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In some ways, anything hyped as high as the Silicon Valley fairy tale was bound to face a reputational fall eventually. But the blemishes driving that backlash were also plentiful, and varied. There was bro culture, sexism and sexual harassment. Data breaches — lots of data breaches. Broken laws. Allegations of theft. Ripped-off employees and independent contractors. Privacy violations, disinformation, fake accounts and other user abuses, and changing stories about how much firms knew about them. Lobbying. Lying. Leaching. There was too little gatekeeping in toxic social-media environments. Or too much of the sort of gatekeeping that threatens free speech, depending on your political persuasion. The amplification of outrage culture, but also of white nationalism, xenophobia and conspiracy theories. The radicalization of young men worldwide into terrorists, evidenced most recently — though hardly exclusively — in the horrific slaughters at two New Zealand mosques. The list goes on, and the outcome is plain. A sector once seen as a bunch of plucky underdogs has become viewed by many as a greedy, parasitic monolith, indifferent to its effects on democracy, civility, human rights.
Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple might not get away as cleanly as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, released proposals this month that would force tech breakups and impose severe restrictions on what remained. Another Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, covered more briefly some of the same ground, saying, “We have a major monopoly problem.” At a moment when nearly everything in America seems wildly contentious, antitrust action against tech is getting a sober look. Antitrust is the nuclear bomb of regulatory policy, but the reaction to Ms. Warren’s and Ms. Klobuchar’s ideas was surprisingly receptive.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is banning a deadly chemical, often used in paint strippers, from being sold to consumers after a long campaign from safety advocates. The EPA said Friday that it was putting forth a final rule to remove the chemical methylene chloride from the retail consumer marketplace and prohibit the manufacturing, importation and processing of the chemical for consumer use. Consumer advocates and environmentalists have long argued that methylene chloride is dangerous for humans to handle, linking it to a number of child and worker deaths.
An investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is probing the reported spike in injuries related to the use of electric scooters. The devices, among the latest transportation fads, have become ubiquitous on many U.S. streets and sidewalks. The CDC is working in collaboration with the Austin Public Health Department in “developing and evaluating methods to find and count the number of injuries related to dockless electric scooters,” a CDC spokeswoman said.
Cargo ships are so big that crews often have no idea they struck a whale unless they see a carcass when they reach port. Many container ships that enter the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are more than 1,000 feet long. Recovery rates are low because struck whales tend to sink upon death. Others are never spotted because of ocean currents and decomposition. Ship strikes alone kill more than 80 whales off the West Coast each year, according to 2017 estimates made by Point Blue Conservation Science and Cascadia Research Collective.