Tag Archives: Apple

Apple Diversity Chief Forced Out After Saying White Men Can Also Be ‘Diverse’, by Tyler Durden

A woman lost her diversity job because she said that within a group of white males, there could be diversity. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Silicon Valley’s disdain for its mostly white, mostly male tech workforce has reached absurd new heights.

The New York Post is reporting that, after just six months on the job, Apple Diversity Chief Denise Young Smith, who was named vice president of diversity and inclusion in May, has resigned her post after making a “controversial” comment last month during a summit in Bogota, Colombia.

What was Young’s crime? She insinuated that “diversity” can still exist among a group of white men because of their different life experiences.

“There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation,” the inaugural diversity chief said.

“Diversity is the human experience,” she said, according to Quartz. “I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.”

That’s right: Young, who is – for the record – a black woman, has been forced out of Apple because her views on diversity were too inclusive.

As the Post pointed out, Young’s comments appeared to defend Apple’s overwhelmingly white and male leadership at a time when the company’s makeup is markedly uneven. This begs the question: What, exactly, was she defending them from?

Young, a 20-year Apple veteran who previously served as the company’s head of worldwide human resources (a senior level position), was later forced to apologize for her remarks, telling Apple staff that her comments “were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it.”

“For that, I’m sorry,” she said in an email. “More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.”

To continue reading: Apple Diversity Chief Forced Out After Saying White Men Can Also Be ‘Diverse’

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The Friendly Faces of Fascism, by Robert Gore

Like flies drawn to steaming manure, tycoons are drawn to politics and government, all in the interests of a better world, of course.

There are two modes of human interaction: voluntary and involuntary. The symbol of the former is the market; the symbol of the latter is government. Historically, the pendulum has swung back and forth. Since the early 1900s the pendulum has swung towards government and the involuntary. Humanity’s future hinges on whether or not it will swing back. Ominously, many of the biggest beneficiaries of voluntary free choice are ideologically opposed to it.

It may seem paradoxical that Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Tim Cook, among others, build fortunes on the voluntary choices of billions of customers, then join forces with those aligned against voluntary choice. Silicon Valley used to be almost a libertarian outpost, now it’s a bastion of statism. However, there are skewed rationales for it, lodged in the nature of government and business in the 21st century, psychology, and historical precedent.

Government has become so big and all-pervasive that once a business reaches a certain size, it’s going to run into the behemoth blob. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are huge, and aside from Apple, they dominate their markets. (Apple had a little under 15 percent of the smart phone market in the first quarter of 2017). Computers and the internet are at the heart of the national security state, and Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are the heart of social media, search, smartphones, communications, and business computing. Along with Amazon, they all have significant roles in cloud data storage. In its voracious quest for information with which to track, blackmail, and subjugate the citizenry, it was inevitable the government would turn to these treasure troves.

How does a company say no to the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Defense, the NSA, and other intrusive government agencies? With difficulty. The “war on terrorism and drugs” rhetoric probably doesn’t cut any mustard, but as Senator Chuck Schumer said, the agencies, “have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” You get along by going along. Large shareholders—hedge, pension, and mutual funds—and the corporate collections of cowards known as boards of directors would take a dim view of a CEO who for ideological reasons fought a quixotic and ultimately unprofitable battle with the federal government over something as trivial as a principle.

Let’s not forget that the government has $4 trillion a year to throw around. Amazon received a $600 million dollar contract from the CIA in 2013. Tucked into the latest National Defense Authorization Act is an amendment authorizing $54 billion in online purchases by the government. Amazon will undoubtedly get the lion’s share. The government buys billions of dollars worth of computer and smart phone hardware and software every year. It also buys a lot of advertising, and Facebook and Google are the dominant online advertising platforms. You have to keep a customer that large satisfied.

Beyond payola, there’s publicity, prestige, pride, politics, and power. The first thing you do once you’ve acquired your tens of billions is set up a tax-exempt foundation. Founder and foundation then dive head first into the pool of altruistic goop into which anyone who acquires any measure of fame and fortune in contemporary America dives. It simply won’t do to say you’ve accomplished all you’ve accomplished for yourself. You must find a cause greater than yourself and proclaim your devotion to it.

