Dem scores upset over Republican in Florida county commissioner race – Avery Anapol 06/19/18 11:14 PM EDT

A Democratic candidate for a commission seat in Miami-Dade County, Fla., won a special election Tuesday, beating out a Republican candidate whose husband held the seat for decades.

Eileen Higgins, a Spanish-speaking first-time candidate, won 53 percent of the vote, beating out Zoraida Barreiro, whose husband, Bruno, was a county commissioner for 20 years before resigning to run for Congress, according to the Miami Herald.

Higgins, who is from Ohio, was heavily backed by the Democratic party and was considered the underdog for most of the race given Barreiro’s connection to the seat and high-profile support.

Barreiro’s campaign was supported by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R), and nearly $100,000 in contributions from her husband’s congressional campaign.

Higgins’ win came in a district with a high concentration of Cuban-American voters, though Barreiro, who is Cuban-born, was expected to gain that support. Higgins was known as “La Gringa” during her campaign.

The Florida Democratic Party hailed Higgins’ victory, saying it was evidence of a “blue wave” in response to the Trump presidency ahead of the midterm elections.

“Eileen Higgins victory made it very clear that no seat is safe in Florida,” the party said in a statement. “Today’s victory by Ms. Higgins is further evidence of a blue wave in 2018.”

Harvester of Facebook Data Wants Tighter Controls Over Privacy – By John D. McKinnon and Deepa Seetharaman Updated June 19, 2018 7:13 p.m. ET

Aleksandr Kogan, at a Senate hearing, calls for stronger check on obtaining users’ content

Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan during an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" in April.

WASHINGTON—Lawmakers said Tuesday they were weighing bipartisan privacy legislation to address data misuse at a hearing where an academic central to Facebook Inc.’s FB -0.41% recent privacy scandal suggested the government would have to intervene.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R., Kan.), chairman of the Senate’s consumer protection subcommittee, said he was considering joining in an effort by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) to pass a privacy bill of rights in Congress.

His comments showed that the risks for big internet companies haven’t dissipated since Facebook’s scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, a political data consultancy that worked with President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and obtained data of millions of Facebook users from an app developer, Aleksandr Kogan.

Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.), the chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee, added that Facebook “remains under the microscope” and said lawmakers continue to examine potential measures to protect user privacy.

But key lawmakers appeared to be far from a consensus on how to proceed.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Mr. Kogan, a social psychologist and University of Cambridge lecturer, in prepared testimony, called for strengthening the system of obtaining users’ consent for subsequent use of their information. That, in turn, would require government intervention, he added, because big internet companies’ profit-making interests inevitably clash with consumers’ privacy interests.

Mr. Kogan shared data with Cambridge Analytica, a political data consultancy that worked with President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, that he had gathered from Facebook through an app.

The academic said Tuesday he was “very regretful” for the anger that many users felt over the revelation that their data had been passed along from Facebook through him to political consultants.

Facebook has described Mr. Kogan’s actions as “a breach of trust,” saying the academic violated its developer policies by selling the data to a third party.

Mr. Kogan said in his remarks that the controversy “points to a much broader problem with how companies interact with consumers in the tech space—in particular, the conduct of companies whose business model is predicated on digital advertising.”

But he acknowledged that “trying to fix this problem will not be simple,” given the conflict of interest between online advertising firms such as Facebook and their users.

The testimony underscores the knotty complications that face both businesses and policy makers as they consider what to do in response to the scandal.

The controversy began when Mr. Kogan collected data for research purposes from millions of Facebook users, by creating a personality-quiz app in 2013 that plugged directly into the social media giant’s platform.

At the time, Facebook’s platform allowed outsiders access to extensive data about its users as well as their Facebook connections. Within a couple of years, Facebook had severely restricted the amount of data available to outsiders. But by then, app developers like Mr. Kogan already had vast data about Facebook users in hand.

Mr. Kogan later teamed up with Cambridge Analytica and shared his information with the data-analytics firm.

On Tuesday, he said that approximately 30 million personality profiles were transferred to Cambridge Analytica’s parent company.

Cambridge Analytica has said the data wasn’t used in the U.S. presidential race.

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Canada just legalized marijuana. That has big implications for US drug policy. – German Lopez Jun 19, 2018, 8:52pm EDT

It’s the second country in the world to legalize pot, following Uruguay.

Marijuana smoke lingers in front of Parliament Hill during a 4/20 rally in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images

Canada has become the first wealthy nation in the world to fully legalize marijuana.

The Senate approved Bill C-45, also known as the Cannabis Act, on Tuesday. The measure was already approved by the House of Commons, so the Senate’s approval means it’s now set to become law.

The measure legalizes marijuana possession, home growing, and sales for adults. The federal government will oversee remaining criminal sanctions (for, say, selling to minors) and the licensing of producers, while provincial governments will manage sales, distribution, and related regulations — as such, provinces will be able to impose tougher rules, such as raising the minimum age. The statute largely follows recommendations made by a federal task force on marijuana legalization.

Canadian and provincial governments are expected to need two to three months before retail sales and other parts of the law can roll out.

