Economic Scene: G.O.P. Insists Making Poor People Work Lifts Them Up. Where’s the Proof?

anastasios pallis
anastasios pallis

There’s something almost eerie about the unwavering nature of the Republican system of belief.

The nationalists who propelled President Trump into office may appear locked in an existential battle with the party’s pro-trade globalists. In truth, the Republican Party is still driven by the two propositions that have guided it for decades: cutting government aid will free poor Americans to shake dependency and get ahead, and cutting taxes on the well-to-do will bring prosperity to all.

In December, Republicans dusted off the old trickle-down slogans to justify a nearly $2 trillion tax cut, blithely ignoring a virtual consensus among economists and glossing over a 40-year body of evidence that the only people who benefit from tax cuts for the rich are, well, the rich.

Now, the party is moving on to the government-aid part of the canon. In January, the Trump administration freed states to demand that Medicaid beneficiaries get a job, a move likely to bump hundreds of thousands of poor Americans off their health insurance.

It was just the beginning. As early as this week, Republicans in the House could vote for a new farm bill that would impose work requirements for recipients of food stamps, dropping maybe two million Americans from the program, according to the liberal-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and cutting benefits by $23 billion over 10 years, according to government estimates.

Indeed, the administration’s ultimate goal is to attach work requirements to the entire social safety net. In the words of the president, “We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.”

History, however, has proved that this doctrine, too, is mostly wrong. We have been here before, more than 20 years ago, when the embattled President Bill Clinton embraced the Republicans’ “welfare to work” strategy and replaced the federal program to aid poor families with children with a rash of state-managed programs that imposed stringent work requirements on beneficiaries.

Work requirements did, of course, encourage the mostly poor single mothers of able body and mind who did not already hold a job to get one. Their earnings from work increased. As they left the welfare rolls, government spending on welfare payments declined.

But what did not happen is perhaps more important: The incomes of all the mothers ostensibly freed from dependence hardly rose at all. The loss of welfare payments pretty much canceled out their earnings from work. With little education and virtually no access to training, they got stuck in the low-wage labor market that has taken over so much of the American economy.

Young children did no worse when their mothers got jobs in terms of either cognitive abilities or socialization skills. But unless the mothers’ incomes rose, they did no better either. Mothers who for some reason could not get a job — or go on disability — got a raw deal.

For his 2004 book “American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare,” my colleague Jason DeParle spoke at length to Angie, a single mother of four living in Milwaukee.

“On welfare, Angie was a low-income single mother, raising her children in a dangerous neighborhood in a household roiled by chaos,” he wrote. “She couldn’t pay the bills. She drank lots of beer. And her kids needed a father. Off welfare, she was a low-income single mother, raising her children in a dangerous neighborhood in a household roiled by chaos. She couldn’t pay the bills. She drank lots of beer. And her kids needed a father.”

There are 41 million poor people in America, according to the Census Bureau, four million more than in 1996. Before welfare reform kicked in, 68 percent of poor families got help from the federal entitlement to the poor. By 2016, its replacement served only 23 percent.

Benefits shriveled over the period: In 35 states, benefits are at least a fifth lower than they were when welfare was overhauled. In most states, they take families less than a third of the way out of poverty.

“What is crucial to understand is what we mean by success,” said Gordon Berlin, who runs the policy analysis firm MDRC. “Is the goal of welfare about reducing poverty or about reducing dependency?”

Maybe this shouldn’t be surprising. For all the lofty pronouncements surrounding the 1996 welfare reform, Mr. Clinton’s goals were political: “to remove welfare from national political attention so that it would no longer cost the Democrats votes,” as Christopher Jencks of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government noted.

Republicans were motivated, of course, by doctrine. “Much of the Republican welfare reform policy was based on values,” wrote Ron Haskins, one of the top architects of the Republican welfare strategy that Mr. Clinton signed into law, in his insider tell-all “Work Over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law.”

Research into the potential effects of ending welfare as America then knew it seems to have played only a bit role.

What motivates Republicans today? Raw dogma? They cannot be hoping to pay for their tax cuts by cutting nutrition benefits. Other than Medicare and Social Security, there is no program in the meager social safety net with enough money to pay for those.

I have suggested that Mr. Trump’s approach to welfare might be calibrated to appeal to the white blue-collar voters in his base who feel that anti-poverty programs amount to using their taxes to help undeserving black and Hispanic recipients.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the president and congressional Republicans honestly want to tweak welfare to improve the lot of poor Americans; to build a safety net that revolves around work but also provides help when work can’t be had.

There is, in fact, a lot of research on what works and what doesn’t. Much of it was carried out by MDRC, which starting in the late 1980s conducted more than a dozen experiments in cities around the country to explore the consequences of different paths from welfare to work.

