Watershed

Uber's "opportunity"; Code for America's new focus; and more.


  • From Russia With Love: Jeff Sessions spoke twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States last year, which he did not disclose when asked during his confirmation hearing, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller report for The Washington Post. “One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.”

  • Some Democrats have demanded the Attorney General resign; others stop short at demanding he recuse himself from any investigations into Trump’s ties to Russian, Charlie Savage reports for The New York Times.

  • House and Senate Intelligence Committee might not have the necessarily skills to properly investigate Russian hacking and interference in the U.S. election, Jenna McLaughlin reports for The Intercept.

  • Media matters: As part of her work with the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s Local News Lab, Sabrina Hersi Issa researched how media companies can best attract and support diverse newsrooms, and found a need for institutional commitment, infrastructure, and data-based accountability.

  • Crisis Text Line is now operating on Facebook Messenger, in addition to text, Kik, After School, and YouTube, founder Nancy Lublin shares on Facebook.

  • ICYMI: A women’s organization called UltraViolet ran a Snapchat filter campaign in Florida that corresponded with Donald Trump most recent rally, Melanie Ehrenkranz reports for Mic. The filter read, “Abortion Access Is More Popular Than Donald Trump.”

  • Code for America’s new focus is on delivering essential government services to people who need them most, at scale, CTO Lou Moore writes in a brief Medium dispatch. What’s clear is that they’re recruiting—so if you’re looking for a change and to make a difference, take a look at the job listings—but it’s unclear from his post what this new focus means for Brigades and Fellows, if anything.

  • Uncivic tech: “Also this cat is ruining my credit score,” wrote one woman in a 2015 complaint to the Federal Trade Commission about a predatory pet leasing company called Wags Lending, Patrick Clark reports for Bloomberg. “We like niches where we’re dealing with emotional borrowers.” the Ayn Rand-worshipping CEO of the company that operates Wags Lending said. “Fast, technology-driven underwriting has become table stakes for online lenders in the age of cloud computing, with a range of companies promising to make credit decisions more quickly than traditional banks,” Clark reports. “Bristlecone’s main innovation is to apply that kind of underwriting to leases. Unlike credit cards and installment loans, which are subject to usury laws in many states, closed-end leases face no caps on how much a financing company can charge.”

  • Only in tech: There’s something really irksome about how Farhad Manjoo covered the Uber harassment story in his most recent column. “Still, the Uber scandal feels different,” he writes. “It feels like a watershed. For gender-diversity advocates in the tech industry, Ms. Fowler’s allegations, and the public outcry they have ignited, offer a possibility that something new may be in the offing. What could happen? Something innovative: This could be the start of a deep, long-term and thorough effort to remake a culture that has long sidelined women — not just at Uber but across the tech business, too.” I don’t like the—playful? trying-to-be-clever?—use of the word “innovative”, or his wildly optimistic “no place to go but up” perspective, or the fact that much of his thesis hinges on the statements of an Uber investor, Freada Kapor Klein.

  • Speaking of irksome, the same could be said of her statements: “They did ask me, ‘Has anyone gotten it right in tech?’” she told Manjoo. “And I said not yet. And that means an opportunity for Uber.” Oh yes—thrilled that treating women in your industry right is an “opportunity” for Uber.

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