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  • 11:33 am

Faking your emotions at work can damage your career: Here’s what to do instead

Faking your emotions at work can damage your career: Here’s what to do instead
[Photo: fauxels/Pexels]

This just in: Slapping a fake smile on your face on the job won’t work. More than half of employees do just that, and it wreaks havoc on their careers.

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A set of three studies of 2,500 full-time workers out this week in the Journal of Applied Psychology finds that employees who genuinely express their emotions to coworkers reap huge workplace benefits, including support from coworkers, help with workload, coworker advice and trust, and increased progress toward work goals. “Plastering on a smile to simply get out of an interaction is easier in the short run, but long-term, it will undermine efforts to improve your health and the relationships you have at work,” said Allison Gabriel, associate professor of management and organizations at the University of Arizona, in a statement.

The key is to avoid “surface acting,” which is displaying pleasantness or positivity while feeling upset or frustrated on the inside. Rather, you want to “deep act,” which is when you genuinely try to change how you feel inside and express those feelings externally, so that your inside feelings match what you’re expressing. Deep acting tends to be motivated by wanting positive relationships rather than any career advancement or impression management.

Your coworkers regulate their emotions in one of four ways:

  • Non acting. This is rare.
  • Low acting. A bit of acting.
  • Deep acting. Lots of deep acting and minimal surface acting, usually motivated by a desire to be a good coworker.
  • Regulating. Piling on both surface and deep acting, often driven by impression management.

Though there are roughly equal numbers of low actors, deep actors, and regulators, only deep actors benefit from their strategy, building lots of social capital over time.

Avoid regulating; it’s straining. “Regulators suffered the most on our markers of well-being, including increased levels of feeling emotionally exhausted and inauthentic at work,” says Gabriel.

You can now spend the rest of your day stealthily identifying your coworkers’ regulation styles. Ready, go.

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  • 10:54 am

How to watch the Trump impeachment trial live on CNN or PBS without cable

How to watch the Trump impeachment trial live on CNN or PBS without cable
[Photo: Andy Feliciotti/Unsplash; Shealah Craighead/The White House/Flickr]

In a historic event that somehow feels astoundingly routine, the United States Senate is currently holding a trial on the impeachment of President Trump. The trial officially began last week but not much has happened yet. It will reconvene in Washington today (Tuesday, January 21) at around 1 p.m. ET.

If you’re a cord cutter—or just bored at work—and you want to watch the impeachment trial live on your computer or phone, the good news is, it’s easy to do that for free. You won’t get to see everything, as some of the proceedings won’t be public, but you can stream it online from a few different sources without cable and without paying a dime. The trial is expected to go all week, including Saturday, and will likely continue next week, too.

This is a way of saying you probably won’t sit through all of it, but you may want to watch some of it. My go-to live steam for political events is the YouTube page for PBS NewsHour, which will begin streaming the trial at 1 p.m. ET. The video is embedded below.

CNN says it will also stream the trial live in its entirety. The cable network is lifting its paywall for the event, which means you don’t have to sign in with a pay-TV provider to watch the proceedings on CNN.com or via the CNN mobile apps on iOS or Android.

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The global gender gap is even worse than we thought

The global gender gap is even worse than we thought
[Photo: Tim Mossholder/Unsplash]

Turns out, even the bright spots in the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap report aren’t so bright.

The report, released last month, analyzed 153 countries on their progress in gender parity assessing women’s economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The bleak headline? Global gender parity is 100 years away.

One area where women are advancing dramatically is in the area of education. There, the study found the gap is on track to be closed over the next 12 years, thanks to advancements in some developing countries. (In the U.S., No. 53 on the World Economic Forum’s ranking of 153 countries, women now make up a majority of the college-educated workforce.)

But Velina Stefanova Ratcheva, a research lead for the World Economic Forum, says the promising education statistics don’t tell the whole story. While more girls and women are attending school, they aren’t always opting to learn technical and engineering skills that could lead to greater economic opportunity. “Inequalities are hidden behind the attainment rates,” Ratcheva says.

