November 4, 2016 Last Updated 8:19 am

Google responds to European Commission; Chinese company buys American cultural icon

Morning Brief: NYT foreign correspondent Jim Yardley returns to the US after more than a dozen year abroad to travel the country to find reasons behind a divided nation

The week is ending and that would usually mean that this will be slow news day. But what do you think the chances are that one or both of the presidential candidates won’t drop a surprise in to the race on this, the final weekend of the campaign?

It was, if you remember, last Friday when the FBI Director James Comey interjected himself directly into the race, For the first 48 hours or so, the media seemed to want to defend the FBI head, saying he could possibly have really wanted to be a major player in the race, right? But it has become quite evident that this is not, in fact, the case. Now, whoever the next president is, they will have to deal with a politicized law enforcement agency, looking to be a fourth branch of the government.

This has been the ugliest election in memory. The days that follow, however, may be the worst yet.

To say that there is a bit of disconnect, misunderstanding between the European Commission and Google would be an understatement. I think there is a culture clash, one that probably can’t be overcome.

Europe’s antitrust officials have accused the search giant of favoring some of its own shopping search services over that of its rivals, of using its dominant position to stifle competition. Europeans see this as slowing their own economic growth and innovation, while the Silicon Valley simply denies that this is the case. But there is more to it than that. Many Americans, and doubtless those at Google, see this as simply the way business is supposed to work, one builds a company in order to success, make money, and hopefully hold off the competition.

Google’s response to the EC is all about why what Google does is good, not that it is not doing what the commission says it does.


Google in Europe, Kent Walker:

Improving Quality Isn’t Anti-Competitive, Part II

If you’re looking to buy a or a , we want to connect you directly to merchants who sell them, whether that’s through organic links or ads. In recent years, we’ve improved the format of our ads to include more informative displays with pictures, prices, and links where you can buy products. Showing more useful ads benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, you, our users.

That’s why we disagree with the European Commission’s argument that our improved Google Shopping results are harming competition…

…The Commission’s revised filing suggests we shouldn’t use specialized algorithms to highlight what we consider to be the most relevant merchants’ ads for our users, but should instead highlight ads from price comparison sites. But we get feedback from our users every time they use our services and their clicks tell us that this just isn’t how they want to shop. Forcing us to direct more clicks to price comparison aggregators would just subsidize sites that have become less useful for consumers.

Ultimately, we can’t agree with a case that lacks evidence and would limit our ability to serve our users, just to satisfy the interests of a small number of websites. But we remain committed to working with the Commission in hopes of resolving the issues raised, and we look forward to continuing our discussions.

After more than a dozen years living abroad as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, Jim Yardley took a trip across the country to “take stock of his divided homeland.” The report is fascinating, though it reads like excerpts from a book rather than a completed story. His impressions on the Texas border area, the Tenderloin in San Francisco and other cities is fascinating.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure Yardley really comes up with any answers as to why America is so screwed up, only that it is. More than likely we won’t see Mr. Yardley around the States any time soon.

Below is a short excerpt from his time in Russell, Kansas.

The New York Times, Jim Yardley:

An American in a Strange Land

jim-yardley-filmstripI was running into so many disgruntled people that I began to worry, as I dipped in and out of places, that I was inadvertently being drawn to angry people. I figured I would get a taste of Middle America by stopping in Russell, Kan., which I visited 20 years earlier when a local hero, Bob Dole, was the 1996 Republican presidential nominee. Walking along the redbrick Main Street, I saw a crowd streaming out of a local theater. Inside, Christina Fowler, a pastor, had just finished services for her nondenominational congregation. Today was her son’s birthday, and she invited me to a potluck lunch with the congregation in her backyard…

Everyone sat at folding tables eating potato salad and lasagna. I sat with the associate pastor, Lonnie Whitten Jr., and a congregant named Cindy, who asked that her last name not be published. Whitten, who had a bushy ZZ Top beard and arms covered in tattoos, described himself as a reformed bad boy. This congregation, he said, was moving away from the culture of the “corporate church” and also opposed same-sex marriage. Cindy had been part of a local delegation taken to San Diego for the 1996 Republican National Convention as living proof of Dole’s hometown values. “We were treated like royalty!” she said. Now 59, Cindy explained that too many ministers around the country watered down the true message of the Gospel, serving up baby food, not meat. And what was the real message? That homosexuality is a sin. That Islam is incompatible with Christianity.

“It’s just a matter of time when someone gives the signal,” she told me of Muslims living in America, “and we’re all going to be beheaded.”

I ate some potato salad, a bit stunned.

What could be more American than Dick Clark and American Bandstand? When I was a very, very young kid my father bought a reel-to-reel deck and used it to record the songs from the show for my older sisters. I don’t remember them actually ever listening to the tapes. But one day, after my father had died, I found the stash of tapes and listened to them. In many ways it was better than seeing the rerun shows on television because it was like eavesdropping on another time. The irony, of course, is that American Bandstand didn’t feature live performances by lip syncing, so the recordings were just poorer versions of the readily available records.

Now, well, now this:

The New York Times, Amie Tsang:

Dick Clark Productions to Be Sold to Chinese Company for $1 Billion

ab-clark-380Some of America’s most glittery TV spectacles will have a Chinese owner.

Dalian Wanda Group said on Friday that it would buy Dick Clark Productions for about $1 billion, giving it the broadcasting rights to the Golden Globe Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards and the New Year countdown celebrations in New York…

…The Justice Department has been asked to review Wanda’s recent purchases because of fears that the company, which has financial ties to relatives of senior Chinese Communist leaders, could be trying to influence how China is portrayed in films.

Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, told The New York Times in October that his company only wanted to help American film companies increase their market share in China.

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