Here are some thoughts: Rather than threatening workers to get them to join the work force, offer carrots instead. The earned-income tax credit, for instance, which increases the incomes of workers on low wages, has done a great job not only in drawing single mothers into the work force but in improving their incomes as well, delivering additional benefits for their children.

MDRC also identified a series of programs to “make work pay.” Spending real money on training has been found to help workers escape dead-end jobs at low wages. I am not optimistic that these ideas will find their way into the policy mix, however. They just don’t fit in the Republican system of belief.

This article is from NYT – go to source

Major US Stock Indexes Head Lower as Bond Yields Spike

anastasios pallis
anastasios pallis

U.S. stocks moved broadly lower in afternoon trading Tuesday, led by declines in technology, health care and consumer-focused companies. The slide put the Dow Jones industrial average on track to end an eight-day winning streak. Bond prices fell, sending yields to their highest level in almost seven years. The pickup in bond yields followed a report showing a solid increase in U.S. retail sales last month.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 23 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,706 as of 2:20 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow lost 230 points, or 0.9 percent, to 24,668. The Nasdaq composite dropped 78 points, or 1.1 percent, to 7,332. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,598.

THE QUOTE: “We’re of the view that we’re not in a high-rate environment, we’re in a less-low rate environment,” said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank. “So we’re not too concerned at these levels, but that’s definitely driving the market today.”

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 3.09 percent from 3 percent late Monday. That’s the highest level since July 2011 for the yield, which is used to set interest rates on mortgages and other kinds of loans. The surge came after the Commerce Department said retail sales climbed 0.3 percent in April, suggesting that spending by consumers is rebounding as expected after a weak first quarter. Bond yields tend to rise when investors expect faster economic growth and higher inflation.

The rise in bond yields helped lift shares in banks, which benefit from higher interest rates on loans. Capital One Financial gained 1.6 percent to $94.68.

HIT TO HOUSING: Homebuilders slumped amid expectations that higher mortgage rates may hurt home sales. Mortgage rates, which have been rising this year, tend to track the movement in the 10-year Treasury yield. D.R. Horton slid 6.5 percent to $40.67.

TECH TUMBLES: A slide in technology stocks weighed on the market. NVidia was down 4.5 percent to $243.80.

WINTER BLUES: Home Depot dropped 1.3 percent to $188.60 after the home-improvement retailer reported weaker-than-expected sales, partly because of inclement weather, and said the second quarter got off to a slow start.

READY TO SHOP: Some retailers got a boost from the retail latest retail sales data. Bed Bath & Beyond rose 2.4 percent to $17.49. Ulta Beauty added 0.9 percent to $249.28.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil reversed an early side, rising 7 cents to $71.03 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oil, rose 49 cents to $78.72 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.37 yen from 109.66 yen late Monday. The euro weakened to $1.1853 from $1.1944.

METALS: Precious metals prices slumped as the dollar strengthened. Gold fell $27.90, or 2.1 percent, to $1,290.30 an ounce. Silver dropped 38 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $16.27 an ounce. Copper slipped 4 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $3.06 a pound.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 percent after new data showed the country’s economy slowed in the first quarter. France’s CAC 40 inched up 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.2 percent. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged down 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.6 percent. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.7 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.2 percent.

This article is from NYT – go to source

Gap, Wary of Offending China, Apologizes for T-Shirt’s ‘Erroneous’ Map

anastasios pallis
anastasios pallis

A Gap T-shirt showing a map of China that omitted territory the country claims as its own has prompted a strong apology from the retailer, the latest in a string of mea culpas from businesses wary of offending the Chinese government.

Chinese social media users on Monday posted photos of the shirt, which did not include Taiwan, parts of Tibet and islands in the South China Sea that, in Beijing’s view, belong to China. Within hours, Gap posted a statement on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo in which it said it was “extremely sorry” for the shirt’s “erroneous” design.

Gap, which is based in San Francisco, called the shirt an “unintentional mistake” that had been marketed in select overseas markets and said that it “respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.” The retailer, which opened its first store in China in 2010 and now has more than 300 stores in Asia, said that the garment was pulled from shelves and that related products in the Chinese market were destroyed.

Photos of the shirt that circulated on Weibo had been taken at an outlet store in Canada, according to the accompanying post.

China has long challenged depictions of the country that do not include territories like Taiwan, but social media has helped to amplify the outrage. Foreign companies, eager to endear themselves to a growing population of affluent Chinese consumers, have rushed to smooth over tensions with the government.

“These companies are finding themselves in a position where they’re being asked to weigh in on political conversations that they really haven’t had to in the past,” said Greg Portell, the lead partner in the retail practice at the consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

“You’re involving the regulatory and political activism arm of these companies in what is essentially a consumer merchandising decision,” he said.

