk. In recent days, its shares have tumbled more than 13 percent.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval NYT

Why Are There So Many Robocalls? Here’s What You Can Do About Them – By Katherine Bindley – WSJ

Why Are There So Many Robocalls? Here’s What You Can Do About Them
Robocalls won’t vanish soon, but carriers are working on a spam filter and other fixes
Why Are There So Many Robocalls? Here’s What You Can Do About Them
0 COMMENTS
By Katherine Bindley
Updated July 4, 2018 1:30 p.m. ET
Remember when phone calls meant people wanted to talk to you about something other than lowering your interest rates? These days, the phone rings so often with recorded robocall messages—You qualify! You owe! You’ve won!—answering feels like a hazard.

I hit my own robocall breaking point a month ago. I was grabbing a quick shower before catching a flight. My phone rang. Fearing I’d miss a call from my boss, who had been trying to reach me, I jumped out. But no, it was a recording instead.

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I resisted the urge to throw my phone across the bathroom and went looking for answers. Why can’t anyone stop this madness? When will it end?

First, the bad news: Almost every person I talked to about robocalls used the phrase, “There’s no silver bullet.”

But developments in the works should get the robocall problem more under control. And there are steps to take on your own that actually do reduce calls.

Where did this evil come from?
Back when phone calls were transmitted over copper wires, businesses paid a lot of money for phone systems that allowed 1,000 employees to make calls without needing 1,000 phone lines. These systems inserted caller ID so, for instance, customers all saw the same business number, regardless of which employee made the call.

With the internet, businesses don’t need expensive hardware. Anyone can start a mini call center with software that auto-dials numbers and spoofs caller ID. They also need a provider to “originate” the call, that is, connect the internet call to the phone network.

Some robocalls are legitimate—your pharmacy, your bank—but not the ones that change numbers constantly to appear local and avoid detection. Robocallers even spoof numbers held by ordinary phone customers like you and me (so don’t call them back to yell at them.)

How They Fool Us
Robocallers seized the tech that helps legitimate businesses manage their phones. Here’s how they’ve perverted the phone call.

Personal calls

Jim calls Frank from his cellphone.

Phone service provider inserts caller ID.

Franks’s cellphone displays Jim’s name and number.

Frank answers his phone.

Traditional

business calls

Jenny’s office has a phone exchange system that lets many employees dial out over a smaller number of lines. The exchange system inserts caller ID.

Frank’s cellphone displays the main number of Jenny’s employer.

The call gets sent out through the company’s service provider.

Jenny calls Frank from her work phone.

Frank answers his phone.

Robocalls

He downloads software for free that can insert caller ID.

With an auto-dialer, he can call many numbers from a huge database.

The robocaller places calls over the internet.

The caller could be anywhere…

Fooled, Frank answers his phone.

…and still make the call appear to originate locally.

Illustration: Kurt Wilberding/The Wall Street Journal

Sources: Federal Trade Commission, Atis
A real fix is coming?
With caller ID basically broken, developers have proposed a call-certifying protocol (known as STIR) and guidelines for implementing it (known as SHAKEN). The names behind these acronyms are long and confusing.

With it, an originating phone carrier could check that a caller has the right to use a number and create a digital fingerprint for the call. The carrier on the receiving end could verify that nothing was messed with in transit.

“They’re actually not saying that the call comes from the phone number. What they’re saying is this user is entitled to use this phone number,” says Jim McEachern, a principal technologist with the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, a technical working group that helped develop guidelines for this call-certification protocol.

If a bad guy tries to spoof the caller ID, the call would go through, but it wouldn’t be verified. Eventually, users would see a check mark or other indicator for verified calls.

Verizon’s Caller Name ID service can send spam numbers to voice mail.
Verizon’s Caller Name ID service can send spam numbers to voice mail. PHOTO: VERIZON
Mr. McEachern likens the current state of robocalls to the days before email spam filters. “I think something similar will happen with this,” he says. “Suddenly people will say, ‘Remember how bad that used to be?’”

Mr. McEachern estimates that could take two to five years. Verizon plans to start rolling the system out later this year and other carriers are expected to follow.

“We are optimistic it will have an impact but again, this alone is not going to solve the problem,” says Matthew Berry, chief of staff at the Federal Communications Commission, which comes up with rules for the industry, fines people and companies for violations and develops public policy initiatives.

