40 U.S. States Sue Google for Misleading Privacy Practices, Will Receive Nearly $400 Million in Historic Settlement After years of improperly tracking customer location data, Google will pay a settlement of nearly $400 million to a coalition of forty U.S. states.

40 U.S. States Sue Google for Misleading Privacy Practices, Will Receive Nearly $400 Million in Historic Settlement

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Anyone using Google services between 2014 and 2020 might have been more trackable than they thought. After a multi-year investigation, Google has been found to have broken state laws intended to protect the privacy of consumers. The company will now pay a historically large settlement, nearly $392 million dollars, to forty U.S. states, and amend its data collection practices.

In the absence of clear federal guidelines about internet privacy, states have taken the lead on protecting consumers. Not just Google, but Meta, Apple, and Amazon have recently become targets of state lawsuits alleging that these companies violated consumer privacy protections, among other offenses. A consistent lobbying effort by the tech industry has thus far kept the battles in state courts rather than federal courts.

In addition to the financial settlement, Google promised to make changes to the way it tracks location data and how users are informed about the tracking. Previously, consumers who had opted out of location tracking services could still be tracked through Google apps and functions.

“Consumers thought they had turned ‘off’ their location tracking features on Google, but the company continued to secretly record their movements and use that information for advertisers,” said Oregon attorney general Ellen Rosenblum.

Going forward, Google users will be clearly informed about location tracking and the options available to them.

During Trial, Elon Musk Speaks About CEO Role at Twitter and Reiterates Criticism of SEC Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, claims that his position as CEO of Twitter, which he has recently acquired, is temporary, and offers softer criticism of the SEC.

Teens Increasingly Using TikTok for Mental Health Diagnosis and Support

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest man, who recently also became the owner of popular social media platform Twitter, spoke in court on Wednesday about his intentions for the website. “I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else” to eventually run the company, Musk said.

The issue of Musk as CEO of a company was germane to the proceedings because he is currently being sued by Richard J. Tornetta, a shareholder of electric vehicle maker Tesla. Musk is also the CEO of Tesla, as well as the defense contractor SpaceX. Tornetta’s suit alleges that Musk’s 2018 compensation at Tesla was unreasonably large.

Musk has claimed that his work as CEO has more to do with science than business. “CEO is often viewed as somewhat of a business-focused role but in reality, my role is much more that of an engineer developing technology,” he said.

He added that his recent request to Tesla employees to volunteer their time at Twitter was “voluntary” rather than mandatory. He also reiterated earlier criticisms of the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying that the “SEC fails to investigate things that they should and places far too much attention on things that are not relevant.” The SEC fined Musk after a 2018 tweet that affected the price of Tesla shares.

Facebook Winds Down Bulletin, A Substack-like Subscription Service Meta, the parent company of Facebook, will not continue Bulletin, a service originally intended as an alternative to Substack.

Facebook Winds Down Bulletin, A Substack-like Subscription Service

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Established two years ago, Bulletin was supposed to be Meta’s alternative to Substack—a subscription-based platform providing an apolitical space for content creators like New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, political activist Malala Yousafzai, and sports reporter Erin Andrews. But Meta has now announced that the service will shut down in January 2023.

This off-platform product itself is ending,” but “we remain committed to supporting these and other creators’ success and growth on our platform,” Meta wrote in a statement. It has said that content creators’ remaining contracts will be paid out, and that the future of the existing content will be decided by the creators, who may migrate their work to another platform or archive it.

Hamish McKenzie, chief writing officer at Substack, expressed hopes that some of the creators whose work appeared on Bulletin will now move to Substack. “If they’re looking for a great home where they have total ownership and full control of their destinies, then Substack is here for them,” he said.

Initial hopes for Bulletin were linked to the apparent success of Substack. But that company too has not performed as well as expected, laying off 14 percent of staffers in June 2022. Substack has also met with criticism for its lack of quality control, generating accusations that misinformation proliferates on the site. Bulletin’s focus on entertainment was meant to offer an alternative to the highly politicized space of Substack.

