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Tech News Roundup - 12/14/2017

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Republican Tax Bill in Final Sprint Across Finish Line. The day after suffering a political blow in the Alabama special Senate election, congressional Republicans sped forward with the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades, announcing an agreement on a final bill that would cut taxes for businesses and individuals and signal the party's first major legislative achievement since assuming political control this year. (New York Times)

Republican Tax Bill Overhauls Rules Many Were Counting On. Before pursuing a doctoral degree in art history, Rachael Vause determined that a tuition waiver, a $22,500 stipend and the ability to deduct the interest on her previous graduate school loans would allow her to enroll in a four-year program at the University of Delaware. (New York Times)

The GOP's latest tax plan would do exactly what Rubio warned them not to. Will he vote with them anyway?. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) hinted he could create "problems" for the Republicans' tax plan if party leaders reject his plan to add more benefits for the working poor while increasing the corporate tax rate. (Washington Post)

Despite Trump's ire, Ireland expects to avoid any pain from U.S. tax overhaul. President Trump has singled out Ireland for its extraordinarily low corporate tax rate, making the case that the United States must overhaul its own tax code to win back American investment and jobs. (Washington Post)

Jones' win adds urgency to GOP tax push. Democrat Doug Jones' victory in the Alabama Senate race will give Republicans extra urgency to get tax reform legislation to President Donald Trump by next week. (Politico Pro)

Democrat's win in Alabama shakes up Senate battles. Democrat Doug Jones' stunning victory in Alabama could upend legislative battles in the narrowly divided Senate for the next year, as Mitch McConnell faces increased challenges in holding together an already fractured GOP majority. (Politico Pro)

Republicans strike deal on sweeping tax overhaul. Republicans have struck a deal on a sweeping tax overhaul and hope to have legislation on President Donald Trump's desk by next week, sources said Wednesday. (Politico Pro)

With tax victory in reach, Trump plays salesman-in-chief. President Donald Trump got to play his favorite White House role Wednesday: salesman-in-chief. (Politico Pro)

Pass-through filers do better than wage earners in Senate tax bill. Under the Senate-passed tax bill, people with pass-through income would see bigger increases in their after-tax income in 2019 than people paying taxes only on wages and salaries, according to a Tax Policy Center analysis. Generally, the wealthier a filer with pass-through income is, the better off they are under the bill. (Axios)

Republican Tax Bill Overhauls Rules Many Were Counting On. Before pursuing a doctoral degree in art history, Rachael Vause determined that a tuition waiver, a $22,500 stipend and the ability to deduct the interest on her previous graduate school loans would allow her to enroll in a four-year program at the University of Delaware. (New York Times)

Do not expect postcard-sized tax return from Republican plan: experts. Since mid-2016, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has carried around a "postcard" that he has said shows how easy it will be for Americans to file their taxes once Republicans are finished their tax overhaul. (Reuters)

A Christmastime Tax Cut for Some, a Lump of Coal for Others. The tax bill moving through Congress is about 500 pages long, containing enough paper to wrap lots of Christmas presents for boys and girls across the land. (Wall Street Journal)

Tech Politics

White House wants technology cuts, pay freeze to fund border wall, according to Democrats. The Trump administration is planning to offset the steep cost of a Mexico border wall by instructing the Department of Homeland Security to cut spending on surveillance technology and freeze the pay of federal officers in the 2019 fiscal year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Democratic staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (Washington Post)

Democrats cool to Trump's infrastructure pitch. The White House is preparing to unveil its long-awaited $1 trillion infrastructure plan soon after President Donald Trump signs the GOP tax overhaul, hoping to begin 2018 with another big legislative win - but its approach is already drawing resistance from Democrats who are in no mood to cooperate. (Politico Pro)


Contested surveillance renewal threatens spending bill. Controversial online surveillance programs that expire at the end of the year have suddenly become a political hot potato that is threatening to derail must-pass spending bills. (Politico Pro)

Global Trade

With U.S. taking the backseat, WTO struggles to find its way. The United States was here, but it wasn't. (Politico Pro)

From German Faucets to Italian Chocolate, Trade Barriers are Rising Again in Europe. The world's most ambitious free-trade area is colliding with a surge in economic nationalism. (Wall Street Journal)

Artificial Intelligence

Google, Looking to Tiptoe Back Into China, Announces A.I. Center. Google pulled some of its core businesses out of China seven years ago, after concluding that government controls and surveillance ran counter to its commitment to a free and open internet. (New York Times)

