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Google Faces Lawsuit Accusing It of Discriminating Against Conservative White Men

Two former employees of Google have accused the tech giant of discriminating against conservative white men, in a class action lawsuit filed Monday.

 

One of the accusers, James Damore, was fired from the company last year after writing a memo defending the gender gap in Silicon Valley tech jobs as possibly a matter of biological differences between men and women.

 

Damore and David Gudeman, another former engineer at the Google, filed the suit at the Santa Clara Superior Court in California, alleging discrimination and retaliation.

 

The two argue in their suit that Google uses illegal hiring quotas to fill jobs with women and minority applicants.

“Google’s management goes to extreme — and illegal — lengths to encourage hiring managers to take protected categories such as race and/or gender into consideration as determinative hiring factors, to the detriment of Caucasian and male employees,” the complaint stated.

 

The suit also accuses the company of not protecting employees with conservative viewpoints, including employees who support U.S. President Donald Trump.

 

“Damore, Gudeman and other class members were ostracized, belittled, and punished for their heterodox political views, and for the added sin of their birth circumstances of being Caucasians and/or males,” the lawsuit said.

 

Google said it looks forward to defending itself against the allegations in court.

 

Google fired Damore in August after he wrote an internal memo that was later made public in which he said that “genetic differences” may explain “why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.”

 

Google chief Sundar Pichai said “portions of the memo violate our code of conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

 

In Friday’s lawsuit, Damore said his memo was intended to remain internal and said he wrote it as a response to a request for feedback about a recent diversity and inclusion summit he attended.

Apple Investors Urge Action to Curb Child Gadget Addiction

Two major Apple investors have urged the iPhone maker to take action to curb growing smartphone addiction among children, highlighting growing concern about the effects of gadgets and social media on youngsters.

New York-based Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS, said Monday in open letter to Apple that the company must offer more choices and tools to help children fight addiction to its devices.

 

“There is a developing consensus around the world including Silicon Valley that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility,” the letter said. “Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do.”

 

The two investors collectively control $2 billion worth of Apple shares.

 

Among their proposals to Apple: establish an expert committee including child development specialists; offer Apple’s vast information to researchers; and enhance mobile device software so that parents have more options to protect their children’s health.

 

The letter cited various studies and surveys on how the heavy usage of smartphones and social media negatively affects children’s mental and physical health. Examples include distractions by digital technologies in the classroom, a decreased ability of students to focus on educational tasks, and higher risks of suicide and depression.

 

The investors’ call reflects growing concerns around the world about what the long-term impact will be of using mobile devices and social media, especially for those who start to use smartphones at an early age.

 

While tech companies have not acknowledged openly that their gadgets may be addictive, some Silicon Valley insiders have begun to speak to media about how gadgets, mobile applications and social media sites are designed to be addictive and to keep users’ attention as long as possible.

As Growing Economies Jostle for Power, What Post-Brexit Role for Britain?

As Britain’s 2019 exit from the European Union edges closer, it is looking to carve out a new role for itself on the world stage. Many analysts say it could struggle to retain its influence as other world powers demand greater representation in global bodies like the United Nations. But the British government insists it is looking to build global alliances beyond Europe.

“Britain punches above its weight” – a boxing analogy once used by a former foreign secretary to describe his country’s role on the world stage, and often repeated since. But the punch could be losing power, says Luke McDonagh of City University London.

“Leaving the EU means that the UK could now be seen as a medium-sized economy in an increasingly polarized world where there are massive economic blocs,” he said. ” You have the United States, you have China, you have the EU. In the coming century, you will also have India, the rise of South America and Africa to compete, as well. What will the UK’s place be?”

McDonagh says a measure of Britain’s fading clout was its November loss of a judge at the International Court of Justice. After a long battle at the United Nations, London withdrew its candidate, allowing an Indian judge to take the place occupied by Britain since the ICJ’s inception in 1946.

