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Tech News Roundup - 08/03/2017

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Trump Backs Bill That Cuts Legal Immigration by Half. The legislation would favor immigrants based on skills and education while curtailing those brought into the country through family ties. (New York Times)

Tech takes aim at Trump (again) after he signs onto a new GOP bill to cut legal immigration. With the blessings of President Donald Trump, two Senate Republicans embarked on a new effort Wednesday to slash the number of green cards that the U.S. government awards to foreigners — a move that’s drawing another round of criticism from the tech industry. ITI's Dean Garfield is quoted. (Recode)

Tech industry condemns Trump-backed immigration proposal. Tech advocacy groups slammed an immigration bill endorsed by President Donald Trump, saying it would harm — not help — the industry's ability to recruit highly skilled foreign workers. ITI's Dean Garfield is quoted. (Politico)

America’s Competitors Angle for Silicon Valley’s Business. As part of Mr. Trump’s efforts to push an America-first philosophy, he has vowed to restrict the availability of special visas that are widely used by technology companies to hire talent from around the world. Mr. Trump’s plans, combined with an American political climate that has left many immigrants feeling less welcome, has cast a pall of uncertainty over the American tech industry, which relies heavily on highly skilled workers from abroad. (New York Times)


US plans trade probe over China's demands for tech transfers. The Trump administration is weighing plans to punish China for forcing U.S. and foreign companies to share their technology in return for access to the vast Chinese market, a personal familiar with U.S. discussions said Wednesday, and is considering invoking the rarely used Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to impose sanctions, including tariffs, within months. (Associated Press)

Trump's expected trade order would turn up heat on China. A highly anticipated White House announcement on Friday may not quite lead to a trade war with China but could be the beginning of a high-stakes chess match played out over the rest of President Donald Trump's term. In a move that appears to have bipartisan support, Trump is expected to ask U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to investigate Chinese industrial policies that force foreign companies to transfer valuable technology in order to do business there. (PoliticoPro)

In rare bipartisan display, Democrats back Trump on China trade probe. Three top Democratic senators, in a rare show of bipartisanship, on Wednesday urged U.S. President Donald Trump to stand up to China as he prepares to launch an inquiry into Beijing's intellectual property and trade practices in coming days. (Reuters)

EDITORIAL: The U.S. Missed Its Chance to Make China Play Fair. Trump wants to relitigate old trade disputes, when policies to boost growth are what's needed. (Bloomberg)

Trump signs Russia sanctions bill; Moscow calls it 'trade war'. U.S. President Donald Trump grudgingly signed into law new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, a move Moscow said amounted to a full-scale trade war and an end to hopes for better ties with the Trump administration. (Reuters)

EU’s Juncker Is ‘Broadly Satisfied’ With U.S. Russia Sanctions Bill. A top European Union official said Wednesday he is broadly satisfied that changes made to the U.S. Russia sanctions bill will protect European interests. (Wall Street Journal)

Senate Democrats Seek to Outdo Trump on Trade. Democrats, outflanked by Mr. Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign, are seeking to recapture the loyalty of voters convinced that globalization is eroding their fortunes and prospects. (New York Times)

Britain’s Unreal Brexit Transition Debate. The air of unreality about the Brexit transition debate extends to the question of the form of the transition too: How will the U.K. negotiate with the EU when it isn’t entirely clear what it wants? (Wall Street Journal)

EDITORIAL: Don't Be Too Hard on Apple for Bending to China. By acceding to censorship now, the company and others like it will have the opportunity to fight another day. (Bloomberg)

Tech Politics

Zuckerberg hires former Clinton pollster Joel Benenson. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have hired Democratic pollster Joel Benenson, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama and the chief strategist to Hillary Clinton's failed 2016 presidential campaign, as a consultant, according to a person familiar with the hire. (PoliticoPro)

Trump’s CEO Brain Trust Hasn’t Done Much. Elon Musk of Tesla and Walt Disney’s Bob Iger have quit. Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric and JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon have dissented. President Donald Trump’s business brain trust-originally these executives, plus some 50 other chief executive officers chosen to help shape White House policy-has so far come up short on big ideas. (Bloomberg)


Senate Panels Advance Bills to Improve Cybersecurity Skills. Two Senate committees on Wednesday advanced bipartisan bills designed to incentivize students and encourage small businesses to boost their cyber skills, part of an effort to combat the growing threat from cyberattacks. (Morning Consult)