In January, the Marriott International hotel chain, which had more than 600 properties in Asia last year, apologized for listing Tibet and Taiwan as separate countries on a customer survey. Beijing has been quick to quash any suggestion that Tibet, a region of China, and Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island, are independent from the country.

In February, the German automaker Daimler apologized after its Mercedes-Benz brand used a quote from the Dalai Lama in a social media post. Many people in China view the Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetan Buddhist exiles as dangerous separatists. The Daimler post was deleted.

This month, the Trump administration accused the Chinese government of engaging in “Orwellian nonsense” for ordering 36 airline companies to remove from their websites references to Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as separate countries. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded by suggesting that for foreign companies, deferring to Chinese preferences for geopolitical categorization was a price of doing business in the country.

Several clothing retailers have apologized for designs criticized as racist, sexist, crude or otherwise inappropriate, but have rarely offered insight into how the blunders occurred. Gap, in its apology, said it was investigating what went wrong with the shirt and thanked customers and the government for their “attention and support.”

Economic relations between the United States and China have shown signs of strain amid disputes over trade, technology and tariffs on steel, aluminum, agricultural products and more, although President Trump appeared this week to adopt a softer stance.

This article is from NYT – go to source

With Disney Sale Pending, Fox TV Chiefs Extend Contracts

anastasios pallis
anastasios pallis

It has been one of the most pressing questions in the TV industry: Will the Fox TV chiefs Dana Walden and Gary Newman head to Disney, or will they strike out on their own when their contracts expire in a couple of months?

It may be a little longer before that question is ultimately answered.

Ms. Walden and Mr. Newman, the co-chief executives of the Fox television group, are in advanced talks to extend their contracts with 21st Century Fox for an extra year, according to three people briefed on the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing.

The new deal would give Ms. Walden and Mr. Newman time to figure out whether they will stick with the Fox broadcast network, go to Disney with much of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets or look for other jobs. It would allow Ms. Walden and Mr. Newman to stay until a deal is closed, and would give them flexibility to leave sooner or stay later depending on when the sale is completed. Their current contracts with Fox are set to expire this summer.

The Walt Disney Company reached an agreement for most of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment properties in December. That deal is awaiting regulatory approval. Things could get complicated depending on the outcome of the Justice Department’s lawsuit to stop AT&T’s merger with Time Warner, or if Comcast, which made an offer for Fox before Disney did, goes ahead with a hostile bid.

However, barring those hiccups, the Disney deal could be completed within a year.

Ms. Walden, who is known to have a deft hand with talent and is the godmother of the star showrunner Ryan Murphy’s children, is one of the most powerful female executives in the television industry. She has run the broadcast network with Mr. Newman since 2014, and they have run Fox’s TV studio together for almost two decades.

But in the time since they’ve run the broadcast network, Fox has not been able to climb out of a years-long slump that started when ratings for “American Idol” began to crater. The studio’s biggest recent hit, “This Is Us,” airs on NBC.

If 21st Century Fox is sold, the studio that Ms. Walden and Mr. Newman have curated for so long will be in unfamiliar hands. Fox, known for its edgier programming, and ABC have considerably different brands, and a transition to Disney could be tricky for Ms. Walden and Mr. Newman. Meanwhile, the Fox broadcast network will be in the awkward spot of having to navigate a future without an aligned studio providing new shows. The network will have to look elsewhere for content, meaning its programming will likely be heavy on sports, live events and reality television. The so-called New Fox would consist of the broadcast network, the Fox Sports channels, some local TV channels and Fox News. Some analysts have taken to calling this potential version of Fox “the stub.”

Earlier this year, Ms. Walden briefly spoke to Amazon for its chief entertainment job before pulling out. The position ultimately went to Jennifer Salke, a former colleague of Ms. Walden’s.

On Monday, Ms. Walden and Mr. Newman presided over Fox’s annual upfront presentation for advertisers. The event was muted, by the usual glitz-and-glam standards of the upfronts, featuring lots of talk about future sports rights for Fox.

Ms. Walden, who started her career in public relations, has been with Fox for decades. “It was a little stunning, having worked there for such a long time and having worked so closely with the Murdochs,” Ms. Walden said this year of the sale to Disney. “It just didn’t seem to me like that was on the table.”

The fallout of the deal has already begun. Mr. Murphy, the executive producer behind “American Crime Story” and “Glee,” has already made a $300 million deal to go to Netflix. He showed up at Fox’s upfront presentation on Monday, but his new deal with the streaming service begins in six weeks.

This article is from NYT – go to source

Why Don’t People Who Can’t Afford Housing Just Move Where It’s Cheaper?

anastasios pallis


California is in fact losing population, but for many people, the calculation is more about social networks than economics.