Busting the Myths About A.I. Invading Our Lives. How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Cade Metz, a technology reporter for The Times based in San Francisco, discussed the tech he is using. (New York Times)

Microsoft is using AI to bring nuance to our search results. The software giant wants Bing search to give you more helpful answers, Outlook to identify important emails and Word to help you write smarter sounding memos. (CNET)

Microsoft taps AI, Reddit to make Bing smarter. Microsoft announced a bunch of new partnerships Wednesday as it aims to show itself as a leader in the field of artificial intelligence. It's also adding a bunch of AI-powered features to its own products, including its Bing search engine along with a deep integration of content from Reddit. (Axios)

Artificial intelligence is killing the uncanny valley and our grasp on reality. There's a revolution afoot, and you will know it by the stripes. (Wired)


Dems under pressure to deliver for Dreamers. Democrats are facing a year-end crunch over the fate of the Dreamers. (The Hill)


Senator calls for Justice Department to investigate Comcast-NBC merger. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether the 2011 Comcast-NBC merger has hurt market competition. (The Hill)

Spotify and Deezer ask EU regulators to stop Apple from abusing its dominance. A group of European tech companies have asked EU regulators to put a stop to what they see as anti-competitive practices from companies like Apple and Amazon. (The Verge)


Ajit Pai Nears His Biggest Win With Net Neutrality Repeal. Small tech companies, consumer groups and many celebrities have been up in arms for weeks about a proposal at the Federal Communications Commission to dismantle landmark rules that guarantee an open internet. (New York Times)

How A Deregulated Internet Could Hurt America's Classrooms. Schools across the country are nervously watching to see if the Federal Communications Commission chooses to repeal Obama-era regulations that protect an open internet, often referred to as "net neutrality." (NPR)

Here's who'll benefit - and who might not - if net neutrality is repealed as expected. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to repeal net neutrality rules Thursday, a move that will likely have major implications for internet service providers, startups and consumers. (Los Angeles Times)

Netflix Backs Away From Fight Over Internet Rules Now That Traffic is Flowing. Netflix Inc. helped spark the debate over net neutrality three years ago by raising concerns about how its internet traffic was being handled. But as the U.S. government prepares to repeal the rules on Thursday, the video giant has been less vocal on a key issue. (Wall Street Journal)

Net neutrality keeps the Web from running like an airport security line. And it might go away. Let's talk about the end of net neutrality in terms of a hellscape everyone knows: airport security lines. (Washington Post)

It's super hard to find humans in the FCC's net neutrality comments. The Federal Communications Commisions' public comment period on its plans to repeal net neutrality protections was bombarded with bots, memes, and input from people who don't actually exist. (Wired)

FCC to vote on repealing net neutrality rules. The FCC is poised to repeal its Obama-era net neutrality rules on Thursday, a step critics warn will upend the internet by allowing cable companies to control where their customers can go online. (Politico Pro)

FCC's own chief technology officer warned about net neutrality repeal. The Federal Communications Commission's own chief technology officer expressed concern Wednesday about Republican Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to repeal the net neutrality rules, saying it could lead to practices that are "not in the public interest." (Politico)

Lawmakers Seek Checks on Phony Comments Before 'Net Neutrality' Vote. Some lawmakers are calling on the Federal Communications Commission to add new safeguards against fraudulent public online comments amid an FCC vote Thursday to roll back rules that require internet-service providers to treat all web traffic equally. (Wall Street Journal)

After FCC Vote, Net Neutrality Fight Moves to Courts, Congress. The Federal Communications Commission will vote Thursday on a plan to dismantle its net neutrality regulations. But that won't end the fight over rules that prohibit internet service providers from creating fast lanes for some content, while blocking or throttling others. (Wired)

Public Sector

This Company Is Trying to Turn Federal Agencies into Startups. What started as a single Stanford University class focused on solving federal problems has become a burgeoning operation instilling the Lean Startup methodology in government. (Nextgov)

