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Newley's Notes

NN228: Best Office Dog Ever

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, July 26. Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

Photo of the week, above: a watercolor I painted during a recent trip to the beach here in Hong Kong.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🛸 1) A secretive Pentagon program studying UFOs will in the next six months apparently make some of its findings public.

🚨 2) The Fairfax (Va.) County School Board voted to rename Springfield’s Robert E. Lee High School after John Lewis.

🦇 3) Covid–19-related story of the week: Has Southeast Asia largely been spared because similar viruses have been circulating for years, providing some innate immunity? (Thanks, Suzy!)

☀️ 4) Health-related story of the week: A new study shows that chemical ingredients used in many sunscreens show up in the blood “at concentrations far greater than the Food and Drug Administration’s safety threshold,” my WSJ colleague Jo Craven McGinty reports.

🎧 5) The New York Times is acquiring Serial Productions, the podcasting company that created “Serial,” aiming to “further the newspaper’s podcasting ambitions,” according to my WSJ colleague Benjamin Mullin.

🤑 6) Twitter is going to test some kind of subscription service.

🇫🇷 7) The city of Paris created a “cinema on the water,” a floating movie theater where viewers took in a film from boats on the Sein.

🛋 8) How “Gunsmoke” paved the way for ubiquitous grandma couches – you know, those velour sofas with repeating pastoral scenes. (Thanks, Anasuya!)

🌍 9) Zoom dot earth provides “near real-time satellite images” from around the world. Just search for a location or spin the globe and zoom in.

😂 10) Dog-related video of the week: “All offices should come with one of these.

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I finished Jan Morris’s “Hong Kong” and have moved on to “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China,” Evan Osnos’s 2014 book.

💡 Quote of the week:

“He who fears death will never do anything worth of a man who is alive.” – Seneca

•••

🤗 What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of dogs boosting workers’ morale.

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN227: Blind pups jumping for joy

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, July 19. Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

Photo of the week, above: taken during a recent hike here in Hong Kong.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🔮 1) Longread of the week: “How Pandemics Wreak Havoc – and Open Minds,” by Lawrence Wright in the New Yorker. The piece’s subtitle: “The plague marked the end of the Middle Ages and the start of a great cultural renewal. Could the coronavirus, for all its destruction, offer a similar opportunity for radical change?

😷 + Bonus Covid–19-related WSJ link: “Face Masks Really Do Matter. The Scientific Evidence Is Growing.”

😔 2) RIP Rep. John Lewis: “Representative John Lewis, a son of sharecroppers and an apostle of nonviolence who was bloodied at Selma and across the Jim Crow South in the historic struggle for racial equality, and who then carried a mantle of moral authority into Congress, died on Friday. He was 80.”

🚨 3) Camouflage-adorned agents from Department of Homeland Security “rapid deployment teams” have been sweeping protesters off the streets of Portland, Oregon, sometimes ushering them into unmarked vans. "This is an attack on our democracy,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

🤑 4) Twitter suffered what is likely its worst hack ever: perpetrators took over prominent accounts, like those belonging to Barack Obama and Elon Musk, and posted messages related to a bitcoin scam.

🇨🇳 5) Shot: China and the U.S. are in a new cold war, despite hopes from some that tensions can be turned into a less potentially destructive “rivalry-partnership,” Niall Ferguson writes. “They know full well this is a Cold War,” he says of China, “because they started it.”

📱 6) Chaser: tech analyst Ben Thompson on “The TikTok War”: “… what makes TikTok so unique is that it is the culmination of two trends: one about humans and the Internet, and the other about China and ideology.”

🇮🇳 7) Google is investing $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms, the telco and digital services firm that’s part of the Reliance Industries conglomerate run by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. Google follows investors like Facebook, Silver Lake, KKR, General Atlantic and more that are pouring cash into Jio, aiming for a piece of India’s burgeoning internet economy.

⛺ 8) Not new, but new to me: Steve Wallis, an affable guy in Alberta, Canada, has become a YouTube sensation thanks to his offbeat camping videos. I especially like his “stealth camping” trips.

