Wednesday, September 22News That Matters

Technology

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Google to Spend $2.1 Billion on Manhattan Office Building

Technology
As a result, large employers like Condé Nast and JPMorgan Chase have relinquished chunks of office space, contributing to nearly 19 percent of Manhattan offices being available for rent, according to Newmark, a real estate services firm, nearly double the average rate over the last decade.About 28 percent of office workers in the New York City region, which includes parts of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, had returned to the office as of last week, more than double the rate from a few months ago, according to Kastle Systems, a security company that tracks employee card swipes in office buildings. The nationwide average was 33.6 percent, Kastle said.Kate Lister, the president of Global Workplace Analytics, a consulting firm advising companies on their return-to-office policies, s...

Worried About Your Teen on Social Media? Here’s How to Help.

Technology
The Wall Street Journal revealed last week that researchers at Instagram had studied for years how its photo-sharing app affects young users and found that it can be particularly harmful to teenage girls, news that alarmed parents and lawmakers.According to the research, which was not publicly released, Instagram makes body image issues worse for one in three teenage girls. And among teenagers who reported suicidal thoughts, “13 percent of British users and 6 percent of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram,” the Journal reported.Facebook, which owns Instagram, issued a statement in response, saying in part that “research into the impact social media has on people is still relatively nascent and evolving” and that “no single study is going to be conclusive.” Inst...
Biden Vows to Double Aid on Climate, a Key Issue at U.N. Gathering

Biden Vows to Double Aid on Climate, a Key Issue at U.N. Gathering

Technology, World
President Biden said on Tuesday that his administration would seek to double aid aimed at helping developing nations address climate change, raising a pledge he made in April to about $11.4 billion a year by 2024.The pledge is considered critical to the success of United Nations-led climate talks that are scheduled to take place in November in Glasgow, though whether and when the money will materialize depends on congressional approval.Climate change is perhaps the most important subject at this year’s General Assembly meeting, with new scientific evidence showing a losing battle in what the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, has called an existential struggle.Many developing countries have repeatedly pointed out that rich countries have not delivered the $100 billion a ye...
Shrink Facebook to Save the World

Shrink Facebook to Save the World

Technology
This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is a collection of past columns.Facebook apps are popular almost everywhere in the world. But we might all be better off if they weren’t.The company’s most shameful human toll — its contribution to violence, human trafficking and abuses by authoritarian governments — has mostly happened in countries outside North America and Western Europe like India, Honduras, Myanmar, Ethiopia and the Philippines.What would happen if Facebook retreated from many of the countries where its social network and its Instagram and WhatsApp apps have done profound harm, even as they’ve given a voice to the voiceless?Years of horrific headlines have not led Facebook to make consistent progress in addressing its problems. Maybe it’s time for the company simply ...

Taking the ‘Shame Part’ Out of Female Anatomy

Technology
In 2016, the pair asked hundreds of medical students and anatomists whether they had any concerns about the fact that the word “pudendal” stemmed from “to be ashamed.” Most did not. One anatomist added that “it’s interesting where it comes from, but it’s established terminology now.”This blasé attitude appalled Dr. Moxham. It wasn’t just the inherent sexism of the term, he said: “There is an element of that, there’s no question about it. But it also, I think, is both scientifically and biologically inappropriate.” As a general rule, anatomical terms are supposed to be informative and descriptive. “Pudendum” was neither. “This is the only term which has a moral context to it,” he said.There are other terms that reflect antiquated notions about women. The word hymen, which persists in nearly...
Apple iPhone 13 Review: The Most Incremental Upgrade Ever

Apple iPhone 13 Review: The Most Incremental Upgrade Ever

Technology
The truth is that smartphones peaked a few years ago.After so many advances, the miniature computers have reached incredible speeds, their screens have become bigger and brighter, and their cameras produce images that make amateur photographers look like wizards.The problem with so much great innovation is that upgrades are now so iterative that it has become difficult to know what to write about them each year. That’s especially the case with Apple’s iPhone 13, which may be the most incremental update ever to the iPhone.The newest iPhone is just 10 percent faster than last year’s models. (For context, in 2015, the iPhone 6S was more than 70 percent faster than its predecessor, the iPhone 6.) Its flashiest new feature, a higher screen “refresh rate” on the $1,000-plus models, makes motion ...
Google sends broadband across the Congo River via beams of light

Google sends broadband across the Congo River via beams of light

Technology
Alphabet, Google's parent company, has sent broadband across the Congo River in Africa via airborne beams of light, in its latest attempt to provide high speed internet to underserved communities.  As part of an initiative called Project Taara, Alphabet is transmitting data between the cities of Brazzaville (in the Republic of the Congo) and Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), either side of the Congo River.Google said it has bridged 'a particularly stubborn connectivity gap' between the two cities, which are only about three miles (4.8 kilometers) apart. However, connectivity is five times more expensive in Kinshasa because the fibre connection has to travel more than 250 miles to route around the Congo River, the world's deepest and second fastest river. ...

What a Fungus Reveals About the Space Program

Technology
I spend a lot of time lately thinking about a fungus called Pilobolus. It lives on dung, mostly from cows and horses, happily munching away, enriching the soil as it goes, until it starts to run out of dung to eat. Then something magical happens: The fungus stops eating and rearranges itself into a giant stalk with a ball of cells — a sporangium — on top.This apparatus can detect sunlight. Osmosis swells the stalk until, when the pressure rises high enough, it essentially sneezes. The sporangium is launched with a force equivalent to 20,000 times the force of gravity, toward a nearby patch of grass, where another horse or cow is likely to graze.Our fungus astronaut attaches itself to a stalk of grass. Once eaten, the sporangium passes through the animal’s digestive system and is excreted b...
Biden Administration to Draft Rules on Workplace Heat Dangers

Biden Administration to Draft Rules on Workplace Heat Dangers

Technology, World
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is opening an effort across federal agencies to address the health impacts from heat, including the first ever labor standard aimed at protecting workers from extreme heat, as part of a growing recognition of the dangers posed by warming temperatures caused by climate change.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the Labor Department, will draft its first rule governing heat exposure designed to protect those who work outdoors in agricultural, construction and delivery services as well as workers in warehouses, factories, and kitchens.It comes after a summer that saw record heat waves in the Western United States and British Columbia, which scientists say were made more extreme by climate change. According to the National Weather Se...
How the Case of Gabby Petito Captivated the Internet

How the Case of Gabby Petito Captivated the Internet

Technology
The demographics of the industry are a big factor, Mr. Reynolds said.“Our newsrooms don’t reflect the diversity of the country, and folks in editing roles are even less diverse,” said Mr. Reynolds, whose organization works with journalists of color. “Until journalism corrects this, we are going to continue to be more and more irrelevant to the audiences that reflect the future.”Online interest in Ms. Petito’s case also pushed news editors to closely track her story.“Journalism in general tends to be reactionary, and if we see something blowing up on one of these platforms, we’re going to jump all over it,” Mr. Reynolds said.Alvin Williams, a host of “Affirmative Murder,” a podcast that focuses on true crimes with Black and brown victims, echoed Mr. Reynolds’s analysis.“I’m incredibly glad ...