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Government

California State Senator Introduces Bill That Would Mandate Reporting of 'Superbug' Infections, Deaths (reuters.com) 75

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A California state senator introduced a bill on Monday that would mandate reporting of antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths and require doctors to record the infections on death certificates when they are a cause of death. The legislation also aims to establish the nation's most comprehensive statewide surveillance system to track infections and deaths from drug-resistant pathogens. Data from death certificates would be used to help compile an annual state report on superbug infections and related deaths. In September, a Reuters investigation revealed that tens of thousands of superbug deaths nationwide go uncounted every year. The infections are often omitted from death certificates, and even when they are recorded, they aren't counted because of the lack of a unified national surveillance system. Because there is no federal surveillance system, monitoring of superbug infections and deaths falls to the states. A Reuters survey of all 50 state health departments and the District of Columbia found that reporting requirements vary widely. Hill's bill would require hospitals and clinical labs to submit an annual summary of antibiotic-resistant infections to the California Department of Health beginning July 1, 2018; amend a law governing death certificates by requiring that doctors specify on death certificates when a superbug was the leading or a contributing cause of death; and require the state Health Department to publish an annual report on resistant infections and deaths, including data culled from death certificates.
Businesses

Amazon Makes Good On Its Promise To Delete 'Incentivized' Reviews (techcrunch.com) 106

Amazon is making good on its promise to ban "incentivized" reviews from its website, according to a new analysis of over 32,000 products and around 65 million reviews. From a TechCrunch article: The ban was meant to address the growing problem of less trustworthy reviews that had been plaguing the retailer's site, leading to products with higher ratings than they would otherwise deserve. Incentivized reviews are those where the vendor offers free or discounted products to reviewers, in exchange for recipients writing their "honest opinion" of the item in an Amazon review. However, data has shown that these reviewers tend to write more positive reviews overall, with products earning an average of 4.74 stars out of five, compared with an average rating of 4.36 for non-incentivized reviews. Over time, these reviews proliferated on Amazon, and damaged consumers' trust in the review system as a whole. And that can impact consumers' purchase decisions.
Android

Google 'Strongly' Recommends Against Third-Party Fast Charging Technology On Android (techcrunch.com) 90

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Everyone, it seems, is going the fast charging route these days. Thanks to the nearing ubiquity of USB-C on flagship devices, the feature is quickly becoming a standard -- "standard" in the sense that everyone is doing it, not so much that there's any consistency to the tech. All in all, it's a nice addition to manufacturers' newfound focus on battery life. And while Google has embraced its own version on its new Pixel devices, the company's not so keen on letting everyone implement their own version. In newly released Android Compatibility Definition papers issued for Nougat, the company stops short of an outright ban on technologies like Qualcomm's Quick Charge, though it does take a pretty clear stand, "strongly recommend[ing]" against it. At issue, among other things here, is potential compatibility issues with standard USB chargers. Google said in its latest revision of the Android Compatibility Definition Document, "Type-C devices are STRONGLY RECOMMENDED to not support proprietary charging methods that modify Vbus voltage beyond default levels, or alter sink/source roles as such may result in interoperability issues with the chargers or devices that support the standard USB Power Delivery methods. While this is called out as "STRONGLY RECOMMENDED," in future Android versions we might REQUIRE all type-C devices to support full interoperability with standard type-C chargers."
News

CBC Threatens Podcast App Makers, Argues that RSS Readers Violate Copyright (boingboing.net) 114

Cory Doctorow, writing for BoingBoing (condensed):The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) publishes several excellent podcasts, and like every podcast in the world, these podcasts are available via any podcast app in the same way that all web pages can be fetched with all web browsers -- this being the entire point of podcasts. In a move of breathtaking, lawless ignorance, the CBC has begun to send legal threats to podcast app-makers, arguing that making an app that pulls down public RSS feeds is a "commercial use" and a violation of the public broadcaster's copyrights. This is a revival of an old, dark era in the web's history, when linking policies prevailed, through which publishes argued that they had the right to control who could make a link to their sites -- that is, who could state the public, true fact that "a page exists at this address." But the CBC is going one worse here: their argument is that making a tool that allows someone to load a public URL without permission is violating copyright law -- it's the same thing as saying, "Because Google is a for-profit corporation, any time a Chrome user loads a CBC page in the Chrome browser without the CBC's permission, Google is violating CBC's copyright."We hope it was all an accidental mistake from the CBC, because it seems like a very stupid thing to do otherwise.
Google