She notes that there are some countries, notably Italy and India, where women are successfully finding their way into technical studies. And women who have gone through schooling are good candidates for retraining. “Once ignited” the passion for learning “doesn’t go away,” Ratcheva says. The World Economic Forum’s IT Skills Initiative, for example, aims to prepare some one billion workers for jobs that are less likely to be eliminated by automation and artificial intelligence.

The tension between workforce skills and technological advancement will be explored at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, taking place in Davos, Switzerland, this week. The theme of the gathering is “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.”

Indeed, the report concluded that women overindex in jobs that are being automated. Women’s economic advancement is also hampered by what WEF calls an “insufficient care infrastructure,” which means that even if a woman is accepted into career retraining program, she may not be able to participate due to lack of adequate child or elder care.

Davos Dialogues, a series of editorial panels, videos, and news coverage, is produced in partnership with HCL Technologies.

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  • 9:24 am

Apple reportedly killed plans for end-to-end encrypted iCloud backups after FBI complained

Apple reportedly killed plans for end-to-end encrypted iCloud backups after FBI complained
[Photo: Julian O’hayon/Unsplash]

Apple, the technology company that prides itself on a user’s right to privacy, reportedly shelved plans for end-to-end encrypting iCloud backups after the FBI complained about the plans—that’s according to a report from Reuters, who cites no fewer than six sources familiar with the matter.

The report says that two years ago, Apple was gearing up to protect users’ iCloud backups with end-to-end encryption, meaning no one—not even Apple—could access the backed-up data, even if requested to by law enforcement. But plans reportedly changed after complaints from the FBI. As Reuters reports:

More than two years ago, Apple told the FBI that it planned to offer users end-to-end encryption when storing their phone data on iCloud, according to one current and three former FBI officials and one current and one former Apple employee.

Under that plan, primarily designed to thwart hackers, Apple would no longer have a key to unlock the encrypted data, meaning it would not be able to turn material over to authorities in a readable form even under court order.

In private talks with Apple soon after, representatives of the FBI’s cyber crime agents and its operational technology division objected to the plan, arguing it would deny them the most effective means for gaining evidence against iPhone-using suspects, the government sources said.

When Apple spoke privately to the FBI about its work on phone security the following year, the end-to-end encryption plan had been dropped, according to the six sources. Reuters could not determine why exactly Apple dropped the plan.

Reuters goes on to say that it was unable to verify why exactly Apple killed end-to-end encrypted iCloud backup plans, though one former Apple employee told the service, “[Apple] legal killed it, for reasons you can imagine.” That person went on to say “They decided they weren’t going to poke the bear anymore.”

That “bear,” presumably, was government and law enforcement agencies that increasingly have complained about encryption and tech company’s use of it to protect user data. Such encryption means law enforcement can’t access a suspect’s data without the key. But the encryption also means hackers can’t access users’ data without the key either.

As for Apple, the company has always maintained the reason they do not provide end-to-end encryption of iCloud backups is for user convenience. The iPhone giant says that if iCloud backups were end-to-end encrypted, if those users forgot their passwords, Apple would have no way of decrypting their valuable data, such as their photos, and thus that data would be lost forever.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on Reuters’ report.

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  • 7:50 am

Disney Plus is coming to Europe earlier than expected

Disney Plus is coming to Europe earlier than expected
[Photo: courtesy of Disney+]

For Europeans that have been chomping at the bit to get their Baby Yoda fix, some good news: Disney has revealed that Disney Plus is coming to certain European territories earlier than expected.

Originally, Disney said its Disney Plus streaming service would launch on March 31 in a handful of European markets, but now the company has announced that the streaming service will launch a week earlier—on March 24, reports Business Insider. European countries where Disney Plus will launch on March 24 include Austria, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Disney also revealed pricing for Disney Plus in Europe. In the United Kingdom, the service will cost £5.99 a month or £59.99 a year. In countries that use the euro, Disney Plus will cost €6.99 a month or €69.99 a year.