“The way the powers game works now is decidedly different from that of 1945. And we have to question whether the U.N. Security Council will continue in this form for much longer,” he said.

But it is unlikely Britain will lose its permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council any time soon, says U.N. expert Richard Gowan of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“Most of the big powers in the Security Council, including the United States and China, do not want to see any serious reforms to the institution in the foreseeable future,” noted Gowan.

Britain insists it is not turning inward. The government’s post-Brexit ambition is to create what it terms a “Global Britain.”

“On the one hand, the British foreign service will be able to invest more resources in U.N. affairs now that they are going to be less focused on the EU. ,” Gowan said. “But on the other hand, without the support of 27 other (EU) countries, the British are going to find it much harder to influence debates over humanitarian affairs, development or security through the U.N.”

A foretaste came in June, when many EU countries failed to vote with Britain on its claim to the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.

Britain needs to keep Europe onside, argues Gowan.

“If the British are seen to be simply cozying up to the Americans, they are going to lose a lot of goodwill from their European partners pretty quickly,” he said.

In seeking a new role on the world stage, analysts say Britain will need to forge new alliances, while keeping old friends close, and try to weather turmoil back home.

 

 

 

Scientists Breeding Climate Change Resistant Coral

Coral reefs support nearly a quarter of all marine species, but because of climate change, half of the world’s reefs have disappeared in the past 50 years. With that problem not going away, scientists are looking for ways to make better coral that can resist the rising temperatures. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports.

Entrepreneurs Flock to Las Vegas for Giant Consumer Electronics Show

Packed inside an SUV and heading to Las Vegas, employees of CaptureProof, a San Francisco startup, are part of a time-honored technology industry tradition — attending the giant consumer electronics show that takes over the Las Vegas strip every January.

Starting Monday, more than 180,000 people are expected to attend CES — the show once know as the Consumer Electronics Show — with about one-third of them international visitors. There will be 4,000 exhibitors in every conceivable tech category — gaming, self-driving cars, digital health, digital sports, drones, robots. Outside official CES, many companies set up their own events in hotels throughout Las Vegas.

The result is a crush of people and cars, a cacophony of sounds and logos, as everyone tries to get each others’ attention.  

And that is true for CaptureProof, as well. This is its fourth year at CES, the only consumer-focused show that it attends. The small company, which offers an app to help doctors and patients to visually track symptoms, is a regular at medical and investor shows.

But it has to go to CES, says the firm’s CEO. There’s potential partners and clients to meet — and the possibility that a conversation begins on the convention floor that leads to other business in a new direction.

Getting noticed

“Every innovation lead of every company walks through CES and spends at least 24 hours there,” said Meghan Conroy, CaptureProof’s CEO.  

Costing $4,500, the 10-foot by 10-foot booth in the Sands Expo will include a make-believe doctor’s waiting room, with old magazines and uncomfortable chairs.

With a message that no one loves doctor’s waiting rooms, the company pitches itself as a more efficient way for doctors and patients to connect outside an in-person visit.

At its booth, a giant smartphone (really a 43-inch TV screen) will show the CaptureProof app as the more appealing alternative to waiting around.

“Getting the right patient to the right doctor is what we are talking about at CES,” Conroy said.  

Packing away food, water

Once at CES, the CaptureProof staff has to be self-sustaining, much like going camping, said Conroy.

She has put thought into the details — the thickness of the booth’s floor padding, tables that need to double as storage space, the amount of snacks and water to stow away. The total cost to the company, including the booth, the carpet pads, the staff, hotel and travel is $12,000.

Rising above the fray

From prior years, the company has learned it has to put its logos and company name at least four feet off the ground — to be seen above the masses of people.

Part of the marketing strategy is giving away things affixed with the firm’s logo — bags, pens, stickers — so that people walk around advertising the firm.

Like many who have been to CES, Conroy acknowledges, “It’s awful.”