Electric Air Taxi Company Archer Pledges to Build $118M Factory in Georgia The company intends to produce 650 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft per year at the site near Atlanta, and employ up to 1,000 people.

Electric Air Taxi Company Archer Pledges to Build $118M Factory in Georgia

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Archer Aviation, a California company focused on building electric air taxis, just announced it will spend $118 million dollars to build a new plant near Atlanta, GA that will eventually employ up to 1,000 people.

Archer is currently working to build electric air taxis, small aircraft that would be used primarily for short flights in urban areas. Archer’s craft are designed to hold four passengers and a pilot, and will fly using six propellers. Those propellers will pivot, allowing the aircraft to takeoff and land vertically like a helicopter, but fly like a plane.

Archer intends for their craft to be used for short flights in urban areas – and they’ve already inked a partnership with United Airlines to ferry passengers from downtown Manhattan to United’s hub at Newark International Airport in New Jersey. The new service would only take 10 minutes to make the trip, instead of the hour it currently takes by car.

The announcement follows an earlier investment by United, a $10-million-dollar deposit to purchase 100 aircraft from Archer for a total of $1 billion.

Archer expects to receive approximately $40 million in incentives from the State of Georgia, including the donation of 96 acres of land adjacent to Covington Municipal Airport. Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said economic recruiters focused on aerospace had worked with Archer, noting “technology and innovation continue to drive change across strategic industries.”

“Our eVTOL technology can transform how urban and rural communities live and commute,” Archer CEO Adam Goldstein said in a statement, “and this factory can create pathways to highly skilled manufacturing jobs and other ladders of social and economic opportunity.”

Archer publicly unveiled its production aircraft, Midnight on Thursday, November 18th. The company is still in the process of seeking certification from the Federal Aviation Administration for the aircraft.

Growth of 1.3% in US Retail Sales Dampens Fears Due to Record InflationSteady job growth, higher savings and higher wages drive retail growth at the start of holiday season and suggest resilience of American consumers.

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

October saw a 1.3% increase in retail sales as consumer spending significantly outpaced price increases due to inflation,the AP reported. While retail prices increased by .4% nationally, the increase in sales greatly outpaced this price hike, demonstrating significant resilience amongst American consumers.

Economists explained that job growth, higher wages, and increased savings, as American’s pared back on travel and vacation expenses, all contributed to this capacity to outpace inflation.

Gas and car sales accounted for the biggest growth in sales in the last month, though economists said that another Amazon Prime day and the recent distribution of relief checks to Californians likely contributed as well.

Despite these encouraging signs, indicating that the American economy is doing better than expected, some research showed that this ability to keep up with inflation may be fading as Americans turn to credit cards to pay off bills and turn towards cheaper foods and consumer items. This has led to poor sales performance at big chains like Target, which saw a 52% drop in profits.

Meanwhile inflation has increased 7.7% from a year ago, which, while down from its peak in June, is still a record high for the last 40 years. Experts see some relief in the future as supply chain problems are resolved.

Estée Lauder Acquires Tom Ford Brand for $2.8 BillionPurchase will add Tom Ford’s best-selling, high-end fragrances to Estée Lauder’s renowned beauty lines and, for the first time, apparel to their products.

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Estée Lauder announced that they had agreed to purchase the Tom Ford Brand for $2.8 billion as part of an effort to expand their repertoire of high-end perfumes, sales of which grew rapidly despite the pandemic of the last few years, the New York Times reported.

Tom Ford, himself a designer and film director, stated that he “could not be happier” with the deal and is slated to stay on with the brand until the end of 2023. The purchase was motivated by the success of Tom Ford’s beauty business which includes cosmetics, skin care, and fragrances, which Estée Lauder already had a licensing agreement to sell. The deal also brings fashion apparel to Estée Lauder, for the first time.

