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Tech News Roundup - 11/16/2017

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Senators Clash Over Last-Minute Changes to Tax Bill. Republican and Democratic senators clashed on Wednesday over changes the Republicans made to their sweeping tax legislation late Tuesday night, as the momentum behind the tax overhaul showed no signs of slowing with votes expected in both chambers of Congress later this week. (New York Times)

The U.S. Senate's tax reform bill no longer has the stuff that Silicon Valley hates. After an intense burst of lobbying, lawmakers dropped a plan to tax startup stock options. (Recode)

Hidden in the Senate Tax Bill: Surprise Gifts for Breweries and Start-Ups. The revised Senate tax bill that arrived late Tuesday night brought unexpected gifts for craft breweries, tech start-ups and certain growers of citrus trees. (New York Times)

Some GOP senators raising doubts about revised Republican tax overhaul. A gambit by Senate Republicans to make a large corporate tax cut permanent by having benefits for individuals expire at the end of 2025 created new problems for the legislation Wednesday as lawmakers were still grappling with the controversial decision to add the repeal of a key Obamacare provision. (Los Angeles Times)

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson Opposes GOP Senate Tax Package. Wisconsin Republican says plan unfairly benefits corporations over other businesses, says he finds bill's process 'offensive'. (Wall Street Journal)

First Republican senator breaks with GOP on tax bill. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Wednesday that he does not support the current version of the Senate GOP's tax bill - becoming the first Republican senator to outright oppose the party's plan to overhaul the tax system. (Politico Pro)

Senate tax bill ditches stock option change after outcry from tech start-ups. A revised Senate tax bill has ditched a change in the treatment of stock options after an outcry from technology start-ups. (Los Angeles Times)

Suddenly, the GOP tax bill has morphed into an attack on your healthcare. The line going around Washington these days is that the Republicans previously tried to hide a tax cut for the rich in their Obamacare repeal measures; and now they're hiding an Obamacare repeal inside their tax cut bill. (Los Angeles Times)

New Senate tax plan hands ammunition to Democrats. Senate Republicans are on the defensive after proposing to only offer temporary tax cuts to millions of Americans as part of a revised plan to overhaul the tax code. (Politico Pro)

GOP ready to pass tax bill - without Trump's help. Speaker Paul Ryan and his top lieutenants are working behind the scenes on a few tax reform holdouts. But House Republicans think they've already got enough votes lined up - and aren't turning to President Donald Trump to flip any opponents. (Politico Pro)

Tax bill teed up for House vote. House Republicans are set to pass a sweeping rewrite of the tax code Thursday, bringing President Donald Trump and the GOP closer to the major legislative win they so desperately want. And leadership apparently barely lifted a finger to whip votes this week. (Politico Pro)

Conservative outside groups hold fire on tax bill ahead of first vote. As Congress rushes to pass the biggest tax reform legislation in three decades, high-powered business and conservative groups are holding fire on provisions they don't like in order to avoid derailing the vote. (Politico Pro)

Tax Bill Thrown Into Uncertainty as First G.O.P. Senator Comes Out Against It. Uncertainty gripped the Senate on Wednesday over efforts to pass a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax cut after a Wisconsin Republican became the first senator in his party to declare that he could not vote for the tax bill as written, and other senators expressed serious misgivings over the cost and effect on the middle class. (New York Times)

Republicans May Use Cuts in Entitlement Programs to Reduce Deficit. Republican lawmakers have largely dismissed concerns about how their $1.5 trillion tax cut would add to the federal deficit. Now, some Democrats are warning that the tax rewrite would ultimately be financed by gutting entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. (New York Times)

Former Pentagon chiefs to Congress: If you're serious about defense, don't pass current GOP tax bill. Three former secretaries of defense are warning lawmakers not to enact proposed Republican tax restructuring plans, arguing they will jeopardize future military spending. (Washington Post)

Tax reform may doom Trump infrastructure plan. The tax reform bill set to be voted on Thursday by the House of Representatives could kill any chance of the Trump administration's trillion-dollar infrastructure plan ever happening. (Politico Pro)

Global Trade
Tech pushes for focus on copyright in NAFTA renegotiations. The technology industry is mobilizing to push the Trump administration over concerns on copyright matters in discussions to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). (ITI Mention, The Hill)

On transatlantic trade, Trump is all bluster, no bite - so far. Donald Trump may not be so bad for transatlantic relations after all, at least when it comes to trade and business ties. (Politico Pro)

Trump's Trade Approach Diverges Sharply from Free Trade Republicans. President Trump's isolationist approach to trade is rattling what little uneasy peace remains within the Republican Party as the White House pursues policies at odds with longstanding conservative orthodoxy about the benefits of free and open markets. (New York Times)

U.S., U.K. take another step toward deepening economic relationship ahead of Brexit. Britain's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met today in London to continue laying the groundwork for a future trade deal ahead of the U.K.'s departure from the bloc. (Politico Pro)

