Good morning. Basketball is finally back, y’all. The NBA tips off the season tonight with the Jazz vs. Pelicans at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Lakers vs. Clippers at 9:00 p.m. (both games on TNT).
“Nothing in this world that’s worth having comes easy.” -Bob Kelso, Scrubs
The Fantastic Four
The Big Four tech CEOs testified yesterday before the House Antitrust Subcommittee to address concerns regarding their market dominance.
A deeper dive… For over a year, House lawmakers have investigated Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple’s business practices to determine if they harm consumers or stifle competition.
Google faced criticism for allegedly abusing its position as a web gateway to limit competition. Similarly, Apple was confronted by app developers about excessive fees and granting certain apps an unfair advantage.
The House Judiciary chairman critiqued Facebook for the “anti-competitive acquisition” of Instagram in 2012, referencing documents in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the deal as “neutralizing a competitor.”
Amazon has been accused of mistreating its third-party merchants and allowing the sale of counterfeit items, among other things. In April, a WSJ investigative report found the company used data from third-party sellers on its platform to develop competing products.
CEOs Respond In their virtual testimonies, the CEOs pointed to the competitive nature of their respective markets and denied allegations of gatekeeping or favoritism (watch in full).
Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued his company faces intense competition, particularly in “vertical search,” such as searches for specific items on travel or retail websites. Pichai also denied allegations that Google works with the Chinese military.
Zuckerberg noted that Facebook faces competition from Apple on private messaging and Amazon and Google for advertising dollars.
CEO Tim Cook said Apple wants to get every app possible in the App Store and, therefore, treat all developers fairly. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the company has a policy against using third party data to boost its brands, but couldn’t guarantee it had never been violated.
What’s next? Before the hearing, President Trump tweeted that he’ll target the Big Four tech companies with executive orders – similar to previous orders towards social media companies – unless Congress takes action.
Lawmakers are currently working on a bipartisan effort to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says companies aren’t liable for third-party content posted online.
So… what are people saying?
Biased Big Tech algorithms limit our lives and choices. Stop the online discrimination.
Major virus news: In separate interviews yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci and former FDA Commissioner Doug Gottlieb (who served under President Trump) both said hydroxychloroquine is not effective in treating COVID-19 a day after Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube removed a viral video promoting the drug. (More to come: Tomorrow we’ll take a deep dive into what the science and data says on hydroxychloroquine.)
Federal Agent Deployment Update
The Trump administration reached an agreement with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) on a “phased withdrawal” of Customs and Border Protection and ICE officers brought into Portland in recent weeks, though agents from the U.S. Marshal service will remain. Separately, the DOJ announced an expansion of Operation Legend, and will send dozens of federal agents to Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee due to their “disturbing increases in violent crime, particularly homicides.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday announced plans to withdraw roughly one-third of the 36,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Germany. Nearly 5,600 troops would be sent to other NATO countries, with the other ~6,400 returning to the U.S. President Trump said the move was due to Germany failing to pay its fair share of NATO fees, though Esper and other Pentagon officials maintained the move was strategic. The major military move – which officials projected would cost $6B to $8B and take years to complete – requires Congressional approval to enact.
Worth Noting: Speaker Nancy Pelosi imposed a mandatory mask order for the House floor on Wednesday after Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) tested positive for COVID-19.
Also Worth Noting: Malik Abdul Bassit (known as Malik B.), a rapper and founding member of The Roots, passed away at the age of 47.
The Coronavirus Effect
Kodak’s market capitalization rose above $2 billion during trading Wednesday (compared to ~$115M at Monday’s close) after the company disclosed a ~$750M loan from the U.S. government to produce drug ingredients on Tuesday.
The Federal Reservedecided to leave interest rates unchanged following the conclusion of its two-day meeting on Wednesday. (Full statement)
The FDAgranted Quest Diagnostics emergency use authorization to use a new testing technique the company says will reduce average turnaround times to 2-3 days.
NASA’s Window Of Opportunity
NASA is set to launch its $2.7B mission to Mars from Cape Canaveral, FL, this morning. The two-hour launch window will begin at 7:50 a.m. EDT. The mission’s objective is to seek signs of ancient life on Mars that can be packaged and sent back to Earth for the first time. Watch the livestream.
The Last Dance?
Per Reuters, ByteDance – who owns TikTok – has received a takeover bid from existing investors seeking a controlling share of the privately-owned company (which the offer values at ~$50B). Separately, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed the social media app is being reviewed by the department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which will make a recommendation to the president.
Worth Noting: A Reuters investigative report found that Rite Aid deployed facial recognition systems in 200 U.S. stores over the past eight years – largely in lower-income, predominantly minority neighborhoods in LA & NYC.
Also worth noting: Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram permanently deactivated the accounts of high-profile British rapper Wiley after he posted a series of anti-Semitic messages last week.
Best Friends Forever
When Odin Frost and Jordan Granberry met on the first day of kindergarten in the early 2000s, neither of them could walk or talk, so they bit and pinched each other as their first greeting. Odin was non-verbal autistic, and Jordan had experienced brain damage due to complications at birth. Each of the boys had only a two percent chance of surviving past early-childhood.
On June 16th, Odin and Jordan, who have best friends since the day they met, graduated from high school together. Over the years, the two boys have developed nonverbal ways of playing and communicating, sticking by each other’s side as they defied doctors’ expectations and reached new milestones.
I’d Be De-Lighted To
Karuppu Raja, a college student in Pothakudi, India, has flipped the switchboard for his community’s streetlights on each evening and off every morning since he was a child, controlling the illumination for a region of about 100 houses. However, one afternoon in early June, Karuppu noticed a bird flying back and forth from the switchboard and found that the Indian robin had built a nest with three eggs in the control center.
Worried that turning on the lighting system would destroy the mother bird’s home, Karuppu convinced his neighbors to go without streetlights for 35 days until the nest was abandoned. Although the other community members were initially skeptical of the sacrifice, they quickly embraced the effort as they grew to adore the baby birds.
Like Riding A Bike
World War II veteran Thomas Kemp of Poole, England, has long attributed his longevity and overall good health to his love for the open road. Thomas is a lifelong biking fanatic who acquired his first motorcycle as a teenager and often rode his choice choppers to work when he served as a farm equipment repairman. Nevertheless, due to his age, the 93-year-old finally had to give up riding for good – or so he thought.
Thomas recently bought a TGA Supersport – a mobility scooter that looks like a classic Harley Davidson motorcycle. Clad in his old army shorts (which miraculously still fit), the vivacious veteran now makes frequent joyrides to the local seafront and boasts that his new wheels make him feel 50 years younger.
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