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Medicine

US Regulators Find Serious Deficiencies At Theranos Lab (wsj.com) 66

An anonymous reader writes: 2016 has not started well for blood-testing startup Theranos. Already facing allegations of data manipulation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have found problems with Theranos' laboratory in Newark, California, putting the company's relationship with the Medicare program in danger. WSJ reports: "It isn't clear exactly what regulators have faulted Theranos for in their latest inspection, which took several months. Adverse findings would be another regulatory setback for one of Silicon Valley's highest-profile startups, valued at about $9 billion in 2014. Theranos already has stopped collecting tiny samples of blood from patients' fingers for all but one of its tests while it waits for the Food and Drug Administration to review the company's applications for wider use of the proprietary vials called 'nanotainers.' In October, the FDA said it had determined that the nanotainers were an 'uncleared medical device.'"
Crime

Cyber-Scammers Steal €50 Million From Austrian Airplane Manufacturer (softpedia.com) 39

An anonymous reader writes: FACC Operations GmbH, an Austrian company that produces various airplane parts for companies like Airbus and Boeing, has announced a cyber-incident during which cyber-fraudsters managed to steal around €50 million from their bank accounts. While CEO Fraud attacks manage to steal a few thousand dollars here and there, never has a company lost so much cash liquidity in one incident. Stock price took a tumble immediately.
The Courts

Police Department Charging TV News Network $36,000 For Body Cam Footage (arstechnica.com) 186

An anonymous reader writes with news that the NYPD charged a local television station $36k to view police body camera footage. Ars reports: "As body cams continue to flourish in police departments across the nation, an ongoing debate has ensued about how much, if any, of that footage should be made public under state open-access laws. An overlooked twist to that debate, however, has now become front and center: How much should the public have to pay for the footage if the police agree to release it? News network NY1, a Time Warner Cable News operation, was billed $36,000 by the NYPD for roughly 190 hours of footage it requested under the state's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Now the network is suing (PDF) the police department in New York state court, complaining that the price tag is too steep. The network said the bill runs 'counter to both the public policy of openness underlying FOIL, as well as the purported transparency supposedly fostered by the BWC (body worn camera) program itself.'"
The Almighty Buck

World Bank Says Internet Technology May Widen Inequality (nytimes.com) 133

HughPickens.com writes: Somini Sengupta writes in the NY Times that a new report from the World Bank concludes that the vast changes wrought by Internet technology have not expanded economic opportunities or improved access to basic public services but stand to widen inequalities and even hasten the hollowing out of middle-class employment. "Digital technologies are spreading rapidly, but digital dividends — growth, jobs and services — have lagged behind," says the bank in a news release announcing the report. "If people have the right skills, digital technology will help them become more efficient and productive, but if the right skills are lacking, you'll end up with a polarized labor market and more inequality," says Uwe Deichmann. Those who are already well-off and well-educated have been able to take advantage of the Internet economy, the report concludes pointedly, but despite the expansion of Internet access, 60 percent of humanity remains offline. According to the report, in developed countries and several large middle-income countries, technology is automating routine jobs, such as factory work, and some white-collar jobs. While some workers benefit, "a large share" of workers get pushed down to lower-paying jobs that cannot be automated. "What we're seeing is not so much a destruction of jobs but a reshuffling of jobs, what economists have been calling a hollowing out of the labor market. You see the share of mid-level jobs shrinking and lower-end jobs increasing."

The report adds that in the developing world digital technologies are not a shortcut to development, though they can accelerate it if used in the right way. "We see a lot of disappointment and wasted investments. It's actually quite shocking how many e-government projects fail," says Deichmann. "While technology can be extremely helpful in many ways, it's not going to help us circumvent the failures of development over the last couple of decades. You still have to get the basics right: education, business climate, and accountability in government."

Businesses

Tech Professionals' Aggravations Rise, But So Do Salaries (dice.com) 180

Nerval's Lobster writes: Despite some concerns over the stock market and whether the so-called "unicorns" will survive the year, it's apparently still a good time to get into tech: New data from Robert Half Technology suggests that salaries for various tech positions will increase as much as 7 percent this year. Which is good, because tech professionals have confessed to a host of aggravations with their lives, including too-expensive housing, lengthy commutes and gridlock, inability to achieve work-life balance, and a disconnect from their jobs. It's neither the best nor worst of times, but the money could be pretty good.
United States