None of this may seem too shocking in the US, where already nine states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 29 states have allowed it for medicinal purposes. What sets Canada apart, though, is it’s doing this as a country. Previously, the South American nation of Uruguay was the only one that legally allowed marijuana for recreational purposes.

Canada, like the US, is part of international drug treaties that explicitly ban legalizing marijuana. Although activists have been pushing to change these treaties for years, they have failed so far — and that means Canada will be, in effect, in violation of international law in moving to legalize. (The US argues it’s still in accordance with the treaties because federal law still technically prohibits cannabis, even though some states have legalized it.)

For Canada’s ruling party, this fulfills a major campaign promise. When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party was elected in 2015, one of the main promises he ran on was to legalize marijuana.

“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana,” the Liberal Party declared on its campaign website. “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”

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Correction: This article originally referenced provisions of the Canadian law that were very recently stripped out.

Why This Rare Lobster Is Colored Like Blue Cotton Candy – June 19, 2018

The critter’s pastel rainbow hues may be the result of a genetic mutation or an unusual diet.

A lobsterman got a colorful surprise when he hauled up his catch off Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Canada.

View Images

A lobsterman got a colorful surprise when he hauled up his catch off Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Canada.
Photograph by Robinson Russell

Last November, Canadian lobsterman Robin Russell was pulling up his catch when he found a unicorn of sorts: Peeking out among the mottled burnt orange and brown was a pastel lobster, sporting a shell of baby blue, pink, and periwinkle.

Initially unsure what to do with the rainbow-clad critter, Russell eventually decided to donate the lobster—dubbed “Lucky”—to the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick. But recently, Russell’s Instagram post featuring Lucky’s unusual coloration resurfaced and is making waves online.

Though there aren’t firm stats on the true abundance, the lobster is certainly a rare find. Similarly colored creatures only turn up once every four to five years, says Michael Tlusty, associate professor of sustainability and food solutions at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Ultra-Rare Lobster Looks Like Blue Cotton Candy

Lobster coloring is all thanks to a pigment called astaxanthin. It’s an antioxidant that’s thought to be biologically important. “Humans would call it a ‘superfood,’” notes Tlusty, adding “but I don’t believe in ‘superfoods.’”

The pigment changes color depending on how it’s contorted. In the skin, the pigment is hanging loose and fee, retaining a bright red color. But inside the shell, proteins bind the astaxanthin. “These proteins grab it and twist it, and it actually turns blue,” Tlusty explains. In the outermost layer of shell, the proteins there bend it again, turning it yellow.

Stacking up the reds, blues, and yellows produces the muddy brown coloration of lobsters in the wild. (They don’t actually turn red till you cook them, which denatures the proteins binding the pigment, turning it back to red.)

For the unicorn-colored lobster, it is likely just low in pigment. Though it dons a rainbow of pastel hues, they’re all pretty faint, says Tlusty. The reason behind this lack of color, however, is unclear. The oddball could be the result of either a genetic mutation or its reliance on a low-pigment food source.

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Americans Still Aren’t Saving, Despite the Booming Economy – Riley Griffin June 19, 2018, 9:00 PM PDT

Nearly one in four Americans report they have no emergency savings. And many don’t seem too concerned.

Despite recent job gains, rising wages and falling unemployment, almost a quarter of Americans said they still have no emergency savings, according to an annual report released Wednesday.

The number of Americans who said they have no money readily available in either a checking, savings or money market account fell to a seven-year low of 23 percent, down from 24 percent last year, the study found. The poll was conducted in June by research firm SSRS, using a national sample of 1,006 people.

“People are not making headway in savings, largely in part because they don’t prioritize saving,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at

The percentage of Americans with some savings, but not enough to cover three months’ worth of expenses, rose to 22 percent from 20 percent last year, the report said. And the percentage with enough to cover expenses for three to five months ticked up to 18 percent, from 17 percent last year. Still, only 29 percent of Americans have enough emergency savings to cover at least six months’ of expenses—a financial planning norm. This is down from 31 percent in 2017.

U.S. economic growth has not led to greater savings

Less than one in three Americans has enough savings to cover 6 months’ expenses


“Despite the enormous wealth gains we have seen in the stock market and in the housing market, that wealth is very unevenly distributed,” said Torsten Slok, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank AG in New York. That disparity, he said, is overriding any gains made in the job sector.

The median family simply has fewer resources, Slok said, pointing to a 2017 report he authored on U.S. income and wealth inequality. About a third of U.S. families have no wealth—or negative wealth—outside the value of their home. “It’s obviously not good from a vulnerability perspective,” he said.

But the majority of Americans don’t seem to be worried about their financial situation. Sixty-two percent say they are somewhat or very comfortable with their emergency savings. Shockingly, about one in five Americans with no emergency savings at all said they felt comfortable, too.

McBride said they are kidding themselves. “In some cases, it’s just denial. They’ve never been out of work, had a big medical expense or experienced a significant event that threatened their emergency savings.”

