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Ignoring green lights

Thumbs Down: We don't have statistics to back this up, but it seems more and more drivers in Alexandria are slow to react to green lights and green arrows at intersections. The light turns green and they wait. And wait. Meanwhile, the cars behind them continue to stack up and are wondering what the hold up is. The old adage about traffic lights, "It's not going to get any greener," comes to mind. Sometimes, only one or two cars are able to get through a green light because of the lead car's inexplicable inaction. Are they fiddling with their phones? Messing with the radio? Admiring the scenery? Whatever the reason, drivers should snap out of it, pay attention to the lights and keep the traffic flow going — especially during these busy summer months when green arrows and green lights are precious.

Google profiting from newspapers

Thumbs Down: Newspapers have long known that Google is profiting from their work. The content from newspapers is a key source of Google searches and Google uses the content to drive consumer engagement with its products. A study released this week and published by the News Media Alliance shows just how much money Google is pulling in from newspapers. In 2018, the amount of news in Google search results ranged from 16 to 40 percent, and the platform received an estimated $4.7 billion in revenue in 2018 from crawling and scraping news publishers' content — without paying the publishers for that use. This revenue robbing is not good for newspapers or readers. David Chavern, CEO of the News Media Alliance, which represents about 2,000 newspapers and websites across the country, said, "News publishers need to continue to invest in quality journalism, and they can't do that if the platforms take what they want without paying for it. Information wants to be free, but reporters need to get paid." That $4.7 billion is nearly as much as the $5.1 billion brought in by the United States news industry as a whole from digital advertising last year.

Supporting STEM careers

Thumbs Up: Legislation was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate that would remove barriers for students in other countries to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — STEM — in America once they complete their advanced degrees in the U.S. The "Keep STEM Talent Act" helps the economy by retaining skilled international graduates who have earned STEM advanced degrees from American universities by exempting them from restrictive green card caps that significantly delay or prevent their pathway to citizenship. "America is a country created and sustained by immigrants, whose contributions are a pillar of our nation's competitive edge in the global economy," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one of the bill's authors. "We should be working to keep students pursuing advanced STEM degrees here in the United States, and this bill will ensure that those who want to bring their talent to our country can succeed here."

Why voting matters

Thumbs Up: Voting does matter. Just ask the winner of the 27th annual Great American Think-Off that took place in New York Mills June 8. Jennifer Nelson of Fridley came out on top of the debate among four "armchair philosophers" who argued the question, "To vote or not to vote: Does it matter?" In the final round, Nelson presented a clever argument: "Voting is a so-called gateway drug to democracy, and the first exposure to exercising power and having a voice," she said. "Voting does not exist in a vacuum. While an argument can be made that a single vote doesn't often change an election, voting still matters as part of the overall democratic system." Definitely something to think about for the next election.

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If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to aedenloff@echopress.com or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.

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