Trump: U.S. will use every tool to cut trade deficit 'as fast as possible'. President Donald Trump today underscored his determination to reduce the United States' $736 billion trade deficit with China and the rest of the world, using every tool the administration has at its disposal. (Politico Pro)

Spirit of 76: House coalition opposes Trump's NAFTA auto proposal. A bipartisan contingent of 76 House members pressed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer Wednesday to reconsider the administration's proposal on NAFTA's automobile rules - marking the first time a sizable group of lawmakers has directly countered a U.S. proposal in the ongoing talks. (Politico Pro)

Spotify Maintains Faith in Post-Brexit U.K. With New Office. Music streaming service Spotify Ltd is moving to a new London office in order to double its workforce over the next two years, focusing on roles including engineering, data and machine learning. (Bloomberg)

Tech Politics

Facebook adds two lobbyists amid Russia probe. Facebook is adding to its federal lobbying forces amid scrutiny from Congress about how the company's platform was used by Russians as part of a disinformation campaign intended to influence U.S. politics. (The Hill)

Republicans stall budget talks for tax reform.
Hill Republican leaders are slow-walking negotiations for a year-end budget deal with Democrats, adamant that tax reform must come first - even if the spending battle drags out until year's end. (Politico Pro)

Artificial Intelligence
Inside the first church of artificial intelligence. Anthony Levandowski makes an unlikely prophet. (Wired)

Welcome to the era of the AI coworker. Last fall, Google Translate rolled out a new-and-improved artificial intelligence translation engine that it claimed was, at times, "nearly indistinguishable" from human translation. (Wired)

AI searches for new inspiration. Deep learning - the AI technique that allowed a computer to beat a world-champion Go player - has become very good at recognizing patterns in images and games. But it's loosely based on ideas we've had about the human brain for decades. Researchers now have more insights from neuroscience and better technologies, both of which they are trying to use to make more intelligent machines. (Axios)

Capsule networks advance AI image recognition. Geoffrey Hinton, a Google researcher and professor at the University of Toronto, helped pioneer artificial neural networks, the technology behind most of the major advances in machine learning. And now he's come up with a new idea that he thinks is even more powerful. (Axios)

AI could be the perfect tool for exploring the Universe. In our efforts to understand the Universe, we're getting greedy, making more observations than we know what to do with. Satellites beam down hundreds of terabytes of information each year, and one telescope under construction in Chile will produce 15 terabytes of pictures of space every night. It's impossible for humans to sift through it all. (The Verge)


Indian firms fight proposals to slash H-1B visas. The chief representative of India-based IT consulting companies is firing back at federal efforts to crack down on H-1B visas, saying Indian technology workers are being unfairly singled out by the Trump administration's policies. (Axios)

Issa's bills take aim at outsourcing firms dependent on H-1B visas. California Rep. Darrell Issa's bill on H-1B visa allocations heads to its first committee vote Wednesday morning. (Axios)

Foreign students have begun to shun the United States. In a potential threat to future U.S. innovation, new international enrollment at U.S. colleges is down for the first time in more than a decade, according to a new report. (Axios)


U.S. government approaches 18 states to fight AT&T-Time Warner deal. The U.S. Justice Department has approached 18 state attorneys general to try to win their support for an antitrust lawsuit to block pay TV and wireless powerhouse AT&T Inc's $85.4 billion deal to buy media and entertainment company Time Warner Inc, a person briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Why a DOJ vs. AT&T-Time Warner Case Could Be a Close Call. If the Justice Department sues to block AT&T Inc.'s planned acquisition of Time Warner Inc., the challenge will likely raise novel legal issues, making one of the most ambitious antitrust cases in decades hard to handicap. (Wall Street Journal)


FCC plans to vote to overturn U.S. net neutrality rules in December. The head of the Federal Communications Commission is set to unveil plans next week for a final vote to reverse a landmark 2015 net neutrality order barring the blocking or slowing of web content, two people briefed on the plans said. (Reuters)

Pressure grows on FCC to kill state consumer protection laws. Mobile lobby says FCC should enforce "non-regulation" policy throughout nation. (Ars Technica)

How a massive broadcast merger could affect your local TV news. A deal between right-leaning Sinclair Broadcast and Tribune Media could shake up the TV world. Democrats say the FCC is making it easier for that to happen. (CNET)

Senate Dems want FCC chair's recusal from Sinclair matters. A group of Senate Democrats is calling on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to recuse himself from matters related to the Sinclair Broadcast Group and its proposed takeover of Tribune Media. (The Hill)

FCC said to aim for December vote on rolling back net neutrality rules. Bloomberg and Reuters both report that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will call a vote next month on a plan to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules that stop internet providers from blocking or throttling certain content. That would cap off a year of deregulation at Pai's agency. (Axios)

Public Sector

Digital Infrastructure Should Be a Part of Any New U.S. Project, Experts Say. New and refurbished infrastructure - whether it's a road, a bridge, a rail line - should be developed with a vision for the future, one that includes multiple layers of smart cities technologies, say public and industry experts. (GovTech)