Google Will Display Election Results As Soon As Polls Close (techcrunch.com) 174

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google has been highly involved with connecting U.S. voters to timely information throughout this election cycle, by offering everything from voter registration assistance to polling place information in its search result pages. Today, the company announced plans to display the results of the U.S. election directly in search, in over 30 languages, as soon as the polls close. Web searchers who query for "election results" will be able to view detailed information on the Presidential, Senatorial, Congressional, Gubernatorial races as well as state-level referenda and ballot propositions, says Google. The results will be updated continuously -- every 30 seconds, as indicated by a screenshot shared by the company on its official blog post detailing the new features. Tabs across the top will let you switch to between the various races, like President, House, and Senate, for example. The results will also include information like how many more electoral votes a presidential candidate needs to win, how many seats are up for grabs in the House and Senate, and how many Gubernatorial races are underway, among other things. This data is presented in an easy-to-read format, with Democrats in blue, Republicans in red, and simple graphs, alongside the key numbers.
Education

Sprint To Provide 1 Million Students With Free Internet, Mobile Devices (reuters.com) 65

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Wireless carrier Sprint Corp on Tuesday pledged to provide 1 million U.S. high school students with free mobile devices and internet access as part of a White House initiative to expand opportunities for lower income kids. Marcelo Claure, chief executive of Sprint, said the plan builds on the company's prior commitment through the White House's ConnectED program to get 50,000 students high speed internet. He said Sprint realized that while providing students with internet at school was helpful, students would still need to be able to use the internet at home. "We are going to equip 1 million kids with the tools they need to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams," Claure told reporters on a White House call. Sprint aims to give cell phones, tablets, laptops or mobile hot spots to students who do not have internet at home. Students would be able to choose the type of device that might meet their needs and it would be coupled with four years of free data plans. The company hopes to reach its goal of a million students in five years. Manufacturers have agreed to provide the mobile devices at no cost, Claure said. He also said the company would encourage customers to donate their old devices to the program and that it would not cost Sprint much to allow the free use of its network.
Encryption

LastPass On Mobile Is Now Free (techcrunch.com) 10

Arguably one of the best password manager applications in the wild, LastPass, is making select services available to its mobile users for free. Under the new plan, LastPass's free services will now include two-factor authentication, password generation and sync, and access from unlimited devices. Previously, the browser extension was available for free but users had to pay a $12 annual free to take their passwords with them on mobile. There is still a subscription fee for the LastPass Premium service, which includes access to family password sharing, two-factor authentication methods like YubiKey and Sesame, encrypted file storage, fingerprint identification on desktop, priority customer support and an ad-free password vault. TechCrunch reports: Basically, LastPass is now charging only for enhanced features rather than convenient access. The company also earns revenue from its enterprise offerings. LastPass says that the change is motivated by a commitment to bringing password security to the masses. "Today's reality is that people's digital lives are increasingly in the cloud -- and inherently span countless personal and work devices. We believe that to truly benefit from the security and convenience of a password manager, it should be available whenever and wherever you need it," LastPass vice president Joe Siegrist said in a statement. "By offering LastPass for free across all your devices, we're making it that much easier for everyone to make good password habits the norm, while resetting the expectations of what a great password management experience should be in a multi-device world." But the pricing change might also be intended to lure users from other paid password management services. LogMeIn CEO Bill Wagner said on an earnings call last week that free users drive revenue for LastPass because they often convert to Premium services or serve as referrals for enterprise business opportunities.
AI

Hacker George Hotz Unveils $999 Self-Driving Add-On (pcmag.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PC Magazine: Hacker George Hotz is gearing up to launch his automotive AI start-up's first official product. In December, the 26-year-old -- known for infiltrating Apple's iPhone and Sony's PlayStation 3J -- moved on to bigger things: turning a 2016 Acura ILX into an autonomous vehicle. According to Bloomberg, Hotz outfitted the car with a laser-based radar (lidar) system, a camera, a 21.5-inch screen, a "tangle of electronics," and a joystick attached to a wooden board. Nine months later, the famed hacker this week unveiled the Comma One. As described by TechCrunch, the $999 add-on comes with a $24 monthly subscription fee for software that can pilot a car for miles without a driver touching the wheel, brake, or gas. But unlike systems currently under development by Google, Tesla, and nearly every major vehicle manufacturer, Comma.ai's "shippable" Comma One does not require users to buy a new car. "It's fully functional. It's about on par with Tesla Autopilot," Hotz said during this week's TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.
China