Should the US Change Metal Coins? (networkworld.com) 702

coondoggie writes: It may be time for the United States to rethink how the smallest parts of its monetary system — the penny, nickel and dime – are made. According to a report this week from watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office, since 2006 the prices of metals used in coins have risen so much that the total production unit costs of the penny and nickel exceed their face value resulting in financial losses to the U.S. Mint.
Privacy

IRS: Identity Theft Protection a Tax Deductible Benefit - Even Without a Breach (wordpress.com) 51

chicksdaddy writes: The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has announced that it will treat identity theft protection as a non-taxable, non-reportable benefit that companies can offer — even when the company in question hasn't experienced a data breach, and regardless of whether it is offered by an employer to employees, or by other businesses (such as online retailers) to its customers, the blog E for ERISA reports. In short: companies can now deduct the cost of offering identity theft protection as a benefit for employees or extending it to customers, even if their data hasn't been exposed to hackers.

The announcement comes only four months after an earlier announcement by the IRS that it would treat identity theft protection offered to employees or customers in the wake of a data breach as a non-taxable event. Comments to the IRS following the earlier decision suggested that many businesses view a data breach as "inevitable" rather than as a remote risk.

The truth of that statement was made clear to the IRS itself, which had to provide identity theft protection earlier this year in response to a hack of its online database of past-filed returns and other filed documents which ultimately affected over 300,000 taxpayers. The new IRS guidance could be a boon to providers of identity protection services such as Experian and Lifelock, though maybe not as much as one would expect. Data from Experian suggests that consumer adoption rates for identity theft protection services is low. Fewer than 10% of those potentially affected by a breach opt for free identity protection services when they are offered. For very large breaches that number is even lower — in the single digit percentages.

Privacy

Uber To Pay $20,000 In Settlement On Privacy Issues (csoonline.com) 17

itwbennett writes: Uber has agreed to pay a penalty of $20,000 in a settlement with New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman for delaying telling drivers about the data breach of their personal information in 2014. The company has also agreed to tighten employee access to geo-location data of passengers, following reports that the company's executives had an aerial 'God View' of such data, the office of the attorney general said in a statement Wednesday.
Businesses

Indiegogo Launches a Crowdsourcing Business For Big Businesses (computerworld.com) 23

Lucas123 writes: Indiegogo announced at CES today that is now has a crowdfunding site exclusively for big businesses, which often have hundreds of internal R&D projects or ideas that never see the light of day and could benefit from getting public exposure online. Companies such as Google, Anheuser-Busch, GE and Hasbro have already run crowdsourcing campaigns on a pilot of the new site in order to raise money for projects, garner customer ideas, or validate pre-retail products. In July, GE ran a campaign to prove market demand for a countertop nugget ice-making machine for the home. GE offered the Opal icemaker for $399 to early buyers on Indiegogo, with a future retail price of $499. GE's Opal icemaker project raised $2.64 million total from 6,177 contributions by the end of the 30-day Indiegogo campaign. The campaign also garnered 510,000 page views and 15,000 Facebook shares. Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, head of R&D for GE Appliances, said crowdsourcing allows development and marketing to be conducted at a fraction of the cost of a traditional R&D project. "If it flops, no worries. Upfront costs were some 20 times less than a traditional product rollout, which can cost tens of millions of dollars," Venkatakrishnan said. "If we're going to fail, we want to fail fast."
Education

Turning Around a School District By Fighting Poverty (npr.org) 413

New submitter gomezedward40 writes: Through her unconventional focus on addressing poverty, Superintendent Tiffany Anderson has been credited with rapidly improving the school district of Jennings, Mo. NPR reports: "The school district of 3,000 students has taken unprecedented steps, like opening a food pantry to give away food, a shelter for homeless students and a health clinic, among other efforts. 'My purpose is to remove the challenges that poverty creates,' she says. 'You can not expect children to learn at a high level if they come in hungry and tired.' That unconventional approach has had big results. When Anderson took over in 2012, the school district was close to losing accreditation. Jennings had a score of 57 percent on state educational standards. A district loses accreditation if that score goes below 50 percent. Two years later, that score was up to 78 percent, and in the past year rose again to 81 percent, Anderson says. She points to a 92 percent 4-year graduation rate, and a 100 percent college and career placement rate."
The Almighty Buck