A Solution to Hackers? More Hackers. If there’s a single lesson Americans have learned from the events of the past year, it might be this: Hackers are dangerous people. But what if that’s the wrong narrative? What if we’re ignoring a different group of hackers who aren’t lawless renegades, who are in fact patriotic, public-spirited Americans who want to use their technical skills to protect our country from cyberattacks, but are being held back by outdated rules and overly protective institutions? (New York Times)

Trump Is Considering Perry for Homeland Security Chief. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is among the candidates being considered to replace John Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security, according to three people familiar with the deliberations. (Bloomberg)


Freedom Caucus Chairman Insists on Corporate Tax Rate Below 20 Percent. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Wednesday insisted that congressional tax writers include a corporate rate no higher than 19 percent in comprehensive legislation that he says needs to be sent to the president’s desk by Thanksgiving. (Morning Consult)

IRS to set up new international investigation unit. The IRS's criminal investigations division is establishing a new unit to focus solely on international tax matters, its new chief said today. (PoliticoPro)


Democrats demand changes to FCC Republican nominee's confirmation. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is one step closer to being fully staffed, but Democrats are fighting Republicans on details for Republican nominee Brendan Carr's confirmation. (The Hill)

Online Expression

Senate Crackdown on Online Sex Trafficking Hits Opposition. Technology companies and digital rights groups say a bill aimed at online predators could potentially infringe on freedom of speech on the internet. (New York Times)

Senators push new anti-sex trafficking bill. A bipartisan group of senators is pushing a new bill that would hold websites accountable for facilitating sex trafficking. Sens. Claire McCaskill and Rob Portman join Morning Joe to discuss. (MSNBC)


Struggling Americans Once Sought Greener Pastures—Now They’re Stuck. Fabled for a willingness to relocate for opportunity, Americans are the least mobile since after World War II, even in economically depressed rural locales. (Wall Street Journal)

Virtual reality is the fastest-growing job segment. Workers with skills in virtual reality were the hottest thing on the U.S. job market in the last quarter, even though the technology has yet to break into mainstream use. (Axios)


In Gene-Editing Advance, Scientists Correct Defect in Human Embryos. Researchers say they have edited the genes of a viable human embryo to correct a disease-causing defect, renewing concern that public discussion about the ethics of gene editing is lagging behind advances in the lab. (Wall Street Journal)

First human embryo-editing experiment in U.S. ‘corrects’ gene for frequently lethal heart condition. The development cracks open the doors to a controversial new era in medicine. (Washington Post)

NASA wants to hire someone to guard us against alien life — and vice versa. The job of "planetary protection officer" pays six figures a year and is meant to ensure that the space agency doesn't contaminate other planets its landers visit, and that they don't bring any organisms back when they return. (Washington Post)


Extensive study finds Verizon speeds slowed after unlimited data was introduced. Verizon’s wireless network saw slower average speeds across the country after the introduction of unlimited data plans, a new report from OpenSignal has found. (BGR)

Public Sector

Developing cyber workforce ‘first and most important’ to implementing cyber EO. Federal efforts to develop a well-trained cyber workforce are ramping up, due in large part to the edicts of President Donald Trump’s cybersecurity executive order. (Federal News Radio)

New FBI Director will build on Comey's cybercrime fighting efforts. With Christopher Wray being sworn into his new position, the immediate question facing the FBI director is whether he will follow the path created by his predecessor or forge a new one by implementing drastically different initiatives. (Cyberscoop)

Prospect of sequestration isn’t the only reason the House minibus has little chance of survival. With two months left until the end of the fiscal year, the House took its first significant step in advancing the appropriations process last week, setting up a messy budget showdown in September. (Federal News Radio)

DISA issuing classified tablets to senior Pentagon officials. The Defense Information Systems Agency is putting mobile tablets capable of accessing classified information in the hands of senior Pentagon leaders for use in the field. (Fedscoop)

New bill would heighten security standards for IoT devices sold to government. A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Tuesday that would heighten the cybersecurity standards for companies that hope to sell Internet of Things devices to the federal government. (Fedscoop)

The Pentagon is Funding Silicon Valley’s Space Industry to Watch North Korean Missiles. The US doesn’t have the information it needs to stop an attack by North Korea. But it knows where to get it, thanks to a small unit within the Department of Defense that works like a Silicon Valley investment firm. (DefenseOne)

Pentagon acquisition reorg is all about ending culture of fear of failure. For the Defense Department to recapture its broad technological advantage over the rest of the world, it can’t be afraid to fail once in a while. (Federal News Radio)

Environment and Energy

A Better, Safer Battery Could Be Coming to a Laptop Near You. A start-up company in Massachusetts says it has found a way to turbocharge alkaline batteries for a safer, cheaper and rechargeable alternative to lithium ion. (New York Times)