Ermenegildo Zegna, the Italian group, will become the sole licensee for distribution of Tom Ford men’s and women’s wear, accessories, jewelry, children’s wear and home wares and is generally tasked with ensuring that Tom Ford remains synonymous with luxury and high-end fashion.

Tom Ford became famous in 1995 when he helped reinvigorate Gucci, reinventing the brand from the ground up. He is well known for dressing stars every year. He also began a second career in film, directing and writing the well received “A Single Man” in 2009 and going on to direct several other films.

Social Security Payouts Have Highest Increase in Over 40 Years Cost-of-living increase of 8.7% will boost monthly payments and is aimed at helping Social Security’s 70 million recipients weather high inflation.

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

The Social Security Administration announced that its recipients will receive an 8.7% increase in payments averaging at $1,827 a month for 2023, reported CNN. This is the largest increase since 1981, and it is squarely aimed at helping approximately 70 million senior citizens tackle inflation.

In another rare event, Medicare premiums are slated to decrease, one of only four times since Medicare was created in 1965 creating what Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst at The Senior Citizens League, called a “once-in-a-retirement event” where there is “a historically high COLA, and at the same time, Part B premiums are going down next year.”

Acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Kilolo Kijakazi, said that the combination of these two decreases “will give seniors some peace of mind and breathing room” as 37% of elderly men and 42% of elderly women depend on Social Security payments for at least half of their income.

While this increase is undoubtedly good news, it remains to be seen whether it will fully keep up with inflation and some experts would like to see Social Security payout increases tied to an index that specifically measures inflation affecting the elderly. The current metric instead reflects price changes for urban wage earners and clerical workers, which does not take into account the increased cost of healthcare for the elderly.

Catan, Bingo, Lite-Brite, and Nerf – Finalists for the Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY 2022’s inductees will join toys like the American Girl Dolls, Risk, sticks, cardboard boxes, and sand as parts of the toy hall of fame.

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Public voting on which toys should join the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2022 began in mid-September, reported the AP, and the finalists are bingo, Breyer Horses, Catan, Lite-Brite, Nerf Toys, Masters of the Universe, piñata, Phase 10, Pound Puppies, Rack-O, Spirograph, and the top.

Along with those selected by the national selection committee whose members are industry experts, academics, and other similarly credentialed people, the top three toys that received the most public votes will be entered as a people’s choice ballot.

The National Toy Hall of Fame opened at The Strong, in Rochester, NY in 1998, and so far 77 toys have been inducted. While anyone can nominate toys for the honor, to be chosen and recognized, toys have to “have achieved icon status, longevity, and foster learning or discovery.”

Describing this year’s nominees, Christopher Bensch, vice president for collections at The Strong Museum, which houses the hall of fame, said, “These 12 toys span the history of play. The top is as old as civilization itself and bingo has been played in some form for hundreds of years.”

Indeed, while many of the toys previously included are board games like Risk or more modern toys like American Girl Dolls, other notable honorees have included S sand, sticks, cardboard boxes, paper airplanes, bubbles, or sidewalk chalk.

More Shoppers Buying Organic, but Many Farmers in the US Remain UnconvincedAs a demand for organic produce outstrips supply in the United States, many farmers remain reluctant to take advantage of this new source of revenue

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

For years, America’s organic farmers worried that consumers wouldn’t pay a premium for their produce. That’s no longer the case. The Organic Trade Association reports that annual sales of organic products have more or less doubled in the past decade and now top $63 billion. And that growth shows no sign of stopping: this year, the organization projects sales will climb by up to 5.5%.

Unfortunately demand for organics is growing so quickly that it’s outstripping supply, creating a new challenge for the organic sector: finding enough farmers to leave behind conventional farming and start taking advantage of the revenue pouring in.