SAN FRANCISCO — Many San Francisco renters I met while reporting an article on affordable housing lotteries had responded to the region’s housing crisis by putting up with great discomfort: They crammed in with family; they split apartments with strangers. Some even lived out of their cars.

Why, lots of readers wanted to know, didn’t they simply move away instead?

Many have. High-cost California has long been losing population to migration, particularly poorer residents (who head to cheaper places like Arizona, Nevada and Texas).

And in the country’s most expensive metropolitan areas, according to an analysis this year by Issi Romem, BuildZoom’s chief economist, the people moving in have significantly higher incomes than those moving out. That’s consistent with the notion that those who can’t afford expensive places are leaving them, changing the makeup of these regions over time.

But for the poorest renters — making less than 30 percent of a region’s median income — there is a shortage of affordable housing virtually everywhere in America. Moving, itself expensive, isn’t guaranteed to solve their problem. A cheaper housing market may indicate that a region has fewer jobs. And low-skilled jobs in a city like San Francisco pay some of the highest wages in the country; the minimum wage here is twice what it is in much of America, a real benefit that weighs against the high housing costs.

For many, however, the calculation about whether to leave is not primarily about economics.

Before readers raised the issue, I posed the same question to Mya Mack, whom I first met at the public lottery last fall for Natalie Gubb Commons, a new 95-unit affordable housing development in San Francisco that drew 6,580 applicants.

She had been looking for housing since the summer, when she left an affordable apartment for a relationship that didn’t work out. She and her 7-year-old daughter, Jaiya, then moved in with her mother, a niece and two nephews — back into the now-crowded house where she was raised.

Ms. Mack, who works as a phlebotomist, applied to every housing opportunity she could find. She checked the city’s online affordable housing site on her phone as reflexively as she looked at Facebook. She questioned construction workers when she saw what looked like new apartments rising around town. But when I asked if she had ever considered moving somewhere much cheaper, that solution was off the table.

“It would be foolish for me to do that, because I would be struggling,” she said. “Not financially. But I would be struggling with my daughter. Who’s going to babysit? And I’m a single mom.”

She envisioned the situation from Jaiya’s perspective. “My daughter would hate it,” she said.

Ms. Mack with her 7-year-old daughter, Jaiya, playing in the park where she played as a child.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

Ms. Mack grew up the youngest in a close-knit family of five sisters in the Ingleside neighborhood on the southern edge of San Francisco. Family members still live near one another and see each other almost daily. Jaiya goes to school with her cousins. Ms. Mack takes her to the same park where she played as a child.

People who struggle financially often have valuable social networks — family to help with child care, acquaintances who know of jobs. The prospect of dropping into, say, Oklahoma or Georgia would mean doing without the good income and the social support. Those intangible connections that keep people in places with bad economies also keep people in booming regions where the rent is too high.

For Ms. Mack, her mother’s home was overcrowded but happy. She did not have a bedroom door to close for privacy, but she had enough that she and her daughter could afford to keep waiting for their own home.

“A lot of people don’t have family they can call and say, ‘Excuse me, can I live there for a year?’” Ms. Mack said. “I count my blessings all the time because I do have somewhere to go.”

Emily Badger writes about cities and urban policy for The Upshot from the San Francisco bureau. She’s particularly interested in housing, transportation and inequality — and how they’re all connected. She joined the Times in 2016 from The Washington Post.@emilymbadger


This article is from NYT – go to source

Eight Gold Rings + Four Gold Chains: ASAP Ferg Feels ‘Like a Walking MoMA Installation’

anastasios pallis


The Harlem rapper talks about jewelry, his new partnership with Tiffany & Co. and his drive to one-up his father’s legacy.

ASAP Ferg is the first male rapper to act as a spokesman for Tiffany & Co. In a recent interview, he said he planned to use the partnership to teach “kids about wealth versus being rich and just having gaudy jewelry.”CreditNathan Bajar for The New York Times

When ASAP Ferg was still a teenager in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem, he started making crystal-studded pendants. He would sketch designs of characters like Bart Simpson and Mega Man, then hand the drawings over to Earl Harley (also known as “Harley, the buckle man”). Mr. Harley would create the bases for Ferg, who would then add Swarovski crystals and sell the pendants. They cost him about $200 to make; he sold them for about $700 a piece.

A decade later, Ferg, born Darold Ferguson Jr., is hawking pricier gems. This month, he became the first male rapper to appear as a spokesman for Tiffany & Co., the luxury jeweler. Ferg, 29, is not yet a megastar nor the most famous artist in the ASAP crew (that would be Rocky). But in collaborating with him, Tiffany has aligned itself with a princeling of Harlem fashion who aims to honor the legacy of his father, the designer Darold Ferguson Sr., by out-accomplishing him.

