Fri 3.30

Wall Street Journal warns Trump:
Targeting Amazon may get you impeached
Raw Story
— As for the possibility that Trump might try to compel officials in his administration to inflict damage on the company, the Journal warned Trump he might be flirting with disaster and impeachment.
— “Mr. Trump could try to unleash the Internal Revenue Service, though that would be a scandal that could be an impeachable offense.”
… “America is still a nation of laws … the political reality is that the more Mr. Trump publicly assails Amazon, the harder it will be to take regulatory action, deserved or not.”

AARP accused of hard-sell marketing practices…
sorta like those it warns seniors about
— Angry members say AARP’s barrage of solicitation letters and social media posts can mislead or confuse aging consumers, some of whom struggle with memory and managing their financial affairs. Hundreds have complained about getting false warnings that their memberships would soon expire, and at least some people have unwittingly paid for duplicate memberships.

Facebook, Google etc. fighting California privacy law

— Just a few weeks before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the “breach of trust” in the Cambridge Analytica debacle, Facebook plunked down $200,000 to fight a data privacy initiative in California.

— The donation matched others from Google, AT&T, Comcast and Verizon — a million-dollar sign that the issue is likely to grow into an expensive fight as election season unfolds.
— The businesses are fighting an initiative proposed by San Francisco real estate developer Alastair Mactaggart, who’s already spent $1.7 million on a measure that would allow Californians to prohibit companies from selling or sharing their personal data. His campaign is gathering signatures with the goal of landing the California Consumer Privacy Act on the November ballot.

Facebook can’t escape “ugly truth”
“So we connect more people.
That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack co-ordinated on our tools.
And still we connect people.
The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good.”

How all this Cambridge Analytica predictive modeling works
The Conversation
It started with the “Netflix Prize.” Don’t go here if you want a simple read … but here’s a takeout of just a few of the interesting facts.
… a factor model made with users’ Facebook “likes” alone was 95 percent accurate at distinguishing between black and white respondents, 93 percent accurate at distinguishing men from women, and 88 percent accurate at distinguishing people who identified as gay men from men who identified as straight. It could even correctly distinguish Republicans from Democrats 85 percent of the time.

Car-sharing = useless parking garages = urban opportunity 
— Just last month, San Francisco proposed a plan to redevelop their Moscone Convention Center’s 732-space garage into affordable housing units and hotel rooms. In 2015, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois converted their north campus’ 11,000 square-foot parking garage into an student startup incubator aptly named “The Garage.” Then there’s Square Roots, an urban farming accelerator installed ten shipping container gardens in a Brooklyn parking lot and now yields up to 500 pounds of fresh produce per week.
>>> How a giant parking lot turned into a park and walkable community
Fast Company

This Seattle development, called Thornton Place, includes 387 apartments, senior housing, a medical center, and more retail space.

The “Moses Illusion” or…
Why people stink at fact checking
— Research from cognitive psychology shows that people are naturally poor fact-checkers and it is very difficult for us to compare things we read or hear to what we already know about a topic. In what’s been called an era of “fake news,” this reality has important implications for how people consume journalism, social media and other public information.
There’s a very old joke illustrating this principle: If a plane crashes on the US/Canada border, where do they bury the survivors?

China’s global kidnapping campaign has gone on for years.
It may now be reaching inside U.S. borders.
Foreign Policy
— Powerful businessmen, ex-Chinese Communist Party officials, dissidents, and activists have all been targeted as part of what Western intelligence officials say appears to be a large-scale campaign.
— These abductions have become prevalent enough that officials at the U.S. State Department are growing concerned — though they have yet to raise the subject formally with Beijing.
… these cases of forced repatriation appear to show just how seriously the Communist Party takes its assertion that anyone it regards as a national — no matter where they live, work, or study — is subject to its authority.

Kim’s visit to Beijing means China’s already won this round
The National Interest
Here’s a nuanced, sophisticated take on what’s going on in the world’s most dangerous game. 