But though European countries will have access to the same original content, such as The Mandalorian, that U.S. subscribers do, European Disney Plus subscribers will likely not have access to some of the backlog of legacy content Americans do due to the existing European streaming agreements for legacy Disney content on third-party services. However, as with Disney content in the U.S., once those agreements end, Disney will begin piling its legacy content offerings onto Disney Plus in Europe as well.

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  • 6:08 am

Greta Thunberg: We have eight years to save the Earth

Greta Thunberg: We have eight years to save the Earth
[Photo: Sandra Blaser/World Economic Forum/Flickr]

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was blunt when she addressed a crowd of the world’s most powerful and wealthiest people at Davos today, reports CNBC. Speaking at a panel titled “Forging a Sustainable Path Towards a Common Future,” Thurnberg said that the world’s remaining carbon budget needed to fall below 570 gigatons in the next eight years to even have a chance of stopping the Earth from heating 1.5º Celsius—the point at which climate catastrophe becomes the norm.

“With today’s emissions levels, the remaining budget is gone in less than eight years. These aren’t anyone’s views. This is the science,” Thunberg said. The numbers were cited from the International Panel on Climate Change’s 2018 damning report about the scale of the climate crisis.

Thunberg also pointed out that even if we do reduce our carbon footprint enough in the next eight years, there’s no guarantee we can avert a 1.5ºC rise in temperature. Even with CO2 emissions reduced to the recommended amount, the world only has a 67% chance of averting the crisis. The activist went on to call out the media for failing to cover the impending crisis saying:

I don’t think I have seen one media outlet or person in power communicating this or what it means. I know you don’t want to report on this. I know you don’t want to talk about this. But I assure you I will continue to repeat these numbers until you do.

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6 galling statistics about wealth inequality that show how women are paying the price

6 galling statistics about wealth inequality that show how women are paying the price
[Photo: Ryoji Iwate/Unsplash]

Tomorrow is the first day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which means it’s showtime for Oxfam International’s annual report on income inequality. This year’s theme is women.

Most global wealth disparities are related to gender inequities: Women own half the wealth of men, which is largely due to unpaid care work, the “hidden engine that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses, and societies moving,” says Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India. You only need to know six galling facts:

  • Women do over three-quarters of all unpaid care work, logging 12.5 billion hours per day, contributing $10.8 trillion to the economy each year—or three times the world’s tech industry.
  • The world’s 22 richest men are worth more than all the women in Africa.
  • Globally, 42% of women are outside the paid labor force because of unpaid care responsibilities, compared with 6% of men.
  • Nearly half the world subsists on $5.50/day or less, which the report says is partially because income “accrues to those at the top,” mostly benefiting men, leaving those at the bottom further behind.
  • On average globally, 18% of government ministers and 24% of parliamentarians are women, meaning women are often excluded from decision making. Caregivers, in particular, have minimal voice.
  • The world’s richest 1% have more than twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people.

It’s gonna get worse: Another 200 million more children and older people needing care will appear this decade, causing a caregiving spike.

The report calls on governments to invest in national care systems, which will alleviate the unpaid workloads of women and girls.

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China coronavirus symptoms: Here’s what the CDC is checking for as the Wuhan outbreak spreads

China coronavirus symptoms: Here’s what the CDC is checking for as the Wuhan outbreak spreads
[Photo: Getty]

The outbreak of a mysterious virus that was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan continues to spread. Health authorities in China just confirmed 139 new cases of pneumonia linked to the virus, including two cases in Beijing and one in Shenzhen. A third death has also been confirmed, CNN reported.

The new coronavirus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling 2019-nCoV, has also been detected in Thailand and Japan. According to the agency, it’s been linked to “a large seafood and animal market.”

