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Wharton discusses the rape kit backlog on MSNBC

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. was on MSNBC Thursday, May 29, with Ronan Farrow to discuss the city’s untested rape kit backlog and announce a $750,000 challenge grant from the Plough Foundation. To receive the grant, the city must raise the gap between the $2 million it has now and the estimated $6 million needed to clear the backlog.

Also look for Wharton’s comments as Farrow presses him on how the backlog came to be.

Memphis the city vs. Memphis the town

I emailed a friend yesterday afternoon, a few hours after word came that Pinnacle Airlines is leaving Memphis and Bishop Byrne is closing. I found it interesting, I told her, that our Bishop Byrne tweets had been mentioned/retweeted more than our Pinnacle tweets.

Her reply:
That may be evidence that Memphis is, in fact, less of a city and more of a town where people value family-related institutions over big business. Thing is … you need both to survive.

Just one person’s opinion, but a valid one.

Within the span of a few weeks, Memphis will lose one of each: Pinnacle will be gone by May; Bishop Byrne’s last day is May 24. They’ve impacted the city in different ways – and will continue to impact the city in different ways for a few more short months. But as different as they are, the bottom line is that they’ve both impacted the city. They both matter. And both will be missed.

Facebook, Google and the definition of ‘success’

Facebook announced this week its plan to go public with a $5 billion IPO. The news was both expected and eagerly awaited – by would-be investors as well as anyone wanting to peek under the hood at the company’s financials.

The prospectus Facebook filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows it ended 2011 with $3.9 billion in cash. To put that in perspective, Google ended the year with $45 billion, according to the Associated Press.

Though Google’s impressive bank balance easily overshadows Facebook’s, the search giant’s dog in the social media fight, Google+, is light years away from overtaking Facebook’s member base.

When Google reported earnings in mid-January, CEO Larry Page said Google+ had more than 90 million users, with 60 percent (54 million) being daily active users, or DAUs. Respected tech news website Ars Technica questioned those numbers and confirmed Google used a rather broad interpretation of what constituted an “active” user. (Ars’ report here.)

But even taking Google’s 90 million at face value, Facebook ended 2011 with nearly nine times the number of members (800 million) and DAUs (483 million). Google+ has plenty of time to catch up – but a long way to go.

The comparison raises an important question: When weighing Google’s bottom line against Facebook’s wild popularity, who’s won the battle and who’s winning the war?

Click here to read Facebook’s prospectus and here to read Google’s most recent earnings report.

Twitterati’s much ado about nothing

The folks behind the curtain at Twitter made a startling announcement via blog post Friday: The popular microblogging service can now block tweets that run afoul of the law on a country-by-country basis.

Censorship! The four-letter dirty word of the Internet! (Actually, it’ll take up 10 of your 140 characters, if you’re keeping count.)

The twitterati was in an uproar. They planned a #TwitterBlackout for Saturday that appeared – based on my completely unscientific first glance, at least – to have absolutely no effect on traffic over there.

Hey, considering users post a billion tweets every four days, you don’t really miss a few here or there.

… And that’s exactly how tweeters got it wrong.

See, Twitter’s “new” policy isn’t new at all, but nobody missed those few tweets here or there until the policy was in the spotlight.

The site routinely removes tweets that break foreign law – the blog post uses the example of pro-Nazi content banned in France and Germany – but until now, Twitter has done so on a global basis. Now the tweets can be removed from users in one country while still being viewable elsewhere. And should you find yourself in an affected country, Twitter has made no secret of an easy workaround.

Another non-change: Twitter’s policy on when it removes tweets. Tweets are removed reactively, not filtered. That means it takes a while. And that means future social media-fueled uprisings – a la #ArabSpring and #OccupyWallStreet – can carry on uninhibited. (Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing isn’t my call to make.)

The not-new “new” policy on removing tweets is not likely to affect Twitter’s popularity on a global scale. Did I mention the billion tweets every four days?

The site reports its user base numbers some 100 million, with 50 million logging in daily. It’s going to take more than a one-day blackout to make a dent in that.

ABB CEO’s thoughts on Thomas & Betts’ acquisition

The ABB Group, a Zurich-based maker of power and automation technology, is planning to acquire Memphis-based Thomas & Betts Corp., a supplier of low-voltage products.

Details will be in The Daily News’ Tuesday, Jan. 31, edition and at www.memphisdailynews.com.

Thoughts from ABB CEO Joe Hogan:

Dansette

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