Sue Halpern is a contributing writer at The New Yorker and author of the book, Summer Hours at the Rob.
It was just seven years ago that Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Today the drug is legal in eleven states and counting, with polls showing that sixty per cent of Americans support its legalization. How did that happen so fast? This episode of The New Yorker Radio Hour looks at the end of reefer madness—and the early days of corporate cannabis. Bruce Barcott talks about the politics and the public-health aspects of legalization; Jelani Cobb looks at how legalization tries to undo the decades of harm that marijuana prohibition has done to communities of color; Sue Halpern drives around Vermont, where weed is the new zucchini; and Jia Tolentino shares the joy of watching David Attenborough under the influence. 
Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (which owns Google), and Facebook—known in the tech world as the Big Four—are among the largest and most profitable companies in the world, and they’ve been accustomed to the laxest of oversight from Washington. But the climate may have shifted in a significant way. The Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and the House Judiciary Committee are all investigating different aspects of the Big Four; Elizabeth Warren has made breaking up these companies a cornerstone of her Presidential campaign. Sue Halpern, a New Yorker contributor, sounds a cautious note about these developments. Current antitrust law doesn’t well fit the nature of these businesses, and breaking up the companies will not necessarily solve underlying issues, like the lack of privacy law. In a twist, Halpern says, the Big Four and now asking the federal government for more regulation—because, she explains to David Remnick, the companies’ lobbyists can sway Washington more easily than they can influence state governments like California, which just passed a rigorous data-privacy law similar to the European Union’s. “They’re being called to account, they have to do something,” she notes, “but they want to direct the conversation so that, ultimately, they still win.”
Hacking our elections is so easy, a 7-year-old can do it. (Really.) How we got here and why the best solution is one you might not expect. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
For democracy to function, we have to trust and accept the results of elections. But that trust is increasingly difficult to maintain in a world where malicious actors like the G.R.U., the Russian intelligence agency, have been actively probing our election systems for technological vulnerabilities. Sue Halpern, who reports on election security, spoke with the researcher Logan Lamb, who found a massive amount of information from the Georgia election system sitting unsecured on the Internet. The information included election officials’ passwords and the names and addresses of voters, and Lamb made the discovery during the time that (according to the Mueller investigation) Russian hackers were probing the system. Georgia is one of a number of states that do not use any paper backup for their balloting, so suspected hacking of voting machines or vote tabulators can be nearly impossible to prove. On top of this, new restrictive voting laws purge voters who, for instance, haven’t voted in the last few elections, so hackers can disenfranchise voters by deleting or changing information in the databases—without tampering with the tallied votes. Susan Greenhalgh of the National Election Defense Coalition tells Halpern that while some states are inclined to resist federal assistance in their election operations, they are poorly equipped to fight cyber-battles on their own.
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Creator Details

Birthdate
Feb 12th, 1955
Episode Count
5
Podcast Count
4
Total Airtime
1 hour, 35 minutes
PCID
Podchaser Creator ID logo 491456