Coronavirus Spreads Outside China as Officials’ Worries Mount

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

HONG KONG—New cases of coronavirus flared outside China, adding to global health officials’ worries about the spread of the disease in dangerous new pockets of infection.

Iran’s health ministry on Sunday confirmed the eighth coronavirus-related death in the country, out of a total of 43 confirmed cases. The ministry said at least 785 people with coronavirus-like symptoms were being examined.

Pakistani officials said Sunday that the country had sealed its land border with Iran as a result of the outbreak there, though Islamabad made no official announcement.

Pakistan is estimated to have the world’s second biggest Shiite population and about 500 people per day cross the border to Shiite-majority Iran. Travelers are being turned back by Pakistani authorities on the road as they approach the border, officials said.

“This really is a new virus and we’re learning as we go along,” said Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization. “We’re seeing some cases that don’t have a clear epidemiological link,” she said.

Click through to read the rest.

Newley's Notes

NN208: Thailand Mass Shooting — Beijing vs. Coronavirus — Brad Pitt: Underrated — Dogs, Sledding

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday February 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.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

🚨 Recently out, some sad news from Thailand: A soldier yesterday (Saturday) went on shooting spree in Nakhon Ratchasima, a city northeast of Bangkok, killing more than 20 people and wounding dozens.

The latest from the AP:

A soldier with a grudge gunned down 26 people and wounded 57 in Thailand’s worst mass shooting before he was fatally shot inside a mall in the country’s northeast on Sunday, officials said.

“The deadly rampage has shocked Thailand, where gun violence isn’t uncommon but mass shootings are very rare,” my WSJ colleagues write.

⚠️ Note: There will be no NN next week. Look for the next edition in your inboxes the following Sunday. On to this week’s NN…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🇨🇳 1) An important story about the coronavirus and political implications for Beijing: China’s Leader Wages a War on Two Fronts—Viral and Political [WSJ]

"China has quarantined entire cities, thrown up hospitals in days, and deployed military doctors and Communist Party members to the front lines, a massive effort Mr. Xi likens to a military campaign.

That effort is intended to beat the coronavirus outbreak, and also win a battle on a second front – against the most intense volleys of public rage since he took power in 2012."

📍 Bonus map, updated frequently: Coronavirus 2019-nCoV Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

📡 2) Federal Agencies Use Cellphone Location Data for Immigration Enforcement [WSJ]

“The Trump administration has bought access to a commercial database that maps the movements of millions of cellphones in America and is using it for immigration and border enforcement, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

💲 3) Instagram brought in $20 billion in ad revenue last year, more than a quarter of Facebook’s earnings [The Verge]

“Instagram isn’t the biggest moneymaker for Facebook, but it certainly plays a major role in generating revenue for the social media company.”

🕵️‍♀️ 4) The time I sabotaged my editor with ransomware from the dark web [BloombergBusinessweek]

“A few weeks in, though, it occurred to me that if someone like me could pull off a digital heist, it would function as a sort of hacking Turing test, proof that cybercrime had advanced to the point where software-aided ignorance would be indistinguishable from true skill. As a journalist, I’ve spent years writing about people who do things that I, if called upon, couldn’t do myself. Here was my chance to be the man in the arena.”

✝️ 5) Longread of the week: Richard Rohr Reorders the Universe [New Yorker]

“The seventy-six-year-old Franciscan friar Richard Rohr believes that Christianity isn’t the only path to salvation.”

😟 6) “Devastating” Manufacturing Plant Fire Threatens Worldwide Vinyl Record Supply [Pitchfork]

“‘There are only TWO companies that make lacquers in the world, and the other, MDC in Japan, already had trouble keeping up with demand BEFORE this development.’”

🚫 7) I Quit Yale [New York Times]

“My parents, Russian immigrants who graciously embraced my career path, were able to help me financially in small ways – a car, my books. And James Franco was in my program. He smelled nice and only attended every other class.”

👨 8) Brad Pitt and the Beauty Trap [New York Times]

“Male stars face a double standard, too, and ever since he bared his chest in ‘Thelma & Louise,’ his work has been undervalued.

