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eyes on the U.S.

Eyes On U.S. — Something Broken In The Kingdom Of American Tech

Photo of billionaire Elon Musk with Twitter logo

A portrait of Elon Musk is seen surrounded by the Twitter logo

Alex Hurst

PARIS — There’s a dual story about the U.S. tech scene circulating in the world’s media. The first is structural, about trendlines and economics as Silicon Valley’s all-powerful platforms and companies have seen their stocks tanking and announced large layoffs for the first time ever. The second storyline is about the big tech titans themselves.

No surprises, Twitter is still taking up extraordinary amounts of headline real estate. And it’s impossible to disentangle Twitter the company from its Very-Online new owner, as Elon Musk’s barrage of changes continue to cross new red-lines that could wind up threatening the viability of the company itself.

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France’s Alternatives Economiques holds no punches in comparing Musk to Donald Trump, saying that like the twice-impeached former president, Musk uses Twitter to “shock, provoke, and even manipulate markets and public opinion.”

On Tuesday, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya quotes one of Musk’s irreverent Tweets warning (or threatening) that the company “will do lots of dumb things.” Al-Arabiya declares: “He couldn’t have made a clearer statement.”

International observers note that the spate of firings at Twitter may come back to haunt the company. Musk, who has laid off roughly half the company’s workers, has, by all accounts, decimated the teams responsible for content moderation.

In the U.S., this might be causing problems with advertisers, but in Europe, it’s potentially a problem with governments — which impose much stricter regulations on hate speech, and requirements that companies remove it. Italy’s Il Fatto Quotidiano and France’s Le Monde contextualize Musk’s purchase of Twitter as a peculiarly American battle about the limits of free speech.

Another French daily, La Croix, also expressed its worries about "the shadow side" of Twitter

“Elon would like to present himself as the grand moderator of the most political content on social media in the name of free speech,” Il Fatto’s Luca Ciarrocca writes. “The risk though is that it won’t be necessary because if he continues like this all the users could wind up leaving.”

As the FT reports, this puts Twitter on a “collision course with Brussels,” which has the ability to fine the company up to 6% of its global revenue under the Digital Services Act.

The upheavals at Twitter are partially responsible for the precipitous decline in the stock price of another Musk company — Tesla. Investors in the electric vehicle manufacturer are concerned that Musk might have to unload significant numbers of Tesla shares in order to cover the debt incurred in the acquisition of Twitter, leading the stock price lower.

But falling tech stocks are more than an Elon Musk story. Where the world used to look at Silicon Valley in awe, publications are striking a different tone these days. France’s Le Figaro writes: “There’s something broken in the kingdom of American tech.”

That something increasingly now includes employee headcounts.

It seems that Silicon Valley is cracking right now.

From Facebook’s parent company Meta (11,000 jobs cut) to Amazon (10,000) to Twitter (3,700), U.S. tech companies are trimming their employees by the thousands. That’s a lot of newly unemployed programmers… But the one company that’s not laying anyone off en masse? Dutch payments darling Adyen, botes Business Insider Nederland — even though its main competitor Stripe is cutting 14% of its workforce.

German weekly Die Zeit sees a deja vu: “The wave of layoffs brings back uncomfortable memories of 2000, when the dot-com bubble burst. At that time, the prices of the Internet companies, that were so new at the time, increased highly before crashing violently,” the German weekly writes. “It seems that Silicon Valley is cracking right now. Google was hit by collateral damages after the cryptocurrency crisis. And crypto itself is also struggling to survive.”

Not all are ready to count out the American tech giants so quickly. Georges Nahon, writing in French business daily Les Echos, notes how many fields are now opening up to the latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and the blockchain-backed web3.

“In Silicon Valley the next cycle has already started, driven by Generative AI which is already setting off a new gold rush with the creation of more than 100 start-ups in a very short time,” Nahon writes. “Any obituary of Silicon Valley has been written prematurely.”


La Jornada’s Nov. 16 front page

Mexico City daily La Jornada was one of many international newspapers to feature former U.S. President Donald Trump on its front page Wednesday, following the announcement that Trump would be a candidate for the White House in 2024.

In an article titled “Trump: The Monster’s Back”, French-language Canadian daily Le Journal de Montréal compares Trump’s comeback plans to a zombie movie, writing: “Le Grand Orange was stabbed in the heart when he lost the House of Representatives back in 2018. He was gunned down when he lost the presidential election on Nov. 3, 2020. Now he’s tasted some midterms flamethrower. And still, who crawled out from his grave last Tuesday?”


“That was one of the greatest football experiences I’ve ever had.” That’s how Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar quarterback Tom Brady described the NFL game between his team and the Seattle Seahawks, which was for the first time taking place on German soil. The game, which the Buccaneers won 21:16, saw 69,811 fans gather in Munich's Allianz Arena (more used to the other kind of football, i.e. soccer).

Berlin-based daily Die Welt reported that U.S. players and commentators alike were impressed with the German crowd’s energy and singing — including a rendition of “Sweet Caroline.

It was also a streaming hit, with 5.8 million viewers on TV and online, the highest ratings for an NFL game played abroad to date. As German sports website Ran writes: Deutschland ist ein Football-Land!


Taylor Swift at MTV Europe Music Awards 2022

Rolf Vennenbernd/dpa/ZUMA

There is definitely bad blood between Taylor Swift fans and Ticketmaster, after the ticket giant canceled this week’s general public sale for the U.S. singer’s upcoming tour because of “historically unprecedented” demand.

The uproar is felt by Swifties around the world, with many taking to social media to bring the spotlight on Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s unique monopoly position in the U.S.

As for Europe, as Belgian media Moustique notes, Swift is not expected to tour there before fall 2023, which should leave local ticket providers ample time “to avoid a new fiasco”.

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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