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Month: August 2023
In this episode of Teach Me Like I’m Five, host Jeff Fenster and guest Drew Brees discuss the importance of curiosity and entrepreneurship.
Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg regularly resort to pettiness — but they are not the only wealthy tech moguls to do so.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Pettiness is the order of the day for prominent tech bros.
Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and others are behaving similarly amid their rivalries with each other.
It comes at an awkward moment: petty season has come straight after layoff season.
Is there something in the water in Silicon Valley? Whatever the case, it’s got tech bros stooping to new depths of pettiness.
The ringleader of the petty patrol is none other than Elon Musk, who has taken to goading as a strategy for anyone who attempts to rival him or question his unbridled ambitions to make something of X, formerly known as Twitter.
Here’s the latest example: X appears to be slowing down the loading times of links that redirect to news sites Musk openly excoriates, such as The New York Times, as well as links to rival sites such as Facebook, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
This represents peak pettiness because social media matters far less than it dto publishers; search engines like Google almost entirely drive ad-revenue traffic, so Musk’s ploy does little more than make X users grumpy.
Pettiness has defined recent developments in Musk’s on-and-off spat with Mark Zuckerberg, too.
In a Threads post on Sunday, the Meta chief offered a fairly mature account of his experience in trying to set up a cage-fighting bout, noting that he offered a real date, and had sought out UFC boss Dana White to “make this a legit competition for charity.”
But after saying Musk wouldn’t confirm a date, while also acknowledging the X owner’s medical issues, Zuck said it was “time to move on.” Musk’s response, in peak petty fashion, was to suggest that he’d rock up at Zuck’s home in Palo Alto and fight him there.
Zuck has engaged in his own pettiness by launching Threads in a week where X was in chaos, which involved restrictions on the number of posts a user could see and a clampdown on popular services such as TweetDeck.
This behavior hasn’t just been limited to Musk and Zuck, however. Even someone as principled as Microsoft boss Satya Nadella has also shown that a little bit of pettiness isn’t beneath him.
A month after Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar bet on OpenAI was announced earlier this year, Nadella suggested during an interview with The Verge that the investment was as much about putting his company at the forefront of the AI revolution as it was about making Google its lapdog.
“‘I hope that, with our innovation, they will definitely want to come out and show that they can dance. And I want people to know that we made them dance, and I think that’ll be a great day,” Nadella said during the interview.
Tech bros have been prone to this kind of pettiness before. Competition, after all, tends to bring out the best and worst in people. Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey has taken all kinds of swipes at Zuck before, while Jeff Bezos has made pointed comments about Musk.
But what makes the recent string of antics so petty is their timing.
These CEOs of multibillion-dollar companies behaved childishly despite supposedly navigating tough times. Tens of thousands of tech workers have been laid off in recent months amid claims that they need to get serious.
Meanwhile, their bosses seem determined to be anything but.
A Russian convict released from prison to take part in the war against Ukraine is now wanted for allegedly raping a child upon his return home.
Alexei Khlebnikov, 36, is at the center of a frantic manhunt in the Volgograd region after the alleged attack, according to local outlet V1.ru. “He’s a Wagnerite. He served there [in Ukraine]. He returned home. The search is on for him but no one knows where he could be. He’s on the loose but they are looking for him,” an unnamed official was quoted as saying.
Khlebnikov was reportedly sentenced to 11 years behind bars at a maximum security prison in 2018 on a murder conviction, but he managed to serve only a fraction of that term thanks to Russia’s prison-recruitment scheme for the war against Ukraine. It’s not clear how long he spent on the battlefield or which prison he was recruited from.
Ukrainian prisoners of war after a swap in Ukraine’s Donetsk region in May 2023.
Former Ukrainian prisoners of war said they were beaten, shocked, and not given enough food by Russia.
They told the BBC that many Ukrainians gave false confessions because of the beatings.
One said “Until you said what they were interested in … they wouldn’t stop beating you.”
Ukrainian prisoners of war say they were beaten, given electric shocks, and deprived of food in Russian captivity — and that many Ukrainians ended up giving false confessions.
The BBC spoke a dozen Ukrainians who were captured by Russians and later freed in prisoner exchanges. They described brutal treatment.
Artem Seredniak, a senior lieutenant, was the head of a sniper platoon in the Azov Regiment who surrendered at the siege of the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol last year. It was one of the deadliest and most famous showdowns of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He said his role made him a particular target, and that he was in Russian captivity for almost a year.
He was first taken to a facility in occupied Ukraine and then moved inside Russia’s borders, to the city of Taganrog.
He said when he arrived a Russian officer told him and other Ukrainians: “Hello boys. Do you know where you are? You’ll rot here until the end of your lives.”
He said Ukrainian captives were inspected twice a day, and Russian guards needed little excuse to abuse them: “They might not have liked how you left the cell, or you weren’t quick to get out, or your arms were too low or your head was too high.”
Guards during a check asked him if he had a girlfriend, saying “Give us her Instagram. We’ll take a picture of you and send it to her.”
He was beaten after saying she didn’t have social media, which he told the BBC was a lie. He said he was taken to a basement where he saw a Ukrainian with needles put under his fingernails.
Seredniak said he was beaten with a wooden chair “so much that it broke in parts,” and described other beatings.
He said his captors interrogated and accused him of actions like looting Mariupol and ordering his troops to kill civilians: “Until you said what they were interested in, and in the way they wanted to hear, they wouldn’t stop beating you.” He did not say if he ever gave a false confession.
A Ukrainian human-rights group told the BBC that Russia used apparent false confessions by Ukrainians against them in court.