Why JPMorgan Chase committed $200 billion to 'clean' financing. The biggest U.S. bank is planning a massive investment in solar installations, wind farms and other renewable energy resources with the goal of covering all its power needs by 2020. (GreenBiz)

Tesla Finishes First Solar Roofs—Including Elon's House. First the Model 3 electric car. Now the solar roof. In just one week, Tesla has challenged two distinct industries with radically new products. (Bloomberg)

Nearly 275,000 iPhone cases decorated with liquid glitter recalled after causing chemical burns. Nearly 275,000 liquid glitter iPhone cases sold at Henri Bendel, Tory Burch and Victoria’s Secret have been recalled after reports that the fluid leaked out and caused skin irritation, blisters and chemical burns. (Washington Post)

Electric-Car Revolution Is Shaking Up the Biggest Metals Markets. The revolution in electric vehicles set to upturn industries from energy to infrastructure is also creating winners and losers within the world’s biggest metals markets. (Bloomberg)

Planet has just 5% chance of reaching Paris climate goal, study says. Researchers find that economic, emissions and population trends point to very small chance Earth will avoid warming more than 2C by century’s end. (The Guardian)

EPA clears Pruitt of scientific integrity charges. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of the Science Adviser has cleared administrator Scott Pruitt of charges from a green group that he violated the department’s Scientific Integrity Policy. (The Hill)

Tech Business

Tesla is worth more than Ford and GM, despite having just 1 percent of their sales. It’s electric. Tesla is currently the most valuable American car company, worth $53.5 billion at market close today — about $3 billion more than General Motors. That’s despite sales that are nowhere near American auto giants. (Recode)

These Are The Sectors That Might Be Able To Survive Amazon. Amazon can’t disrupt everything, at least according to Morgan Stanley analysts led by Brian Nowak. They researched what attributes make for an Amazon-proof industry and introduced a framework on Wednesday so investors can gauge how susceptible companies are to Jeff Bezos’ corporate wanderlust. (Bloomberg)

Hyperloop One says it's one step closer to reality. Hyperloop One — which wants to make Elon Musk's idea of super-fast, tube-based transportation a reality — thinks its successful second round of testing (completed last month) will help prove skeptics wrong. (Axios)

Tesla Loss Widens But Beats Expectations. Tesla Inc. worked to calm investor nerves, stressing that orders for its two older and more expensive vehicles have accelerated lately despite the arrival of the cheaper Model 3 compact car. (Wall Street Journal)

Instagram reveals engagement stats that rival Snap. It's been a long time since Instagram last revealed how much time users spend in the app per day, but on the one-year anniversary of Instagram stories, the company is finally releasing numbers that rival its greatest competitor: Snapchat. (Axios)

ITI Member News

Amazon’s Jobs Fair Sends Clear Message: Now Hiring Thousands. Like other tech giants, Amazon is recruiting thousands of people with engineering and business degrees for high-paying jobs. But the vast majority of Amazon’s hiring is for what the company calls its “fulfillment network” — the armies of people who pick and pack orders in warehouses and unload and drive delivery trucks, and who take home considerably smaller incomes. (New York Times)

Apple Drives Dow Above 22,000 Even as Other Stocks Struggle. Being the world's most valuable public company has its privileges, like getting almost all the credit for the latest stock market milestone. Apple made its biggest jump in six months Wednesday, helping send the Dow Jones industrial average above 22,000 points for the first time. (New York Times)

Apple’s Breakthrough Product: Services. Apple’s decision to break out revenue for app sales, music subscriptions and more seemed opportunistic, given flagging iPhone sales. The accounting change now appears more than justified. (Wall Street Journal)

Facebook’s New-Graduate Hires Help Diversify Workforce. Facebook Inc. said its efforts to diversify its workforce are starting to bear fruit, thanks in part to an effort to hire more women straight out of college. (Wall Street Journal)

Today on the Hill

The Senate stands adjourned until 10:00 am on Thursday, August 3. Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R.2430, FDA Reauthorization Act. Unless an agreement is reached, the cloture vote on the motion to proceed will occur at approximately 11:00 am. If an agreement is reached before then, it is possible that the vote timing could change. At 11:45 am on Thursday, August 3rd, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session with 15 minutes of debate on the nomination of Executive Calendar #103, Dan R. Brouillette, to be Deputy Secretary of Energy. Upon the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will vote on confirmation of the nomination. Additional votes are possible during Thursday’s session.

The House is not in session not expected to return from August recess until votes are called after 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 5.

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