What now? The CDC emphasizes that the risk for the American public is low, but that outbreaks of unknown viruses are always a concern. In response to the outbreak, the CDC says travelers entering the United States from Wuhan will undergo a health screening and questionnaire. They’ll be checked for the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing

Travelers with those symptoms will have their health further assessed. Last week, the CDC said it was deploying about 100 staffers to three airports—San Francisco International, New York’s JFK, and Los Angeles International—to help carry out the screenings.

For more information, you can check out the CDC’s dedicated web page for the virus here.

[CDC]
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Amazon wants you to use your hand to pay for things at third-party retailers

Amazon wants you to use your hand to pay for things at third-party retailers
[Photo: Joanna Kosinska/Unsplash]

Mobile payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay may be all the rage right now, but Amazon is hoping to make those payment methods look archaic by allowing anyone to pay for goods at brick-and-mortar stores simply by using their hand. That’s according to the Wall Street Journal, which says the company is creating checkout terminals that would allow people to scan their hand to pay for purchases at third-party retailers.

Here’s how it would work: Customers would use one of the terminals to set up their hand payment system by associating a payment card with their palm print. After that, a customer would never need to take out their payment card or mobile device to pay for goods again wherever a terminal is located. Instead, they could just scan their hand on the terminal and be on their way.

The WSJ says Amazon envisions having the terminal located in stores where people often frequent for repeat purchases, like coffee shops, fast-food joints, and grocery stores. I know—Amazon doesn’t own coffee shops or fast-food restaurants (they do own Whole Foods), so what benefit would Amazon get out of having their hand payment readers in third-party stores and retailers? Customer data about where, how often, and what people shop for, which Amazon would then use to better target those customers with ads for products they buy on the company’s website.

The fact that Amazon is working on hand-recognition payment technologies isn’t a complete surprise. Back in September, it was known that Amazon was working on similar hand payment terminals for use in its own Whole Foods stores. Now, it seems, Amazon sees better use for the terminals by having them in third-party retailers, which allows them to be able to collect much more of your personal shopping data.

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Most Americans still have to work on MLK Day. Here’s what’s open and closed

Most Americans still have to work on MLK Day. Here’s what’s open and closed
[Photo: Brian Kraus/Unsplash]

If you work for a private sector company and have Martin Luther King Jr. Day off, thank your bosses: Most Americans still clock in for this federal holiday, which marks the civil-rights leader’s birthday.

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Over 50% of workers are expected to be on the job this MLK Jr. Day, based on previous years’ figures. The type of job matters. Last year a whopping 84% of workers in manufacturing businesses were expected at work (some surveys put that number over 90%), while 72% of nonprofits gave the day off to nonessential staff.

This is actually a huge improvement. Observance of MLK Jr. Day has been steadily on the rise for years. Back in 2009, 72% of all employees had to go to work. The downside is that with more people free to spend their Monday shopping and eating, most restaurant and retail workers are expected on the job.

Though frequently called a “public holiday” or “national holiday,” MLK Jr. Day is, technically speaking, a federal holiday, along with Washington’s Birthday and Columbus Day, which means that companies can ignore it: The “day off” part of the federal law is only legally applicable for federal employees and the District of Columbia.

States individually decide their own holidays, and they took their sweet time: Despite President Reagan signing MLK Jr. Day into existence as a federal holiday in 1983, it was first observed in 1986, and all 50 states did not recognize it until 2000.

What’s closed:

  • The finance industry, including banks, the New York Stock Exchange, and Nasdaq
  • Federal and government services, including the United States Postal Service and the DMV
  • Most schools (though some states allow districts to decide themselves)

What’s open:

  • Stores and restaurants, some with one-day sales
  • Museums, many of which offer special admissions deals
  • UPS and FedEx
  • Nap time for you. We hope.
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How to watch the 2020 SAG Awards on TNT or TBS live without cable

How to watch the 2020 SAG Awards on TNT or TBS live without cable
[Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images]

After the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards, Hollywood is gearing up for its third Sunday awards show in a row. This time around it’s the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, presented by SAG-AFTRA, which honors the best and brightest movie and TV performances of the past year.