During a recent interview at The Blue Box Cafe at the Tiffany flagship store on Fifth Avenue, Ferg was frank about the mutual interest driving the partnership.

“I feel like we open up doors for each other,” he said of Tiffany. “I show them my world, they show me their world.”

In working with him, the jewelry brand follows other luxury brands that have sought to reupholster their stuffy brand images by collaborating with luminaries of the hip-hop world.

The conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton recruited Jay-Z as a brand ambassador for its Hublot watches in 2011, and in the years since, it has been rewarded with hundreds of bars, from his songs and others’, testifying to the status of its brands. Virgil Abloh, Kanye West’s longtime creative director, was tapped in March as the artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton. And in January, Gucci opened a studio with the Harlem fashion legend Dapper Dan, who worked with Ferg’s father and is close enough with the rapper to refer to him as his nephew.

Before Mr. Ferguson Sr. died of kidney failure in 2005, days before Ferg’s 17th birthday, he designed T-shirts for stars like Teddy Riley and Heavy D and logos, like the one he created for Bad Boy Records. Also in 2005, Ferg started his own line, Devoni Clothing.

“I always ask my grandmother, when did my father have his first car, when did my father have his first apartment,” he said. “That was a way of measuring myself.”

Eventually, Rocky, who had known Ferg for years, helped convince him to start making music in addition to designing clothing. A couple of studio albums and mixtapes into his career, Ferg now feels as if he’s beginning to reach a new level of fame.

“Fans fanning out is still new for me,” he said. “Girls actually want to take pictures instead of just their boyfriends.”

Ferg was heavily influenced by his father, the designer Darold Ferguson Sr. He said he wanted to carve out his path, so that people who knew his father would say “Ferg’s son is doing his thing, he’s taking the legacy beyond.”CreditNathan Bajar for The New York Times

Ferg’s love of jewelry is obvious in his music. The first verse of his highest-charting song to date, a remix of his 2018 single “Plain Jane,” opens with him decked out in a chain he had made in honor of his friend ASAP Yams, the mastermind behind the ASAP crew, who died in 2015. In a song he created with the actress Elle Fanning, “Moon River,” he raps about a Tiffany grill with all gold filling. If such a piece were real, it would be the first grill manufactured by the company. (“I’m a strong believer in talking things into existence and I’ve gotten everything I wanted so far,” Ferg said.)

These days, he cares less about flash. He said he believes in the artistic value of the jewelry he’s promoting — referring to himself as a “a walking MoMA installation” — but also understands what it could mean for young people to see him wearing gold from Tiffany & Co.

“I couldn’t afford anything in here so I never walked in the store,” he said, gesturing at the room. “Kids, I can imagine them feeling the same way, they didn’t have anything to connect to.”

He imagined what he might say to someone from Hamilton Heights: “I came from where you came from. You could attain this as well.”

Harlem’s Fashion Footprint

Jonah Bromwich is based in New York. He writes for the Style section.@jonesieman


This article is from NYT – go to source

Facebook, Aiming for Transparency, Details Removal of Posts and Fake Accounts

anastasios pallis
anastasios pallis

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook has been under pressure for its failure to remove violence, nudity, hate speech and other inflammatory content from its site. Government officials, activists and academics have long pushed the social network to disclose more about how it deals with such posts.

Now, Facebook is pulling back the curtain on its efforts.

On Tuesday, the Silicon Valley company published numbers for the first time detailing how much and what type of content it takes down from the social network. In an 86-page report, Facebook revealed that it deleted 865.8 million posts in the first quarter of 2018, the vast majority of which were spam, with a minority of posts related to nudity, graphic violence, hate speech and terrorism.

Facebook also said it removed 583 million fake accounts in the same period, or the equivalent of 3 to 4 percent of its monthly users.

Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of product management, said the company had substantially increased its efforts over the past 18 months to flag and remove inappropriate content. The inaugural report was intended to “help our teams understand what is happening” on the site, he said. Facebook hopes to continue publishing reports about its content removal every quarter.

The social network is aiming for more transparency after a turbulent period. Facebook has been under fire for a proliferation of false news, divisive messages and other inappropriate content on its site, which in some cases have led to real-life incidents. Graphic violence continues to be widely shared on Facebook, especially in countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka, stoking tensions and helping to fuel attacks and violence.

Facebook has separately been grappling with a data privacy scandal over the improper harvesting of millions of its users’ information by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has said that the company needs to do better and has pledged to curb the abuse of its platform by bad actors.

On Monday, as part of an attempt to improve protection of its users’ information, Facebook said it had suspended roughly 200 third-party apps that collected data from its members while it undertook a thorough investigation.

