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09.07.16 | 6:02 pm

Ahead of NYFW, A-list designers say, “I’m with her”

Yesterday, the fashion elite gathered at Spring Studios for a Clinton fundraiser ahead of New York Fashion Week, which officially begins on Thursday. Anna Wintour, Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, and Joseph Altuzarra were among the attendees. Demi Lovato performed for the crowds. While Hillary Clinton herself was campaigning in Florida, Chelsea Clinton and Huma Abedin were both there to urge people to vote and buy the designer T-shirts sold on the campaign website

Read more in the New York Times.

A photo posted by Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) on

07.27.17 | 17 minutes ago

Is Bannon becoming the Bernie of Breitbart?

Steve Bannon has kept a pretty low profile for the last few months. After being described as the puppeteer behind Trump's administration in a few articles early on, we've heard little about the man and what he's doing. Over the last two days, however, two articles from The Intercept have come out describing recent Bannon pushes. And they're not exactly what you'd expect.

The first piece, published yesterday, described an increased marginal tax rate for the rich. Anonymous sources said that Bannon has been advocating for a 44% marginal tax rate for people who make over $5 million, compared to the 39.6% one in place now for the top tier. In essence, he's pushing for greater taxation on the rich, which doesn't sound that Trumpian.

Today, anonymous sources are saying that not only is Bannon lobbying for a higher tax rate, he's also pushing for more government control over technology giants. Specifically, writes The Intercept, he wants Facebook and Google to be considered public utilities. This means essentially that they would be considered public goods that citizens consume, and thus should be held to more uniform regulation. (It's also something I argued a few months ago!)

Another priority Bannon shares with Bernie: Both want the end of the use of offshore tax havens by the tech giants and the rest of corporate America. In a photo posted to Twitter by a visitor to Bannon's office in May, a glimpse of Trump's tax reform plan was visible on a whiteboard of White House goals: "Create a 10% repatriation tax." 

Don't get me wrong: Bannon is still Bannon. For example, he had reportedly been lobbying for Trump to take the action he did yesterday on transgender people in the military. He's also still the man that made Breitbart what it is today, which today published an article that put Earth emojis around the name of Trump chief economic advisor Gary Cohn.

Yet Bannon's recent pushes, if proven, show that he's gunning for something that is definitely not within the confines of the traditional Republican party. And they're also both pushes that someone like Bernie Sanders would probably endorse.

[Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons]

07.27.17 | 24 minutes ago

Here’s Boy Scouts chief Michael Surbaugh’s full statement on Donald Trump’s divisive jamboree speech

It took a few days, but the chief scout executive for the Boy Scouts of America finally weighed in publicly on President Trump's highly politicized speech at the organization's National Jamboree on Monday. In a statement posted online, Michael Surbaugh acknowledged that the country is locked in a polarized climate but said the tenets of scouting—trustworthiness, loyalty, kindness, bravery—haven't changed:

"I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937. It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program."

Read the full statement here.

07.27.17 | an hour ago

Kickstarter’s CEO and cofounder is leaving

Yancey Strickler, who took over the top spot in 2014, is stepping down as CEO of the crowdfunding site later this year. He announced the move in a blog post on Wednesday night, saying it was time to move on after spending 12 years of his life working on Kickstarter. Earlier this year, we wrote about how the Brooklyn-based company revamped its business model to become a Public Benefit Corporation and vowed never to go public. Strickler didn't say what his next move would be but said he would be up to "new projects" soon. [via TechCrunch]

07.27.17 | 2 hours ago

Once upon a time, the iPod Nano was AMAZING

Apple has confirmed that it has discontinued the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle, leaving the iPod Touch as the last remaining variant of the music player that changed the company forever. I don't even have to insert a decision here on why it's killing them off—it's just too darn obvious.

But thinking about the iPod Nano dying brought back pleasant memories of the device's launch in 2005. It's hard to overstate just how impressive an engineering feat the sliver-like little gadget seemed at the time, or the degree to which it carried an irresistible OMG I want that vibe that few Apple products before or since have matched. And it was also a bold marketing move to release an all-new small iPod with a new name given that the device it replaced—the hard drive-based iPod Mini—had been such a hit.

Here's Steve Jobs unveiling the Nano at Apple's September 2005 event, which also served to introduce a famously bad product–Motorla's ROKR "iPod phone."

07.27.17 | 2 hours ago

So long iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle, and thank you for years of service

The product line that opened Apple's second great act is fading fast. Yep, after 12 years Apple is discontinuing the iPod Nano and Shuffle music players, leaving only the iPod Touch. 

