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Transportation

Berlin Bans Car Service Uber 340

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-here dept.
An anonymous reader is just one of many who have pointed out that things don't look good for Uber in Berlin. Berlin has banned car service Uber, which allows users to summon a ride on their smartphone, for not offering drivers and vehicles licensed to carry passengers, or full insurance cover, the German capital said. The ban takes immediate effect and Uber risks fines of up to 25,000 euros each time it violates the city's Public Transport Act, Berlin authorities said in a statement. Uber said on Thursday it would appeal against the decision, accusing Berlin of denying its people choice and mobility. "As a new entrant we are bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn't changed in years. Competition is good for everyone and it raises the bar and ultimately it's the consumer who wins," said Fabien Nestmann, German General Manager at Uber. Undaunted by the setback in Berlin, Uber has launched uberTAXI in Hong Kong.
Businesses

Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step 514

Posted by Soulskill
from the opportunity-shortage dept.
theodp writes: U.S. civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson called on the Obama administration Monday to scrutinize the tech industry's lack of diversity. "There's no talent shortage. There's an opportunity shortage," Jackson said, calling Silicon Valley "far worse" than many others, such as car makers that have been pressured by unions. He said tech behemoths have largely escaped scrutiny by a public dazzled with their cutting-edge gadgets. Jackson spoke to press after meeting with Labor Secretary Tom Perez for a review of H-1B visas, arguing that data show Americans have the skills and should have first access to high-paying tech work. Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition plans to file a freedom-of-information request next month with the EEOC to acquire employment data for companies that have not yet disclosed it publicly, which includes Amazon, Broadcom, Oracle, Qualcomm and Yelp. Unlike the Dept. of Labor, Jackson isn't buying Silicon Valley's argument that minority hiring statistics are trade secrets. Five years after Google's HR Chief would only reassure Congress the company had "a very strong internal Black Googler Network" and its CEO brushed off similar questions about its diversity numbers by saying "we're pretty happy with the way our recruiting work," Google — under pressure from Jackson — fessed up to having a tech workforce that's only 1% Black, apparently par for the course in Silicon Valley.
Cellphones

Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should 288

Posted by timothy
from the not-enough-greenwashing dept.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The biggest thing that sets the Amazon Fire Phone apart from its Android and Apple competitors probably isn't the clean interface or the unlimited photo storage—it's the dirty power behind it. When Fire users upload their photos and data to Amazon's cloud, they'll be creating a lot more pollution than iPhone owners, Greenpeace says. Apple has made a commitment to running its iCloud on 100 percent clean energy. Amazon, meanwhile, operates the dirtiest servers of any major tech giant that operates its own servers—only 15 percent of its energy comes from clean sources, which is about the default national average." Greenpeace's jaundiced eye is on Amazon more generally; the company's new phone is just an example. Maybe Amazon or some other provider could take a page from some local utilities and let users signal their own preferences with a (surcharged) "clean energy" option.
Government

Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC 308

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "Lawrence Lessig's list of achievements and areas of influence is not small. He's co-founder of the Creative Commons, but it is his Mayday PAC however that has garnered the most attention recently. The crowdfunded "Super PAC to end all Super PACs" was launched in May with the goal of raising money to elect candidates who would pass campaign finance reform. It raised over $1 million in the first 13 days and has the support of some influential people. With the help of matching contributions, Mayday hopes to raise $12 million by the end of June. Lessig has agreed to answer any questions about the PAC that you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post."
Businesses

Bill Gates To Stanford Grads: Don't (Only) Focus On Profit 284

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the see-your-enemies-driven-before-you-too dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "The scene was a little surreal. Bill Gates, who became one of the world's richest men by ruthlessly making Microsoft one of the word's most profitable companies, was giving a commencement address at Stanford, the elite university at the heart of Silicon Valley whose graduates go on to the endless tech startups bubbling up looking for Facebook-style riches. But the theme of Gates's speech was that the pursuit of profit cannot solve the world's problems."
United States

Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails 347

Posted by samzenpus
from the they-were-just-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with news that the IRS lost email scandal is far from over. Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX) has sent a formal letter to the National Security Agency asking it to hand over "all its metadata" on the e-mail accounts of a former division director at the Internal Revenue Service. "Your prompt cooperation in this matter will be greatly appreciated and will help establish how IRS and other personnel violated rights protected by the First Amendment," Stockman wrote on Friday. The request came hours after the IRS told a congressional committee that it had "lost" all of the former IRS Exempt Organizations division director's e-mails between January 2009 and April 2011.
Government

California Regulators Tell Ride-Shares No Airport Runs 314

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-airport-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with news about ride-share crackdowns in California. California regulators are threatening to revoke permits for on-demand ride companies UberX, Lyft, Sidecar, Summon and Wingz unless they stop giving rides to and from airports within two weeks. The move could lead to the state shutting down the companies' operations. Flouting the airport rules also flouts regulations that the CPUC set up for the new generation of ride companies to operate in California. In a clear rebuttal to an argument often made by the ride companies, Peevey wrote: "These safety requirements should not hinder your creativity nor should they impede your innovation."
Businesses

Amazon Dispute Now Making Movies Harder To Order 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-retailer-to-rule-them-all dept.
trazom28 writes: Hachette books aren't the only products that are now harder to order on Amazon — the online retailer is going after movies, too. Amazon has turned off the preorder function for DVDs of prominent Warner Bros. films as it seeks to raise pressure on the company during negotiations. The Lego Movie, for example, is listed as "currently unavailable" on Amazon. Set for release in the home video marketplace on June 17, there is no option to place a preorder."