That incantation serves several purposes. Bill Gates transformed from evil monopolist to philanthropic saint after he established his foundation and retired from Microsoft to devote his efforts full-time to it. Once you’ve acquired the halo, you’re ready to grab the power to which you’re wealth and superior intellect entitle you. Like flies drawn to steaming manure, tycoons are drawn to politics and government, all in the interests of a better world, of course.

There’s nothing new about this. In America, the prototype is John D. Rockefeller. He used state of the art refining technology, ruthless negotiating tactics, industrial consolidation, bribery, and governmental suppression of competitors to become the nation’s first billionaire. Rockefeller was a charter member of the oligarchy that guided the US into central banking, the income tax, foreign interventionism, and its nascent empire in the first few decades of the 1900s. His foundation sheltered his fortune from taxes, gave a bunch of money to worthy causes, burnished his image, augmented his power, and promoted world government organs like the Council on Foreign Relations and, after his death, the Trilateral Commission.

Anyone who gets involved with the behemoth blob wants power, the ability to use force to direct the actions of others. Any shred of a morality that recoils at coercively exacting involuntary compliance is abandoned. Involvement with the corrupt obscenity that is our government means either a conscious or unconscious surrender to the Dark Side paradigm: might makes the only wrong and right.

At the heart of it lies a simple truth: governments can anything they want to you if they claim they’re doing it for you. The altruistic veneer conceals every horror, from history’s bloodthirstiest regimes down to nanny state bureaucrats dictating toilets’ flush capacity. A warm place in hell is reserved for those who covet power under cover of professed good intentions. The hottest fires are reserved for those give it to them, surrendering without protest control of their own lives.

Once the government has assumed control, the entrepreneurs and executives of ostensibly private businesses toe the government’s line. It’s the only way to survive and indeed thrive under fascism, the correct label for the current system. All under cover of noble aims and approved good causes, of course. In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand drew a sharp distinction between her competent champions of freedom and the incompetent toadies of soul-crushing altruism, collectivism, and statism. In real life freedom’s biggest beneficiaries have become some of its biggest—because of their competence and gargantuan fortunes— enemies.

The gravest threats to the most basic civil liberties—freedom of thought, expression, and transaction—come from the technology giants. Not simply because they’re the dominant commercial, communications and computing platforms, but because they’ve aligned themselves with the government. They’re engaging in creeping censorship, gathering massive amounts of data, cooperating with the surveillance state, and propagating propaganda. Call it the Orwellian or Panopticon state: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft will be invaluable in establishing it. We’re at least halfway there. No surprise that these companies have been stock market leaders. It’s the first rule of fascist investing: buy the companies the government favors.

Italian economist and philosopher Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) argued that regardless of the label given to a system of government, a ruling class always emerges and enriches itself. There are no historical counterexamples, certainly not 2017 America. What’s historically unprecedented, however, is the power and control America’s technological oligarchy can potentially exercise, and the relative weakness of those who champion freedom and warn of impending involuntary servitude. The louder the oligarchs proclaim their good intentions and hail tomorrow’s better world, the graver the threat becomes.

The Story of a Man Who

Did It For Himself

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De-FANGed: Five Ways The Disrupters Could Be Disrupted, by Tyler Durden

Everybody loves the FANG stocks: Facebook, both Apple and Amazon for the A, Netflix, and Google (now Alphabet). That may not last. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

We highlighted the launch of the ICE FANG futures contract earlier this week (here) and what an auspicious moment it was for the launch.

The argument put forward by our guest author, Kevin Muir via The Macro Tourist blog, was that it is possible to be “bearish on the FANG stocks, but not be some perma-bear who thinks the world is about to collapse”. As Muir explained.