China Starts Developing Hybrid Hypersonic Spaceplane (popsci.com) 90

hackingbear quotes a report from Popular Science: While SpaceX is making news with its recoverable rockets, China announced that it is working on the next big thing in spaceflight: a hypersonic spaceplane. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is beginning advanced research on a high tech, more efficient successor to the retired Space Shuttle, with hybrid combined cycle engines combining turbofan, ramjet, scramjet and rocket engines, that can takeoff from an airport's landing strip and fly straight into orbit. CASTC's rapid research timeline also suggests that the reports in 2015 of a Mach 4 test flight for a recoverable drone testbed for a combined cycle ramjet/turbofan engine were accurate. And China also has the world's largest hypersonic wind tunnel, the Mach 9 JF-12, which could be used to easily test hypersonic scramjets without costly and potentially dangerous flight testing at altitude. Its nearest competitor, the British Skylon in contrast uses pre-cooled jet engines built by Reaction Engines Limited to achieve hypersonic atmospheric flight, as opposed to scramjets. Both spacecraft will probably first fly around the mid 2020s.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Exchange Bitfinex Says It Was Hacked, Roughly $60M Stolen (reuters.com) 117

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Hong Kong-based digital currency exchange Bitfinex said late on Tuesday it has suspended trading on its exchange after it discovered a security breach, according to a company statement on its website. The company said it has also suspended deposits and withdrawals of digital currencies from the exchange. "We are investigating the breach to determine what happened, but we know that some of our users have had their bitcoins stolen," the company said. "We are undertaking a review to determine which users have been affected by the breach. While we conduct this initial investigation and secure our environment, bitfinex.com will be taken down and the maintenance page will be left up." The company said it has reported the theft to law enforcement. It said it has not yet determined the value of digital currencies stolen from customer accounts. CoinDesk reports that the company confirmed roughly 120,000 BTC (more than $60 million) has been stolen via social media. "In response, bitcoin prices fell to $560.16 by 19:30 UTC, $530 by 23:30 and $480 at press time, CoinDesk USD Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) data reveals," reports CoinDesk. "This price was roughly 20% lower than the day's opening of $607.37 and 27% below the high of $658.28 reached on Saturday, July 30th, when the digital currency began pushing lower."
Businesses

AR Helmet Startup Skully Has Crashed and Burned (techcrunch.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechCrunch: Sources inside the AR helmet company Skully say the startup is no more. TechCrunch reports: "Operations have ceased within the company, and we're told the website will be turned off at some point today. [Skully's CEO and co-founder Marcus Weller] has also been asked to sign a confidentiality deal with investors. Weller told TechCrunch today he will not sign and that he's completely walked away from all dealings with the company as of 10 days ago. The site is still up for now but it says Skully's AR-1 helmet is sold out in every size and no one is able to order. A source tells us sales were cut off on Monday. The shutdown leaves several vendors and Skully's manufacturer Flextronics with unpaid bills and at least 50 full-time employees out of a job. It's unclear if any of the vendors will be paid. That also means the more than 3,000 people who pre-ordered a helmet may never get one -- and one source tells us it's doubtful any of them will be receiving a refund." One source claims Weller botched a possible acquisition deal with Chinese company LeSports before leaving the company last week, while another says the deal might still happen now that the former CEO is gone. Weller is saying that he and his brother were forced out of the company after investors disagreed with the LeSports deal. Investors from Intel Capital ultimately determined it was best to simply shut down the entire company instead of trying to salvage the company Weller started. "We're disappointed Skully has closed its doors. We've been focused on the company's success for nearly two years and have recently been trying to negotiate a funding round to keep it going," Intel Capital said in a statement. "We're certainly sorry for the employees who are losing their jobs, the crowdfunding backers whose investments didn't work out and the customers who'd pre-purchased product. We continue to be excited by the promise of this kind of wearable technology."