Tuesday’s report on content removal is another step by Facebook to clean up its site. But the figures the company published were limited. Facebook declined to provide examples of graphically violent posts or hate speech that it removed, for example. And the company said it had taken down more posts from its site in the first three months of 2018 than it had during the last quarter of 2017, but it gave no specific figures from previous years, making it hard to assess how much it had stepped up its efforts.

Still, Jillian York, the director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said she welcomed Facebook’s report.

“It’s a good move and it’s a long time coming,” she said. “But it’s also frustrating because we’ve known that this has needed to happen for a long time. We need more transparency about how Facebook identifies content, and what it removes going forward.”

Facebook previously declined to reveal its content removal efforts, citing a lack of internal metrics. Instead, it published a country-by-country breakdown of how many requests it received from governments to obtain Facebook data or restrict content from Facebook users in that country. Those figures did not specify what type of data the governments asked for or what posts were restricted. Facebook also published its next country-by-country report on Tuesday.

According to Tuesday’s report, about 97 percent of all the content that Facebook removed from its site in the first quarter was spam. About 2.4 percent of the deleted content had nudity, Facebook said, with even smaller percentages of posts removed for graphic violence, hate speech and terrorism.

Facebook attributed the increase in content removal in the first quarter to improved artificial intelligence programs that could detect and flag offensive content. Mr. Zuckerberg has long highlighted A.I. as the main solution to helping Facebook sift through the billions of pieces of content that people post to its site every day.

“If we do our job really well, we can be in a place where every piece of content is flagged by artificial intelligence before our users see it,” said Alex Schultz, Facebook’s vice president of data analytics. “Our goal is to drive this to 100 percent.”

According to the new report, Facebook’s A.I. found 99.5 percent of terrorist content on the site, leading to the removal of roughly 1.9 million pieces of content in the first quarter. The A.I. also detected 95.8 percent of posts that were problematic because of nudity, with 21 million such posts taken down.

But Facebook still relied on human moderators to identify hate speech because automated programs have a hard time understanding context and culture. Of the 2.5 million pieces of hate speech Facebook removed in the first quarter, 38 percent was detected by A.I., according to the new report.

Facebook said it also removed 3.4 million posts that had graphic violence, 85.6 percent of which were detected by A.I.

The company did not break down the numbers of graphically violent posts by geography, even though Mr. Schultz said that at times of war, people in certain countries would be more likely to see graphic violence than others. He said that in the future, Facebook hoped to publish country-specific numbers.

The report also did not include any figures on the amount of false news on Facebook as the company did not have an explicit policy on removing misleading news stories, Mr. Schultz said. Instead, Facebook has tried to deter the spread of misinformation by removing spam sites that profit from advertisements that run alongside false news, and by removing fake accounts that spread them.

Follow Sheera Frenkel on Twitter: @sheeraf

This article is from NYT – go to source

CBS Escalates Its Fight With Redstones

anastasios pallis
anastasios pallis

For Les Moonves and his team at CBS, Monday meant war against Shari Redstone and her desire to merge the media company with its corporate sibling, Viacom.

CBS sued its parent company, the Redstones’ National Amusements, in Delaware’s Court of Chancery to prevent Ms. Redstone from interfering with a meeting of a special board committee scheduled for Thursday.

Ms. Redstone’s father, the media mogul Sumner M. Redstone, took control of Viacom in 1987, through National Amusements, and then acquired CBS in 2000. Six years later Mr. Redstone split the two companies apart.

In recent years, the Redstones have pushed for CBS and Viacom to reunite. Earlier this year, the two firms said that their boards had created special committees of independent directors to “evaluate a potential combination.”

Negotiations between the two companies soon hit an impasse over both the price of a deal and who would run the combined company. CBS has wanted Leslie Moonves, its chief executive, to run the combined company and his chief operating officer, Joe Ianniello, to hold that position at the new firm. Viacom has pressed for its C.E.O., Bob Bakish, to hold that spot, and Ms. Redstone had largely sided with Viacom.

On Sunday, CBS’s special committee determined that a deal with Viacom was not in “the best interests” of CBS’s shareholders.

CBS said it filed the lawsuit because it was worried Ms. Redstone would block a meeting of the special committee taking place on Thursday. At the meeting, the committee is set to consider issuing a special dividend to all shareholders that would neutralize Ms. Redstone’s special voting powers. While National Amusements owns just over 10 percent of CBS’s overall shares, Ms. Redstone and her family effectively have just under 80 percent of the company’s voting power. The special dividend would lower Ms. Redstone’s voting interest to about 17 percent.

The lawsuit was pre-emptive, CBS said, because Ms. Redstone had considered replacing CBS’s board if it continued to resist a merger with Viacom. In a statement, National Amusements denied it had any “intention of replacing the CBS board or forcing a deal that was not supported by both companies.”

