Otessa Marie Ghadar (Instagram: @otessa_, @dcwebfest, @2020newmedia, @hardDCcore) is an award-winning digital storyteller who uses writing, filmmaking, photography, and technology to share her narratives and build communities. As one of the web series medium’s earliest adopters, Otessa is a true forerunner of digital media. Starting in 2006, Otessa’s web series "Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden" is now the longest continually running show online, with an international audience in over 145 countries.
Otessa founded the DC Web Fest (one of the first of its kind & now in its 7th year) out of the need for digital content creators to showcase their works, inspiring creativity and innovation.
As an Adjunct Professor at American University, and through additional guest lecturing, Otessa uses her passions to guide the next generation of digital storytellers. Stemming from her knowledge and expertise, she published the world’s first new media textbook called "The Wild West of Film."
In addition to speaking, she also enjoys exhibiting her work, having shown work as part of FotoWeek DC, Transformer Gallery, The National Museum for Women in the Arts, amongst others.
A newly initiated Google Next Generation Policy leader, Otessa works diligently to increase technology awareness and innovation among minority and marginalized communities
She resides in Washington DC, and is currently working on her next trans-media project -- the Young Adult Science Fiction series, "Lemma."
She Completed her Graduate Film Studies at Columbia University's film school in NYC.
The Wild West of Film by Otessa Ghadar
The Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Justice last week backed a lawsuit that housing justice advocates brought back in March alleging that Facebook allows advertisers to discriminate against certain groups. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook facilitates unlawful discrimination by allowing advertisers to exclude keywords that are closely associated with those groups and zip codes in which certain demographics reside. HUD filed a formal administrative complaint, which was then followed up by a statement of interest by the DOJ.
Tesla’s problems escalated a bit last week-the week following Founder and CEO Elon Musk’s August 7th tweet saying that investors were interested in taking the company private. A former Tesla security employee named Martin Trip has now filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission claiming that he was fired for raising allegations internally that Tesla had failed to report to investors the theft of some $37 million in raw materials from the Gigafactory -- Tesla’s lithium-ion battery production plant in Nevada. The complaint also alleges that Tesla spies on employees and that some Tesla employees engage in drug trafficking.
The SEC is already investigating Tesla and Elon Musk to determine whether Musk’s tweet was designed to inflate share prices.
According to a companywide meeting transcript obtained by Reuters, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced last week that, contrary to rumors, the company is not close to launching a search engine in China. To launch such a search engine, Google would need to comply with China’s censorship regulations, a move that has raised internal resistance from many Google employees.
In other Google-related news, a new class action lawsuit alleges that Google continues to track users after they turned off their location settings. The case is Patacsil v Google Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.
The Department of Justice is suing the alleged operators of a pirate radio station in Austin, Texas who were allegedly using a makeshift facility in an apartment complex to illegally broadcast Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories to 90.1FM without a license, via an extension cord. The FCC levied a $15,000 fine against the station operators back in 2014, but the station owners refuse to pay it, claiming that the FCC doesn’t have jurisdiction to levy the fine.
Meanwhile, Vimeo joined the long list of internet companies that have booted Alex Jones for violating their terms of service. Twitter has also suspended Jones. President Trump tweeted that internet companies are discriminating against conservative content and that he may “get involved”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told the Senate Commerce Committee during an oversight hearing last week that White House counsel Don McGahn contacted him to make a “status inquiry” immediately after Pai announced back in July that he and the FCC had serious concerns about the ill-fated merger of Sinclair and Tribune Media. But Pai insists that the White House did not interfere in the proceeding.
First Lady Melania Trump spoke out against cyberbullying at a Rockville summit on Monday as part of her Be Best initiative. The remarks come days after President Trump called Omarosa Manigault a “dog” on Twitter, underscoring a disconnect between the East and West wings of the White House on their approaches to cyberbullying.
