clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Recode Daily: Federal workers brace for the worst as the government shutdown continues

Plus: U.S. Strategic Command apologizes for that bomb-dropping New Year’s Eve tweet; Arizona locals are attacking Waymo’s self-driving vans with rocks and knives; imagine what you could do with the 1,460 hours you spend on your smartphone each year.

Garbage overflows a trash can on the National Mall across from the White House on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The National Park Service, which is responsible for trash removal, is not operating due to the goverment shutdown.
Garbage overflows a trash can on the National Mall across from the White House on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The National Park Service, which is responsible for trash removal, is not operating due to the goverment shutdown.
Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images

As the government shutdown stretches into its second week with no end in sight, about 380,000 federal employees are bracing for the worst — deferring payments, filing unemployment claims and notifying landlords that they might not make rent. An additional 420,000 employees deemed essential are working without pay. On Monday, the American Federation of Government Employees sued the U.S. government in federal claims court, arguing that requiring employees to work without pay is illegal. A new Democratic majority will take control of the House of Representatives on Thursday, when they plan to pass a slate of six spending bills and a continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security to reopen the government. Meanwhile, a growing number of agencies and federal institutions are running out of money, too; here’s an update on what is and isn’t affected by the shutdown. [Andrew Duehren / The Wall Street Journal]

The U.S. Strategic Command apologized for boasting in a New Year’s Eve tweet that it’s ready if ever needed “to drop something much, much bigger” than the iconic Times Square ball. The flippant tweet from the military department that oversees America’s nuclear and missile arsenal was accompanied by embedded video of B-2 bombers dropping two 30,000-pound conventional weapons at a test range. The tweet, which has since been deleted, appeared hours before outgoing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis ended his two years as Pentagon chief. [Deanna Paul / The Washington Post]

Silicon Valley pledged to break up the boys’ club of investing in 2018, following sexual harassment allegations against venture capitalists Shervin Pishevar, Dave McClure and others. So, how did it do? There has been some modest progress: Some firms removed high-profile alleged sexual harassers, and some announced a rapid-fire spate of hires and promotions for women investors. A year after tech investors surveyed the post-Weinstein reckoning and promised to do better, there is cautious optimism across Silicon Valley about how the industry has treated diversity issues. [Theodore Schleifer / Recode]

Netflix is expected to name Activision Blizzard CFO Spencer Neumann as its new chief financial officer as early as this week. Activision said it planned to fire Neumann for cause unrelated to the company’s financial performance; Neumann, who has served in a variety of finance roles, including at Walt Disney Co., was tapped by the streaming video giant while he is still under contract. Netflix is known for poaching executives who are still under contract, and has been sued over that practice by both 21st Century Fox and Viacom. Neumann replaces David Wells, who in August said he planned to step down after 14 years at Netflix. [Kenneth Li / Reuters]

People are attacking autonomous test vehicles in Arizona, throwing rocks and slashing the tires of self-driving vans operated by Waymo, the driverless-car company spun out of Google. At least 21 such vigilante attacks have been leveled at Waymo vans; some analysts expect more such behavior as the nation moves into a broader discussion about the potential for driverless cars to unleash colossal changes in American society. “They said they need real-world examples, but I don’t want to be their real-world mistake,” said one man who, according to police reports, has repeatedly tried to run the vans off the road with his Jeep Wrangler. [Simon Romero / The New York Times]

The first social media fad of the new year was a potential privacy disaster waiting to happen. Over the long holiday weekend, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook were swarmed with images from PopSugar’s Twinning app, which solicits a user’s selfie and serves up a celebrity lookalike; then you share the matched photo on Facebook and Twitter so everyone reassures you that you don’t look at all like, um, let’s say Kevin Spacey. As it turns out, the hundreds of thousands of uploaded user photos were easily accessible from a public Amazon Web Services storage bucket, which has since been locked. [Zack Whittaker / TechCrunch]

The Wall Street Journal called out some of the promising tech trends of 2019, including a facelift for Apple’s iOS, foldable phones, 5G, cashierless retail, Harry Potter AR, privacy legislation, corporate health tracking, autonomous delivery wagons, IoT edge computing, streaming service launches, the Fortnite Effect and more. [Joanna Stern and David Pierce / The Wall Street Journal]

Top stories from Recode

Our favorite Recode stories from 2018. Longreads, analysis and explanation on what mattered in tech this year. [Recode Staff]

As digital media companies brace for change, unions try to cushion the blow. Newly formed unions have been warning employees that winter is coming. Now that it has arrived, what can a union actually do about it? [Shirin Ghaffary]

Instagram got rid of the scrolling feed for some users and some people freaked out. Instagram said it was a “bug,” but also said it was a test gone wrong. Hmmmm. [Kurt Wagner]

Facebook needs a “reset” button for your friend list. Could having fewer friends fix Facebook? [Kurt Wagner]

This is cool

Imagine what you could do with the $1,380 and 1,460 hours you spend on your smartphone and other mobile devices each year.

How did Microsoft’s 2009 predictions for the world of 2019 hold up?

This article originally appeared on