🇺🇸 Apple of Elon’s Eye

Plus, the verdict is in: a four-day workweek is good for business.

The Flag

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Good morning, and happy Thursday! Last week we asked if you would like more special edition newsletters – like the one we did on Thanksgiving – and the answer was a resounding yes. Thank you for that feedback, we're whiteboarding some ideas, so stay tuned.

Speaking of Thursdays, are they the new Fridays? According to one global study, a 4-day work week was a huge success

And finally, before we dig in, be sure to check out today's sponsor, which is providing a new way to break into this $1.2T market. Check it out.


FLAG POLLS

📉 President Biden Job Approval: Approve 44, Disapprove 55 (Rasmussen Reports)

📉 President Biden Job Approval: Approve 43, Disapprove 53 (Economist/YouGov)

📉 Congressional Job Approval: Approve 23, Disapprove 56 (Economist/YouGov)

📉 Direction of Country: Right Direction 28, Wrong Track 62 (Economist/YouGov)


TRENDING

Right: Raphael Warnock’s Church Belongs To A Leftist Group That Supports Critical Race Theory (The Daily Wire)

Right: Senate Conservatives to Mitch McConnell: No Omnibus Spending Bill Until Republicans Take House (Breitbart)

Right: Herschel Walker told supporters, 'I live in Texas' while campaigning for Senate in Georgia (Fox News)

Left: Kevin McCarthy just tried to explain away Donald Trump’s dinner with a White nationalist (CNN)

Left: Herschel Walker Gives Cagey Explanation For Trump Not Holding Rally For Him (Huffington Post)

Left: Kari Lake’s lonely and deeply absurd quest to challenge the Arizona election results (Vox)


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QUICK CLICKS

POTUS is Pondering, Rail Strike Legislation, Long COVID

US: 'I don't know about that': Biden casts doubt on 2024 run (Washington Examiner)

US: House Democrats pick Hakeem Jeffries to succeed Nancy Pelosi, the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress (CNN)

Economy: House passes legislation to avert economically devastating rail strike (Axios)

Pandemic: COVID hospitalization rates in babies as bad as for seniors amid Omicron wave, study shows (LA Times) +  Long Covid may be ‘the next public health disaster’ — with a $3.7 trillion economic impact rivaling the Great Recession (CNBC)

US: Father of slain student reveals new insight on alleged stalker, admits 'fear' of what Idaho probe will uncover (Fox News)

Entertainment: Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie dead at age 79 (Yahoo)

Sports: Cristiano Ronaldo mulling Saudi soccer offer for $207 million a year (NY Post)


BIG TECH

Apple of Elon's Eye

Credit: Elon Musk, Steve Jurvetson (CC BY 2.0). Tim Cook, Mike Deerkoski (CC BY 2.0). Illustration, Walk-On Holdings.

Well, it's been another roller coaster ride of a week for Twitter, and the platform's new owner, Elon Musk. In the span of 48 hours, Musk tweeted about Apple's decision to halt advertising on the platform, asking if they "hate free speech in America." He also brought up the idea of censorship and monopolistic behavior by the Cupertino company. This was the initial reaction from both sides:

Reporting from the Left: Elon Musk goes to war with Apple over App Store fees, moderation (Yahoo Finance)

Reporting from the Right: DeSantis Calls Out Apple For Threatening to ‘Nuke’ Twitter From its App Store; Says it Merits a Response From Congress (American Greatness)

From The Flag: Now, with that said, Musk appeared to put this mini-saga to bed yesterday afternoon, tweeting that he had a good conversation with Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. Musk said they "resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store. Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so."

While the story has been fluid, Apple has also made headlines recently for limiting the AirDrop wireless file-sharing feature on iPhones in China. The function was being used by protesters to spread images to other iPhone owners without being censored by the government. So while there are multiple storylines flying around, and a handful of threads to pull at, we're going to examine a confluence of related topics today. These include Musk's original complaints against Apple, censorship, and the power of Big Tech.


RIGHT-LEANING SENTIMENT

Apple Makes No Distinction Between Liberty and Oppression in Pursuit of Profit

  • Musk is now looking into what censorship decisions Apple has made regarding Twitter in the past.
  • Apple is making it clear that free speech is not a priority for the company: abetting Chinese authoritarianism is just fine, however.
  • Elon Musk has called the fight between Twitter and Apple a “battle for the future of our civilization,” and he’s right.

