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This startup wants to help you prepare for America’s next disaster

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There are few experiences more harrowing than an earthquake. Ask Dan Kessler. He obsesses about them.

Kessler is the chief executive of Harbor, a startup that aims to help Americans prepare—at least semi-calmly—for the next disaster, from how to pack a “go bag,” to how much water you should stockpile.

To be sure, there will be another disaster. That might not be good for your nerves, but makes for ideal timing for a disaster prep app. America is grappling with a pandemic, a financial crisis, a potentially contested presidential election, another historic hurricane season, and superpowered wildfires on the West Coast.

Harbor tackles two out of these—natural disasters and COVID-19—plus the usual ailments of modern life: car crashes and house fires. (Next on Kessler’s wish … Read the rest

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How to hold the corporate world accountable

On Tuesday, the Justice Department and 11 U.S. states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, alleging, “For the sake of American consumers, advertisers, and all companies…the time has come to stop Google’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition.” 

Yet, despite widespread, bipartisan censure, Google has been celebrated as a leader in “stakeholder capitalism”; its parent company, Alphabet, ranks fifth out of over 900 companies in JUST Capital’s recently released list of businesses that excel in addressing the needs of workers, consumers, communities, and the environment. Why the reputational disconnect?

The answer is the key challenge of the stakeholder capitalism movement: All too often, corporate goodness cannot be adequately measured and assessed. 

But fortunately, that is starting to change.

There is increasing recognition that we need to depart from the past 50 years of “shareholder capitalism,” but less consensus on what that actually means. Influential actors such as the … Read the rest

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Last night’s debate didn’t change a thing: Biden is still a 2-1 favorite to win, betting market says

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Last night’s debate in Nashville didn’t change the odds of Joe Biden beating Donald Trump to win the presidency on November 3rd.

That’s the verdict from one of the most closely watched political betting markets. Smarkets, a U.K.-based gambling company that allows wagers on political contests as well as sporting events, says Biden’s chances of winning remain unchanged at 67%, while Trump has a 33% chance of retaining the presidency.

The Electoral College forecast also wasn’t shifted by the final presidential debate of the 2020 campaign, with state-by-state wagers implying a 317-221 Electoral College victory for Biden, according to Smarkets.

There was a slight move in Biden’s favor in some key battleground states, according to Smarkets’ betting. The Democrat’s odds of winning Florida ticked up slightly … Read the rest

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Is it time for a regulatory revamp in Congress?

Two government officials yesterday admitted what many Big Tech critics have argued for years: Lawmakers and regulators have done a bad job of managing monopolies.

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust committee David Cicilline and Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra spoke at a virtual event hosted by the American Economic Liberties Project, a lobbying group focused on battling monopoly power. They suggested that the U.S. needs new laws to prevent companies from engaging in anticompetitive behavior as well as improved regulatory enforcement to crack down on companies that break the rules. 

“We need to end the era of weak enforcement,” Chopra said on the Zoom call. 

Both Congress and regulators have become increasingly concerned with Big Tech’s growing power and their history of squashing and scooping up rivals. And the battle against Big Tech has bipartisan interest, though in some cases for different reasons.

Already, the antitrust committee had … Read the rest

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In pursuit of ‘net zero,’ Spain’s Iberdrola bets big on America

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Bilbao-based utilities and renewable giant Iberdrola’s buying spree will expand its reach further into the U.S., the company said Wednesday, by acquiring Albuquerque-based PNM Resources for $4.3 billion.

The deal represents the growing might of a group of fast-moving, low-carbon utilities companies—increasingly coming from abroad—in the race to decarbonize America’s energy sector.

The deal folds PNM Resources—which serves homes in Texas and New Mexico and has 2,811 MW in capacity—into Avangrid, the much larger northeast-U.S. utilities and renewables company in which the Spanish Iberdrola holds a roughly 80% stake.