More highlights from the report:

  • Lower-income households are more likely to have no emergency savings, but 27 percent of the lowest-income households have accumulated enough savings to cover at least three months’ expenses, suggesting that savings is not a function of income. In fact, one in four of the highest-income households either have no emergency savings or just enough to cover fewer than three months’ expenses.
  • Thirty percent of younger boomers, those aged 54 to 63, have no emergency savings—more than any other generation. As you’d expect, they are least likely to feel comfortable about their savings. Millennials, on the other hand, were most likely to feel very or somewhat comfortable with their emergency savings.
  • The Northeast has the highest percentage of Americans who claim to have enough saved to cover six months of bills. The South has the lowest percentage.

There Were No Losers at the Singapore Summit – By Chung-in Moon June 19, 2018

JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet at the start of their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 2018.

Immediately after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a joint declaration at the end of last week’s summit in Singapore, I received a harsh assessment of the meeting from a conservative colleague in South Korea. In his view, the summit was “a total failure. They failed to agree on CVID [complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization]. It is a victory for North Korea.” Other experts in Seoul raised concerns about the future of the U.S.–South Korean alliance following Trump’s abrupt announcement that South Korean–U.S. “war games” would be suspended, as well as his decision not to raise the issue of human rights with Kim. In this sense, there is a paradoxical similarity between South Korean conservatives’ and the American liberal mainstream’s criticisms of Trump and his agreement with the North Korean leader.

Yet as South Korean President Moon Jae-in explained to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on June 13 during his visit to Seoul, public sentiment in South Korea is very different from that expressed by experts. According to one survey conducted a week before the meeting, 81 percent of South Koreans expressed an optimistic attitude toward the summit and its prospects. More important, Trump is now viewed as a champion of peace and denuclearization in the country. This represents an amazing transformation of his image.

South Koreans still vividly remember Trump’s remarks at the United Nations in September of last year: “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea….The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.” This came after his provocative statement in August: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” These were truly frightening words. No wonder South Korean media portrayed Trump as a warmonger and the public shuddered at his rhetoric throughout 2017.


Why Ford Is Buying Detroit’s Derelict Train Station – AARIAN MARSHALL TRANSPORTATION 06.19.18 08:00 PM

Squatters have stripped the abandoned structure of everything worthwhile, graffiti and broken glass litter the floors, and Central Station has become a central figure in the slideshow of Detroit ruin porn.Timothy Fadek/Corbis/Getty Images

Newspapers and magazines do this thing that drives Detroiters crazy. Doesn’t matter the headline. Maybe Detroit is coming back, maybe crime is falling, maybe a few neighborhoods are seeing a resurgence, maybe it’s all a bit more complicated than a few statistics make it seem. But editors generally use a particular photo to symbolize the city: the gorgeous but abandoned and ill-used Central Depot.

The station feels like a symbol because it is. When it opened in 1913, the grand 18-story office tower, its cavernous waiting room fronted by looming Corinthian columns, was the tallest rail station in the world. Two hundred trains left each day, bound for New York City and Boston and Chicago and West Virginia and Canada. In the station’s heyday, from the 1920s to the ’50s, Detroit was the fourth-most populous city in the US, fed by influxes of immigrants who came to work for the mighty auto industry that called the city home.

Eventually, that industry helped put a stake in the primacy of American rail travel, and thus in the beaux-arts station. By 1967, the owners of the depot had closed its restaurant, main entrance, and large parts of its main waiting room—revenue couldn’t support the maintenance costs. The last Amtrak train pulled away in 1988. That and the general decay of Detroit, which, through years of intense segregation and job loss, saw its population shrink by more than 60 percent between the mid-20th century and the early aughts. Squatters have stripped the abandoned structure of everything worthwhile, graffiti and broken glass litter the floors, and Central Station has become a central figure in the slideshow of Detroit ruin porn.

For locals who have watched businesses slowly up their investments in the city, this feels unfair. “In Detroit, because there’s been some progress, and because part of Detroit’s problem is that it’s a belligerent place, there’s this almost revulsion over this building,” says Erik Gordon, who studies the automotive industry at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “It’s the picture you keep seeing and Detroiters say, ‘Oh, no, no, show a photo of this incubator. Show a photo of our airport—there’s a great airport here. Or show a photo of our new basketball or hockey arenas.’”

Detroiters might soon grow more enthusiastic about photos of Michigan Central. Today Ford officially announced it would purchase and restore the station, transforming it into the centerpiece of a new 2,500-employee autonomous and electric vehicle testing and research center by 2022. (About 2,500 more employees will be added later.)

This is a savvy PR move, sure, but it’s also a major investment with a big message. Sayeth Ford: We’re not Midwestern fuddy-duddies anymore. We’re a forward-thinking, get-around-anyhow-anyway sort of transportation network, in competition with another big Detroit automaker, sure, but also with Uber and Waymo and all the Silicon Valley tech giants.

“Palo Alto is about moving bits. We’re about moving people,” said Jim Hackett, the company’s CEO said during a Tuesday morning press conference, in front of the station’s stained edifice now draped with blue Ford banners. “This can be our Sand Hill Road.”