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$1 NEWS // THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1
The CEOs of Meta, TikTok, X, Snap and Discord spoke to members of Congress yesterday at a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the harms social media platforms pose to youth. (CBS News)
A bipartisan group of lawmakers grilled the CEOs on child pornography, cyberbullying and sexploitation issues on their platforms. Parents of children who say Instagram led to their children being exploited online or committing suicide after being cyberbullied were in the crowd. A lawsuit filed by 41 U.S. states accuses Meta of deliberately trying to hook young users on Instagram and Facebook, despite knowing its platforms were harmful to them.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to parents in the audience: “It’s terrible. No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered, and this is why we invested so much.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to Zuckerberg: “Mr. Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us, I know you don’t mean it to be so, but you have blood on your hands. You have a product that’s killing people.”
Big picture, this is part of broader scrutiny into social media platforms, especially as a number of studies have found links between youth social media usage and negative mental health outcomes. Adolescents experienced a steep decline in mental well-being in the mid 2010s, after smartphones became widely available. The share of high school students attempting or thinking about suicide increased significantly from 2011 to 2021, according to CDC data.
With wars raging in the Middle East, Ukraine and elsewhere, the number of global conflicts and related fatalities have reached levels not seen in decades, according to researchers at Sweden’s Uppsala University. (Plain English w/Derek Thompson)
The latest from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program:
Deaths resulting from global conflicts have reached their highest point in the 21st century.
Violence involving governments or between different countries has reached its highest point since the Cold War ended.
The overall count of conflicts, including those involving countries and non-state groups like terrorist organizations and cartels, is the highest since the end of World War II in 1945.
University of Chicago political science professor Paul Poast on how the U.S. role as world policeman has diminished over the past 20 years: “We've gone from the unipolar moment, Pax Americana, to now a system of great power competition. But what that means is you now have countries, you have these major powers competing with each other. And what that can lead to is that great power competition can lead to great power distraction, right? We are so focused on each other that we are no longer going around trying to stop every single issue that's springing up. … We're focused on China. We're focused on Russia. We can't go around and try to fix every one of these problems. And by the same token, Russia could be in a situation where they say, ‘well, maybe in the past, we would have helped to resolve this conflict here, but we're engaged in a conflict now.’”
A new study analyzes the impact of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s 2018 to 2019 trade war with China, as the former president campaigns on making tariffs a big part of his economic policy. (NBC News)
A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper: “The trade-war has not to date provided economic help to the US heartland: import tariffs on foreign goods neither raised nor lowered US employment in newly-protected sectors; retaliatory tariffs had clear negative employment impacts, primarily in agriculture; and these harms were only partly mitigated by compensatory US agricultural subsidies. Consistent with expressive views of politics, the tariff war appears nevertheless to have been a political success for the governing Republican party. Residents of regions more exposed to import tariffs became less likely to identify as Democrats, more likely to vote to reelect Donald Trump in 2020, and more likely to elect Republicans to Congress. Foreign retaliatory tariffs only modestly weakened that support.”
Trump has floated the idea of a 10% tariff on all countries and is reportedly considering a plan to slap a 60% tariff on Chinese imports. Former Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller on Tuesday touted the benefits of tariffs in response to criticism from GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley. Miller’s comments on X/Twitter were hit with a Community Note clarifying that tariffs are paid by U.S. businesses, who pass the cost on to consumers.
Haley during an interview Monday with CNBC’s Squawkbox: “This is a man who now wants to go and put 10% tariffs across the board, raising taxes on every single American. Think about that for a second. … What Donald Trump’s about to do, is he’s going to raise every household’s expenses by $2,600 a year. It’s going to raise the cost of anything from baby strollers to appliances, under Donald Trump. Middle class families can’t afford that.”
There’s been a pronounced shift in President Biden’s stance on the border and swing state voters’ priorities, with immigration overtaking the economy as the top issue in six out of seven battleground states. (Bloomberg)
A new Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll:
Since November, there’s been a 5-point decrease in the share of voters across Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who consider the economy as their top issue (dropping from 41% to 36%).
There’s been a 5-point increase in the share of voters who view immigration as their most pressing concern (rising from 9% to 13%).
In these states, 41% of voters blame President Biden and 35% blame Democrats in Congress for the increase in migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Only 14% each blame congressional Republicans or the Trump administration.
In the face of voters’ growing concern about the border, Biden has pivoted on the issue:
He’s embraced a bipartisan border deal that would allow authorities to automatically turn away asylum seekers after illegal crossings surpassed a weekly average of 5,000.
His recent rhetoric led Wall Street Journalist Jason Riley to remark that Biden “suddenly sounds like Trump” on the border crisis.
Progressive Democrats have spoken out against Biden’s openness to locking down the border.
Biden over the weekend: “If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now and fix it quickly.”
Mexico has overtaken China as America’s top trading partner, a sign of how the U.S. is trying to reduce its dependency on the Chinese. (Quartz)
The latest Census Bureau data:
From January to November 2023, US imports from China decreased by over 21%, while imports from Mexico grew nearly 5%.
China's share of total U.S. imports fell to 13.9%, the lowest since 2004, dropping from around 21% between 2015 and 2018.
Mexico's share of U.S. imports increased to a record high of 15.5% in the same period.
Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, to the Wall Street Journal last year: “It’s now become clear to companies that the conflict on trade and technology and other things between the United States and China is not going to go away. They have begun to try to figure out ways to de-risk.”
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