Andrew Leonard

Thomas Friedman's Latest NYT Piece Reads Like an Airbnb Ad

This is unfortunate. Tom Friedman, a New York Times op-ed columnist who wrote a pretty good book on the Middle East 25 long years ago, and who considers basically the entire world to be his beat, chose one of the most dramatically news-packed weeks in recent historical memory to publish a press release for Airbnb.

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The New Age of Global Paranoia: Russia, Ukraine, and the Plane Crash

The catastrophic destruction of any passenger jet always hits a hot nerve of modern existential angst. The reality of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, shot down while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with around 300 passengers and crew, is infinitely worse. The speed with which both the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed separatists denied responsibility — and accused each other of being the guilty party — tells us something critical. The course of history turns on events like these. How blame gets apportioned can swing the fate of nations.

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The 1 Percent’s Increasingly Popular Way of Buying Whatever They Want Before We Can - Online Scalping

Maybe we’re just easily annoyed in Northern California. The froth of our rage over Monkey Parking — an app that auctions off public parking spots — had barely begun to subside and then along came ReservationHop, an outfit that makes phony reservations at “hot” restaurants and then sells them at a premium to the general public. And we got all worked up, all over again.

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Libertarians’ Sneaky New Crusade

Over the past six years in Oakland, California, a woman named Asiya Wadud has organized a community effort to share the produce of local, privately owned fruit trees. In the East Bay, fruit from that fig or Meyer lemon tree in the backyard often goes to waste at harvest time. In “Forage Oakland,” Wadud created a structure that encourages those who have to easily share their bounty with those who don’t. There’s no profit incentive, and signing on to the project turns out be a great way to meet your neighbors.

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Death of a Libertarian Fantasy: Why Dreams of a Digital Utopia Are Rapidly Fading Away

There is no mystery why libertarians love the Internet and all the freedom-enhancing applications, from open source software to Bitcoin, that thrive in its nurturing embrace. The Internet routes around censorship. It enables peer-to-peer connections that scoff at arbitrary geographical boundaries. It provides infinite access to do-it-yourself information. It fuels dreams of liberation from totalitarian oppression. Give everyone a smartphone, and dictators will fall! (Hell, you can even download the code that will let you 3-D print a gun.)

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The Tech Industry’s God Complex is Getting Out of Control

The Greeks had a word for this, I thought, as I worked my way through Marc Andreessen’s most recent epic tweet storm.

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Amazon's Scorched-Earth Campaign: Why the Internet Giant Started a War

Here’s what monopoly power means: If you’re Amazon, you can ignore the public relations hits that come with blistering front-page stories in the New York Times and stinging opinion pieces,and continue blithely about your business.

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Say Goodbye to TV’s Golden Age: Why Comcast’s Rise and Net Neutrality’s Downfall Will Change Everything

Viewers be warned! The golden age of television is coming to an end, and here’s how it’s going to happen: An unholy cabal of judges, government regulators and “cord-cutting” millennials will decapitate it. Like the similarly beheaded Ned Stark, on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” we will miss it dearly when it’s gone.

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Airbnb’s Big Bait-and-Switch

Airbnb was in court in New York on Tuesday, battling with the state attorney general over the question of how much information about its “hosts” the company should be required to reveal to the state. The case has attracted much attention, because New York is simultaneously one of Airbnb’s biggest markets, and its most fiercely fought battleground with regulators. There’s plenty at stake — not least of which is Airbnb’s brand-new $10 billion valuation, following a $500 million round of investment that closed last week. In 2013, Airbnb pulled in $250 million in revenue from its thousands of hosts. That’s real money.

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