Avangrid has 7.1 GW of power capacity, largely in wind and solar, and holds $32 billion in assets across 24 states, the company says on its website. It is split into two businesses: one an electric and natural … Read the rest

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Only a third of Americans plan to vote in person on Election Day

With just over two weeks to go until Election Day, voter enthusiasm is the highest it’s been in the past three presidential elections—but the majority of Americans won’t turn up to the polls on Nov. 3.

With the coronavirus pandemic still raging across parts of the country, just one third of Americans (33%) plan to vote in person on Election Day, according to national survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released on Monday. Another 17% said they plan to vote in person, but before Nov. 3, while another third of Americans (32%) said they plan on casting their ballots by mail.

Of the 2,538 respondents, the remaining 18% said they were still unsure how they planned to vote. 76% of Americans said they are absolutely certain they will vote in the 2020 election, which is higher than both the 2016 election (66%) and 2012 election (71%). Including this … Read the rest

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This is the fastest 5G mobile network right now

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Verizon offered the fastest 5G connections of all carriers during the most recent quarter, but its service was the most difficult to find.

Verizon customers averaged 5G connection of 793 Megabits per second, blasting past AT&T’s 65 Mbps and T-Mobile’s 59 Mbps, according to research firm Ookla. But Verizon customers with 5G-compatible phones found a 5G connection less than 1% of the time compared to 54% for T-Mobile and 18% for AT&T.

The differences largely relate to the different types of 5G that the three carriers offered during the three months ending Sept. 30. AT&T and T-Mobile used gear that provided broad coverage but relatively slow connections while Verizon’s emphasized high speeds with minimal coverage.

That will likely change some in the current quarter because Verizon … Read the rest

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Tom Steyer thinks business is missing a big opportunity—and that Trump has done ‘nothing but whiff’

Since Tom Steyer dropped out of the presidential race in February, he has been busy proselytizing about his favorite topic: climate. Both the political and the earthly, that is.

An advisor to Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, Steyer is warning that the planet faces imminent calamity if bold and urgent action isn’t taken. But it’s not all doom and gloom, says Steyer, a billionaire and former hedge fund manager. Humanity may yet snatch prosperity from the jaws of eco-devastation.

Fortune caught up with Steyer, whose name has been floated for a possible Biden cabinet placement. He explained the Democratic ticket’s economic recovery plans, which tie together financial stimulus and environmental policy. The discussion ranged from how Steyer is reading the markets to what technological breakthroughs he’s most excited about (see: electric vehicles, offshore windfarms, and more).

Here is that conversation, edited and condensed for clarity.

FortuneRead the rest

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‘Virtual marathons’ see a spike as runners crave a fix and organizers fight to keep them engaged

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Over the next two weeks, some 25,000 runners will line up to run the New York City Marathon—hearing Sinatra croon “New York, New York” before the boom of the cannon and listening to the race director’s final instructions that herald the start of the 26.2 mile race—as they have for almost every year since 1976.

But in 2020, the year of COVID, these runners will be scattered all over the world, running separately at a time of their choosing within a two-week window ending Nov. 1, instead of being gathered at the foot of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge on Staten Island. They will be connected via an app, supported by TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) and available as of Saturday. The app uses augmented reality and tracks runners, feeding … Read the rest

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Is Netflix recreating the old broadcast TV network?

Good morning Data Sheet readers. We’re starting on our new schedule. I’ll write the entire newsletter on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from now on. Robert Hackett will switch to Tuesday and our West Coast colleague Danielle Abril will take over on Thursday. Enjoy!

If you reach page 1,168 of Harlot’s Ghost, the very last page of Norman Mailer’s rollicking faux history of the CIA, the story doesn’t quite finish. “TO BE CONTINUED,” it says. That was 1991 and Mailer, who died in 2007, never published the sequel, leaving readers frustrated.

But what if the author, or the auteur as we say in the case of TV and movies, does have an ending, but the publisher or the network has other plans?

Lately, Netflix has made news over early cancellations, in some cases drawing protest from the auteurs and actors involved. “No more GLOW. Sorry. Stinks,” actor Marc Maron … Read the rest