The ‘Do Not Originate’ list
Before then, other weaker measures are appearing. Last November, the FCC adopted rules that let phone companies block calls from area codes that don’t exist, numbers that aren’t assigned to anyone and entries on a “Do Not Originate” list, which consists of numbers that aren’t used for outbound calls.

T-Mobile provides scam ID and automatic scam-call blocking free.
T-Mobile provides scam ID and automatic scam-call blocking free. PHOTO: T-MOBILE
Mr. Berry says the rules have been effective in stopping IRS scam calls. Scammers had been spoofing an IRS hotline number that is now on the Do Not Originate list.

But IRS scam calls can come from a variety of numbers. Aaron Foss, founder of the call-blocking app Nomorobo, says his app identified 75 different numbers peddling IRS scams in just one day.

What you can do now
When you get a robocall, hang up. Don’t say anything, don’t press buttons and don’t call back. Once scammers know a number works, they can sell it and your call volume could increase.

Nomorobo identifies likely scam calls and can send them straight to voice mail
Nomorobo identifies likely scam calls and can send them straight to voice mail PHOTO: NOMOROBO
It can feel like there’s no point in blocking numbers in your phone—I blocked one peddling chronic pain management and got the same recording from another within 48 hours. But do it anyway, because there are plenty of repeat offenders out there. Here’s how to do it on iOS and Android.

Also, add yourself to the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry. Just know that you will still get unwanted calls, because scammers don’t obey rules. Also, keep filing robocall complaints. It helps the FTC spot evildoers.

Carrier protection
Service providers have upped their robocall-protection offerings recently so check in with your carrier. They include features to identify possible scam calls—and even gauge the likelihood it is a scam—as well as block them or send them to voice mail.

Hiya is a free call-blocking app.
Hiya is a free call-blocking app. PHOTO: HIYA
T-Mobile provides scam ID and automatic scam-call blocking free.

AT&T call-protection services are also free, and include blocking suspected fraud. It also offers a $4-a-month service that lets you block specific categories of calls, and includes reverse phone-number lookup.

Verizon’s recently improved $3-a-month Caller Name ID service for wireless can now send spam numbers to voice mail.

Sprint’s newly updated Premium Caller ID, also $3 a month, lets iOS users automatically reject calls based on the likelihood they are scams. Android users will get this feature later this summer.

Call-blocking apps
You can also try apps made by outside developers.

Nomorobo, $2 a month, identifies likely scam calls and can send them straight to voice mail. Unlike some other services, you don’t have to share your contact list for it to work.

Its algorithm uses multiple data sources, including complaints from the FTC and the FCC and real-time data it gets from its landline customers. The company also owns about 250,000 phone numbers, and monitors their incoming calls for scammers.

Hiya is a free call-blocking app that works by analyzing data from complaints made to the FTC and the FCC, and information it collects from its Android users. Hiya is the technology behind the call-identifying feature that powers AT&T’s Call Protect service.

Whether iOS or Android, you do need to share your contact list with Hiya, but the service doesn’t upload or store it. It also says it won’t sell any data from your phone to third parties.

After this article was published online, Hiya clarified its privacy policy and some of the language on its website to reflect that people can use a limited version of its app, including the core features, without granting access to contacts. Granting that access is only necessary to access all of the app’s features, it said.

Source: Why Are There So Many Robocalls? Here’s What You Can Do About Them – WSJ

Opinion | Let’s Destroy Robocalls – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

By Gail Collins
Opinion Columnist
March 1, 2019, 842
Congress may have found an issue that all Americans can rally around.

Stopping robocalls.

“All right — a little depressing that it can’t be world peace or affordable health care. But let’s take what we can get. If our elected officials could join hands and lead us into a world where phones are no longer an instrument of torture, maybe it’d give them enough confidence to march forward and, um, fund some bridge repair.

Everybody has always hated telemarketers, particularly the ones trying to sell some shady product. And now the miracles of technology let them follow you around all day. When I’m home, I feel as if I spend half my time blocking robocalls on our landline. Yet somehow a different number always pops up, with great news about opportunities to reinsure my nonexistent car at low prices or acquire a cost-free knee brace.

The knee brace thing is a scam to get money out of Medicare, but in order to figure that out you’d have to engage in conversation. People, do not ever talk on the phone with a stranger wielding free knee braces. This can be a life rule.

Things are at least as bad on mobile phones, which were the lucky recipients of 48 billion robocalls in the United States alone last year.”