“Elon Musk Wants Answers About Apple’s Support Of Censorship” Tristan Justice, The Federalist: “Giving Twitter the boot over ambiguous standards would closely resemble the company’s decision to strip Parler, a pre-Musk free speech alternative to Twitter, from the Apple app store last year. Days after the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol, Apple colluded with other tech conglomerates to take Parler offline. Apple and Google barred Parler from being downloaded on their devices while Amazon stripped the platform from its web hosting services. As nationwide protests broke out in China over the weekend threatening to undermine the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under President Xi Jinping, Quartz revealed that Apple plugged a crack in the regime’s ‘Great Firewall’ that dissidents exploited to communicate. Apple’s latest iOS update released in November placed new restrictions on ‘AirDrop,’ a file-sharing feature on iPhones that allows users to share files directly from one phone to another (and consequently under the nose of government monitors). The update erased unlimited use for Chinese users only.”

“Apple is now an active collaborator with China's murderous police state” Tucker Carlson, Fox News Opinion: “In the United States where Apple is headquartered, free speech is the law. It's the first law. It's the first guarantee in our Bill of Rights and yet, strangely, for a company that claims to respect local customs, Apple has done far more than its share to eliminate free speech in the United States. … Twitter must be silenced because it allows Americans to exercise their birthright, which is free speech, a prerequisite for a free society and a democracy, but TikTok must be protected because the Chinese government uses TikTok as a tool of espionage. That is Apple's position. At this point, the real question is, will Apple be allowed to strangle Twitter, which it could, because it has monopoly power? So far, virtually no one in American politics seems to have noticed this is happening.”

One more opinion piece from the Right: Apple and China Want to Delete Apps on Your Phone Daniel J. Flynn, The American Spectator


LEFT-LEANING SENTIMENT

Twitter Goes Toe-To-Toe With Big Tech’s Apple: Good Luck With That

  • Musk is playing a dangerous game because Apple doesn’t need Twitter, and other companies have failed in this fight.
  • Apple is facing a series of lawsuits and other legal issues, so Musk feels this is a good time to poke the bear.
  • Musk appears to hope his trolling of Apple CEO Tim Cook will result in Apple buying more advertising, which seems like a bad strategy.

“Twitter needs Apple more than Apple needs Twitter” Naomi Nix, Washington Post: “Elon Musk launched a tirade against Apple this week… In some ways, the billionaire seemed to be picking a losing fight. … Apple wields significant power over Twitter as the social media platform seeks to diversify its advertising business and boost subscription sales, according to experts. For starters, Twitter depends on Apple to reach the tens of millions of people who use Apple devices to search the web — a large and attractive market for the social media giant. At the same time, Apple’s privacy rules probably will hurt Musk’s plans to build out Twitter’s targeted advertising business. And the 30 percent fee Apple extracts from app sales could put a dent in Musk’s plan to make money from subscriptions. Musk joins a long line of other app-makers and regulators that have, so far, unsuccessfully sought to significantly rein in the power Apple wields over social media platforms.”

“Why Elon Musk Is Picking a Fight With Apple” John Herrman, New York Magazine: “Elon Musk kicked off his second month as Twitter’s owner by picking a fight with one of the only firms on earth large enough to allow the world’s richest person to position himself as an underdog. … A few years ago, Apple probably would have brushed this off as a tantrum thrown by an executive at a comparatively minuscule company. … In 2022, Apple is as powerful as it’s ever been, but it might also be a softer target and in a cautious mood. … According to an August report from POLITICO, the United States Justice Department is in the early stages of 'drafting a potential antitrust complaint against Apple' that would focus on the App Store. It’s unclear whether Musk will get what he wants from this, but there may be less harm than ever in trying. Besides, Twitter has less to lose by the day.”

One more opinion piece from the Left: Why Elon Musk is going to war with Apple Hayes Brown, MSNBC Opinion


FLAG THIS

A Poll for the People

When the feud between Elon and Apple began, Musk tweeted a poll to his 119.7 million followers. In a yes or no format it asked if "Apple should publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers." 2,228,444 votes were cast of which 84.7% said Yes and 15.3% said No.  


FLAG FINDS

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WATERCOOLER

Bus Boycotts Begin, Sleep On Your Back, Love Drug

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was jailed for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, a violation of the city’s racial segregation laws. The successful Montgomery Bus Boycott, organized by a young Baptist minister named Martin Luther King, Jr., followed Park’s historic act of civil disobedience. Above, Parks is fingerprinted by Lieutenant D.H. Lackey on February 22, 1956, when she was arrested again.

Popular Science: You Can (and Should) Train Yourself to Sleep on Your Back

The ConversationTiny Houses Look Marvellous but Have a Dark Side

BloombergRecycling Our Cities, One Building at a Time

Today I Learned love is as strong as illegal drugs. When you fall in love, the same part of your brain is stimulated as when you take mind-altering substances like cocaine.