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07.29.16 | 3:07 pm

Former IBTimes war zone reporter’s tweets just one of many complaints about company’s practices

How a media organization treats a reporter in the trenches speaks volumes about how much it values its news team. Late last month, IBT Media—which owns both the IBTimes news site and Newsweek–announced it would be laying off a good chunk of its staff. Reports then began to surface that the severance package offered was one week's pay for every year the reporter worked. Thus, if someone worked at the site for less than a year, they were fired without any money to tide them over.

Now, former employees are railing against the company, using the hashtag #IBTWTF, claiming that it employed shady tactics. Dozens of people have come forward tweeting their own stories of wrongdoing.

One example really shines through. Erin Banco worked at IBTimes as a Middle East reporter. She was sent to war zones in Iraq and Gaza to report on the conflict with ISIS and other violent confrontations. According to her tweets, she may not have been given adequate insurance coverage that is required for any war zone reporter, but the company also didn't appear to offer much assistance whatsoever for such difficult work. Here are a few of her tweets:

This is just a taste of what's coming to light. Follow the hashtag #IBTWTF to see more former employees coming forward with their stories. IBTimes did not return a phone call and email for comment.

07.29.16 | 3:02 pm

Stories to read this weekend

Hampton Creek may be best known for its egg-free Just Mayo spread (and the tempest in the condiment jar that accompanied it), but you're about to see a lot more of its sustainable, plant-based products in your local grocery store. Jonathan Ringen looks at how this vegan food startup is planning to upend the food chain and save the world—one pea protein at a time. — Amy Farley, "How Hampton Creek's Plant-Based Foods Have Scrambled The Grocery Aisle"

• Same data, different conclusions: Is science broken? This explainer from FiveThirtyEight, which includes some nice interactive bits, shows how the overuse of p-value modeling is throwing us for a statistical curve. — Noah Robischon, "Science Isn't Broken" 

• With startups priced out of San Francisco and inspired by Snapchat, many tech entrepreneurs are moving to Santa Monica and Venice Beach. As those neighborhoods ("Silicon Beach") get gentrified, tensions are rising, as dramatized in this fascinating tale of a local murder. — Joel Arbaje"Silicon Is Just Sand" 

• This disturbing and quotable tell-all from the man who ghostwrote "The Art Of The Deal" gives a rare inside view into mind of Donald Trump. — Cale Weissman, "Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All"

[Photo of Susan B. Anthony, via the Library of Congress]

07.29.16 | 2:09 pm

FDA: We won’t regulate fitness trackers, wellness apps 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released today its much-anticipated final guidance on how it will oversee mobile health apps and devices. If you're inclined to read the whole document, it's here. If not, in a nutshell the FDA has clarified that it will not enforce its rules over apps that are intended for general wellness, like fitness or weight management. 

It's good news for folks in consumer health, many of whom took to Twitter today to breathe a big old sigh of relief: 

What's your take on the guidance? Tweet me @chrissyfarr 

07.29.16 | 1:25 pm

Government requests for data on Amazon customers have more than doubled

The U.S. government made 1,803 different requests of Amazon for data on its customers for the first six months of 2016 ending in June, according to the retail giant.  That's more than double the 851 requests it received during the same period last year. And the number of search warrants it received rose more than 8 times compared to the earlier period, reports ZDNet. 

In total, Amazon received from January to June 2016:

• 221 search warrants, fully complying with 41% of them. 

• 1,460 subpoenas, fully complying with almost 42% of them.

• 112 other court orders, fully complying with over 55% of them.

• 120 requests from non-U.S. governments, fully complying with 15 of them.

07.29.16 | 1:24 pm

iPatrol is the Lhasa Apso of robots

In ancient times, the mighty little Lhasa Apso served as a pint-sized sentinel inside Tibetan homes and monasteries. Now Lhasa Apsos are just aggressive lap dogs, but a company called iPatrol has filled the void with a tiny security robot named Riley. The Wi-Fi connected, motion-sensing bot can be controlled from your smartphone and has one 5-megapixel camera-eye and one night vision eye to help it keep watch over your home while you sleep.