At the moment, the number of farmers switching to organic is, in fact, decreasing. According to the USDA, the number of conventional farms making the transition to organic production plummeted, between 2008 to 2019, down 70% overall during that span. Organic produce represents around 6% of overall food sales, but just 1% of US farmland is devoted to organic production. As a result, foreign farmers must make up the shortfall.

The U.S. The Department of Agriculture is hoping they can convince America’s conventional growers to meet that shortfall – and they’re spending up to $300 million to recruit and help more farmers make the change.

The new USDA program is slated to include $100 million for technical training for farmers, an additional $75 million to reward farmers who meet new conservation practice standards, $25 million to help expand crop insurance options; and a further $100 million to strengthen supply chains and ensure more organic produce can get to market.

“It feels good,” said Chris Schreiner, executive director of the organic certification organization Oregon Tilth, of the program. “It’s a milestone in the arc of this work.”

But Schreiner, who has decades of experience in the world of organic agriculture, emphasizes that switching between conventional and organic farming is no easy task. The biggest differentiator between conventional and organic farming is the reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and the use of GMO seed. Organic farmers must replace those technologies with techniques like crop rotation and the use of cover crops that squeeze out weeds and add nutrients to the soil.

To achieve the organic designation, crops must be grown on land that hasn’t been treated with synthetic substances for three years. During that initial transition period, farmers are able to grow crops, but they won’t be able to get organic certification – or the premium prices that come with it.

Nick Andrews, an Oregon State University extension agent who works with organic farmers, referred to the new USDA program as a “game changer.” He hopes that organic farming can be a lifeline for more small family growers who are struggling to compete with larger-scale conventional farms.

“I’ve seen organic farmers keep families in business who otherwise would go out of business,” Andrews said.

Vehicle Touchscreens: In Touch with Drivers or Out of Hand?Understanding the of advantages and disadvantages of vehicle touchscreens

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Get behind the wheel of any new vehicle, and it’s impossible to miss the impact smartphones have had on the modern driving experience. The knobs, dials, and dedicated buttons that once defined a vehicle’s center console have given way, in many cases, to touchscreens and banks of capacitive touch buttons.

The appeal of these designs is easy to understand: these new elements lend new vehicles a simplicity and sleekness that traditional designs can’t match. But their downsides may be hard to understand, especially for prospective car buyers unfamiliar with new technology.

For many drivers, the immediate appeal of the touchscreens appearing in many new vehicles is their larger size.The larger the screen, after all, the easier it is to see – and to use. By removing buttons from the console, car manufacturers are also able to give drivers a better look at all of their vehicle’s essential functions in a single location, accessible via menus that are easy to navigate by hand.

In recent years, many auto manufacturers have taken a more is more approach to in-vehicle screens. For instance, the 2022 Lexus NX can be equipped with an optional 14-inch touchscreen – that’s the double size of the screen found in the original 2015 NX. The Ford Mustang Mach-E comes standard with a 15.5-inch center touchscreen – the largest of any current vehicle in production.

Some manufacturers are even offering features that go beyond our usual expectations of what a touchscreen can offer. Mercedes-Benz’ all-electric EQS comes equipped with what they call a “Hyperscreen”, a touchscreen that encompasses the entire dashboard.
Whether your touchscreen dominates the dashboard or it is the dashboard, bigger screens offer clear benefits. They’re easier to read, whether you’re looking at a map or changing the radio station, and much simpler to accurately navigate by hand.

Ease of use and accessibility are more important than ever for vehicle touchscreens. These days, a single screen is expected to do it all, putting everything from A/C to audio at a driver’s fingertips, all while interfacing with the driver’s smartphone via apps like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

This multi-functionality allows automakers to give drivers much more control, while achieving a sleek elegant design. Take the Tesla Model S. Drivers can access nearly every function – from the windshield wipers to the shifter – via the vehicle’s touchscreen. Meanwhile, the Kia EV6 has a bank of touch controls that are used for climate controls and, at the press of a specific button, as stereo controls. Drivers just have to make sure they’ve engaged the right mode – or they might find themselves turning up the heat instead of raising the volume.