Nominees include the usual suspects, with The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Parasite, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in the running for outstanding cast performance—all of which were also nominated for an Academy Award for best picture. (You can check out the full list of nominations here.)

The 2020 SAG Awards will take place tonight (Sunday, January 19) at 8 p.m. ET at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The ceremony will air simultaneously on TBS and TNT, with a preshow streaming for free at sagawards.org.

If you’re a cord cutter who wants to watch the SAG Awards live on your computer or phone, you’ll need access to TBS or TNT, both of which are owned by AT&T’s WarnerMedia. Here’s a list of ways to do that:

Online and mobile apps (pay-TV subscription needed):

Streaming services that include TBS and TNT:

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How to watch the NFL playoffs live on CBS and Fox without cable

How to watch the NFL playoffs live on CBS and Fox without cable
[Photo: Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]

Football fans are gearing up for the final two games of the 2020 NFL playoffs this weekend. The Conference Championships will decide which teams advance to Super Bowl LIV on February 2, so the stakes couldn’t be higher. Here’s the lineup:

Sunday, January 19

  • 3:05 p.m ET: Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans (CBS)
  • 6:40 p.m. ET: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (Fox)

If you’re a cord cutter who wants to stream these games on your computer or mobile device—or over the top on a smart TV—you have a few different options. The games are airing on CBS and Fox, both of which are broadcast networks, so if you have an over-the-air antenna, that’s the easiest way to watch for free.

But since you’re reading this article, you probably don’t have an OTA antenna. Another option is to stream the games directly from the networks’ websites (Fox Sports and CBS online), but you’ll need pay-TV login credentials to watch that way.

For viewers without pay-TV credentials, your best bet is a stand-alone streaming service that has CBS and Fox, most of which you can sign up for with a free trial. I’ve listed some choices below.

  • YouTube TV: This service has CBS and Fox. Find it here.
  • Hulu With Live TV: This service has CBS and Fox. Find it here.
  • CBS All Access: This offers CBS only, but it’s a little bit cheaper. Find it here.
  • FuboTV: This service has all three networks in many areas. Find it here.
  • Locast: This free nonprofit service offers broadcast networks in 16 cities. Find it here.
  • Yahoo Sports App: This service lets you watch NFL games on your mobile device. Find it here.

Enjoy your Sunday!

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Report: Cord cutters are flocking to Disney Plus to escape insane cable TV prices

Report: Cord cutters are flocking to Disney Plus to escape insane cable TV prices
[Photo: Florian Weichelt/Unsplash]

Disney Plus got off to a strong start last year, reaching nearly 20 million U.S. households, according to an estimate by MoffettNathanson and HarrisX. And while it’s safe to assume that many of those users still have cable, services such as Disney Plus are also serving as replacements for pricey pay TV packages.

When asked why they use on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney Plus, more than 50% of cord cutters either said that pay TV had gotten too expensive or that they didn’t watch enough of it to justify the cost. Depending on the service, 14% to 17% of streaming users also said convenience was a factor, and 11% to 15% cited the ability to binge-watch content.

As MoffettNathanson notes, the survey could indicate tough times ahead for live TV streaming services such as YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, FuboTV, and AT&T TV Now, all of which have raised prices over the last year as programmers demand more money for their channels. “In short, these price hikes will likely push even more people towards OTT offerings,” MoffettNathanson’s report says.

One other notable tidbit from the report: While Disney Plus is already a hit, the much-hyped “Disney bundle” of Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $13 per month isn’t doing nearly as well. MoffettNathanson and HarrisX found that only 6% of Disney Plus subscribers are bundling all three services together. Given that Hulu has offered lots of discounted subscriptions and Spotify bundles over the past couple of years, Disney Plus subscribers may not be seeing the value of ESPN’s cable channel leftovers just yet.