👟 9) Just plain awesome: Wheelies parkour. (Via my pal Lee LeFever’s Ready for Rain newsletter, which I recommend highly.)

🐕 10) Dog-related video of the week: “Cute blind pup recognizing owner…Cutest thing I´ve ever seen.”

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I’m almost finished with “Hong Kong,” a portrait of the city and its peoples by the great Jan Morris. It’s a bit dated now, having been written before the British handover in 1997, but clearly conveys the fascinating history of the place.

💡 Quote of the week:

"The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Hong Kong Journalism Newley's Notes Tech

NN226: Scoop — WhatsApp, Tech Giants Stand Firm in Hong Kong

Sent as an email newsletter (sign up here) Thurs., July 9.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

This week’s NN is late. I’d meant to send it Monday evening, but then this happened. See image above.

🚨 I got the exclusive that WhatsApp – quickly followed by Facebook, then Twitter and Google – was suspending its processing of requests for user data from Hong Kong.

WhatsApp and its tech peers were prompted to do so by China’s imposition here in the city of a wide-ranging new national security law.

I’m proud to say we had the news for our subscribers before anyone else, and it was followed by outlets around the world.

🗞 The story also ran on the front page of Tuesday’s WSJ:

🎧 I was on our The Journal podcast to talk about the story (listen here), and I was also on our Tech News Briefing show (listen here).

The Journal podcast

For more on China, Hong Kong, and the new law, read on…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🇨🇳 1) What’s Hong Kong’s new national security law all about? “Experts say its provisions fundamentally alter the legal landscape in Hong Kong, carving out space within the city’s Western-style rule-of-law system for mainland Chinese methods of enforcing Communist Party control,” my colleague Chun Han Wong reports.

⏲️ 2) Things are happening fast here in HK, my colleague Dan Strumpf wrote in a story out Wednesday about the inauguration of a new home for China’s security agents:

“First the construction signs went up, then a flagpole appeared and police officers started to swarm the streets. Within hours, a skyscraper hotel in a cozy neighborhood of bars, apartments and boutiques was transformed into something new: the headquarters of Beijing’s powerful new security agency for the city.”

🧙‍♂️ 3) And in non-China/Hong Kong news: “How J. K. Rowling Became Voldemort”:

“Younger Millennials – those born around 1990, the same time as Harry Potter’s lead actors Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson – feel just as strongly about transgender rights. To many of them, it is the social-justice cause, their generation’s revolutionary idea.”

✍️ 4) “In an era that fetishizes form,” Joyce Carol Oates “has become America’s preëminent fiction writer by doing everything you’re not supposed to do.”

🚷 5) A Japanese city has passed a draft ordinance aimed at stopping people from using their smartphones while walking.

💬 6) Social media first brought about “context collapse” (people talk to everyone all at once, rather than distinct people or groups), and now, writes Nicolas Carr, it has created something more serious: “content collapse.” “A presidential candidate’s policy announcement is given equal weight to a snapshot of your niece’s hamster and a video of the latest Kardashian contouring,” he says.

⏳ 7) Shot: “Back to the Future” was released 35 years ago last week. Here are 30 facts about the great film, one of which – you’re telling me they started filming with Eric Stoltz instead of Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly?! – I find mind-blowing.

🎹 8) Chaser: The Nostalgia Machine is a website where you enter a year, click a button, and jam to some sweet tunes from yesteryear.

✏️ 9) Gary Larson, creator of “The Far Side,” has started cartooning again (this time on a tablet).

🐶 10) Dog-related video of the week: You rang? (Thanks, Anasuya!)

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“If your choices are beautiful, so too will you be.” – Epictetus

•••

🤗 What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of adorably attentive pups.

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Hong Kong Journalism Tech

Facebook, Twitter, Google Face Free-Speech Test in Hong Kong

That’s the headline on my newest story, with my colleague Eva Xiao, out Friday. It begins:

U.S. technology titans face a looming test of their free-speech credentials in Hong Kong as China’s new national-security law for the city demands local authorities take measures to supervise and regulate its uncensored internet.

