BRIEF-H.B. Fuller announces proactive restructuring initiative

* Restructuring initiative will include elimination or
relocation of approximately 220 positions globally by early 2017

San Francisco Mayor Rejects Tough Restrictions On Airbnb

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (D) vetoed a bill Thursday that would have restricted short-term rentals in the city to 60 days a year, notching another win for Airbnb and other home-sharing companies.

The bill, introduced by San Francisco city supervisor London Breed and approved by the board of supervisors in a 7-3 vote last month, would have significantly reduced the number of nights residents can rent out units for short-term use per year. Under existing law, residents can rent short-term units an unlimited number of nights if they plan to live in the home during the rental period. Unhosted rentals, meanwhile, are capped at 90 days a year.

Breed’s bill would have capped all short-term rentals at 60 days annually. If passed, the regulations would have been among the toughest in the country.

In a veto message, Lee expressed concern over the lack of distinction in the bill between hosted and unhosted units.

“Most San Franciscans agree that there is a difference,” he said. “I have concluded that this legislation will make registration and enforcement of our short-term rental regulations more difficult and less effective, and risks driving even more people to illegal rent units.” 

The bill marked a shift for Breed, who opposed a 2015 ballot initiative to restrict unhosted short-term rentals to 75 days a year, among other regulations. (Voters rejected the measure.) At the time, Breed said she wanted to give existing home-sharing regulations time to work before imposing new ones. One year later, after deciding those regulations weren’t working, she introduced the new bill. 

Breed told the San Francisco Chronicle she was disappointed with the veto, but would continue to work with Lee to improve regulations. Another supervisor, John Avalos, was far more critical of Lee, hinting at the mayor’s reputation for putting the priorities of tech companies ahead of the city. 

“I’m sure Ed Lee is smart enough to understand how devastating short-term rentals have been to our housing stock, so it’s safe to say the mayor cares more about Airbnb’s bottom line than preventing homelessness,” Avalos said

San Francisco and the wider Bay Area is in the throes of a years-long housing crisis, thanks in large part to Silicon Valley’s tech renaissance over the last decade. Housing prices have skyrocketed in the region, pushing out long-term residents who simply can’t compete with Google executives and venture capitalists. And while there are projects underway to build more affordable housing, it’s not enough to keep up with demand or match the rate of units being taken off the rental market. 

Housing advocates point to short-term rentals, such as those offered by Airbnb, as part of the problem. Landlords can benefit from evicting tenants and renting vacant units on a short-term basis at a much higher rate than they could charge for a long-term rental. Caps like the one proposed in San Francisco would make such ventures much less profitable, and in theory would put units back on the rental market. 

An Airbnb spokesman didn’t return a request for comment on the latest bill, but the $30 billion San Francisco-based company has fought hard against previous efforts to curb its effect on the housing market. Airbnb has rejected the idea that it removes units from the market, and has argued that its business actually helps individuals afford expensive mortgages by allowing them to rent a spare room. 

Cities and states across the country are considering legislation similar to the bill in San Francisco. Most notably, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill in October making it illegal to rent apartments on a short-term basis. Airbnb is challenging the law in court, arguing the regulation does “irreparable harm” to its business.

Meanwhile, the company has agreed to enforce limits on rentals in London and Amsterdam.

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‘I had to do it,’ accused gunman says of South Carolina church attack

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Jurors in the federal hate crimes trial of Dylann Roof watched a video on Friday of the avowed white supremacist confessing to killing nine parishioners at a historic black church in South Carolina and saying he felt he “had to do it.”

UPDATE 1-Creditors to present Brazil’s Oi with new restructuring plan

SAO PAULO, Dec 9 (Reuters) – A group of creditors of
Brazil’s struggling phone operator Oi SA, including
export credit insurers and banks, plans to present to the
company in the next two weeks a new…

Students Create Brilliant Extension That Identifies Fake News

As the influence of fake news on the recent presidential election continues to be a hot topic, one group of students may have found a solution to getting duped by inaccurate sources. 

A team of four graduate and undergrad students recently created “FiB,” a Google Chrome extension that verifies the authenticity of posts on Facebook to combat the circulation of fake news. What’s more, the group created the prototype in under 36 hours at a hackathon last month at Princeton University in New Jersey. 

The tool is currently unavailable for public use, but Anant Goel, a freshman at Purdue University who’s involved in the project, told The Huffington Post in an email that the team plans to officially release it during the first week of January. 

“We wanted to create a proof of concept that the issue of fake news in social media can be tackled at a large scale,” Goel told NBC News of the project. 

The FiB extension helps users separate the real from the fake through its two verification models, Goel explained to HuffPost. It first gives the source of the news, link or image a confidence score based on the source’s past credibility, he said. The extension also takes a step further by looking at the content, extracting keywords, and getting a summary of the article. 

“We perform multiple searches on keywords and summaries. Depending on the results of these searches we give it another confidence score,” Goel explained, adding that depending on if the scores pass a certain threshold, they’re marked either “verified” or “unverified.” 

Following the election, companies like Facebook and Google came under fire when the propagation of fake news, which was hosted on the platforms, was said to have had a hand in swinging the decision in Donald Trump’s favor. Some fake news stories, like one claiming that Denzel Washington had supported Trump, even went viral and began to trend on the social media site. 

While both companies said they’d take steps to mitigate the spread of false news, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has insisted that his site did not have a role in influencing the election’s outcome. However, a Buzzfeed News analysis discovered that the top fake news stories from hoax websites and hyperpartisan blogs outperformed the top news stories from major news outlets on Facebook.  

The extension, which is now an open source project so that other developers can help perfect it, has been released before. It drew in almost 50,000 user requests per second at one point, though it was designed to service 1,000 users. The team took it down to make the tool more efficient for a higher volume of users, according to NBC News. 

The group’s admirable work hasn’t gone unnoticed and at the hackathon. They received the Best Moonshot award from Google ― a distinction that honors the most ambitious project, NBC News reported. 

Bravo, team! 


— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

A Mermaid Vacation In Belize Is The Best Way To Kick Off 2017

Sirenalia’s Tropical Mermaid Retreat to Belize returns February 2017 for the best ten days of your winter.