Kid Racks Up $5,900 Bill Playing Jurassic World On Dad's iPad (pcmag.com) 540

theodp writes: For Mohamed Shugaa, the scariest Jurassic World creature is perhaps Apple CEO Tim Cook, not the Indominus Rex. That's because Shugaa discovered his 7-year-old son had managed to rack up a $5,900 bill playing the Jurassic World game on his iPad in six days. "Why would Apple think I would be spending thousands of pounds on buying dinosaurs and upgrading a game," Shugaa told The Metro. "Why didn't they email me to check I knew these payments were being made? I got nothing from them. How much longer would it have gone on for?" Shugaa discovered his son's 65 in-app purchases when a payment he tried to make to a business supplier was declined. His son had upgraded dinosaurs using the game currency 'Dino Bucks' without realizing it was charging his Dad in real money. The good news is that Apple has decided to refund the money, so the kid doesn't have to worry about Apple making him work 8,500 hours for $5,980 to settle the debt. Btw, before you developers get too excited about the possibility of using In-App Purchase to take kids to the cleaners at $6,000-a-pop, remember that Apple call dibs on the first $1,800!
IOS

Apple Faces $5 Million Lawsuit Over Allegedly Slowing the iPhone 4S With iOS 9 (mashable.com) 344

An anonymous reader writes: A $5 million lawsuit filed in New York federal court alleges that Apple's iOS 9 mobile operating software significantly slows down the iPhone 4S. According to the complaint: "The update significantly slowed down their iPhones and interfered with the normal usage of the device, leaving Plaintiff with a difficult choice: use a slow and buggy device that disrupts everyday life or spend hundreds of dollars to buy a new phone. Apple explicitly represented to the public that iOS 9 is compatible with and supports the iPhone 4S. And Apple failed to warn iPhone 4S owners that the update may or will interfere with the device's performance."
Oracle

Oracle Asked To Help Low-Income Residents Evicted For Its New Cloud Campus (cio.com) 202

itwbennett writes: Roughly 100 low-income families were evicted from an apartment complex on the land in Austin, Texas where Oracle plans to build a new 560,000 sq. foot cloud-computing campus. Some of the former tenants of Lakeview Apartments had leases through the end of the year, but were reportedly forced by owner Cypress Real Estate Advisors to move out early. Some have said their security deposits were not returned, and they have had no assistance as they've struggled to find comparably priced housing. Last week, some of those residents gathered near the site of their former home to protest and to appeal to Oracle for assistance.
Music

Discogs Turns Record Collectors' Obsessions Into Big Business 31

HughPickens.com writes: Ben Sisario writes at the NYT that Discogs has built one of the most exhaustive collections of discographical information in the world, and with 24 million items for sale, (eBay's music section lists 11 million) Discogs is on track to do nearly $100 million in business by the end of the year. One of Discog's secrets is the use of Wikipedia's model of user-generated content with historical data cataloged by thousands of volunteer editors in extreme detail. The site's entry for the Beatles' White Album, for instance, contains 309 distinct versions of the record, including its original releases in countries like Uruguay, India and Yugoslavia — in mono and stereo configurations — and decades of reissues, from Greek eight-tracks to Japanese CDs. "There's a record-collector gene," says Kevin Lewandowski. "Some people want to know every little detail about a record."

The site, once run from a computer in Lewandowski's closet and originally restricted to electronic music, has grown rapidly. "It took about six months working nights and weekends on Discogs, and I launched it in November 2000. It was very simplistic compared to what it is now, but it started growing right away." Discogs now has 37 employees around the world, 20 million online visitors a month and three million registered users. Lewandowski, who is the sole owner of Discogs, says he had no interest in selling the business. He has watched other players enter the field over the last 15 years, including Amazon, which in 2008 introduced SoundUnwound, a Wikipedia-like site for music that was quietly shut down four years later. Discogs may have survived because of the innovation of its marketplace, giving collectors an incentive to expand the database with every imaginable detail. "I want it to go on forever," says Lewandowski.
The Almighty Buck

Dutch City To Experiment With Paying Citizens a "Basic Income" (theguardian.com) 474

BarbaraHudson writes: The Guardian is the latest to report about experiments with a basic income, in this case in Utrecht. The idea has been around for more than 2 centuries, and has become a bit of a hot-button topic on slashdot. It seems to be gaining political support now that job insecurity has become the new normal. "To those who say it is an unaffordable pipedream, Westerveld points out the huge costs that come with the increasingly tough benefits regimes being set up by western states, including policies that make people do community service to justify their handouts. 'In Nijmegen we get £88m to give to people on welfare,' Westerveld said, 'but it costs £15m a year for the civil servants running the bureaucracy of the current system. We will save money with a "basic income."' Horst adds: 'If you receive benefits from the government [in Holland] now you have to do something in return. But most municipalities don't have the people to manage that. We have 10,000 unemployed people in Utrecht, but if they all have to do something in return for welfare we just don't have the people to see to that. It costs too much.'"

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