Facebook Inc. and its Instagram service, Twitter Inc. and YouTube, a unit of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, operate freely in the city even as they have been shut out or opted out of the mainland’s tightly controlled internet, which uses the “Great Firewall” to censor information.

In Hong Kong many citizens have grown accustomed to freely using their accounts to speak out on political matters, voice support for antigovernment protests, and register their anger at China’s increasing sway over the city.

Now the U.S. tech companies face a high-wire act, analysts say, if authorities here ask them to delete user accounts or their content. Refusal could invite Beijing’s scrutiny and potentially put them at risk of legal action under the new national-security law. Complying would alienate longtime users in the city, some of whom continue to speak out on their platforms, and leave the companies open to criticism from politicians in the U.S. or U.K.

Click through to read the rest.

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Journalism Tech

India Ban Disrupts TikTok Users and China’s Digital Ambitions

That’s the headline on my newest story, our Tuesday, with my colleague Liza Lin. It begins:

India’s decision to ban dozens of Chinese apps is a big setback for China’s top tech firms trying to replicate their remarkable domestic success globally, as they are now stymied in what many consider the world’s last great untapped digital market.

India would block new downloads and prevent or disrupt access for existing Indian users of 59 Chinese apps in a matter of days, a government official who is familiar with the matter said Tuesday. “We have already asked Google and Apple to take note of the government’s latest decision and remove the apps,” the official said, “They are in the process of executing the ban.”

The official, who declined to be named, also said authorities are working with internet service providers to block access for existing app users.

Among the apps are Bytedance Ltd.’s wildly popular TikTok—which has been downloaded 660 million times in India, the company’s largest market by users outside China—along with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s UC Browser and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat messaging platform. Some TikTok users in India have started to receive error messages and are unable to access the video app, according to checks by The Wall Street Journal.

Click through to read the rest.

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Newley's Notes

NN225: Pint-Sized Dogs Hauling Huge Sticks

Sent as an email newsletter (sign up here) Monday, June 29.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

Chart of the week: The Covid–19 curve in the U.S…is not flattening. Source: the CDC. Read on…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📈 1) Covid–19 cases are surging in the U.S. “Across the South and large parts of the West, cases are soaring, hospitalizations are spiking, and a greater portion of tests is coming back positive,” Robinson Meyer and Alexis Madrigal write in The Atlantic.

🦠 2) The New York Times has an interactive showing how the coronavirus spread in the U.S.

👉 3) The last state flag in the U.S. to feature a Confederate emblem – Mississippi’s – has come down.

💬 4) How people of color, women and LGBTQ individuals are discriminated against in the tech sector.

💸 5) Facebook has an advertising boycott on its hands.

📱 6) Republican politicians are increasingly joining a social network called Parler.

🦅 7) Why can geese fly so high – as in, over Mt. Everest? They have lungs inherited from dinosaurs.

🇬🇧 8) There’s more to the area around Stonehenge than meets the eye. As in, a bunch of shafts dug in the earth forming a circle about a mile in diameter. This is fascinating.

🎸 9) The best books about Bob Dylan.

👏 10) Dog-related video of the week: it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, as the saying goes. It’s the size of fight in the dog. Make way for the King.

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

"For superforecasters, beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be guarded.” – Philip Tetlock

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN224: Golden Retriever Zoomies

Sent as an email newsletter (sign up here) Sunday, June 21.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📸 Image of the week: ↑ Anasuya and I recently took the tram up to Victoria Peak, which offers this majestic view of Victoria Harbor and the city’s skyscrapers below.

💯 I’ve been to the place a couple times before over the years. Some tourist sites get old after a while. This one never does.

•••

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🦠 1) Six months after the coronavirus began spreading around the world, it’s becoming clear how Covid–19 is transmitted. Infections don’t seem to happen via surfaces or from quick encounters outside. Instead, they appear to be caused by close, prolonged interactions with infected people, my WSJ colleagues report.

