The Download: Twitter’s toxicity, and what China’s protestors want

The Download: Twitter’s toxicity, and what China’s protestors want
By Scott Wiener. Scott Wiener is a California state senator representing San Francisco and northern San Mateo County.

A day after Elon Musk activated Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Twitter account, she tweeted that she was a “communist groomer” presumably because I am a gay Jewish Democratic elected official in San Francisco.

In the past, Greene has targeted me with homophobic and transphobic tropes. However, this was a much greater abuse than I’m used too. That escalation, especially after the Club Q massacre was more due to Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner than Greene, was even more pronounced.

Since completing his purchase of Twitter in 2016, Musk has brought back some of the most notoriously banned users to the flock. These accounts, including Kanye West and Donald Trump, will make Twitter even more toxic. Restoring them does more than just forgive their past behavior. It validates and enshrines the rhetoric they have spoken as pillars of Twitter’s future. Read more .

What Shanghai protesters want and fear

Protests have erupted across China in cities and towns almost three years after the pandemic began. People took to the streets to remember the victims of the Urumqi apartment fire and to demand that the government relax its strict pandemic policies. Many blame them for putting the dead in danger.

It’s the largest protest by the Chinese people in decades. This is happening at a time where the Chinese government has become more adept at suppressing dissent and monitoring it. The reality is that the protests are more complex than the sensational clips made by foreigners, despite the fact that discussions among them have reduced them to the most extreme clips. Although all protestors are against zero-covid controls and their motivations for pushing for change differ, they all have different reasons. Read the complete story .

–Zeyi Yang

This story is from China Report, our weekly newsletter giving you the inside track on everything that’s happening in the country. Sign up and receive it in your email every Tuesday.

How chemists are tackling the plastics problem

What’s happening: We tend to lump all plastics into one category, but water bottles, milk jugs, egg cartons, and credit cards are actually made from different materials, meaning time and money needs to be invested into separating them at recycling facilities.

Now, researchers have created a new process to transform a mixture from several types of plastics into propane. This chemical building block can be used as fuel or made into other products or plastics.

Why it matters: The new method works with the two most commonly used plastics today, polyethylene and polypropylene. Reimagining recycling, when combined with policies and environmental protections could help to prevent some of the most severe plastics-related injuries. Read more .

–Casey Crownhart

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Twitter has scrapped its covid misinformation policy
It could open the floodgates for even more untrue claims about vaccines and the virus. (WP $)
Twitter’s former safety boss says Musk ignored his warnings. (WSJ $)
Left-wing activists say their accounts are being suspended. (The Intercept)

2 FTX spent millions of dollars on cars and homes
And the right to name Miami’s national basketball stadium, for some reason. (FT $)
Black investors have been disproportionately stung by the crypto crash. (The Atlantic $)

3 It’s very hard to predict when we’ll fall ill
And that’s not terribly helpful when we’re entering a winter of illness. (Vox)

4 Google isn’t delivering on its abortion protection promises
Data that could help to prosecute people is still being collected, contrary to the company’s pledges. (The Guardian)
Texas’ abortion ban is weighing heavily on doctors in the state. (Slate $)

5 A drug has slowed Alzheimer’s cognitive decline for the first time
It slowed the progression of symptoms by a quarter after 18 months of treatment. (BBC)

6 Chinese influencers are skirting YouTube’s propaganda ban
It’s been banned in the country since 2009. (Rest of World)
Alibaba’s Jack Ma is living in Tokyo. (FT $)
The city of Zhengzhou has closed hundreds of buildings it’s declared high risk. (Bloomberg $)

7 Hollocaust survivors have been offered free DNA tests
It’s a bid to help them track down their families. (ABC News)

8 A hydrogen jet engine has been tested successfully
It could pave the way to reducing aviation emissions. (The Verge)
This is what’s keeping electric planes from taking off. (MIT Technology Review)

9 China’s astronauts have arrived at its space station
They’ll live and work onboard for the next six months. (Reuters)

10 Amazon wants to grade your sleep
Tech and sleep don’t tend to be traditional bedfellows. (NYT $)
I tried to hack my insomnia with technology. Here’s what worked. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“There’s two kinds of people in the world. People who check their phone in the bathroom, and people who lie about checking their phone in the bathroom.”

–Nir Eyal, an author and lecturer who writes about habits, explains the extent to which we can’t bear to be separated from our devices to the Washington Post.

The big story

The architect making friends with flooding

December 2021

For years, Beijing landscape architect Yu Kongjian was ridiculed by his fellow citizens as a backward thinker, partly thanks to his opposition to dams, those symbols of power and progress in modern China.

Yu’s transgression was that he recommended working with water rather than trying to control it. He is at the forefront of a movement to restore the flow and ebb of water in urban environments. His goal in creating flexible spaces for water to spread and seep underground to prevent flooding and be stored for later usage is to It may seem extreme, but creating space for water in densely populated areas is possible and could be our best chance of reducing future floods. Read the full story.

–Erica Gies

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. Have any other ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me. )

Airports are very expensive. Know your enemy.
The eclectic Assassin’s Creed soundtrack reflects its genre-bending gameplay perfectly.
If you’re starting your Christmas shopping early, these music books all sound fantastic.
I would also like to see this.
To think, we could’ve had glad Goombas!

Read More