Comcast’s problems aren’t limited to the antitrust concerns the DOJ might have about this giant combination. Those worries are weighty enough; there is certainly ample evidence supporting the antitrust case against the merger. This starts with the fact that a post-merger Comcast would control a dominant share of the nation’s the high-speed Internet access marketplace (particularly for speeds of 25 Mbps or more, where the vast majority of Americans have no choice other than their local cable monopoly). That would give Comcast unprecedented control over the way Americans access the Internet. And — even with the FCC’s recent Open Internet rules in place — that control would give the company the ability to harm the development of online businesses.
Indeed, Comcast would have innumerable opportunities to squeeze online companies. Every element of the Comcast network provides an opportunity for control and rent-seeking — interconnection points (see Jammed), CDN hookups, access to subscribers over the “last mile” of the network, and control over set-top boxes (see The Big Lock-In). And if that’s not enough, Comcast can use data caps and other pricing mechanisms to make life miserable for online businesses that aren’t willing to play along. It’s all one big digital pipe controlled by Comcast; there are plenty of dials for the company to turn.
A Morning Edition piece on the revival of anti-lynching plays as a reaction of the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police. (audio and transcript)
and, disturbingly, the racist hate song from two white students at a high school in Texas. It is easy to find their song online, but it is extremely disturbing. This piece has a reaction to the song and its aftermath along with a few excerpts
One might even see the Icelandic coffee cult as one case of a too-little-touched-on aspect of the human comedy: our tactical amnesia about trade. We tend to abstract and accent the unpleasant or disconcerting aspects of trade while domesticating the bits that seem essential to us. In “ David Copperfield,” there’s an old lady who spends all her time drinking tea and decrying foreign travel (“Let us have no meandering”) while other nineteenth-century English characters drink huge quantities of French and German wine, calling it by peculiar English names, hock and claret, while seeming to forget where it comes from, too. The scene of the Englishman boasting of his cellar while he damns the frogs is not an infrequent one in the English novel.
But as Liss-Riordan looked more closely at Uber’s business model, she realized there was a much larger legal problem looming: namely, the company was built on the backs of so-called “1099 employees”—drivers who formed the base of Uber’s operations, but whose income was counted as 1099 freelancer income for tax purposes. Uber claimed these drivers were fully independent and had control over their own work schedules — even making a point of calling them “driver-partners” instead of simply “drivers” — but the company also gave them strict guidelines for participation which made them look like employees according to the IRS’s 20-prong test. Uber screened and trained its drivers, and drivers could get deactivated by Uber for having their rating dip below what local managers set as a cut-off, for not accepting a certain percentage of trip requests, or for customer complaints. In one case, says Liss-Riordan, a driver was fired for “not showing respect” to Uber staff.
Liss-Riordan smelled blood. She realized that if Uber’s drivers were reclassified as normal W-2 employees, rather than 1099 independent contractors, Uber would be required to pay payroll taxes for them, and provide them with benefits like workers’ compensation insurance and unemployment. In some states, such as California, Uber would also be required to reimburse drivers for the costs of the job, including gas, wear-and-tear on their cars, and car insurance. If Uber had indeed misclassified its drivers, the company’s entire business model was built on a legal mistake.
“Just because your services are dispatched through a smartphone doesn’t make you a technology company,” she said in a recent telephone interview. “You’re a car service, and you have the responsibilities of being an employer of the people driving the cars.”
Questions were also raised if the increased density of seats means passengers won't be able to evacuate fast enough after a crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration runs various tests including how fast passengers can evacuate a plane and how fast they can put on a life preserver.
But Cynthia Corbertt, a human factors researcher with the FAA, testified that it conducts those tests using planes with 31 inches between each row of seats. Many passenger jets today have less legroom. For instance, United Airlines has 30 inches of room, known as pitch, on some jets; Spirit Airlines offers 28 inches.
"We just haven't considered other pitches," Corbertt told the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection.
Before any new jet is allowed to fly, the manufacturer must prove that everybody can evacuate in 90 seconds with half of the exits blocked.
Carry-on baggage is strewn throughout the cabin, and the test is conducted in night-like conditions. However, the cabin is not filled with smoke, and all of the passengers are physically fit, dressed in athletic clothing and know that an evacuation is coming.