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Recode Daily: Google won’t run political ads during Canada’s October election

Plus: T-Mobile spent more at Trump’s DC hotel after announcing its merger with Sprint; a clear-eyed look at the $100 billion prescription eyewear industry; what if your April Fools’ pranks were bankrolled by Elon Musk?

The word “Google” with the first “o” replaced by a Canada maple leaf. mi_n_mi / Instagram

Google is banning political ads in the runup to Canada’s October federal election; the search giant says the country’s new ad transparency rules would be too challenging to comply with. Bill C-76, which passed in December, requires online platforms to keep a registry of all political and partisan ads they directly or indirectly publish. “We’ve come to the decision that the best way for Google to comply with the Elections Act in the 2019 election cycle is actually to stop accepting elections ads as defined in the legislation,” said Colin McKay, Google Canada’s head of public policy and government relations. “This isn’t a negotiating tactic,” he added. [Tom Cardoso / The Globe and Mail]

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T-Mobile acknowledged that it dramatically increased its company visits — and spending — at President Trump’s hotel in Washington, DC, after announcing its $26 billion merger with Sprint last April. The company disclosed in a letter last month to Congressional Democrats that it has spent about $195,000 at the Trump International Hotel, which is housed inside the federally owned Old Post Office building in downtown DC. Meanwhile, a group of 36 House Democrats is trying to block the proposed T-Mobile-Sprint deal; the lawmakers signed letters sent to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Justice Department antitrust head Makan Delrahim arguing that combining two of the four major wireless providers will drive up prices and reduce competition. [David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell / The Washington Post]

Chinese hackers targeted more than two dozen universities in the US, Canada, and Southeast Asia in an attempt to steal research about military use of maritime technology. At least 27 schools were targeted by hackers associated with the Chinese government, including the University of Hawaii, the University of Washington, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology; most of the schools either house undersea technology research hubs or have faculty with experience in a relevant field. [Dustin Volz / The Wall Street Journal]

The LA Times looks into the prescription eyewear business and sees “a near-monopolistic, $100 billion industry” that represents “perhaps the single biggest mass-market consumer rip-off to be found” — part one finds that markups on consumer prices for frames and lenses often approach 1,000 percent. A related column zeros in on how the market for designer frames came to be so heavily dominated by Milan-based Luxottica, which owns and licenses brands including Armani, Chanel, Coach, Michael Kors, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, and Ray-Ban. “In 1995, Luxottica purchased LensCrafters’ parent company, US Shoe Corp., for $1.4 billion. The goal wasn’t to get into the shoe business. It was to take control of LensCrafters’ hundreds of stores nationwide.” [David Lazarus / Los Angeles Times]

Imagine if your April Fools’ pranks were bankrolled by Elon Musk. A “billionaire with some sense of humor,” Musk has co-founded a new satirical media company called — perhaps presciently — Thud. Musk is drawn to satire — he has called The Onion “the greatest publication in the history of all conscious beings, living or dead” — and he’s working on this venture with Ben Berkley and Cole Bolton, former top editors of The Onion who jointly departed the company in 2017. Funny story: “After funding a budget of just under $2 million, Musk began to worry that the satire company’s output could be weaponized against SpaceX and Tesla, and so he sold the company to Berkley and Bolton with no strings attached.” [Scott Nover / The Atlantic]

Top stories from Recode

Laurene Powell Jobs says President Trump’s attacks on the press are “right out of a dictator’s playbook.” On the latest Recode Decode: Laurene Powell Jobs founded the Emerson Collective, which owns Pop-Up Magazine and has a majority stake in the Atlantic. [Kara Swisher]

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