But she adds: “Everyone is there. You never know who you will meet.”

Trump, Aides Scorn Book Depicting Chaotic White House

U.S. President Donald Trump and aides on Sunday heaped scorn on a new book detailing his chaotic first year in the White House and suggestions that he is not mentally fit to be the U.S. leader.

Trump, in a Twitter comment, said, “I’ve had to put up with the Fake News from the first day I announced that I would be running for President. Now I have to put up with a Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author.”

Trump’s ire was aimed at journalist Michael Wolff, who, based on 200 interviews with Trump and numerous of his aides, described a dysfunctional White House in his book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, released Friday.

Trump said that three decades ago, another Republican president, Ronald Reagan, was also faced with stories questioning his mental acuity “and handled it well. So will I!”

Stephen Miller, Trump’s top policy adviser, assailed Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon for comments in the book alleging that Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, now a key White House adviser, and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort were “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” for meeting in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign with Russians claming to have incriminating information about Trump’s challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Miller on CNN described Bannon as an “angry, vindictive person” whose “grotesque comments are so out of touch with reality.” Miller said the “whole White House staff is deeply disappointed in his comments” in the book.

Miller said the Wolff book “is best understood as a work of poorly written fiction. The author is a garbage author of a garbage book. …The betrayal of the president in this book is so contrary to the reality of those who work with him.”

CNN anchor Jake Tapper abruptly ended the interview with Miller, calling him “obsequious” and concerned only about pleasing “one viewer,” Trump.

A short time later, Trump tweeted, “Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!”

Two other Trump administration officials, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo also expressed support for Trump’s performance on Sunday news talk shows, a day after the U.S. leader described himself as “a very stable genius.”

Haley told ABC News that based on her once-a-week visits to the White House, “No one disrespects the president.” Pompeo told Fox News, “I have watched him take the information that the intelligence community delivers and translate that into policies that are of enormous benefit to America.”

Bannon has not disputed quotes Wolff attributed to him in the book but on Sunday voiced some regret over his role.

He told the Axios news site: “Donald Trump Jr. is both a patriot and a good man. He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around.”

Bannon, who returned to Breitbart News, an alt-right website with nationalist views, after leaving the White House, also avowed his continuing support for Trump.

“My support is also unwavering for the president and his agenda,” Bannon said, “as I have shown daily in my national radio broadcasts, on the pages of Breitbart News and in speeches and appearances from Tokyo and Hong Kong to Arizona and Alabama.

“I regret that my delay,” he added, “in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr. has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.”

Trump has claimed that he “authorized Zero Access” to Wolff at the White House to do his research for the book.

But Wolff told NBC that the president, personally, if reluctantly, allowed him to roam the corridors of the White House and conduct interviews with his aides, at one point saying, “Who cares about a book?”

But by Sunday, two days after its release, Fire and Fury was the top-selling book on the Amazon online retail site.

 

 

 

 

 

Trump Washes His Hands of Insurgency Against GOP Incumbents

President Donald Trump says he’s done campaigning for insurgents challenging incumbent Republican members of Congress.

Trump told reporters after meeting GOP House and Senate leaders at Camp David on Saturday that he’s planning a robust schedule of campaigning for the 2018 midterm elections and that includes involvement in the Republican primaries. He’ll campaign for incumbents, he said, and “anybody else that has my kind of thinking.”

 

But after a stinging loss in Alabama, Trump said he’s done supporting challengers, declaring: “I don’t see that happening.” Trump had supported Roy Moore after he won the GOP primary. Moore’s defeat in the subsequent special election handed Democrats another seat in the Senate.

 

Trump spent much of Friday and Saturday morning hashing out his 2018 agenda with GOP House and Senate leaders, top White House aides and select Cabinet members at the presidential retreat at Camp David. He described the sessions as perhaps transformative in certain ways.

