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Mayor Bill de Blasio says bringing Amazon HQ2 to New York City is “mission critical” – TechCrunch

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Mayor Bill de Blasio says bringing Amazon HQ2 to New York City is “mission critical” – TechCrunch

During a state legislature hearing today, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said it is “mission critical” that Amazon build HQ2 in Long Island City. De Blasio’s remarks come a few days after a report that widespread outcry from residents and local politicians alike have prompted Amazon to reconsider the move, which the company says would create at least 25,000 jobs.

According to NY1, De Blasio told the state legislature that New York City needs the jobs and revenue that would be created by Amazon. Other Democrats in city council and state senate, however, have been very outspoken against the deal. Amazon was offered incentives including grants, tax credits and breaks worth up to $2.8 billion.

The Washington Post (owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) reported last Friday that Amazon is reassessing its plans for the New York City branch of HQ2. It has not leased or bought office space for HQ2 in Long Island City and final approval is not expected from New York state until 2020, so it would relatively easy to pull out of the deal. In contrast, a bill to authorize up to $750 million in state subsidies to Amazon was signed into law last week in Virginia, where the other branch of HQ2 will be located.

While Amazon has yet to make an official statement about the fate of New York City plans, reports that it is reconsidering was welcomed by residents worried about the campus’ impact on housing plans and infrastructure.

One major complexifier to Amazon’s New York City plans is the nomination of state senator Michael Gianaris, whose Queens district includes Long Island City, to the Public Authorities Control Board, which needs to approve the deal. Gianaris has been very critical of it, saying that city and state incentives would be better spent on local programs like transportation, schools and affordable housing instead.

De Blasio defended the offer to the state legislature, saying that “the vast majority of the subsidy that Amazon got was standing incentive programs.”

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Judge says Washington state cyberstalking law violates free speech

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The ruling came after a retired Air Force Major, Richard Rynearson III, sued to have the law overturned. He claimed that Kitsap County threatened to prosecute him under the cyberstalking law for criticizing an activist involved with a memorial to Japanese victims of US internment camps during World War II. While Rynearson would use “invective, ridicule, and harsh language,” the judge said, his language was neither threatening nor obscene.

Officials had contended that the law held up because it targeted conduct, not the speech itself. They also maintained that Rynearson hadn’t shown evidence of a serious threat — just that the prosecutor’s office would see how Rynearson behaved and take action if necessary. A county court had already tossed out the activist’s restraining order against Rynearson over free speech.

It’s not clear whether Washington will appeal the decision. If the ruling stays, though, it could force legislators to significantly narrow the scope if it wants a cyberstalking law to remain in place. This might also set a precedent that could affect legislation elsewhere in the country.

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Steam now supports NextVR’s virtual reality broadcasts

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The Steam version of the software works with the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality devices. NextVR rolled out an iteration of the app for the Rift late last year, and it has supported the Vive and Windows Mixed Reality headsets longer than that. Its arrival on Steam means users don’t have to download it from the headsets’ app stores, though, such as HTC’s Viveport, which used to be infamously buggy.

David Cole, NextVR CEO, said in a statement:

“NextVR is driven to engage the largest possible audience to experience our content in virtual reality. Steam is a critically important platform to reach active virtual reality users. We’re excited to put our unparalleled live sports and entertainment experiences at the fingertips of the vibrant Steam user-base.”

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Instagram code hints at Pinterest-style public collections

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There’s no mention of following other collections, although it might just be a matter of time.

Instagram told TechCrunch only that it’s “not testing this.” However, that only means that the team isn’t publicly experimenting with its widened Collections feature at the moment. This doesn’t preclude future tests or a full-fledged release.

There are strong incentives to launch this feature, too. Instagram wants shopping to be a core part of its money-making strategy, and public Collections would go a long way toward this. Brands could launch larger virtual stores (versus a handful of products in posts and ads), while social media stars could showcase their sponsors’ wares in one convenient place. And then there’s the question of thwarting competition. Instagram is already much larger than Pinterest with over 1 billion active monthly users versus 250 million, but this would reduce the temptation to switch to Pinterest when you want to share more than just a photo or two.

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