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Why Gap Inc. killed its plans to spin off Old Navy and what it says about fast fashion

Why Gap Inc. killed its plans to spin off Old Navy and what it says about fast fashion
[Photo: Flickr user Mike Mozart]

The heritage apparel conglomerate Gap Inc.—which owns Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta, and Hill City—has been struggling to find its place in the modern retail landscape for some time. And in another sign of trouble, Gap Inc. just announced that it would be canceling its plan to spin off Old Navy—the one high-performing brand within its stable—into its own publicly traded company. It also said that Neil Fiske, the president and chief executive officer of the flagship Gap brand, would leave the company.

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For the past five years, Gap Inc.’s growth has been in decline, largely thanks to poor sales at Gap and Banana Republic. This is partly because the brands have failed to create an aesthetic that is relevant to today’s consumers and because their large network of stores have suffered as foot traffic in malls has declined. But throughout all of this, the Old Navy brand—which is effectively a fast fashion brand on par with H&M—had been the bright spot at the company, generating revenues to the tune of $8 billion a year and pulling up the company’s overall sales.

In March 2019, Gap Inc. made the surprising announcement that it planned to spin off Old Navy into its own publicly traded company. When I wrote about this last year, I explained that this approach would allow Old Navy to continue its impressive growth trajectory without being weighed down by the other brands at the company. It would allow the other brands to slowly reposition themselves to thrive.

Those plans are now canceled. One reason for this is that Old Navy has seen a sudden decline in sales in recent quarters. Last August, for instance, Old Navy reported a 5% decline in same-store sales. This was disappointing news for Gap Inc., and clearly put its entire spinoff strategy into question. But more broadly, Old Navy’s decline is not that surprising giving the current retail climate. Old Navy is effectively a fast fashion brand: Consumers were drawn to the brand for its low prices, frequent sales, and trendy, of-the-moment clothes.

But fast fashion as a category is struggling, a trend partially driven by changing tastes. Consumers are becoming more eco-conscious, realizing that cheap, disposable clothing is terrible for the environment. European fast fashion brands H&M and Zara, whose sales growth have also slowed in recent years, have announced large-scale sustainability initiatives, partly to counter the notion that their manufacturing practices are bad for the planet. Forever 21, another American fast fashion retailer, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The older brands within the Gap Inc. family were built for an earlier era, when consumers had different aesthetic sensibilities and expectations about sustainability. Old Navy, which first came to market in 1994, appeared to be weathering this transformation in consumer values, but it’s now clear that it will need to evolve to survive in the future.

Reached for comment, a Gap spokesperson directed us to its press release.

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Evelyn Yang’s harrowing story reveals why 90% of sexual assault in medicine goes unreported

Evelyn Yang’s harrowing story reveals why 90% of sexual assault in medicine goes unreported
[Photo: Gary He/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock]

In October, The New York Times ran an article titled, “19 Women Accused a Gynecologist of Abuse. Why Didn’t He Go To Prison?” Unknown at the time was that one of those women was Evelyn Yang, who yesterday publicly revealed that she was one of the victims. She says that Dr. Robert Hadden, a gynecologist at Columbia University, sexually assaulted her while pregnant during routine appointments.

Yang is a poster child for why medical sexual assault is so wildly under-reported. She holds a degree from Columbia University, formerly worked in marketing for L’Oréal, and is married to 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang—which is to say that she’s highly educated, media-savvy, and connected. She was in her 30s at the time of the assault. Yet she did not tell her husband, let alone authorities, until after Hadden was removed from his practice due to other allegations.

A 2019 study estimated that only 1 in 10 cases of medical sexual assault are reported, compared to a third of other varieties of sexual abuse. This is because medical assault is confusing: Was it really abuse? How could a patient know with surety whether an exam was unnecessary, or atypical? How could a woman know for sure whether gloves were worn, or if other body parts touched her? (For those not in the know, a drape cloth is often laid over the upper legs, and women are often laying flat, so they can’t see.)