Comment: Re:A bad idea for reasons of basic economics (Score 1) 171

The argument is not whether or not the proposal will "work." The issue is that jobs providing products and services that consumers actually want will be reduced to pay for a robotics program that consumers do not want. This proposal evinces an antimarket bias. It also has an antiforeign bias, in that it attempts to increase market share at the expense of foreigners for no apparent reason beyond base protectionism, ignoring the benefits of comparative advantage and the specialization of labor. Instead of Europe producing what it is best position to do so and satisfying consumer demand, it will be wasting jobs and resources in an attempt to "beat" disfavoured foreigners in market share in robotics.

Comment: A bad idea for reasons of basic economics (Score 0) 171

This is another example of corporate welfare masquerading as a jobs plan, combined with protectionist sentiment. The central planners will take money out of the productive economy and spend it on a corporate giveaway to favoured interests. Jobs that otherwise would have been created in the productive sector will be lost, while only the 240,000 pork barrel jobs will be noticed by the superficial. Whether Europe is best positioned for the robotic industry will be ignored. Instead of this boondoggle, it would be better to leave well enough alone and let jobs be created where they are most needed, and let comparative advantage and the specialization of labor decide Europe's share of the robotics market.
EU

EU Launches World's Largest Civilian Robotics Program; 240,000 New Jobs Expected 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-will-have-a-weird-accent dept.
Hallie Siegel writes: "The European Commission and 180 companies and research organizations (under the umbrella of euRobotics) have launched the world's largest civilian research and innovation program in robotics. Covering manufacturing, agriculture, health, transport, civil security and households, the initiative – called SPARC – is the E.U.'s industrial policy effort to strengthen Europe's position in the global robotics market (€60 billion a year by 2020). This initiative is expected to create over 240,000 jobs in Europe, and increase Europe's share of the global market to 42% (a boost of €4 billion per year). The European Commission will invest €700 million and euRobotics will invest €2.1 billion."
Government

Congressman Introduces Bill To Limit FCC Powers 176

Posted by timothy
from the but-regulators-are-perfect-and-righteous dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Representative Bob Latta (R-OH) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would limit the FCC's power to regulate ISPs in a supposed effort to keep the internet free. The bill's text is currently not available on the Library of Congress webpage or on congress.gov, but a purported copy has been spotted on scribd. Representative Latta's press release nevertheless indicates that the bill is intended to prevent the FCC from re-classifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II. Latta is one of the 28 representatives who lobbied the FCC earlier this month and were shown to have received double the average monetary donations given to all House of Representative members from the cable industry over a two year period ending this past December."
Books

Amazon Confirms Hachette Spat Is To "Get a Better Deal" 211

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-book-for-you dept.
tlhIngan (30335) writes "Last week we heard that Amazon was withdrawing Hachette books from its virtual shelves including allowing preorders of the new JK Rowling book. Amazon has responded to these allegations, and confirms that yes, they are purposefully preventing pre-orders and lowering stock in order to get a better deal from Hachette. Amazon recommends that in the meantime, customers either buy a used or new copy from their zShops or buy from a competitor. Amazon admits there is nothing wrong with Hachette's business dealings and that they are a generally good supplier." Here's Hachette's response to the Amazon statement.
Facebook

Facebook Refuses To Share Employee Race and Gender Data 250

Posted by Soulskill
from the concerned-about-privacy-after-all dept.
theodp writes "Back in 2007, Representative Maxine Waters asked Google's HR Chief, "How many [of Google's employees] are African-American?" After 7+ years of stonewalling, Google has pledged to finally divulge diversity data on its workforce for the first time. While the U.S. government requires all major employers to file diversity statistics with the EEOC, Google convinced the Dept. of Labor that the race and gender of its work force is a trade secret that should not have to be released to the public. Google now concedes that it has been 'reluctant to divulge that data' and 'quite frankly, we are wrong about that.' Interestingly, Facebook apparently has no such compunctions about refusing to disclose data on the racial and gender makeup of its employees, even as CEO Mark Zuckerberg lobbies Congress for changes to the makeup of the U.S. workforce. Pressed on the matter by the Rev. Jesse Jackson at Facebook's annual shareholder meeting, the WSJ reports that COO and gender equality advocate Sheryl Sandberg rebuffed Jackson's request, saying, 'It's really important to share [the Facebook diversity numbers] internally, and eventually externally.'"
Education

Wyoming Is First State To Reject Science Standards Over Climate Change 661

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-the-case-of-science-v-politics dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Time Magazine reports that Wyoming, the nation's top coal-producing state, has become the first state to reject new K-12 science standards proposed by national education groups mainly because of global warming components. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a set of science standards developed by leading scientists and science educators from 26 states and built on a framework developed by the National Academy of Sciences. The Wyoming science standards revision committee made up entirely of Wyoming educators unanimously recommended adoption of these standards to the state Board of Education not once but twice and twelve states have already adopted the standards since they were released in April 2013. But opponents argue the standards incorrectly assert that man-made emissions are the main cause of global warming and shouldn't be taught in a state that ranks first among all states in coal production, fifth in natural gas production and eighth in crude oil production deriving much of its school funding from the energy industry.

Amy Edmonds, of the Wyoming Liberty Group, says teaching 'one view of what is not settled science about global warming' is just one of a number of problems with the standards. 'I think Wyoming can do far better.' Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has called federal efforts to curtail greenhouse emissions a 'war on coal' and has said that he's skeptical about man-made climate change. Supporters of the NGSS say science standards for Wyoming schools haven't been updated since 2003 and are six years overdue. 'If you want the best science education for your children and grandchildren and you don't want any group to speak for you, then make yourselves heard loud and clear,' says Cate Cabot. 'Otherwise you will watch the best interests of Wyoming students get washed away in the hysteria of a small anti-science minority driven by a national right wing group – and political manipulation.'"

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