National Amusement also said that CBS and Viacom had even reached a provisional agreement on valuation. Viacom’s investors would receive 0.6135 CBS shares for each Viacom share they own, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss the negotiations. The valuation marked a compromise for both sides and is a sign that CBS had previously supported exploring a merger of the two companies.

But in the lawsuit, CBS accused Ms. Redstone of presenting “a significant threat of irreparable and irreversible harm to the company and its stockholders,” and that the board believes it is acting in its fiduciary duty to all of its shareholders, not just Ms. Redstone.

CBS asserted in its lawsuit that “Ms. Redstone told the C.E.O. of a potential acquirer of CBS that he should not make such an offer, thereby depriving CBS stockholders of a potentially value-enhancing opportunity that the board or the special committee should have been free to evaluate.” That chief executive was Lowell C. McAdam of Verizon, according to people familiar with the discussions but not authorized to speak publicly.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B4 of the New York edition with the headline: CBS Sues Its Parent Company, Escalating Effort to Block Merger With Viacom. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

This article is from NYT – go to source

DealBook Briefing: A Modest Proposal on Remington for Gun Control Advocates

anastasios pallis

• Any settlements won’t limit what people can say about their experience.

“Our message to the world is that we need to turn the lights on,” Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, wrote in a blog post.

Les Moonves, CBS’s C.E.O. Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

What CBS’s declaration of war against Shari Redstone means

In suing Ms. Redstone to preserve the independence of his board, Les Moonves may have put his job as CBS’s C.E.O. on the line. If the lawsuit fails, Ms. Redstone could replace directors and installing a new chieftain. (Whether she would is another matter.)

CBS believes it can win in Delaware’s Court of Chancery, and that it has a good chance of ultimately issuing a special dividend that would dilute the Redstones’ voting stake from 79 percent to 17 percent. Ms. Redstone is equally sure that the courts won’t let that happen to a controlling shareholder with clear rights.

The context: CBS and Viacom had been making progress in merger negotiations. But they were still far apart on management of the combined company.

Of note: One of the plaintiffs in CBS’s lawsuit is Martha Minow, the former Harvard Law School dean whom Ms. Redstone placed on the board last year.

Critics’ corner: It’s a clash of egos, says Jennifer Saba of Breakingviews. Investors have reason to celebrate (unless the company’s gambit fails), argues Elizabeth Winkler of Heard on the Street. Mr. Moonves might be making a huge mistake, writes Tara Lachapelle of Bloomberg Opinion.

Elsewhere in deals: Fujifilm won’t sweeten its bid for Xerox; here’s how Carl Icahn beat it. Sears is exploring a potential sale of assets. Two Canadian medical marijuana companies agreed a $2.5 billion merger.

The political flyaround

• Moguls like Paul Singer of Elliott Management and Ken Griffin of Citadel have reportedly cut donations to Republicans because of the tax overhaul treats hedge funds. (CNN)

• How Michael Cohen shed light on the “shadow lobbying” industry. (FT)

• The Trump administration defended its revised plans to lower drug prices, which critics say would have little effect. (NYT)

• Ben Bernanke and Stanley Fischer are among the Fed alumni who support appointing Richard Clarida as No. 2 there. Another Fed nominee, Michelle Bowman, plans to criticize postcrisis banking regulations at her Senate confirmation hearing.

• Senators led by Susan Collins of Maine introduced a bill to halt tariffs on Canadian paper imports. (Bloomberg)

• The White House and the E.P.A. blocked publication of a study on the effects of water contamination. The E.P.A.’s internal watchdog said that Scott Pruitt demanded a 24-hour security detail from Day 1.

Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images

ZTE shows Trump’s swing away from trade hard-liners

Now we know why President Trump offered to save the Chinese telecom company: to convince China to lift restrictions on U.S. agricultural exports. That’s counter to the approach favored by the likes of Peter Navarro, a trade adviser, and the U.S. trade representative, Bob Lighthizer.

It also reportedly reflects a loss of influence for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department Mr. Trump directed to explore alternatives to ZTE sanctions.

Other potential winners from the move: Qualcomm, whose takeover of NXP Semiconductors will be reviewed again by Chinese regulators, and JPMorgan Chase, which hopes to expand in China.

Elsewhere in trade: Senators dropped a plan for national security reviews of outbound investments by U.S. companies.

The sports book at the South Point hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Credit John Locher/Associated Press

What’s next for sports gambling

After the Supreme Court legalized a line of business already estimated to bring in $150 billion of bets each year, a swath of industries is figuring out how to cash in.

Tom Rogers, the chairman of the mobile sports betting start-up WinView (and former TiVo C.E.O.), told Michael that broadcasters like ESPN could use online betting to bolster falling ratings:

Those players are the ones hurting and are dealing with declining metrics. This provides a possible opportunity. We’ll be talking with them.