Often, power dynamics of age and gender are also at play: The study indicates that 87% of victims are female, and that most of the abusers are men ages 40-59. Hadden is in his late 50s. Yang says that she imagined herself as someone who would “throw a chair and run out yelling.” Instead, she froze and didn’t tell her husband.

Yang ultimately hired a lawyer—something most victims do not have the money, time, nor wherewithal to do (would you know which attorney to call?)—who told her that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had an open case against Hadden. That case was ultimately resolved in a plea deal with no jail time for Hadden (he can no longer practice medicine), and so Yang has now joined 31 other women in suing Columbia University, its affiliated hospitals, and Hadden.

She hopes her coming out “will empower other women.”

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The EU might ban facial recognition tech for five years

The EU might ban facial recognition tech for five years
[Photo: mauro mora/Unsplash]

While facial recognition tech is pretty handy, and even still somewhat jaw-dropping when applied to personal technology, such as Apple’s Face ID, which is found on iPhones, widespread use of the technology in public by private and governmental organizations risks turning where we live into a surveillance society the likes of which even Orwell would find alarming.

Yet facial recognition is starting to show up wherever large crowds of people congregate—from sports stadia to airports. Or, when it comes to China, literally everywhere. While the technology does have some clear benefits, it also raises massive privacy concerns. Should corporations, businesses, or even governments be allowed to identify and track us wherever we go?

That’s one of the questions the European Commission is contemplating and is a reason why the commission is considering a ban on all facial recognition technology in public places for three to five years, reports the BBC. The reasoning is that facial recognition tech is so new, yet rolling out so quickly, we simply can’t know all the risks and drawbacks associated with it.

During the three– to five-year ban, “a sound methodology for assessing the impacts of this technology and possible risk management measures could be identified and developed,” the EC’s 18-page white paper on the subject says.

One such risk of the technology is that current facial recognition methods are far from perfect, and many times the systems powering facial recognition are racially biased. Given that, the European Commission’s recommendation seems like the logical, reasonable thing to do. But when did logic and reason ever apply to the breakneck pace of technological innovation?

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Abigail Disney’s new crusade: Fixing the CEO-to-worker pay gap

Abigail Disney’s new crusade: Fixing the CEO-to-worker pay gap
[Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The New York Women’s Foundation]

A California bill that would increase taxes on companies proportional to the pay gap between the CEO and employees has passed its first committee hearing on Wednesday, meaning it will go to the California Senate for a vote on January 31, reports Fox Business.

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Under the bill’s proposed tax rules, companies that make over $10 million in taxable income in the state would be liable for higher tax rates based on the pay disparity between the company’s regular employees and its CEO. As Fox Business points out, “The bigger the gap, the bigger the tax increase.”

The bill has found a big-name ally: Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Roy Disney. Disney has frequently criticized the disparity between Disney CEO Bob Iger’s pay and the average pay a Disney employee makes. This bill would make closing that pay gap more attractive to large companies—or at the very least help ensure the public makes more tax income from enormous CEO pay packages.

As Disney told lawmakers on Wednesday: “At the happiest place on Earth, they are paid so poorly that they rely on food banks, sleep in cars, or live so close to the bone that even a small problem could send them into a death spiral.”

Fox Business says Bob Iger’s pay package in 2018 amounted to $65 million—1,400 times the median pay of a Disney employee.

Because the bill targets only companies that operate in the state that make over $10 million in taxable income, smaller businesses would not be subject to the tax. Democratic state Senator Nancy Skinner, who is sponsoring the bill, says it would affect about 2,000 of the largest companies in the state. It’s estimated the bill could bring in an additional $4.1 billion in annual revenue.

Update, Friday, 1:05 p.m. ET:

A Disney spokesperson sent the following statement:

“The truth is, Disney has made significant investments to provide for the upward mobility of our employees, starting with our commitment to a minimum wage of $15 an hour, quality health insurance for as little as $6 a week, childcare subsidies, and an initial investment of $150 million to fully pay for hourly employees’ college, post-graduate or vocational degrees through the Disney Aspire program; and to date, more than 12,000 employees have enrolled in classes.”

