“Facebook’s algorithm, Haugen said, organizes content based on engagement, which can lead to the most inflammatory and shocking posts getting preferential treatment and moving their way to the top of any given person’s feed. Essentially, the company makes decisions about what it wants you to see, and it keeps those decisions secret from the public, according to Haugen; changing the algorithm, she said, might impact the company’s earnings.”
Financially, Facebook’s strategy is working — the company is worth nearly a trillion dollars on the stock market. Morally, the company is adrift, Haugen and other critics maintained.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed uncharacteristically adrift, too, last week. After insisting that it was up to the Democrats to stave off a disastrous default on America’s national debt, McConnell suddenly offered GOP support for a two-month increase in the borrowing limit. It was a crisis averted, and many sighed in relief, for the moment. But McConnell took heat from former President Donald Trump and some Trump-supporting senators.
The GOP’s outrage at the soaring national debt conveniently resurfaced in Congress after a Democrat won the White House. Under Trump, the debt grew by $7 trillion dollars while Republicans stayed mostly silent.
The most important issue
Four Trump loyalists are resisting subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. As Norman Eisen and Hank Sparks wrote, they may be trying to run out the clock in hopes that Republicans will win control of Congress next year and shut down the investigation.
In the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson gave voice to some troubling questions: “Why is the news dominated by ridiculous controversies that should not be controversial at all? When did so many of our fellow citizens become full-blown nihilists who deny even the concept of objective reality?”
On Thursday, Pfizer asked US regulators for emergency approval of its vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, potentially a major step forward in fighting the disease. Moira Szilagyi, a pediatrician for 41 years who’s president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is looking forward to the day her grandchildren, ages 5 and 8, will be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine.
“More than 13 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 have already received the vaccine, and there is a lot of evidence it is safe and effective. Now, nonpartisan scientific advisory boards at the FDA and the CDC will review the data from the clinical trials in children aged 11 and younger. This review is an important step and will ensure the dosage is correct, effective and safe for the younger age group.”
Nikki Haley is no moderate
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley blasted liberals in a speech Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. “She said that the US was in the middle of ‘a clash of civilizations’ and slammed President Joe Biden’s leadership, saying he ‘thinks retreat is a sign of strength,'” Julian Zelizer noted. “Going further, the former diplomat flexed her deeply partisan muscle, saying that Democrats didn’t believe in America anymore.”
The same politician who strongly criticized Trump after January 6 now says the former president is a friend and “we need him in the Republican Party. I don’t want us to go back to the days before Trump.”
Ressa shared the award with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, editor in chief of Novaya Gazeta. “Muratov founded the paper with a group of journalists back in 1993, and they have managed to continue their vital investigative work even as Vladimir Putin’s regime crushes other truth tellers,” Ghitis observed.
The second season of the popular Apple+ show “Ted Lasso” ended this week with drama on the soccer pitch and a sign of bitter rivalry to come. Many have hailed the show for centering the narrative around the big heart of an American football coach who skillfully adapts to managing a UK team playing a different sport — what the rest of the world calls “football.”
“In the midst of a pandemic, when so many of us feel fundamentally alone, we see glimmers of this in our own world when we remember that we wear masks not just for ourselves but for everyone else too.”
California’s oil spill
Tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean from a ruptured pipeline, damaging wildlife and closing beaches in Southern California.
Biden’s job ratings have plunged in the past several months — CNN’s average of six recent polls shows 45% approval, with 50% of Americans disapproving of the president’s performance.
Venice without the crowds
At any time, the city of Venice is a miracle to be savored — a 1,600-year-old city made up of 118 islands knit together by bridges. But now, “one of the world’s most spectacular cities” is free of the hordes of tourists that have choked it over the past several years, wrote Frida Ghitis.
“The throngs are no longer here, and the city, with its palazzos seemingly floating on rippling waves of what looks like melted Murano glass, their majestic doors lapped by the ever-rising water, can again be admired in all its glory,” she observed.
“The gondoliers maneuvering their sleek black craft, expertly twisting that long single oar that mysteriously propels them in the direction of their choice; the monuments, the museums, the cafes, can be enjoyed as one would in a normal city, without the pushing and shoving of harried tourists, without long waits, without obstructed views…”