Finally, Netflix has signed showrunner Kenya Barris to a multi-year deal to produce a new tv series. Barris created ABC’s successful “black-ish” about an upper-middle class black family, as well as last summer’s movie hit “Girl’s Trip”. The Wall Street Journal reports that Barris negotiated an early exit from the Disney-owned TV network after it refused to air a black-ish episode that featured a plot about athletes kneeling during the national anthem. Barris will be joining Shonda Rhimes at Netflix.
Ron Gonzales (@rongon2000) is President and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. Gonzales has over 35 years of technology and public policy experience. Prior to leading the Hispanic Foundation, Gonzales was Founder, Chairman and CEO of Presencia, LLC. Presencia, LLC provides marketing and sales consulting services in the government, education, enterprise and SMB markets. Previously, Ron served as Mayor of San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley and the nation’s 10thth largest city from 1999-2006. His achievements included nationally recognized initiatives that strengthened neighborhoods, improved public education, and ensured the economic vitality of the city with high quality public services and effective solutions to affordable housing and regional transportation projects.
Before his election as Mayor, Gonzales worked as an executive with the Hewlett-Packard Company, in the areas of marketing, human resources, and corporate philanthropy. Gonzales served for eight years (1989-1996) on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. As a two-time mayor and member of the Sunnyvale City Council (1979-87), Gonzales helped initiate governmental efficiency measures that were recognized in the best-selling book Reinventing Government. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Notre Dame de Namur University, KIPP Bay Area Schools, and Save The Bay. He is married to Guisselle Nuñez and they live in downtown San Jose.
Latino Leaders Speak: Personal Stories of Struggle and Triumph by Mickey Ibarra
Elon Musk raises red flags with the securities and exchange commission, the City of New York caps ride sharing licenses, and Ron Gonzalez ios my guest
Elon Musk raised red flags with the Securities and Exchange Commission when he tweeted last Tuesday “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” That share price was about 20% above the stock’s trading price earlier that day. According to the Wall Street Journal, the SEC is probing whether there was any factual basis to Musk’s tweet. If not, Musk may have violated securities regulations by giving false or misleading information to the public. It’s also looking into whether Musk’s tweet was designed to pump Tesla’s share price in advance of some $920 million in convertible bonds the company has coming due in March that the company may have to tap into its cash flow to pay down if it can’t raise the funds from investors.
The City of New York became the first U.S. city to cap the number of licenses it issues to ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. The New York City Council voted 39-6 to approve the measure, which livery and yellow cab drivers hailed, as they’ve seen their hourly wages decline, as Uber and Lyft have increased their number of drivers from 25,000 to 80,000 over the last three years in the city. Uber and Lyft issued statements against the cap, saying that it would lead to an increase in fares. Lyft spokesman Joseph Okpaku said the move would specifically harm communities of color and passengers in the outer boroughs.
Tribune Media has killed its $3.9 billion deal with Sinclair citing breach of contract. Tribune us arguing the 15-month deal has taken too long and that Sinclair has been too aggressive with regulators. The announcement came following the FCC’s 4-0 decision to refer the merger to an administrative law judge. It also came amidst a new class-action lawsuit brought by national advertisers and a DOJ investigation into whether Tribune and Sinclair colluded to fix advertising sales rates.
Snapchat parent Snap Inc. reported a 2% drop in its monthly usership in the second quarter—its first reported decline since its founding in 2011--to about 188 million monthly users. Competitor Instagram’s monthly usership, on the other hand, now stands at 1 billion. This translated to a $353 million revenue loss for Snap, which was up by 2 percentage points in after-hours trading Monday to 12.57 per share.
Finding that fitness devices posed a “significant risk” to military personnel, the Pentagon issued an order last week restricting military personnel from wearing fitness tracking devices in sensitive locations. The new order allows commanders to decide whether to ban the devices in their specific area, based on the nature of the military activities happening there. For example, using tracking devices in training areas, such as Fort Hood, would be less of a concern than using the devices in less secure areas during military operations abroad. The new rule is a response to the fact that fitness app Strava publishes a Heatmap that shows where in the world its subscribers, including military personnel, have been exercising, which can shed light on classified troop movements.
