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California bill makes Big Tech pay for news. Big Tech calls it a government handout

In less than two weeks, Assembly Bill 886 — the California Journalism Preservation Act — will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill reemerged this week with amendments aimed at making it more palatable to critics including the tech industry, which would be taxed for news links shared on their platforms. Big Tech is continuing to make its displeasure with the bill known. AB 886 is set to be heard in committee on June 25.

Google and Meta, the two primary targets of the bill, declined to comment to The Sacramento Bee. However, NetChoice, a group that represents both companies, released a statement Tuesday.

NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel Carl Szabo framed the bill not just as bad for the tech industry, which he represents, but also for the free press itself. “With AB 886, the free press in California hangs in the balance. If enacted, journalists will unquestionably face new financial pressures from government officials and politicians to report favorably on them or lose funding, further undermining the public’s trust in news media,” Szabo said in a prepared statement.

—The Sacramento Bee

Downplaying AI’s existential risks is a fatal error, some say

WASHINGTON — A handful of lawmakers say they plan to press the issue of the threat to humans posed by generative artificial intelligence after a recent bipartisan Senate report largely sidestepped the matter.

“There’s been no action taken yet, no regulatory action taken yet, at least here in the United States, that would restrict the types of actions that could lead to existential, or health, or other serious consequences,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said in an interview. “And that’s something we’d like to see happen.”

Romney joined Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Angus King, I-Maine, in April to propose a framework that would establish federal oversight of so-called frontier AI models to guard against biological, chemical, cyber and nuclear threats.

Frontier AI models include ChatGPT by OpenAI, Claude 3 by Anthropic PBC and Gemini Ultra by Google LLC, which are capable of generating human-like responses when prompted, based on training with vast quantities of data.

—CQ-Roll Call

Grand jury report faults San Francisco for inadequate climate threat planning


As climate change unleashes ever-more powerful storms, worsening floods and rising sea levels, San Francisco remains woefully unprepared for inundation, a civil grand jury determined in a report this week.

The critical assessment — which was authored by 19 San Franciscans selected by the Superior Court — found that the city and county lacked a comprehensive funding plan for climate adaptation and that existing sewer systems cannot handle worsening floods. Among other concerns, the report also concluded that efforts toward making improvements have been hampered by agency silos and a lack of transparency.

Members of the volunteer jury serve year-long terms and are tasked with investigating city and county government by reviewing documents and interviewing public officials, experts and private individuals.

Jury foreperson Michael Carboy said it made sense to look into the issue of climate-related flooding because San Francisco is a “peninsula surrounded by water on three sides — and some would argue four sides, because the water is coming up from underneath.”

—Los Angeles Times

G-7 to call on China to stop helping Russia’s war in Ukraine

Group of Seven leaders will call on China to stop enabling and sustaining Russia’s war against Ukraine, according to a draft statement seen by Bloomberg.

Kyiv’s allies are accusing Beijing of providing Russia with technologies and parts — either found in weapons or necessary to build them — aiding Moscow’s efforts to get around wave after wave of G-7 trade restrictions on many of those goods. Banned materials often get to Russia through third countries such as China and Turkey or networks of intermediaries.

“China’s ongoing support for Russia’s defense industrial base has significant and broad-based security implications,” says the draft statement, which could still change before it’s agreed by leaders at a summit in Italy due to start Thursday.

A spokesperson with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the draft to say that China did not create the Ukraine crisis nor is it party to the conflict.

—Bloomberg News



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