UPDATE 8/10/16: Skully has sent an email to its customers telling them they have officially closed their doors. TechCrunch reports that the site is still up, but the company is no more. "Over the past several weeks our management team has worked feverishly to raise additional capital but unforeseen challenges and circumstances, beyond our control, made this effort impossible," the letter to customers reads. The company is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which means customers will likely not be getting a refund on pre-orders for the $1500 AR helmet.
Censorship

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Blocked In Turkey During Reported Coup Attempt (techcrunch.com) 153

An anonymous reader writes: In response to an attempted military coup, the Turkish government has reportedly blocked social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. TechCrunch reports: "Turkey Blocks, a Twitter account that regularly checks if sites are being blocked in the country, reported at 1:04 PM Pacific (11:04 PM Istanbul time) that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were all unresponsive, though Instagram and Vimeo remained available." Some Turkish users were able to update their social media accounts likely through a VPN or other anonymizing service. One user posted a video on Twitter that shows what appears to be a fighter jet flying very low over the Turkish capital of Ankara; another user has tweeted a video of a helicopter opening fire in Turkey. The Associated Press reports that Turkish prime minister, Binali Yildirim, has confirmed the coup by a group within Turkey's military. The following statement from the group was reportedly read on local television: "Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the general security that was damaged. All international agreements are still valid. We hope that all of our good relationships with all countries will continue."

UPDATE 7/15/16: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a statement in a FaceTime call to CNN Turk urging Turkish citizens to take to the streets to defend "Turkish democracy." He urges the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports, saying there is no power higher than the power of the people.
Iphone

PSA: Pokemon Go Has Full Access To Your Google Account Data (techcrunch.com) 104

An anonymous reader writes: If you're an iPhone user and have installed Pokemon GO, you may have noticed that the app grants itself full access to your Google account. It can read your email, location history, documents and pretty much every else associated with your Google account. (You can check to see for yourself here.) Given the nature of the game, it's understandable for it to request a lot of permissions, as it needs your precise location, ability to access the camera and motion sensors, read and write the SD card, and charge you money when you run out of Pokeballs or eggs. But full access to your Google account is pushing it, even if Niantic or Nintendo has no malicious intentions. If you're concerned about these permissions, you can always sign-up using a Pokemon Trainer account, assuming the servers are permitting. Google describes full account access as such: "When you grant full account access, the application can see and modify nearly all information in your Google Account (but it canâ(TM)t change your password, delete your account, or pay with Google Wallet on your behalf). This 'Full account access' privilege should only be granted to applications you fully trust, and which are installed on your personal computer, phone, or tablet."
Democrats

DNC Hacker Releases Clinton Foundation Documents (washingtonexaminer.com) 156

An anonymous reader writes: Following a report that Russian hackers penetrated the DNC's database, a hacker, who identifies himself as "Guccifer 2.0" after a popular Romanian hacker who hacked various American political figures, most notably Hillary Clinton and her private server, has published documents on Tuesday that he says came from the party's digital files. The documents detail Clinton's weaknesses as a candidate, and include a collection of negative press clips about the Clinton Foundation and a list of defenses against attacks on her private email use. Washington Examiner reports: "Another document, titled '2016 Democrats Positions Cheat Sheet,' listed major policy issues and indicated where Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chaffee, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden -- all former or possible rivals for the Democratic nomination -- stood on each issue." The documents contain information ranging from how the Clinton Foundation and its allies should respond to criticisms of the Clinton Foundation's revenue sources to how Chelsea Clinton wasn't able to answer questions about Clinton Foundation donations and other instances in which Bill Clinton was called a "sexual predator" for his past indiscretions. Even though the cybersecurity breach was blamed on the Russian government, the Kremlin has denied any involvement. The DNC also has yet to confirm or deny the authenticity of the leaked documents.
Government

Invoking Orlando, Senate Republicans Set Up Vote To Expand FBI Spying (reuters.com) 660

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a vote late on Monday to expand the FBI's authority to use a secretive surveillance order without a warrant to include email metadata and some browsing history information. The move, made via an amendment to a criminal justice appropriations bill, is an effort by Senate Republicans to respond to last week's mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub after a series of measures to restrict guns offered by both parties failed on Monday. Privacy advocates denounced the effort, saying it seeks to exploit a mass shooting in order to expand the government's digital spying powers. The amendment would broaden the FBI's authority to use so-called National Security Letters to include electronic communications transaction records such as time stamps of emails and the emails' senders and recipients. NSLs do not require a warrant and are almost always accompanied by a gag order preventing the service provider from sharing the request with a targeted user. The amendment filed Monday would also make permanent a provision of the USA Patriot Act that allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on "lone wolf" suspects who do not have confirmed ties to a foreign terrorist group. A vote is expected no later than Wednesday, McConnell's office said. Last week, FBI Director James Comey said he is "highly confident that [the Orlando shooter] was radicalized at least in part through the internet."
Businesses

New York Senate Passes Bill That Bans Short-Term Apartment Listings On Airbnb (theverge.com) 211