Finally, Facebook announced a new authorization process for page managers that will make it more difficult for fake accounts to maintain Facebook pages. The new process will require page managers to secure their account with two-factor authentication. Facebook says it will also be more transparent about who manages each page by adding a “People Who Manage This Page” section. It will also show when pages have been merged. Facebook says it will begin enforcing the new standards later this month and eventually roll out the changes to Instagram as well.
K.J. Bagchi joined Joe Miller to discuss how the Model Minority Myth negatively impacts Asian Americans and impedes an inclusive policy dialogue.
K.J. Bagchi (@kjbagchi) is the Senior Staff Attorney for Telecommunications, Technology, and Media at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.
K.J. has broad experience providing counsel and policy advice for elected members at the local, state and federal levels. He worked as Legislative Counsel at the D.C. City Council and for former Congressman Mike Honda. He has drafted legislation in a variety of areas including juvenile justice, immigration, and consumer protection. Through various roles, K.J. has developed programs, trainings, and conversations to embolden and empower the AAPI community in civic participation.
K.J. holds a bachelor’s degree from University of California Davis and a law degree from Seattle University School of Law. He is admitted to practice in the State of Maryland.
14: Stories that Inspired Satyajit Ray by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay
Facebook revealed a new disinformation campaign last week which led to its removal of 32 pages and accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook wrote that the accounts were engaged in “inauthentic behavior”. The company said that it was unable to attribute the campaign to Russia. But Virginia Senator Mark Warner said this provides what he termed as “further evidence” that the Kremlin is attempting to impact the midterm elections. Facebook is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on September 5th.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Facebook has sought detailed banking information from the likes of JP MorganChase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and US Bancorp. Facebook wants users to be able to communicate with their banks within Messenger. In a press release, Facebook pushed back writing that the Wall Street Journal report is overblown as it is seeking no more information than other technology firms such as Google and Amazon. But this new revelation is sure to come up during the September 5th hearing on the Hill.
AP reports that several states are suing the Trump Administration for settling with a purveyor of plans to make homemade 3D printed guns. A federal judge had blocked Defense Distributed from releasing plans that would allow anyone with a 3D printer to print the plastic firearms. But the Trump Administration stepped in and negotiated a settlement. Nineteen states including the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit. And there’s newly introduced legislation in the House that would either prevent the 3-D printing of guns, or make 3D-printed guns detectable at security checkpoints.
Sinclair Broadcasting’s troubles got worse last week after advertisers brought a class action lawsuit against it, Tribune Media, and several co-defendants for coordinating to inflate ad prices in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Department of Justice is currently probing the possibility that Sinclair worked with competitors to manipulate prices, after it discovered suspicious behavior during the course of its review of Sinclair’s $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune. The FCC has since sent the merger to an Administrative Law Judge to decide, an act that experts largely see as the death knell for the merger. Lobbying disclosure statements show that the FCC’s decision has led Sinclair to retain more lobbyists than it has since the year 2000. They’re working with the S-3 Group—a Republican lobbying firm -- according to the Hill.
Apple closed with a $1 trillion market cap on Thursday, making it the first firm to do so. Notably, the company has hung on to that valuation, with a market cap of over $1 trillion for the August 6th close.
Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify have removed all of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ channels for failing to meet community guidelines against hate speech and glorifying violence. The conservative commentator founded InfoWars in 1999 and is largely seen as having been instrumental to the election of President Donald Trump.
The net neutrality fight is the gift that keeps on giving. First, the FCC’s own Inspector General has found that the FCC lied back in May of 2017 when it said a wave of comments following John Oliver’s net neutrality segment on Last Week Tonight led to a large-scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. I repeat: the attack . never. happened. As Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel noted—they were actual comments. The inspector general’s findings haven’t been released, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tried to get out in front of it by making the announcement on Monday and blaming the former CIO for saying it was a DDoS attack—which he never did.
Also, the FCC and DOJ have filed a petition with the Supreme Court to vacate the DC Court of Appeals ruling to uphold the 2015 net neutrality rules. The FCC’s repeal of those rules wasn’t enough I suppose.