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Google’s parent company, Alphabet, joins the $1 trillion club

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, joins the $1 trillion club
[Photo: Rajeshwar Bachu/Unsplash]

Apple got there first, then Microsoft, and then Amazon, but now Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has finally joined their ranks. I’m of course talking about public companies that have crossed the $1 trillion valuation mark.

Alphabet actually briefly crossed the $1 trillion market cap last week, but it didn’t close at above $1 trillion for the day, so conventional wisdom was it didn’t count then. You can see former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s tweet about it below (Mayer was a VP at Google before leading Yahoo).

That changed yesterday when shares of Alphabet (GOOGL) closed at $1,450.16 last night, which gave the company a $1.0 trillion market cap. Right now, shares of GOOGL are up in pre-market trading, so Alphabet gets to hang onto bragging rights for at least another day.

And for those keeping track, here’s where the public companies that have reached at least a trillion market cap stand today (as of the time of this writing):

  • Apple—$1.382 trillion
  • Microsoft—$1.291 trillion
  • Google—$1.00 trillion
  • Amazon—$931.07 billion
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WhatsApp no longer has plans to spam you with ads—for now

WhatsApp no longer has plans to spam you with ads—for now
[Photo: Anton/Pexels]

Some good bit of news coming from Facebook: Apparently the company has ditched plans to insert ads into WhatsApp’s status feature, reports the Wall Street Journal. Facebook originally announced plans to start monitoring WhatsApp via ads a year and a half ago–which did not go over well with users nor the app’s original creators, who resigned from the company after the plans were announced.

The Wall Street Journal cites “people familiar with the matter,” writing:

WhatsApp in recent months disbanded a team that had been established to find the best ways to integrate ads into the service, according to people familiar with the matter. The team’s work was then deleted from WhatsApp’s code, the people said.

The bad news is that ads are still in WhatsApp’s future, according to the WSJ. The publication cited a person who says Facebook will introduce ads to the app’s Status feature sometime in the future, but for now Facebook will pursue other ways to monetize WhatsApp, including ways for businesses to communicate with customers over the platform.

Facebook famously bought WhatsApp for a staggering $22 billion in 2014. The app is currently used by over 1.5 billion people.

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What to know about Mark Kelly, the former NASA astronaut taking on CNN-hater Martha McSally

What to know about Mark Kelly, the former NASA astronaut taking on CNN-hater Martha McSally
[Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore]

After Arizona’s Martha McSally, a Republican, called CNN reporter Manu Raju a “liberal hack,” her Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, tweeted about his history of listening to science.

Here’s a refresher on who Kelly is:

  • Kelly is a former NASA astronaut perhaps best known for his participation in the space agency’s “twins study,” where he remained on Earth while his twin brother, Scott Kelly, spent a year on the International Space Station. The study let scientists compare the two brothers after their year in the drastically different circumstances.
  • Prior to that, Kelly himself made multiple voyages to space, including serving as commander of the space shuttles Discovery and Endeavour on some missions.
  • Kelly also served in the Navy, including during Desert Storm, and was technically on loan to NASA from the Navy during his time with the space program. (McSally served in the Air Force, where she was the first female pilot to fly in combat and retired as a colonel.)
  • Kelly is married to former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who resigned from Congress after sustaining a brain injury when she was shot during a scheduled appearance. Kelly and Giffords have since launched an organization calling for gun safety laws, including universal background checks.
  • Kelly and McSally are facing off in a special election to finish out the final years of Republican John McCain’s term. After McCain died in 2018, Governor Doug Ducey appointed Republican Jon Kyl to the seat. Kyl resigned at the end of 2018, and McSally was appointed to the seat. The special election is scheduled for Election Day, November 3.
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