Trump signs MGT Act into law, kicking off agency assessments to upgrade IT systems. President Trump's signing of the Modernizing Government Technology Act on Tuesday marks the start of efforts by federal agencies to assess gaps in cybersecurity and begin developing IT modernization "wish lists" that leverage new flexibility in acquisition policy and funding under the new law, according to sources. (ITAPS Trey Hodgkins Quoted, Inside Cybersecurity)
MGT Act Signed Into Law, Paving the Way for Further Modernization. In a move to help Federal agencies streamline and modernize their technology infrastructure, President Trump signed the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act into law today. (ITAPS Trey Hodgkins Quoted, Meritalk)
The MGT Act is law. Now what?. As part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the Modernizing Government Technology Act finally concluded its long journey to the president's desk, where it was signed into law Dec. 12. (Federal Computer Week)
Trump administration calls for government IT to adopt cloud services. The White House said Wednesday the U.S. government needs a major overhaul of information technology systems and should take steps to better protect data and accelerate efforts to use cloud-based technology. (Reuters)
White House releases final draft of IT modernization report. A day after the president signed legislation to help modernize the federal government's IT, the White House unveiled its plan to achieve that goal. (FedScoop)

Ninety Percent of People Think AI Will Take Away the Jobs of Other People. In July, we surveyed 1,600 Quartz readers-from 84 countries, though the majority of those who chose to take part came from the US-for their opinions about artificial intelligence, including about their perceptions of job loss to AI and robots. (Nextgov)

How A Female Engineer Built A Public Case Against A Sexual Harasser In Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley engineer Niniane Wang wanted to be certain that when she came forward the man responsible paid a price. (NPR)

How Language in Job Listings Could Widen Silicon Valley's Gender Divide. Use of certain phrases like "whatever it takes" or "tackle" in job postings could affect who applies for tech jobs, possibly contributing to the lopsided gender makeup of the industry, new research suggests. (Wall Street Journal)


Rising Coal Exports Give Short-Term Aid to an Ailing Industry. A shake-up in global coal trading has delivered some oxygen to the struggling American mining industry, driving up exports to energy-hungry countries. But the relief may not last. (New York Times)

Scott Pruitt and a crew of EPA aides just spent four days in Morocco promoting natural gas. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt returned Wednesday from a trip to Morocco, where he talked with officials about their interest in importing natural gas as well as other areas of "continued cooperation" between the two countries. (Washington Post)


Robots are fueling the quiet ascendance of the electric motor. If you were going to kick off a technological revolution, you'd be hard-pressed to do it with more pizazz than Tesla with its electric cars. (Wired)

Facing Senate rejection, controversial pick to head EPA chemical office bows out. Michael Dourson, whose nomination to become the Environmental Protection Agency's top chemical safety official drew widespread criticism, withdrew from consideration Wednesday after it became clear the Senate probably would not confirm him. (Washington Post)

Just 20 percent of e-waste is being recycled. Opting to handle your bills online keeps a lot of paper out of the bin, but the devices you use to go online eventually die anyway. If this "e-waste" ends up in a landfill, the energy and materials that went into manufacturing and delivering those devices are lost. And besides being unsustainable, disposal can expose people to hazardous metals and compounds. (Ars Technica)

Tech Business
The Biggest Tech Failures and Successes of 2017. Let's face it: Technology this year was one big "fail" after another. And the biggest loser from all of this was you. (New York Times)

China Names and Shames Tech Tycoon With Debt Blacklist. At his peak, Jia Yueting was among the brashest and most flamboyant figures on China's frenzied technology scene. He charged into businesses as varied as smartphones, electric cars and sports broadcasting, vowing to challenge giants like Apple and Tesla. (New York Times)

Apple Awards $390 Million to Face ID Tech Company Finisar. Investment from Apple's Advanced Manufacturing Fund to help boost production of VCSELs. (Wall Street Journal)

China's Tech Startup Funding: The Wild West in the Far East. David Su was one of China's first venture capitalists. A month after starting out in 2000, the dot-com bubble burst. For much of the year, he and his partners scraped to raise $33 million to invest in China's nascent internet industry. (Wall Street Journal)

Target to Buy Grocery Delivery Startup Shipt for $550 Million. Target Corp. is paying $550 million to acquire grocery delivery startup Shipt Inc., moving to match services that have been rolled out by rivals Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Wall Street Journal)

ITI Member News

Toshiba Settles Fight With Western Digital That Imperiled a Major Deal. Toshiba has cleared one of the last remaining hurdles to a planned sale of its microchip subsidiary and moved a step away from the financial brink. (New York Times)
Facebook Sees Little Evidence of Russian Meddling in 'Brexit' Vote. Facebook, confounding expectations, said on Wednesday that the company had found no evidence of a significant Russian effort to interfere in the British referendum last year on leaving the European Union. (New York Times)

Today on the Hill

The House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. First and last votes expected: 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m. and proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the nomination of James C. Ho to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
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