🐤 Nothing but net

Basketball teams from around the world will be competing in one country that truly loves the sport.

Wednesday | August 23rd, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Wednesday, chirpers! And good news for all of you Gen Xers experiencing nostalgia about a youth spent cruising the local mall.

While the once-ubiquitous shopping centers were in a precarious position in recent years as stores went out of business and many malls shut down entirely, the trend appears to be reversing.

Shoppers are once again gravitating toward physical stores — and malls in particular, where sales increased by a whopping 11% last year.

-Chris Agee

$8.28 (0.06%)
Dow Jones
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S&P 500
-$12.22 (-0.28%)
$0.00 (0.01%)
-$603.41 (-2.31%)
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*Market data for this issue is from August 22nd, 2023 at 5:29pm EST

🏦 Markets: It was a mostly down day on Wall Street yesterday, but the Nasdaq Composite bucked the trend by finishing less than 0.1% up.

Corporate earnings reports were the main culprit of the sell-off, with shares of Dick’s Sporting Goods and Macy’s falling more than 24% and 14%, respectively, in response to underwhelming second-quarter revenue numbers.

Now investors are focusing on Friday’s remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, which will likely influence interest rates and, in turn, the trajectory of the stock market.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Giphy

⛈️ From Hilary to Harold: As much of the West Coast cleans up from the impact of Tropical Storm Hilary, Texas is dealing with some inclement weather of its own. Tropical Storm Harold became the first such storm of the year to make landfall in the Lone Star State when it hit a barrier island on Tuesday. On one hand, the development brought some much-needed precipitation, but at the same time, Harold also posed a threat of flooding and tornadoes across the region.

🐭 DeSantis vs. Disney: The ongoing feud between Walt Disney World and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues this week with two new lawsuits. Members of a panel who were appointed by the governor to oversee the theme park’s governing district say that individuals serving on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board received gifts (park passes, hotel discounts, etc.) from Disney that violated ethics rules. About $2.5 million in perks were doled out last year.

⚖️ Fighting Facebook: The Digital Economy and Society minister in Thailand is taking Facebook to task over allegations that it allows scammers to advertise on the site, thus leaving citizens of the country vulnerable. In a statement this week, Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn affirmed that Facebook parent company Meta hasn’t done enough in response to prior complaints and his office is prepared to argue in court that the platform should be shut down nationwide.

📀 On the house: Believe it or not, Netflix is still sending out DVDs, but the service is winding down and the last hurrah is scheduled for Sept. 29. Those remaining customers who still receive discs in the mail got a pleasant surprise recently. In an email, they learned that they’ll be able to keep their final shipments and (at least in the U.S. market) they’ll receive up to 10 additional randomly selected DVDs to add to their collections.

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Highest score wins an Amazon gift card!


*Prizes are sent out via email the next day by 11am EST.


Digging Into The Philippines’ Long Love Affair With Basketball

The sport's upcoming World Cup brings international hoops to Manila.

Digging Into The Philippines’ Long Love Affair With Basketball Shutterstock

The U.S. women’s soccer team fell short of expectations in the recent World Cup … but there’s another World Cup starting Friday that will give American athletes an opportunity to shine.

It’s an international basketball competition, and the action is centered around Manila in the Philippines, where the sport is a favorite pastime.

How it all started

While soccer and baseball are among the top-rated sports across much of the rest of Asia, Filipinos are especially partial to basketball. Although there’s not one clear reason for the sport’s popularity here, the connection clearly runs deep.

Some say U.S. teachers working in the Philippines introduced the sport more than a century ago. The ability to play it year-round seemed to make it an immediate hit among locals. It was also a big plus that the cost of playing basketball was pretty low.

Pretty soon, indoor and outdoor courts began sprouting up nationwide and kids started shooting hoops practically from the time they were old enough to walk.

Although boxing also became a big draw when Philippines native Manny Pacquiao dominated the ring, even the diminutive pugilist couldn’t resist the draw of basketball. He’s been both a player and a coach for the nation’s leading pro basketball league.

The excitement mounts

While there are 32 teams playing in the upcoming World Cup, all eyes are on the world-renowned U.S. players.

“For us, it’s like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said 25-year-old basketball fan Inigo Herrera, who noted that big basketball stars rarely venture to the Philippines.

One figure who is known nationwide is Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose mother is from the Philippines.

“It is the No. 1 sport in the country and you can’t definitively say that about basketball in the United States or anywhere else,” he said.

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The Startling Truth About All Of Those Airline Near Misses

Potentially tragic close calls seem to be getting more common.

The Startling Truth About All Of Those Airline Near Misses Shutterstock

Folks who are nervous about flying often hear that airplane travel is statistically much safer than taking an automobile. And while that’s true, the recent stories about close calls probably didn’t make things any easier for trepidatious travelers.

One tumultuous month

Within the span of July alone, there were several near misses that, had pilots and air traffic controllers not been on high alert, could have ended in tragedy.

  • On July 2, a landing in New Orleans was scrapped at the last second when another jet was found to be using the same runway to take off.
  • Just over a week later, a plane taking off in San Francisco nearly clipped the nose of another aircraft as it was barreling down the runway at 160 mph.
  • Near the end of last month, a pilot flying to Dallas heard an urgent warning that another jet was in its vicinity and narrowly avoided a midair collision.

Of course, planes take off and land all the time at airports around the world, so three incidents within a short period of time probably isn’t a sufficient reason for you to swear off air travel entirely. But are these really just flukes or are close calls actually much more common than the industry wants you to believe?

Some alarming statistics

The three incidents listed above received some news coverage, but they were far from the only near misses impacting commercial flights. In fact, there were roughly four dozen last month, according to internal documents compiled by the Federal Aviation Administration.

But this data isn’t readily available to the public and only surfaced because of an investigation by The New York Times.

Fortunately, there haven’t been any deadly consequences, but experts say it’s time to redouble the airline industry’s safety measures before tragedy strikes.

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Europe Is Getting Serious In Its Push To Regulate Big Tech

Starting Friday, major platforms will have to comply or face hefty fines.

Europe Is Getting Serious In Its Push To Regulate Big Tech Shutterstock

From disinformation to privacy violations to inappropriate content geared toward kids, there’s been plenty of criticism to go around within the tech industry in recent years.

But at the same time, most of us rely on social media platforms and other Big Tech companies for our information and communication needs.

That means it’s difficult for regulators to know how far to go in order to eliminate the bad stuff while keeping the positive stuff intact.

The EU model

For their part, officials across the European Union believe that a fairly heavy-handed approach to these regulations will be best for everyone involved. And a slate of new requirements — collectively known as the Digital Services Act — will go into effect later this week.

The overarching aim of the DSA is to bring about some of the most severe regulations and harshest penalties on the planet. And with 27 nations on board, it’s pivotal to comply in order to remain in business across Europe.

A total of 19 companies will be impacted by these rules, including big names like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat. While some have pushed back against the new regulations, others see the writing on the wall and are already working to comply.

What the DSA does

Proponents of these new rules say that they will benefit users by eliminating illegal and/or harmful content while protecting their privacy and free speech rights.

Although the consensus seems to be that some smaller platforms should be exempted, some say that the DSA doesn’t include certain companies that should be held to the same standards.

The existing standard is that platforms with more than 45 million users will be bound by the most stringent restrictions … but the list doesn’t include names like Netflix, eBay, Airbnb, and others.

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

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