 

A long list of high-stakes topics were on the agenda, from national security and infrastructure to the budget and 2018 midterm election strategy. Though Democrats were not included in the discussions, the leaders — some dressed casually in jeans, khakis and sweaters — said they were optimistic that more Democrats would be working with Republicans.

 

“We hope that 2018’ll be a year of more bipartisan cooperation,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, predicting a “significant number of Democrats” would be interested in supporting Trump’s agenda.

 

It’s a reflection of reality: Republicans hold a razor-thin majority in the Senate and will need Democrats’ support to push through most legislation. It’s unclear, however, the extent to which Trump is willing to work with Democrats to achieve that goal.

 

Trump, for instance, declared Saturday that he will not sign legislation protecting hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children unless Congress agrees to fund his promised border wall as well as overhaul the legal immigration system. Trump last year ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shielded more than 700,000 people from deportation and gave then the right to work legally in the country, and gave Congress until March to find a fix.

 

Trump said any deal must stop immigrants from being able to sponsor their extended family members and must end the diversity visa lottery, which draws immigrants from under-represented parts of a world. That’s in addition to funding for the southern border wall, a deeply unpopular idea among Democrats.

 

The administration on Friday unveiled a 10-year, $18 billion request for the wall that roiled the immigration talks and infuriated Democrats who’ve spent months in negotiations, increasing the prospect of a government shutdown.

 

But Trump appeared oblivious to the anger on Saturday. “We hope that we’re going to be able to work out an arrangement with the Democrats,” he said. “It’s something, certainly, that I’d like to see happen.”

 

Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, also expressed guarded optimism when he returned to his state after the retreat. “For a few weeks now it seems like there’s the ability to get an agreement reached but none has been finalized yet,” he said of the effort to protect the young immigrants who came under Obama’s program. “I think the framework is there and the president is fully engaged.”

 

Trump also appeared Saturday to back away from efforts to overhaul the welfare system, which just weeks ago had been identified as one of the White House’s top two legislative priorities, along with a massive infrastructure investment plan.

 

McConnell had argued that welfare reform was a no-go given Democratic opposition. And Trump appeared to have come around.

 

“It’s a subject that’s very dear to our heart,” Trump said. “We’ll try and do something in a bipartisan way. Otherwise, we’ll be holding it for a little bit later.”

 

Republicans are eager to build on the victory achieved late last year with the overhaul of the nation’s tax code. But before moving on to infrastructure and other items, Trump and his GOP allies first must navigate a tricky landscape of leftover legislation from last year that promises to test party unity in the coming weeks.

 

The need to work with Democrats on a spending package, for instance, is sure to whip up opposition from many conservatives to a hoped-for catchall spending bill slated for next month.

 

The Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains provides a woodsy respite from Washington. It’s a place where presidents and lawmakers can bond over meals, hikes and movie nights.

 

“There’s a feeling here that you don’t have in very many places. There was a bonding,” Trump said of the visit.

 

Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, told reporters Saturday that lawmakers and top White House officials had enjoyed “a couple of glasses of wine together last night” and gathered with Trump to watch the new movie “The Greatest Showman,” starring Hugh Jackman. (He described it as “very, very entertaining.”)

 

Politics, too, were on the agenda, with talks about the midterm elections. Republicans are at risk of losing the majority they’ve held in the House since 2011, and could also lose seats in the Senate, though many more Democratic incumbents are up for re-election this year.

 

Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, became a self-styled leader of an insurgency against Republican incumbents, arguing that Trump’s agenda could only be passed with an influx of outsiders. But Bannon is on the outs with Trump and the president’s comments Saturday suggested he’s washing his hands of any such uprising. Trump said he needs more Republicans in Congress.

 

 

 

 

Chemical Sniffer Machine Detects Bombs and Illegal Drugs

Dogs are often used in airports to sniff out explosives or illegal drugs. But a high-tech machine has been developed that can “sniff” the air, so baggage handlers and bomb experts can check luggage and containers without touching them. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.