Serhii Rotchuk, also from the Azov Regiment, said he was beaten for having tattoos, given electric shocks, and kicked in the chest. He said he met a Ukrainian doctor who falsely confessed to removing the testicles of a Russian prisoner because he was beaten so much: “He said: ‘OK, just leave me alone, I will sign the confession.'”
Other former prisoners of war who were at Taganrog told the BBC that prisoners of war there gave false confessions after they were threatened and intimidated.
They also told the BBC they were not given enough food, inspected daily, beaten, given electric shocks, and interrogated.
They said they didn’t get proper medical help, and the BBC also cited reports of some prisoners of war dying there.
Seredniak said they were given little food, and “if I ate 300-400 calories a day, I was lucky.”
Russia’s defence ministry previously denied improperly treating captured Ukrainians, and did not respond to the BBC about the allegations.
Dmytro Lubinets, Ukraine’s human-rights ombudsman, told the BBC that nine out of 10 Ukrainians they get back from Russian captivity had been tortured.
The United Nations said this year that Russia appeared to violate international humanitarian law in its treatment of prisoners of war, and a UN spokesperson told the BBC that even holding them in prisons was a violation.
Other former detained Ukrainians also allege mistreatment: One captured by the Wagner Group told The Washington Post he was tortured for fun, like “the way a cat plays with a mouse.”
A still of a CNN video showing a thermal imaging captured by Ukraine, where some of the white dots show Russian landmines.
Ukraine is using thermal imaging and drones to find mines left by Russian forces.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive is being hindered by dense Russian minefields.
Ukrainian soldiers showed CNN their anti-mine strategy from the trenches on the front line.
Ukraine is using thermal imaging to try to locate mines that Russian forces have placed to slow, injure, and kill its troops.
CNN visited frontline Ukrainian soldiers near the village of Robotine, where they were working from trenches to try to make progress against Russian forces positioned less than three miles away.
In their way are dense minefields placed by Russia.
The outlet filmed soldiers using a drone with a thermal camera, which clearly showed the mines, glowing, on the soldiers’ screen.
The mines showed up because they retain the heat from the sun while the earth cools, experts told CNN, adding that they’re most visible at dawn and dusk.
It’s not a “precise science,” but helps Ukraine see an “invisible enemy,” CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh, who was in the trenches with Ukraine’s soldiers, said.
The soldiers told CNN that after locating mines, they use special charges to blow them up so that their colleagues can move through the area.
CNN said it arrived at the site a few hours after it was bombarded by Russian forces, and that they were told that hours after they left the soldiers came under a renewed attack, but repelled it.
The soldiers have to keep constantly hidden, Paton Walsh said. “This is the kind of threat they endure every day when just one piece of information can send them running.”
Olesksandr, part of Ukraine’s 15th National Guard Brigade, told CNN that “if the enemy sees the drone, he will unleash everything he has: artillery, tanks, and mortars.”
His colleague, Anton, said they have to constantly fight against traps laid by Russia. “And these are not made of one grenade, we call it a ‘bouquet.’ Grenades on top of another grenade.”
“There have been many scary moments,” he added. “Every time you go to work you step over your fear. Because who else will do it? Nobody. If someone else goes and gets hurt, you can’t forgive yourself.”
Reports of Ukrainians being killed and injured by mines are widespread.
A leading Ukrainian medical officer told The Guardian that mine are now second only to artillery as a cause of injury to Ukraine’s troops.
He also said his hospital had treated about 2,000 soldiers who lost limbs.
The New York Times reported that some Ukrainian soldiers have been blasted by mines as they try to help fellow soldiers hit by mines.
Earlier this month Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, told The Guardian that Ukraine was now the world’s most heavily mined country. He asked allied countries for additional resources to help clear the mines.
Ukraine has defended the pace of its counteroffensive, which so far has made small gains, given these conditions.
And experts previously told Insider that Western countries’ delays in sending weapons helped Russia lay such tough defenses.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he wanted the counteroffensive to begin earlier, but he felt he had to wait for more weapons to arrive.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
“Rich Dad Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki took a jab at Janet Yellen for touting Bidenomics.
“What is she smoking?” Has she been food shopping lately? Has she filled her gas tank lately?” the personal finance guru said.
The Treasury Secretary on Monday cheered Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act for driving economic growth at a time when Americans are financially strapped.
“Rich Dad Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki slammed US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for touting Bidenomics in a Monday speech.
At the Inflation Reduction Act anniversary in Las Vegas, Nevada, Yellen cheered President Joe Biden’s economic policies, saying his agenda has “helped drive a massive boom that is touching every corner of the country.”
She highlighted a robust US labor market, falling inflation, and consumer sentiment at nearly a two-year high as part of her Bidenomics sales pitch.
But Kiyosaki pushed back, suggesting Yellen’s comments don’t reflect economic problems including higher prices of automotive fuel and some food items, and rising credit-card debt.
“Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin says the IRA Inflation Reduction Act is “turning point” in saving our planet, “what is she smoking?” Has she been food shopping lately? Has she filled her gas tank lately? How many businesses closing? How about credit card debt? Biden’s team worst leaders in history,” Kiyosaki said in a Wednesday post on X.
His comments come after US inflation ticked up in July, snapping a multi-month decline. Data showed the Consumer Price Index rose 3.2% annually, up from June’s 3.0% increase.
That’s despite the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates from near-zero levels to upward of 5% in a bid to cool price pressures.
Higher food and fuel prices have shown how living costs have remained elevated for US consumers, with orange juice and cocoa rising to their most expensive levels in years. Meanwhile, US gas prices are jumping again, rekindling fears of an inflation rebound – and underpinning Kiyosaki’s point.
Like Kiyosaki, other market commentators including “Shark Tank” investor Kevin O’Leary also have blamed Biden’s massive fiscal-spending binge during the COVID-19 pandemic for high inflation and rising interest rates.