Furthermore, because the buttons on a touchscreen aren’t fixed in place, manufacturers can give drivers an unprecedented amount of control over the way they operate their vehicle. Get behind the wheel of a Tesla Model 3 and you can rearrange the location of all the major on-screen buttons however you’d like.The 2022 Lucid Air, meanwhile, allows different drivers to create customized profiles that contain presets for the steering wheel, seats, and stereo that can be stored and switched instantly.

The do-it-all functionality of modern touchscreens does have some significant downsides, however. Having all your controls in one place or device is great – until that device stops functioning. Anyone who has had their computer freeze or had their phone battery die at an inopportune moment knows how. Unfortunately, a malfunctioning touchscreen can have the same effect on your ability to comfortably and effectively operate your vehicle.

However, the biggest potential drawback of touchscreens is a factor even when they’re working perfectly. With touchscreens, drivers have to take their eyes off the road to perform most functions. According to a 2020 study by IAM RoadSmart, an independent UK road safety nonprofit, even a simple task like pulling up a song on Spotify caused drivers to take their eyes off the road for an average of 20 seconds. That’s despite the fact National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines recommend “devices be designed so that tasks can be completed by the driver while driving with glances away from the roadway of 2 seconds or less.” The study also concluded that the impact on reaction time when using touch control was even worse than texting while driving.

In contrast, a driver using a vehicle with a traditional center console will eventually be able to operate their vehicle’s buttons entirely by touch, with no need to take their eyes off the road.

Everyone has different priorities when it comes to their vehicle’s features, so make sure to get a feel for a car’s tech before you make the decision to buy. And if you’re not a fan of touchscreens, consider brands like BMW, Genesis, Mercedes-Benz or Mazda, that continue to offer control knob interfaces.

Over Fifteen Million Viewers Tune In to NFL on Amazon Prime Video Amazon Prime’s “Thursday Night Football” brings in fifteen million viewers.

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Prime Video’s first football season is off to a strong start, with 15.3 million viewers.

The Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers game, which Kansas City won 27-24, was the most watched program on broadcast or cable on September 15. The second-most watched show, “Young Sheldon” on CBS, brought in 3.5 million viewers.

Nielsen placed the game viewership at thirteen million, but Amazon tracking, which accounts for viewers watching on connected devices, delivered the increased number. Nielsen will be tracking Amazon ratings for the next three years, according to an agreement it has made with Amazon. Amazon Prime Video has signed an eleven-year agreement to air fifteen “Thursday Night Football” games.

“Our measurement shows that the audience numbers exceeded all of our expectations,” said Prime Video VP Jay Marine. The viewership numbers for the game were also a forty-seven percent increase from last week’s Washington vs. New York game, which was shown on the NFL Network.

Football has also sent new Prime subscribers flocking to Amazon, with game-time subscriptions outpacing the rate of new subscribers who signed up on Prime Day, Cyber Monday, and Black Friday.

Beer-Battered Highway: Semitrailer Spills Coors Light on Florida InterstateOverturned semi spills Silver Bullet beer on Florida highway.

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Drivers near Tampa, Florida were treated to an unusual sight on Wednesday: a highway filled with beer cans.

In the aftermath of a collision on Interstate 75, a semitrailer spilled its contents—cases of Coors Light Silver Bullet beer—into the road.

Florida Highway Patrol have said that the accident, involving several vehicles in the southbound lanes of the Interstate, was caused by a semitrailer which collided with another semi in the process of changing lanes. Nearby vehicles braked to avoid collision, but an additional nearby semi, loaded with cases of Coors Light Silver Bullet beer, was unable to stop in time and ran into a pickup truck.

The people in the pickup truck have reported minor injuries.

According to Florida troopers, the spill happened just after 6 a.m., and by noon the road was cleared so traffic could flow as usual.