Other potential winners: Sports leagues. States like New Jersey. And DraftKings and FanDuel, obviously. (Buy Lex recommends shorting the mafia.)

Credit Richard Drew/Associated Press

Interpreting the Goldman trading shake-up

At the Wall Street giant’s fabled securities division, two of the three top executives, Pablo Salame and Isabelle Ealet, are preparing to retire. It’s a sign of how the operation has struggled — and how the bank’s power center continues to tilt away from trading.

Sarah Butcher of eFinancialcareers had a more acerbic take:

For a firm which likes to clear out its bottom 5 percent of performers annually, Goldman seemed strangely wedded to its underperforming senior partners.

Elsewhere in finance: Hedge fund moguls like Dan Loeb love the Robin Hood Foundation, but it has backed nonprofits that have protested their industry. The former head of JPMorgan Chase’s blockchain team, Amber Baldet, has unveiled a blockchain start-up, Clovyr.

Protesters in Seattle campaigning for a business tax that Amazon opposed. Credit Gregory Scruggs/Reuters

The tech flyaround

• Under pressure from Amazon, Seattle scaled back its forthcoming tax on big businesses. Under pressure from employees, the company agreed to a rule to improve its board’s diversity. It’s also testing an advertising tool to challenge Google.

• WhatsApp is playing a central role in India’s elections. (NYT)

• After Cambridge Analytica and Europe’s new privacy rules, some advertisers are questioning Facebook’s value to them. And the company’s investigation into data privacy abuses has blocked some 200 apps.

• Tesla reportedly rejected a plan to give its Autopilot feature sensors to check drivers were paying attention. The company said it would “flatten” its management structure.

• New Enterprise Associates is reportedly planning to sell roughly $1 billion worth of stakes in start-ups to a new venture firm it would create. (WSJ)

Bill O’Reilly Credit Andy Kropa/Invision, via Associated Press

Revolving door

Bill O’Reilly is reportedly in advanced talks to return to TV — at Newsmax. (Page Six)

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone’s C.E.O. for a decade, plans to step down in October, after engineering its $22 billion Liberty Global deal. (Bloomberg)

Ted Eliopoulos, chief investment officer of the Calpers public pension fund and the architect of its move away from hedge funds, plans to retire at year end to move to New York for family reasons. (Institutional Investor)

• Two directors at Wynn Resorts, John Hagenbuch and Robert Miller, have resigned. (Bloomberg)

The speed read

• A U.S. federal judge looks likely to award the Justice Department a $250 million yacht. It’s owned by Low Taek Jho, a Malaysian financier caught up in the 1MDB scandal. (Bloomberg)

• The best-paid C.E.O.s don’t necessarily run the best-performing companies. (WSJ)

• Can robots help both employers and employees? In some industries, probably yes. (WSJ)

• Royal Dutch Shell’s takeover of an English energy start-up shows how oil giants are remaking themselves. (NYT)

Know someone who would enjoy this newsletter? Tell them to sign up here.

You can find live updates throughout the day at

We’d love your feedback. Please email thoughts and suggestions to

Continue reading the main story

This article is from NYT – go to source

Uber Eliminates Forced Arbitration for Sex Misconduct Claims

anastasios pallis

“It’s important to give sexual assault, and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims. So moving forward, survivors will be free to choose to resolve their individual claims in the venue they prefer,” wrote Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer. “They will be free to tell their story wherever and however they see fit.”

Uber also said it planned to publish a safety transparency report that would provide data on sexual assaults and other episodes that take place on the “Uber platform.” That would include rides and deliveries, as well such incidents that happen before pick up or after drop off.

The company said it planned to publish the review after it completed a system for reporting incidents. Uber said it hoped to have the system, which it is working on with 80 women’s groups, in place by the end of the year.

In April, 14 women who have accused Uber drivers of sexually assaulting them wrote a letter to the company’s board, urging it to waive the arbitration agreement and allow them to proceed with a lawsuit in open court.

Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer whose account of harassment and sexism at the company prompted a wide-ranging investigation into the company’s workplace culture, has also thrown her weight behind legislation in California that would prohibit companies from making arbitration agreements a condition of employment. Ms. Fowler publicly challenged Mr. Khosrowshahi to scrap the forced arbitration agreements on Twitter.

“These kind of clauses are pretty common, but to have a company come out in front of it and say ‘it’s not the right thing to do’ is significant,” said Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer for Raliance, an advocacy group working with Uber.

In December, Microsoft announced it was eliminating forced arbitration agreements with employees who made sexual assault or harassment claims.

In an interview, Mr. West, a former Justice Department official who joined Uber in November, said its new policy applied to people currently in arbitration with Uber over sexual assault of harassment claims.

This article is from NYT – go to source