The reality of today’s limited alpha market is that when an investing theme gets some legs, it often becomes overdone and prone to disappointment. I have written about how, all too often, this results in a series of rolling mini-bubbles. There is nothing wrong with observing that the new era tech stocks are stupidly overbought, and that the risks are to the downside in the coming months. You can be bearish on FANG without thinking all stocks are going to zero…This new FANG contract offers some great opportunities to short the speculative names that have been the source of such over-exuberance, while maybe hedging it with a long position in the S&P 500 futures contract.
Muir commented wryly that now he would be able to get in as much trouble as high-profile bear, David Eeinhorn of Greenlight Capital by buying “old economy stocks and shorting the new tech darlings.” Another investor, with more than one gray hair of experience, has penned a thoughtful bearish piece on the FANGs in recent days, this time Neil Dwayne of Allianz Global Investors. Dwane’s piece is titled “De-FANGed: 5 Ways the Disrupters Could be Disrupted.” Dwane begins by noting that while consumers love the services they provide, the regulators are taking an increasingly close look at their anti-competitive practices.

Apple Does Right by Users, and Advertisers Are Not Amused, by Andrés Arrieta and Alan Toner

Apple’s operating system makes it difficult for third parties to plant cookies on websites, frustrating advertisers. From Andrés Arrieta and Alan Toner at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, via wolfstreet.com:

It’s not “destroying the Internet’s economic model.”

With the new Safari 11 update, Apple takes an important step to protect your privacy, specifically how your browsing habits are tracked and shared with parties other than the sites you visit. In response, Apple is getting criticized by the advertising industryfor “destroying the Internet’s economic model.”

While the advertising industry is trying to shift the conversation to what they call the economic model of the Internet, the conversation must instead focus on the indiscriminate tracking of users and the violation of their privacy.

When you browse the web, you might think that your information only lives in the service you choose to visit. However, many sites load elements that share your data with third parties. First-party cookies are set by the domain you are visiting, allowing sites to recognize you from your previous visits but not to track you across other sites. For example, if you visit first examplemedia.com and then socialmedia.com, your visit would only be known to each site.

In contrast, third-party cookies are those set by any other domains than the one you are visiting, and were created to circumvent the original design of cookies. In this case, when you would visit examplemedia.com and loads tracker.socialmedia.com as well, socialmedia.com would be able to track you an all sites that you visit where it’s tracker is loaded.

Websites commonly use third-party tracking to allow analytics services, data brokerages, and advertising companies to set unique cookies. This data is aggregated into individual profiles and fed into a real-time auction process where companies get to bid for the right to serve an ad to a user when they visit a page.

To continue reading: Apple Does Right by Users, and Advertisers Are Not Amused

Is It March of 2000? by Karl Denninger

Financial markets are never rational, but sometimes they are especially irrational. From Karl Denninger at theburningplatform.com:

There was a little company called “Micro Strategy” (by the way they still exist.)

In the first week of March the stock had skyrocketed by over 50%.  The next week it “checked back” most of those gains.

The following week the stock collapsed.

A couple of weeks later, the Nazdaq cracked big.  I was house-shopping, in a hotel, woke up to CNBC full of crying babies and chuckled.

I will note that MicroStrategy was a little dogsqueeze company.  In terms of market cap it was a nothing – literally.  Even today, 17 years later, it’s a little $2 billion firm — granted, much smaller today in market cap than it was then.

In the run-up of the previous weeks and months there had been plenty of indications of trouble.  Many companies had reported slashing prices, increasingly-saturated markets were well-understood and of course there was the “burn rate” nonsense of the period.

It’s arguable that it was that MSTR collapse that upset the apple cart.  You see, when people are buying stocks of companies that have nothing but negative free cash flow as far as the eye can see or sky-high P/Es of 60, 80, 100 or more they’re betting with their eyes taped over on exactly one thing: Indefinite exponential growth of the business and, of course down the line, profits.

The problem is that this is an impossible premise.  There is no way for that to ever happen because it is mathematically impossible.

Today we have Amazon, Facebook and Apple all priced in this way.  Of the three only Apple has some argument for its valuation, but even there given the recent run of almost 50% it’s priced for indefinite exponential growth of a saturated product — iPhones.

To continue reading: Is It March of 2000?

Apple Censors U.S. Drone Strike-Tracking App, by James Holbrocks

The US government does not want the citizenry to know about the real-life, flesh-and-blood victims nor the frequency of its coldly clinical drone strikes. Neither, apparently, does Apple. From James Holbrocks at theantimedia.org:

“At its core was a question: do we want to be as connected to our foreign policy as we are to our smartphones? My hypothesis was no. Americans don’t care about the drone war because it is largely hidden from view.”