⚡ 2) “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations.” That’s just one of many memorable passages in an essay adapted from former U.S. ambassador to the U.N John Bolton’s new book.

⭐ 3) PespiCo is retiring the Aunt Jemima brand, while Mars is changing Uncle Ben’s, examples of companies confronting systemic racism, my WSJ colleagues report.

📆 4) Jelani Cobb, writing in the New Yorker, on the lesson of Juneteenth: “In honoring that moment, we should recognize a moral at the heart of that day in Galveston and in the entirety of American life: there is a vast chasm between the concept of freedom inscribed on paper and the reality of freedom in our lives.”

👉 5) The Washington Post has a map showing where Confederate monuments have been taken down in recent years, and where they remain.

🔮 6) What if, instead of using Google – which is free, but makes money by selling ads based on data about you – you could pay for access to a search engine that runs no ads and collects no information about you? A Google veteran has started just that kind of company, a search service called Neeva.

🚌 7) In 1992, as readers of Jon Krakauer’s excellent book “Into The Wild” will recall, a young man named Chris McCandless died inside an abandoned bus in rural Alaska. This week authorities removed it, using a helicopter. The reason: Tourists trying to reach it kept dying, or requiring rescues.

🏠 8) Covid–19 shows why suburbs make good places to live, Ian Bogost writes in The Atlantic. “There was always comfort to be found in a big house on a plot of land that’s your own.”

🎼 9) Barcelona’s Liceu opera house can’t open for humans yet, so it’s playing a concert tomorrow (Monday) – for 2,292 plants. People won’t be allowed inside, but the event will be livestreamed.

🐕 10) Dog-related video of the week – Question: What do you call a Golden Retriever doing a zoomie followed by a back-scratching slide down a grassy hill? Answer: awesome.

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman

•••

🤗 What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of silly Goldens.

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN223: Howlin’ Huskies

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, June 14.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

💯 The weather has been gorgeous – okay: steamy, but gorgeous! – here in Hong Kong these last few days. Above is a photo I took from Central, in the middle of the city’s business district. How about that blue sky?

•••

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

→ 1) Confederate monuments in the U.S., controversial for decades, are now starting to fall. “It feels to me, with Confederate symbols, a bit like the gay marriage debate, where it seemed impossible, impossible, impossible, and then all of a sudden there was a huge shift in public opinion on it,” Don Taylor, a Duke University professor of public policy, told my WSJ colleagues.

🇺🇸 2) Here’s a comprehensive interactive feature from The New York Times showing how Black Lives Matter protests have spread from big U.S. cities to smaller towns across the country.

📝 3) An unexpectedly popular online tool for organizing George Floyd protests and sharing resources: not Twitter or Facebook, but Google Docs.

🔍 4) Peter Weinberg, a 49 year old living in Bethesda, Maryland, was misidentified as the guy who assaulted children putting up posters supporting the George Floyd protests. An online mob quickly came after him.

✈️ 5) The International Air Transport Association has a clickable world map showing the status of countries’ travel regulations.

🌊 6) Kathy Sullivan, who in 1984 became the first American woman to walk in space, has achieved a new milestone. She’s now the first woman to visit the deepest known point in the ocean.

🎻 7) Proof that there is virtually no content too niche to find an audience online: Musicians are posting on Instagram videos of themselves practicing their orchestal instruments – and drawing big audiences. Bonus points: the headline contains the word “bassoonfluencers.”

🌉 8) The Golden Gate bridge, thanks to wind passing through new railings, now makes an eerie humming sound that can be heard from some distance. A 1000% San Francisco story.

🚘 9) Here’s a fun video review of a tiny, inexpensive Chinese electric car by an editor at car blog Jalopnik. Jason Torchinsky ordered (via Alibaba!) to his house in the U.S. what he says is the world’s cheapest EV. The Changli set him back around $1200, with batteries included, and includes a 1.1 horsepower motor. (Thanks, Mike S.!)