(Note: Overall I was underwhelmed by “Ad Astra,” but I found Pitt’s performance captivating.)

🧀 9) Map of the week: Cheese Map of Europe [Reddit/MapPorn]

❄️ 10) Dog video of the week: This is the best thing you’ll see today [Twitter/Akkivideos]

👏 Runner up: This is some serious Barkour…. [Twitter/Akkivideos]

💡 Quote of the week:

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley's Notes

NN207: My Latest, on Music Streaming — Super Bowl Preview — Mapping the Coronavirus — Cooperative Dogs

Photo by Jeff Golenski on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday February 2.

👋 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.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

🆕 🎧 My latest story, just out: Spotify, Apple Music Trail Little-Known Rival in Music-Obsessed India. It begins:

The most popular music streaming service in India, the world’s biggest untapped digital economy, isn’t from Spotify Technology SA or Apple Inc. Instead, it is a local rival little known outside the country.

Noida, India-based Gaana, named after the Hindi word for “song,” has used a hyperlocal approach and cut-rate pricing to beat the competition and attract 152 million monthly users. That is more than half of Spotify’s global user base, double Apple Music’s global count and far more than YouTube Music and Inc.’s music services.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🏈 1) Special preview: Super Bowl LIV [Axios]

“The Super Bowl isn’t just a football game. It’s the halftime show; it’s the ads; it’s the seven-layer dip; it’s the fact that, for four hours on Sunday night, nobody is expected to be doing anything else.”


“With the Patriots absent for the first time since 2016, Super Bowl LIV feels like the dawn of a new era. Patrick Mahomes leads a pass-heavy Chiefs attack against the NFL’s best defense, while Jimmy Garoppolo leads a 49ers offense that has run the ball on 71 of its last 88 plays.”

Bonus links:

🦠 2) Interactive: Tracking the Coronavirus [WSJ]

“The coronavirus in two months has sickened thousands in China and reached more than a dozen countries

📹 3) Facial Recognition Is Only the Beginning [Public Books]

“…beyond any specific attributes of the technology, there is a particular group of actors that benefits from the idea that measuring and computationally analyzing the world affords access to knowledge – and those actors also have the power to enact and legitimize their knowledge claims.”

⚖️ 4) Mark Warner Takes on Big Tech and Russian Spies [Wired]

“…in Donald Trump’s Washington, Warner has evolved into Capitol Hill’s most reluctant and thoughtful tech critic, grilling Facebook, Twitter, and Google executives, lashing out in private and public over their intransigence, and pressing the companies to confront the role their platforms have played in undermining democracy.”

🛍️ 5) Russia’s Google Will Bring You Groceries in Just 15 Minutes [Bloomberg News]

“Russia’s largest technology company, Yandex NV, is getting groceries to Moscow homes within a quarter of an hour, free of charge. Its new online service, called Lavka, has spread small warehouses across the capital stocked with about 2,000 items and uses bike couriers to deliver orders.”

📚 6) In U.S., Library Visits Outpaced Trips to Movies in 2019 [Gallup]

“Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far.”

✍️ 7) Author Mary Higgins Clark, ‘Queen of Suspense,’ dead at 92 [AP]

“Mary Higgins Clark, the tireless and long-reigning “Queen of Suspense” whose tales of women beating the odds made her one of the world’s most popular writers, died Friday at age 92.”

📊 8) Map of the week: Home Price-to-Income Ratios, 1980–2017 [Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies]

📱 9) Google Maps Hacks [Simon Weckert]

“99 second hand smartphones are transported in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jam in Google Maps.Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red which has an impact in the physical world by navigating cars on another route to avoid being stuck in traffic.”

🐶 10) Dog video of the week: Teamwork makes the dream work. [Twitter/@GillOshaughness]

💡 Quote of the week:

“Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley's Notes

NN206: Bezos in India — Oscar Noms — RIP Neil Peart — Clever Mutts

Photo by Thomas Griesbeck on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Friday, January 17.