… The bilateral relationship has gotten so bad that officers in the People’s Liberation Army have suggested to me in private meetings that Beijing and Pyongyang may not take the same side in the event of a new Korean war. (So this week’s) historical trip may demonstrate Kim’s willingness to finally heed Beijing’s advice, which would go a long way to improve strained relations.
… If war breaks out on the peninsula, but China does not intervene to protect North Korea and collaborates in the aftermath with the United States, that would mean the end of Kim. In short, the stakes are high, and Kim needs to be in a position to play the two countries off each other. Engaging directly with both sides will help him do that.
… At the very least, Beijing just won itself a seat at the table. While North Korea and the United States will be vying for the upper hand, the ultimate winner will be Beijing. China is in the best position among all three to drive events in its favor, and to ensure that there is no war and no collapse. Perhaps most importantly, China’s involvement can ensure that the United States continues to focus on the Korea nuclear issue, thus failing to compete with Beijing for regional power, and perhaps even global influence.

Pollution sources in China increase 50% in 8 years
— The number of pollution sources in China has gone up by more than 50 percent since 2010, Reuters reported Thursday, indicating that the country still has a lot of work to do in its efforts to clean up its environment.
— The announcement was made Thursday in the first regular press briefing given by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the newly-enhanced environment ministry which was renamed and given added jurisdiction over marine ecology, agricultural pollution and climate change this month.

Deaths reported in Palestinian uprising on Israel-Gaza border
Live updates at Haaretz 

An edited version of the NYT lede…
EPA to roll back auto emission rules
NY Times
–The Trump administration is expected to launch an effort in coming days to weaken greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for automobiles, handing a victory to car manufacturers and giving car makers ammunition to potentially roll back industry standards worldwide.
— The move — which undercuts one of President Barack Obama’s signature efforts to fight climate change — would also propel the Trump administration toward a courtroom clash with California, which has vowed to stick with the stricter rules. even if Washington rolls back federal standards. That fight could end up creating create one set of rules for cars sold in California and the 12 states that follow its lead, and weaker rules for the others, rest of the states, in effect splitting the nation into two markets.

How soon will they turn into salvage?
VW storing 350,000 diesel autos it was forced to buy back
— Volkswagen AG has paid more than $7.4 billion to buy back about 350,000 U.S. diesel vehicles through mid-February, a recent court filing shows. The German automaker has been storing hundreds of thousands of vehicles around the United States for months.
— Volkswagen has 37 secure storage facilities around the United States housing nearly 300,000 vehicles, the filing from the program’s independent administrator said. The lots include a shuttered suburban Detroit football stadium, a former Minnesota paper mill and a sun-bleached desert graveyard near Victorville, California.

Here they are in their California desert graveyard, one of 37 around the US.

California judge: Coffee must carry cancer warning
You know Starbucks, etc. are going to appeal this one.

Why do people belong to a party?
Negative views of the opposing party are a major factor
Pew Research
Republicans (71%) are more likely than Democrats (63%) to cite the harm from the opposing party’s policies as a major reason to affiliate with their party.

Kentucky schools close as teachers protest pension flim-flam
USA Today
Republicans in control of the Kentucky House and Senate unveiled — and zipped through to final passage — a new version of a controversial pension reform bill that does not include any reduction in annual cost-of-living increases for retired teachers.

Army mulls tougher basic training for out-of-shape, undisciplined recruits
Fox News
— The new Basic Combat Training will place an added focus on strict discipline and esprit de corps through a greater emphasis on drills and ceremony, inspections and military history. It will also concentrate heavily on crucial battlefield skills such as marksmanship, physical fitness, first aid and communications.
— Along with the new BCT regimen, U.S. Army brass is considering a tougher Combat Readiness Test.

Family of victim of self-driving car settles with Uber
Courthouse News Service/AP
Don’t waste your click on this story, settlement terms are very hush-hush, headline says it all.

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