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A new arrest in the Ahmaud Arbery case

May 22, 2020, 6:44 PM UTC

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Happy almost Memorial Day Weekend! A new arrest in the Ahmaud Arbery murder, bots are dominating the online coronavirus conversation, and the University of California is eliminating requirements for standardized testing.

But first, here’s your marketing-inspired week in review, in Haiku.

In these challenging
times; unprecedented, right?!
I hope this note finds

you well. Amid these
times: You can finally lose
that belly fat! And 

wrinkles. Organize
your closet. Do a handstand.
Write that screenplay, dawg!

Whiter teeth, for the
front line workers. We’re all in
this together! Now,

more than ever: 
We thank you. And want you to
have really nice hair.

On this strange start of the summer season, we are grateful for you. Be safe, have fun, look up, if you can.

Ellen McGirt

On point

The man who filmed the pursuit and murder of Ahmaud Arbery has been arrested The charge is suspicion of murder, says the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. allegedly first observed the pursuit while working in his yard, then followed behind and filmed the fatal shooting committed by Travis McMichael. But Gregory McMichael, who was riding in the bed of the pickup truck used to chase down Arbery, told police that Bryan had earlier attempted to help the two men track down Arbery. Bryan's attorney says his client is innocent and had no prior contact or plan with the McMichaels and will be the state’s “star witness.”

Listen up, sheeple: All those Twitter coronavirus conspiracy theories? Probably bots According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, some 45% of 200 million tweets talking about the pandemic behaved more like bots — irritating algorithms — than humans. And, they appeared to have mischief as part of their operating systems. "We do know that it looks like it's a propaganda machine, and it definitely matches the Russian and Chinese playbooks, but it would take a tremendous amount of resources to substantiate that," said one professor who is preparing to publish her research.

The University of California will no longer use SAT or ACT in its admissions process The move, which will remove standardized testing requirements across its ten campuses, is expected to be a galvanizing moment for reform-minded advocates. “These tests are extremely flawed and very unfair,” said California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who supported the decision as a member of the University’s board.“Enough is enough.” But some experts worry that the decision, designed to increase the likelihood that underrepresented and low-income students would be able to complete and afford the admission process, would have the opposite impact. A faculty task force found that test scores predict college success within the University of California system more effectively than high school grades, boosting to the chances of prospective Black and Latinx students with lower grades.
New York Times

Dig into The New York Times Company Diversity Report I will not bury the lede: Their progress on gender is impressive; on race, particularly in the newsroom, less so.
New York Times Compan

Coronavirus in the community

  • The majority of Americans who have lost jobs or wages are worried that the country is re-opening too soon.
  • Latinx Americans are hardest hit by coronavirus-related pay cuts.
  • This week’s U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey shows that 47% of adults said that they or someone in their household lost their job since March 13; 10% of adults report they didn’t have enough food, 29.7% feel anxious more than half the days the previous week, and 38.7% of adults delayed getting medical care because of the pandemic.
  • Immigrant doctors now fear both coronavirus and deportation.
  • Blessed are the mayors in the U.S., for they will form racial equity-focused task forces and work collaboratively together to better serve their communities. “We must take this unprecedented pandemic to create an unprecedented justice for people of color and vulnerable residents,” says Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaff.
  • The CDC is conflating data of two different types of coronavirus tests and painting a misleading picture of the pandemic in several states including Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas. Virginia was doing it but reversed the error; Vermont just found out they were making the same mistake.
  • RIPower William Roosevelt Jerman: The beloved White House butler who served through 11 presidencies dies of COVID-19.

Today's big number

$3.6 million

The amount of money donated to the Navajo Nation to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The money comes from a combination of tribal businesses, outside corporations, and individuals. Navajo officials are struggling to allocate the funds, citing red tape, understaffing, and jurisdictional confusion.

On background

What is AI good at? Let’s examine the list by exploring what it’s not good at: predicting life outcomes for marginalized people based on things such as grade averages, how public policies impact families, whether a parent living in an economically “fragile family” will be laid off or evicted, grit—pretty much anything that could lessen racial bias or inform better policies or services. One paper coauthored by over 112 researchers across 160 data and social science teams found that AI and statistical models were inaccurate even under ideal research conditions—13,000 data points from over 4,000 families. It’s a cautionary tale, they said. “Here’s a setting where we have hundreds of participants and a rich data set, and even the best AI results are still not accurate,” said the study's co-lead author. “These results show us that machine learning isn’t magic; there are clearly other factors at play when it comes to predicting the life course.”
Venture Beat

How you can tell that a company is really committed to diversity and inclusion Job seekers are facing a myriad of special pressures these days. But how can you tell if a new or prospective employer really understands how to create a fully welcoming environment? Author and consultant Minda Harts says open your eyes ahead of time. “Many of the issues we face inside toxic work environments might have been avoided if we did some early research,” she says. Skip the diversity statements and stock-photo’d website and hit the whisper networks. Check Dipper, for executives of color, Glassdoor chatter, industry-specific Slack channels, and don’t forget the company’s social feeds. “If an organization is thoughtful in how they run their social and digital communication, there will be inclusive language and consistent conversations,” adds Sarah Saska, Ph.D., consultant and CEO of Feminuity
Diversity in Research

Randall Jacobs has died and his obituary will make you miss him.
Hansen Mortuaries and Cemeteries


Today's mood board

Ferguson, Missouri
Ellen McGirt