The company claims Riley's pretty durable, which is important because your Lhasa Apso is probably going to attack it.

07.29.16 | 12:42 pm

U.S. Olympic flag bearer will have an outfit that lights up

Today, Ralph Lauren unveiled a specially designed outfit for the U.S. flag bearer at the Olympic opening ceremony that will have electroluminescent panels on the front and the back. 

07.29.16 | 10:59 am

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has a new book coming out: “Option B”

Sheryl Sandberg is coming out with a new book about coping with grief, according to Recode. Her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg, passed away last year at the age of 47 while the couple was on holiday in Mexico, and Sandberg has been remarkably open about her personal journey to cope with her heartbreaking loss. I was moved to tears by this essay she wrote on Facebook a few weeks after Goldberg's death. The title of her new book, Option B, comes from this essay.

Sandberg co-wrote her forthcoming book with the professor and author Adam Grant. She published the best-selling Lean In with Nell Scovell in 2013.

07.29.16 | 10:48 am

Morning Intelligence

Sheryl Sandberg is coming out with a new book about coping with grief. If you haven't read this essay she wrote on Facebook about the aftermath of her husband's death, do.

• Panasonic is raising nearly $4 billion to invest in Tesla's Gigafactory

More reason to be concerned about Zika in the U.S.—time to break out the bug spray?

Sluggish growth for the U.S. economy

The FBI is reportedly looking into yet another cyber attack against the Democratic Party–specifically, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

• Yet another shameful day for humanity: a maternity hospital has been bombed in northern Syria

07.29.16 | 10:37 am

Even Edward Snowden disagrees with WikiLeaks

The controversial whistleblower organization founded by Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, has been under fire of late. The group has been seemingly releasing documents frivolously, without regard for the privacy of  any innocent bystanders potentially mentioned in the data dumps

Most recently, it released a series of voicemails from the Democratic National Committee, which included a seemingly innocuous message from a father to his son.

This disregard has even caught the attention of Edward Snowden, who tweeted this yesterday:

WikiLeaks' most recent data releases have shown the website moving from impartial whistleblower platform to become more of partisan political weapon

The New York Times notes this move by Snowden to denounce the organization is especially interesting, since he worked with WikiLeaks while seeking political asylum in 2013.

07.29.16 | 9:38 am

U.S. Olympic opening ceremony outfits unveiled by Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren has been designing the opening and closing ceremony outfits for Team USA since 2008.  This year, the company's designers went for a classic preppy look, with blazers, striped shirts, boating shoes, and cropped trousers.

Stay tuned. Next week, we'll give you an inside scoop look at how Ralph Lauren designs these outfits. 

And a couple of sketches.

07.29.16 | 7:55 am

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is richer than he’s ever been

The Amazon founder added $2.6 billion to his net worth in the past day alone, making his total fortune worth $66.5 billion, Forbes reports. He is now the third-richest person on the planet. To give you an idea how far Bezos has come, back in 1998 when he first appeared on the Forbes 400 he was *only* worth $1.6 billion. Since then Amazon's stock has risen 5,800%, fueling Bezos' massive fortune. 

07.29.16 | 7:43 am

Hyperloop One has opened its first factory to build its first full-scale hyperloop prototype

The North Las Vegas factory is called the Hyperloop One Metalworks that is a tooling and fabrication site the size of two football fields, Hyperloop One wrote in a blog post. The company says the new factory will house the engineers and technicians who will build the parts for Devloop, the full-scale hyperloop prototype that will begin trial runs next year. If you're wondering why the factory is called "Metalworks" it's because of all the cool cutting-edge tools the factory has to bend components to their will, the company explains in the blog post:

Metalworks is a maker playground, with brand new CNC mills, lathes, welding machines and tables, and a state-of-the-art metrology room for accurate measurement the key materials and subcomponents of our Hyperloop system in a controlled environment. A purchase sure to be a team favorite are the Flow waterjet cutters that blast water at extremely high-pressures to cut virtually any shape in any material at speeds of up to 36 meters per minute with an accuracy of up to 1/1000th of an inch.

You can check out some of these new tools in the video below.