👋 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.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

🙏🏻 Apologies for the tardiness of this week’s edition. There’s been a lot of news here in India this week. To wit, I’ve had three stories out in recent days:

On Monday: India Orders Antitrust Probe of Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart. The lede:

India’s antitrust watchdog ordered a probe into whether Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart have violated competition laws, New Delhi’s latest move to try to rein in American tech giants that dominate its burgeoning internet economy.

Then on Tuesday: India Orders WhatsApp, Google to Save Data on Mob Attack. The lede:

An Indian court ordered Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to preserve data connected to an attack on a university campus earlier this month in the latest attempt by authorities in the country to wrangle more control over the messaging and search giants.

And finally, on Wednesday: Amazon’s Bezos Pledges New $1 Billion India Investment Amid Pushback. TLDR: he promised to pour more funds in India – and also, understandably, played to the local audience:

On Wednesday, Mr. Bezos praised U.S.-India ties and said he believes the 21st century “is going to be the Indian century.” At the end of his talk, the executive, dressed in an indigo Nehru jacket, clasped his hands together and bowed before the crowd to great applause.

After touching down in New Delhi on Tuesday, Mr. Bezos posted a video on his Twitter account showing him paying tribute at a memorial to Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

⚠️ Editor’s note: I will be tied up over the coming days, so the next NN will land in your inbox the weekend of Feb. 1.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

💬 1) Facebook Backs Off Controversial Plan to Sell Ads in WhatsApp [WSJ]

“Facebook Inc. is backing away from efforts to sell ads in WhatsApp, in a retreat from a controversial plan that drove the creators of the popular messaging service to resign more than 18 months ago, according to people familiar with the matter.”

♾️ 2) Does Consciousness Pervade the Universe? [Scientific American]

“Philosopher Philip Goff answers questions about ‘panpsychism’

🆕 3) The Verge Awards at CES 2020: welcome to the land of the concept [The Verge]

“Oh, what a difference 12 months makes. At last year’s CES, we found fewer concepts and more tangible products than ever before. Apparently this year, the exhibitors saw our reaction and felt they had to work overtime to correct it because if there was a theme to 2020’s CES, it was that CES is the land of the concept.”

⛔ 4) The Evil List [Slate]

“Which tech companies are really doing the most harm? Here are the 30 most dangerous, ranked by the people who know.”

😥 5) Neil Peart, Drummer and Lyricist for Rush, Dies at 67 [New York Times]

“Neil Peart, the pyrotechnical drummer and high-concept lyricist for the Canadian progressive-rock trio Rush, died on Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 67.”

🥁 Bonus: Neil Peart’s Essential Songs: Hear 10 Tracks.

📽️ 6) ‘Joker’ leads Oscar noms; ‘1917,’ ‘Irishman’ close behind [Associated Press]

“Female filmmakers were shut out, ‘Parasite’ made history and ‘Joker’ edged out ‘The Irishman,’ ‘1917’ and ‘Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood’ in Monday’s Oscar nominations.”

💊 7) 7 Biohacks to Master Before Worrying About Other Biohacks [The Atlantic]

“Unlike the biohacks that the other gurus are out there selling, these are all-natural. I call them – and I insist on the capitalization here – NATURAL BIOHACKS .”

🖊️ 8) Stamps, Scientific Charts, and Hand-Drawn Maps Occupy Every Inch of Travel Notebooks by José Naranja [Colossal]

“Author and artist José Naranja ensures he won’t forget any detail of his year-round travels across the globe through a meticulous and unique documentation process.”

🇯🇵 9) Why Japan is so successful at returning lost property [BBC News]

“Cultural norms, complex religious influences and friendly neighbourhood police officers make losing something in Japan no big deal.

🐕 10) Dog video of the week: I SEE YOU!!!!!! [Imgur]

💡 Quote of the week:

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


India Journalism Tech

Amazon’s Bezos Pledges New $1 Billion India Investment Amid Pushback

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

NEW DELHI— Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos pledged to invest an additional $1 billion in the company’s Indian operations, part of a charm offensive in a promising but challenging market.

Mr. Bezos told a gathering of local Amazon sellers that the intent is to help more small businesses start selling on the company’s marketplace. The new funds will supplement the $5 billion that Amazon has said it is spending to build out its Indian business, a spokeswoman said.

Click through to read the rest.