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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.

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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.”

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Hong Kong Journalism

U.S. Businesses Brace for Damage as Tensions Grow Over Hong Kong

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

HONG KONG—Rising tensions between the U.S. and China over Hong Kong have American businesses caught in the crossfire.

Companies in the global financial and trading hub, already battered by a year of violent protests and the coronavirus pandemic, face a long period of further uncertainty amid a fight that they fear could disrupt their operations and that casts doubt over their long-term future here.

After China last week approved a plan to impose new national-security laws on Hong Kong, President Trump on Friday said the U.S. would no longer treat Hong Kong as a separate entity from China and would roll back policy exemptions for the city. They could include measures such as export controls, tariffs and visa restrictions, according to analysts, but businesses will have to wait for details and the timing of any moves.

“It’s going to be a challenging week ahead as there are no firm details on how this special economic relationship will be untangled,” said Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. More clarity is “essential because our business here is large and important,” she said.

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Newley's Notes

NN221: On Hong Kong, Singapore, and Covid–19

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, May 31, 2020

👋 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.

Coronavirus Doesn’t Have to Be So Deadly. Just Look at Hong Kong and Singapore.

😷 That’s the headline on a story out earlier this week that I wrote with my colleague Feliz Solomon.

It begins:

Hong Kong and Singapore reported their first cases of the novel coronavirus in January. Four months later, the densely packed Asian metropolises, with a combined population of about 13 million, have seen 27 fatalities between them.

Just 0.4% of those with confirmed infections have died in Hong Kong. In Singapore – less than 0.1%. If the U.S. had a similar fatality rate as the average of the two, its death toll would now stand at about 4,100, rather than 98,000 and growing.

“When you overwhelm health systems a lot more people die,” one Hong Kong-based doctor told me. Hong and Singapore “didn’t let the epidemic run wild,” he said.

🔑 The secret to their success, our reporting showed: wide testing, aggressive quarantining, and keeping infections away from older, more vulnerable people. Possible lessons for the future considering the pandemic could come back in waves.

On to this week’s NN.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

💬 1) Twitter shielded from public view a tweet from President Trump for violating its rules on glorifying violence. He called demonstrators clashing with police over the death of George Floyd “thugs” and said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” By me and my colleague Andrew Restuccia: LINK

🚨 2) …Meanwhile unrest spread from Minneapolis to several cities: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and many more. LINK

📈 3) Facebook largely shelved research showing its service exacerbates polarization, my colleagues Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharaman reported in a page one story. LINK

✨ 4) Discovery of the week: No big deal, just a Roman mosaic under a vineyard in Northern Italy that dates to around the 4th century. VIDEO

🍴 5) Will U.S. government experts overseeing dietary guidelines finally recognize the mountains of evidence showing the benefits of a low-carb diet? A committee will soon issue an advisory report on recommendations for the next five years. LINK

🌟 6) Longread of the week: GQ on the brilliant actor Steve Buscemi, who among other travails lost his wife of more than three decades last year. (And yes, you’re saying his name wrong.) LINK

😎 7) Soviet-era control rooms: Who knew those analog dials and switches could be so beautiful? LINK

🎧 8) Here are 150 educational podcasts, ranging from philosophy to art to history and more. LINK

👃 9) Dog-related science story of the week: Specially trained pooches in Finland learned to detect the “previously unknown odor signature” of Covid–19 in urine samples from patients. LINK

🎻 10) Dog-related video of the week: “Decided to play a tune to welcome a new pup and well, we think he liked it.” LINK

💡 Quote of the week:

“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.” — Epictetus

What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of dogs “singing” along with their violinist owners.

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Journalism

Twitter Flags Trump Tweet About George Floyd Protests for ‘Glorifying Violence’

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

Twitter Inc. shielded from public view tweets from President Trump and the White House for breaking what the company said are its rules about glorifying violence, a step that is likely to escalate tension between the president and the social-media giant.

The decision came one day after Mr. Trump signed an executive order taking aim at what he alleged was censorship by social-media companies, calling Twitter “an editor with a viewpoint.”

Mr. Trump, in tweets posted shortly after midnight on Friday, criticized protesters clashing with police in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to his neck. The protests have turned violent, with a police station being set on fire overnight.

The president called the demonstrators thugs and warned: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

That phrase has a fraught history dating back to 1967, when Miami Police Chief Walter Headley used it at a news conference to explain how the threat of police violence had prevented riots and looting in the city. Mr. Headley’s comments and his “get-tough” approach to crime sparked outrage in Miami’s black community, and riots broke out in the city in the summer of 1968.

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Hong Kong

Hong Kong Snapshot: Buildings, Curving Road, Woman with Umbrella