🐕 10) Dog-related video of the week: Two beautiful, howling huskies who would like to go for a walk. “Wait for the raras.”

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN222: Looking Back at a Historic Week

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, June 7.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

When the previous NN went out one week ago, protests over George Floyd’s death were only beginning to spread beyond Minneapolis.

🗣️ Now they are not just a national phenomenon. They’ve gone global, stretching from Europe to Australia.

There have been many peaceful protests in the U.S., in big cities and in small towns. There has also been some violence and looting.

And perhaps most telling, there have been more incidents of alleged police brutalityas a result of people protesting against police brutality.

President Trump’s forceful removal of peaceful protesters before he walked to a church to pose for photos Monday, it seems to me, could prove a defining moment.

While we’re still five months out from the presidential election, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found two thirds of 1,062 adults surveyed said Trump has “mostly increased tensions” in the wake of Floyd’s death.

🗳️ If the election were held today, 50% of those surveyed said they’d vote for Former Vice President Joe Biden, compared to 43% for Trump.

Oh, and there’s also the Covid–19 pandemic, the severe economic challenges it has ushered in, and Hong Kong caught in the middle of China-U.S. tensions.

🇭🇰 Speaking of Hong Kong: I had a story out Wednesday about a survey showing the vast majority of U.S. firms are concerned about China’s new national security laws for the city.

What will the coming months bring?

On to this week’s NN.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📹 1) How, exactly, did George Floyd die at the hands of Derek Chauvin? The New York Times has a chilling, illuminating recreation based on security camera footage and other sources. LINK

🔮 2) Why has the Black Lives Matter movement coalesced with such force now? It’s had time to build steam following its emergence seven years ago; Floyd’s death was egregious; Covid–19 has highlighted racial disparities; and lockdowns mean people have been glued to their screens, The New York Times Magazine’s Jenna Wortham writes. LINK

⚠️ 3) Journalists are getting hit by police violence. Online investigations outfit Bellingcat has noted more than 140 incidents so far. (My WSJ colleague Tyler Blint-Welsh said on Twitter NYPD officers struck him the face with their shields; he injured his ankle and his glasses were broken.) LINK

🗯️ 4) Additional criticism of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook for not taking action against Pres. Trump’s “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” post: more than 140 scientists who have received funds from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative sent Zuckerberg a letter saying misinformation and “divisive language” conflicts with their goal to improve the world. LINK

🖊️ 5) Former defense secretary Jim Mattis said President Trump is fanning the flames of division. "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try,” Mattis said in a statement. LINK

👉 6) Joe Biden officially secured the Democratic nomination. LINK

📌 7) The last person receiving a Civil War pension passed away at the age of 90 in Wilkesboro, N.C. LINK

🛰️ 8) Legendary German electronic band Kraftwerk played a show featuring a special guest: an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. LINK

🦊 9) As they move from forests into the cities, rural red foxes in the U.K. appear to be…turning themselves into dog-like creatures (aka “self domesticating”). LINK

🐕 10) Dog-related video of the week: “Shelter Dog Can’t Stop Jumping For Joy.” LINK.

💡 Quote of the week:

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?” – Marcus Aurelius

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Hong Kong

Most U.S. Firms in Hong Kong Say China’s Security Law Will Hurt Business

That’s the headline on my newest story, out Wednesday. It begins:

The vast majority of U.S. firms in Hong Kong are worried about China’s new national-security laws for the city, according to a new survey that highlights rising concerns among executives in the global financial hub.

Some 53% of American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong members said they were “very concerned” about the new laws, while 30% said they were “moderately concerned,” the survey found. Some 60% of members said they expected the law to harm their business operations in the city.

After China last week approved a plan to implement new national-security laws in the city, President Trump said the U.S. would no longer treat Hong Kong as a separate entity from China and would roll back policy exemptions for it.

“Hong Kong has been hit by a double whammy in the past week,” Tara Joseph, the chamber’s president, said Wednesday in a statement accompanying the survey results. “Not surprisingly, these are emotive issues.”

Click through to read the rest.