Under pressure, White House unveils new process for disclosing tech flaws. The Trump administration on Wednesday shed long-awaited light on the government's secret process for deciding whether to keep tech flaws classified for spying purposes, bowing to years of public pressure. (Politico Pro)
Years after regulatory crackdown, some security cameras still open to hackers. Several widely available security cameras and wireless routers can be easily hacked to reveal customers' video feeds online, researchers disclosed Wednesday, reigniting privacy concerns four years after the Federal Trade Commission filed charges to eliminate similar vulnerabilities. (Washington Post)
Kaspersky: Yes, we obtained NSA secrets. No, we didn't help steal them. For almost two months in 2014, servers belonging to Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab received confidential National Security Agency materials from a poorly secured computer located in the United States that stored the files, most likely in violation of US laws, company officials said. (Ars Technica)


People in highly digitized jobs earn more, report finds. The more your job is digitizing, the more you are earning and the greater the chances you will get a raise, according to a new report. (Axios)

Oil prices fall for fourth day after U.S. crude stocks rise. Oil prices fell for a fourth session on Wednesday after the U.S. government reported an unexpected increase in crude and gasoline stockpiles, but an increase in refining runs and a drawdown in distillates helped prices bounce off session lows. (Reuters)
Top Trump energy adviser talks solar, climate. A top adviser to President Trump on international energy issues, George David Banks, sat down with a small group of reporters at the United Nations climate conference here Wednesday. Here are the highlights - and reality checks. (Axios)


At U.N. Climate Conference, Treading Lightly Around the Americans. If world leaders are angry at the United States for rejecting the Paris climate change agreement, few at United Nations climate talks here are openly showing it. (New York Times)
Elon Musk Plugs New Truck Even as Model 3 Faces Delays. Tech company is set to unveil electric semitrailer truck on Thursday. (Wall Street Journal)
How Companies Are Pushing Ahead on Climate-Change Targets. More of the world's biggest corporations are taking the fight against climate change into their own hands, aiming to cut their energy costs, pre-empt regulation or burnish their reputations with investors and customers. (Wall Street Journal)

Tech Business
Snapchat's New Test: Grow Like Facebook, Without the Baggage. In today's social media industry, you essentially have two options: Die young, or live long enough to turn into Facebook. (New York Times)
Asia's Tech Giants Are Making Analysts Play Catch-Up. Tencent topped revenue estimates for the 9th straight quarter. (Wall Street Journal)
Amazon Sellers Brood as States Come Calling for Taxes. Amazon and the tax man are back at it again. (New York Times)

ITI Member News

Amazon launches Alexa, Echo, and Prime Music in Canada today. Alexa has a new Canadian English accent. (Ars Technica)
Sports Illustrated TV streaming service kicking off on Amazon. The new subscription service will feature documentaries, TV shows and movies themed around sports (and swimsuits). (CNET)
Apple under investigation in patent infringement dispute. The US International Trade Commission will investigate a complaint that accuses Apple of using patents without permission. (CNET)
Report: Tech giants can do more to keep kids from cobalt mines. Amnesty International says while Apple, Samsung and Dell are making progress, more needs to be done to stop child labor abuses in cobalt mines in the Congo. (CNET)
Amazon cuts prices again at Whole Foods ahead of the holidays. Inc said on Wednesday it will offer more discounts and steeper price cuts at Whole Foods Market on many organic foods and groceries popular during the holidays. (Reuters)
Exclusive: Amazon scraps bundled video service - sources. Inc has scrapped plans to launch an online streaming service bundling popular U.S. broadcast and cable networks because it believes it cannot make enough money on such a service, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. (Reuters)
Amazon has privately blamed the U.S. Postal Service for grocery delivery issues that led to Amazon Fresh changes. Too many late or missed deliveries, company officials have told partners. (Recode)
Facebook Live is the new QVC. It's not Tracie Reeves's thick Tennessee twang that hooks viewers into the two-hour-long shows she broadcasts via Facebook Live, six times a week. (Wired)
How Microsoft's 'Time Lords' keep the clocks ticking. In October 2015, the Turkish government made the last-minute decision not to observe daylight saving time; the stated reason was to allow more daylight during voting hours during the election, a week away. Muted chaos ensued. (Wired)
A New Phone Comes Out. Yours Slows Down. A Conspiracy? No. It happens every year: Apple releases new iPhones, and then hordes of people groan about their older iPhones slowing to a crawl. (New York Times)
Twitter begins axing 'verified' badge from offensive accounts. Twitter made good Wednesday on threats it would begin stripping its verification badge from accounts found to have crossed the line as the social network continues to review the process it uses to hand out the coveted blue check marks. (CNET News)

Inside Google's Struggle to Filter Lies from Breaking News. Facebook has a fake news problem. Google has an evil unicorn problem. (Bloomberg)

Today on the Hill

The House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. First and last votes expected: 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m. and proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the nomination of Joseph Otting to be Comptroller of the Currency.
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