That’s how Josh Begley, writing for The Intercept on Tuesday, described the concept behind an app he created five years ago. The app, he says, was a simple one. It merely sent users an alert every time a U.S. drone strike was reported in the news.

Apple rejected the app three times on the grounds that it was “excessively objectionable or crude content,” but Begley didn’t give up on the project.

“Over the years, I would occasionally resubmit the app, changing its name from Drones+ to Metadata+,” he wrote. “I was curious to see if Apple might change its mind. The app didn’t include graphic images or video of any kind — it simply aggregated news about covert war.”

He went on to tell how, after five rejections, Apple finally accepted the app in 2014. It remained in the App Store for a year and was downloaded by over 50,000 people. But then, the following September, Apple removed the app, once again citing “excessively objectionable or crude content.”

Begley persisted. The reason he was writing the post this week, in fact, was because that day — March 28, 2017 — Apple had once again accepted the app. He wasn’t writing to talk about his ordeal with Apple, though. He was writing about the issue that motivated him to create the app in the first place:

As an artist who works with data, I think the story of this app is about more than a petty conflict with Apple. It is about what can be seen — or obscured — about the geography of our covert wars.

He pointed out that over the past 15 years, people have worked tirelessly to document what’s happening on the ground where these drone campaigns are being waged. And that work is certainly praiseworthy. But Begley went further, pointing out what he calls the “difficult truth” of drone warfare — that at the end of the day, we don’t really know who these missiles are killing.

To continue reading: Apple Censors U.S. Drone Strike-Tracking App

EU Launches New Power Grab, to Roaring Public Approval, by Don Quijones

The EU is using Apple’s taxes, or lack thereof, as a backdoor way to set EU nations’ tax policies, or “fiscal union.” Do you think it will set uniformly high or low taxes? From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

A “Back Door” to Fiscal Union

The Apple Tax is about a lot more than just Apple and the billions of euros in backdated corporation tax it purportedly owes to European governments. It even goes far beyond the question of how — and how much — central authorities should tax recalcitrant multinationals that make billions of dollars in profits on their turf but share few or none of the proceeds.

What is most at stake is the question of who gets to set the fiscal rules in Europe’s foreseeable future. One thing is clear: if Brussels gets its way, it’s not going to be the national government of each member state. And that could be very bad news, at a very bad time, for a number of European economies, in particular Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

“Total Political Crap”

The EU’s Competition Commission slapped Apple with a €13 billion retroactive tax bill. That money is apparently owed to the government of Ireland, its decades-long partner in one of the biggest tax-avoidance schemes of living memory. The Commission argues that the arrangement cooked up between Irish authorities and Apple’s tax lawyers and accountants represented illegal state aid, enabling the U.S. company to get away with paying an effective taxation rate on its European profits as low as 0.005%.

Naturally, Apple does not want to pay the money. Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, even went so far as to call the EU ruling as “total political crap”:

They just picked a number from I don’t know where. In the year that the commission says we paid that tax figure, we actually paid $400 million. We believe that makes us the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year.

The government of Ireland doesn’t want the money either, despite the fact that it could certainly do with it: at 128% of GDP, it boasts one of the highest levels of public debt in Europe, which is no mean feat these days. The EU ruling comes at a time of growing concern about the potential fallout from the decision by Ireland’s closest neighbor and second biggest single trading partner, Britain, to leave the EU, which according to some reports is hurting the Irish economy even more than the UK’s.

A “Back Door” to Fiscal Union

Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan told Irish broadcaster RTE on Monday that: “As far as I am concerned there is no economic basis for this decision.” He added: “They [the European Commission] don’t have responsibility for taxes and they are opening a back door through state aid to influence tax policy in European countries when the European treaties say tax policy is a matter for sovereign governments.”

As a Member State of both the EU and the Eurozone with a “business-friendly” environment that is brimming with local, English-speaking talent, Ireland is an enticing base for global multinationals. Or at least was.

To continue reading: EU Launches New Power Grab, to Roaring Public Approval