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Saturday, October 29, 2016

An Anti-Obesity, Anti-Poverty Philanthropist Joins PepsiCo.’s Board: A Case of Reform from Within

In October 2016, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, became the newest member of PepsiCo’s board of directors. Whereas Walker worked at the time for a more just and equitable society, Pepsi was making the bulk of its money by selling sugary drinks and fatty snacks and there being a well-established link between obesity and economic inequality. Would he be working at cross-purposes? “There’s a risk that he will be viewed as inconsistent,” said Michael Edwards, a former Ford Foundation executive at the time.[1] The company itself could also be viewed as being inconsistent—lobbying against anti-obesity public-health legislation while putting Walker on the board of directors.

The full essay is at "Philanthropist Joins PepsiCo.'s Board."



1. David Gelles, “An Activist for the Poor Joins Pepsi’s Board. Is That Ethical?,” The New York Times, October 28, 2016.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

CO2 Record-Level in Atmosphere: Implications for Human Population

In 2015, average global CO2 levels for the year surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time, the WMO revealed in its 2016 annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. At the time, any scientists regarded that ratio of carbon dioxide to other gases in the atmosphere as a “climate change touchstone.”[1] Curiously, however, 400 ppm was not considered a tipping point. It was still possible to reverse the progression of the ratio—yet no one seems to ask how long that would take. In this regard, the ratio’s accelerating rate is particularly telling. Practically speaking, 400 ppm may in fact be a tipping point.
The full essay is at "CO2 Record-Level."



1. Lydia O’Connor, “The Planet Just Crossed Another Major Carbon Milestone,” The Huffington Post, October 25, 2016.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

AT&T Buys Time Warner: An Expansive Strategy Amid Industry Uncertainty

After Comcast’s $30 billion takeover of NBCUniversal and Verizon’s acquisitions of the Huffington Post and Yahoo, AT&T agreed on October 22, 2016 to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion. The ability to produce content and deliver it to millions of viewers “with wireless phones, broadband subscriptions and satellite TV connections was not lost on either board.[1] At the time, AT&T sold “wireless service in a saturated market, while Time Warner [was] a content company whose primary assets, networks like CNN and HBO, [faced] tougher times in a cord-cutting world.”[2] Although AT&T’s board could be accused of empire-building wherein bigger is better (i.e., more powerful), the stabilizing impact of combining wireless service and content could hardly be ignored in a business-environment so full of change and uncertainty. In other words, with the traditional television industry facing such dire threats to its revenue-structure due to the proliferation of high-tech substitutes, having the wherewithal to formulate and experiment with different distribution means and even content was at the time a fitting strategy.

The full essay is at "AT&T Buys Time Warner."


1. Michael J. de la Merced, “AT&T Pledges $85 Billion To Acquire Time Warner,” The New York Times, October 23, 2016.
2. Farhad Manjoo, “AT&T-Time Warner Deal Is a Strike in the Dark,” The New York Times, October 24, 2016.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Apple’s iPhone and the FBI: Recalibrating the Right-to-Privacy

On February 29, 2016, a federal judge rejected the FBI’s request to unlock the work-issued iPhone 5c of Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife killed 14 people at a 2015 holiday gathering of county workers. The FBI and DEA cited the All Writs Act, a law passed in 1789 that authorizes federal courts to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”[1] The U.S. Justice Department was demanding that “Apple create software to bypass security features on the phone.”[2] In other words, Apple was to “write code that overrides the device’s auto-delete security function.”[3] In response, Apple’s lawyers argued that the statute does not give the court the right to “conscript and commandeer” the company into defeating its own encryption, thus making its customers’ “most confidential and personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, hostile foreign agents and unwarranted government surveillance.”[4] Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO at the time, said the FBI “was asking his company to create a ’back door’ that could be used to unlock other phones, exposing customer data. Agreeing to the FBI's demand would set a dangerous precedent that could lead to other calls for Apple's help to obtain private information, Cook said.”[5] Only weeks later, the FBI abruptly dropped the case because the bureau had found an outside company with technology that could serve as a master key. The FBI could use the “key” to unlock any iPhone. This left customers fearful that their data was now less than private even though Apple had promoted the iPhone product as not having a “back door” In the end, (t)he iPhone fight exposed a rift between the FBI and Silicon Valley technology companies over encryption, and sparked a debate about the right balance between privacy and national security.”[6] I suspect that although a trade-off, or tension between the right of privacy and the national-security interest of the United States existed at the time, electronic privacy would become harder and harder to protect as a result of the FBI’s tactics.  

The full essay is at "Apple's iPhone and the FBI."





1.  Jim Stavridis and Dave Weinstein, “Apple vs. FBI Is Not About Privacy vs. Security—It’s About How to Achieve Both,” The World Post, March 8, 2016.
2. The Associated Press, “New FBI Head in San Francisco Was Key Figure in iPhone Hack,” The New York Times, October 5, 2016.
3. Jim Stavridis and Dave Weinstein, “Apple vs. FBI Is Not About Privacy vs. Security—It’s About How to Achieve Both,” The World Post, March 8, 2016.
4. Jim Stavridis and Dave Weinstein, “Apple vs. FBI Is Not About Privacy vs. Security—It’s About How to Achieve Both,” The World Post, March 8, 2016.
5. The Associated Press, “New FBI Head in San Francisco Was Key Figure in iPhone Hack,” The New York Times, October 5, 2016.
6. The Associated Press, “New FBI Head in San Francisco Was Key Figure in iPhone Hack,” The New York Times, October 5, 2016.