Five of the country’s most prominent tech executives appeared at a hearing today on Capitol Hill, where they were berated by lawmakers for creating “a crisis in America” by ignoring the spread of child sexual abuse material on their platforms.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee spent almost four hours needling the chief executives of Meta, TikTok, X, Snap and Discord. Some said the companies had “blood on their hands” and that users “would “die waiting” for them to make changes. Others compared the tech firms to cigarette makers.
The senators pressured the executives to say on the record if they support the Kids Online Safety Act, a bipartisan bill backed by dozens of senators but opposed by the A.C.L.U. and the Electronic Frontier Foundation on censorship grounds. Only Evan Spiegel of Snap and Linda Yaccarino of X said yes.
In one remarkable moment, Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, stood up from the witness table and turned to directly address family members whose children were victims of online harassment and exploitation. “I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” Zuckerberg said.
The Fed is not quite ready to cut borrowing rates
Federal Reserve officials left interest rates unchanged today at their first meeting of 2024, but hinted that their next move would be to lower rates from their current two-decade highs. The officials also made it clear that they needed to see more progress on inflation before reducing borrowing costs.
Jerome Powell, the Fed chair, said he thought it was unlikely that the Fed would have enough confidence to cut interest rates by their next meeting, in March. Powell and his colleagues are trying to strike a delicate balance: They don’t want to keep interest rates high for so long that it weighs on growth, but they don’t want to risk another surge in demand that keeps inflation elevated.
Most migrants no longer try to avoid U.S. border agents
Over the last several months, record numbers of migrants have streamed across the southern border and into the U.S. But unlike in previous decades, the newcomers are not looking to sneak in. In fact, an overwhelming majority of migrants now seek out border agents.
That’s because surrendering to the authorities is a crucial step toward applying for asylum — now the surest way for migrants to stay in the U.S. Cases languish for years in underfunded courts while migrants receive work permits and build lives, and while few win their cases, most are unlikely to be deported.
Test scores rebounded, but many students remain behind
Elementary and middle school students have made up significant ground since pandemic school closings in 2020, according to the first detailed national study, which was published this morning. However, the students are nowhere close to being fully caught up.
In math, students have made up about a third of what they lost. In reading, they have made up a quarter. But the gap between students from rich and poor communities — already huge before the pandemic — has widened. And some children may never fully bounce back.
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The Apple Vision Pro is a marvel
My colleague Kevin Roose tried out Apple’s newest product, a virtual reality headset called the Vision Pro, and he was impressed. It is leaps and bounds better than its competitors, Kevin wrote, and could be a major shift in computing. Parents, movie buffs and office workers might all succumb to its novelty.
However, Kevin noted, it’s not clear whom or what the device is really for. It costs $3,500, or as much as $4,600 with typical add-ons, and after the initial novelty fades, it may just end up collecting dust.
The essential Alice Munro
If you have not read Alice Munro — the Nobel laureate and beloved short-story writer from rural Ontario — then you’re in for a treat. Her books are not just important, but fun. And the only prerequisite for diving into her work is having lived.
The author Ben Dolnick singles out “Lives of Girls and Women” as a good place to start, writing that it’s “the best book about growing up that I’ve ever read.” Here’s where to go from there.
There’s no need to splurge on your vacation
Travel is one of life’s greatest pursuits, but many of the most desirable destinations — especially those abroad — can get really expensive. To help make the most of your budget, our Frugal Traveler columnist has some tips.
One strategy is finding locations, like Mexico or certain places in Canada, where a U.S. dollar goes a long way. Another tip is to look for so-called destination dupes, where a similar vacation can go for far less. For example, the almond blossoms of Modesto, Calif., are an attractive alternative to the cherry blossoms of Japan or Washington.
Have an affordable evening.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Matthew
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