An anonymous reader writes: The New York Senate passed a bill on Friday that makes it illegal to advertise entire unoccupied apartments for short-term rentals on Airbnb. The bill is headed to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's desk for him to either veto or sign into law. The Verge reports: "The bill prohibits online apartment listings that last under 30 days and run up against the city's multiple dwelling law, which is designed to stop apartment buyers from renting out the entire space and basically turning their units into Airbnb hotels. First-time offenders would be fined $1,000, but a third infraction would be much costlier at $7,500. 'Let's be clear: this is a bad proposal that will make it harder for thousands of New Yorkers to pay the bills,' an Airbnb spokesperson told Tech Crunch. 'Dozens of governments around the world have demonstrated that there is a sensible way to regulate home sharing and we hope New York will follow their lead and protect the middle class.'" One of the bill's sponsors, State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, disagrees and claims that it targets "people or companies with multiple listings. There are so many units held by commercial operators, not individual tenants. They are bad actors who horde multiple units, driving up the cost of housing around them and across the city." She went on to say, "You should know who your neighbor is and what happens when people rent out their apartments on Airbnb is you get strangers," said told the New York Post. "Every night there could be a different person sleeping in the next apartment and it shatters that sense of community in the building. It also can be dangerous."
Businesses

Domino's Ends Free Pizza Promo With T-Mobile Due To High Demand (techcrunch.com) 56

An anonymous reader writes: In addition to giving customers stock in the company, T-Mobile announced last week at its "un-carrier" event that it would be offering freebies every Tuesday through its new app, such as Domino's pizza and Fandango movie tickets. One week has passed since then and Domino's is now backing out of the free pizza promotion due to higher-than-expected demand. T-Mobile CEO John Legere posted an internal memo from the company that read, "After reviewing yesterday's results and taking your feedback into account, the decision has been made not to continue the T-Mobile Tuesdays promotion unless we can find a solution that is best for the brand." Customers of T-Mobile were upset to find that Domino's was limiting the number of free pizzas per store due to promotion limits. Some stores simply stopped accepting the coupons. What may have led to the extremely high demand was the fact that under the deal's terms, T-Mobile customers on a single family plan could all use their own codes to place large orders of multiple pizzas. That is to say, each line warranted a free pizza.
Communications

Facebook Now Lets Users Comment With a Video (techcrunch.com) 29

An anonymous reader writes: As internet users continue to consume more videos than ever before, Facebook has decided to further add to the trend and officially launch video comments. Users are watching so many videos that the Cisco Visual Networking Index forecasts internet video traffic will represent 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. Facebook said via a blog post that the new feature was developed at Facebook's 50th Hackathon. The team that built the feature included: Bob Baldwin who lead the initiative with Hermes Pique and Sameer Madan working on iOS, Muhammed Ibrahim worked on the web, and Billy Ng worked on Android. Baldwin's past projects consisted of features that let Facebook users include photos or stickers in the comments. The new video comments feature may help Facebook catch up to Snapchat in terms of daily videos viewed on the social media platform.
United States

Billionaire Tech Investor Peter Thiel To Back Trump As GOP Presidential Candidate (techcrunch.com) 281

An anonymous reader writes: Billionaire tech investor, co-founder and former CEO of PayPal Peter Thiel has agreed to back Trump as a California delegate in Cleveland this summer. He will be one of 172 selected Golden State delegates headed to the Republican National Convention. His support for Trump contrasts many other leaders, like A16z's Marc Andreessen who has voiced his distaste for Trump, tweeting: "OH: Trump is like an Internet comments section decided to run for President." In the past, Thiel, who is a libertarian at heart, has donated $2.6 million to Ron Paul in 2012 and added $2 million to a Super PAC backing Ted Cruz's former running mate ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina. He also gave $250,000 to Ted Cruz's bid for Texas attorney general in 2009.
Open Source

Scientist Shrinks Arduino To Size Of An AA Battery (techcrunch.com) 47

An anonymous reader writes: Johan Kanflo has managed to make the already small Tiny328 Arduino clone into an even smaller computing platform about the size of a single AA battery. Not only will it fit in a typical AA battery holder, but it will actually draw power from the batteries beside it as it's wired in "backwards" (with the + and - poles reversed). The Arduino platform consists of open-source hardware, open-source software, and microcontroller-based kits, making it easy to (re)program the processors, and develop software for hardware applications using a java-clone and an easy-to-learn IDE. For those interested in the AAduino, Johan has made his creation available online on Github with instructions and schematics to build your own.

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