The company has taken down the dedicated Nano and Shuffle websites, and sent this statement to The Verge: "Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup with two models of iPod touch now with double the capacity starting at just $199 and we are discontinuing the iPod shuffle and iPod nano," a spokesperson emailed. The (internet-connected) iPod Touch will now come in 32GB and 128GB versions, with the latter priced at $299.

FWIW I still use my Shuffle every time I get frustrated with my fancy watch-and-wireless-headphones setup. For my money the Shuffle is still the simplest and most reliable way to get music into my head quickly as I'm headed out the door for a run. I will be searching around today to find a new Shuffle to buy, while supplies last. 

[Photo: Yohanes.niko via Wikimedia Commons]

07.27.17 | 3 hours ago

Another music service??? Google’s new idea for YouTube Red actually makes sense

Ever since last year's launch of YouTube Red, I've wondered: How long until Google just combines its two music subscription services? Not that long, apparently. YouTube music head Lyor Cohen recently said that "combining YouTube Red and Google Play Music" is a priority for the company.

Google launched the Play on-demand music service in 2013, only to realize later that YouTube's own massive role in online music might need to be formalized and better monetized—if for no other reason than to placate a music industry frustrated by user-uploaded media and the "safe harbor" copyright law loophole that gave rise to an endless game of infringement whack-a-mole.

That left Google running two separate music subscription services, neither of which has taken off quite like Spotify and Apple Music have. Amazon Music is now reportedly the third biggest music subscription service

07.27.17 | 3 hours ago

Rent the Runway just made ordering a gown as quick as ordering lunch

Using the brand's in-app same-day delivery service, which just launched today, you can now order your dress before lunch (noon) and have it delivered before happy hour (5 p.m.). Currently, this service is only available in New York, but there are plans to expand to other cities soon. 

The idea is to make ordering a gown as easy as ordering your lunch through Seamless. It is also competing with Amazon's same-day delivery service. Right now gown rentals begin at $30 and include a free backup size. The cost of delivery is $9.95, but is free for members.

07.27.17 | 10:31 am

The title of Hillary Clinton’s new book is a great argument for the power of punctuation

Simon & Schuster revealed today that Hillary Clinton's book about the 2016 election is called What Happened. Add a question mark to that and it would basically sum up what much of the world was thinking on November 9, 2016, after she lost to Donald Trump. (Really, what happened?) Still, it was a keen bit of branding insight to keep the title question mark-free, which makes it sound more authoritative and separates it from the thousands of existing hot takes that already ask the question of why Clinton lost. Recall that nearly every poll and pundit insisted she had it in the bag. Whether you care about this book or not, it's a good argument for the power of punctuation. The book comes out in September. Check out more info here.  

[Image: Simon & Schuster]

07.27.17 | 10:24 am

Would you pay $3 a month for HGTV and Animal Planet?

Discovery Communications may have a new response to cord-cutting in the works. AdAge reports that if Discovery's plan to acquire Scripps Networks comes to fruition, it could create a TV bundle with channels from both networks for around $3 per month to $4 per month. Combined with Scripps, which owns HGTV and the Food Network, Discovery would own five of the top 20 cable networks in the United States. There's just one hitch: Viacom is also interested in Scripps, and has reportedly offered an all-cash deal for an acquisition. But regardless of what happens to Scripps, cheap sports-free bundles seem inevitable now. Discovery, Viacom, and AMC have even been negotiating to offer one together.

07.27.17 | 9:17 am

Cord-cutting is back at Comcast after a long winning streak

Philly cable powerhouse Comcast had been bucking the cord-cutting trend for the last few quarters, but the good times couldn't last forever. This morning, the company reported a net loss of 34,000 pay-TV customers for the second quarter of 2017, ending a nice winning streak. Comcast added pay-TV customers for the previous three consecutive quarters and finished out 2016 with a net gain of 161,000, even as its rivals were hemorrhaging subscribers

That said, Comcast earnings were pretty rosy thanks to its NBCUniversal unit, which is riding a wave of box office hits like Fate of the Furious. Second-quarter profits were up almost 24%. Here's the full release.

[Photo: Flickr user MoneyBlogNewz]

07.27.17 | 8:55 am

Twitter basically didn’t gain any new subscribers in the last quarter, but at least it didn’t lose any

Twitter's audience remained flat in Q2 at 328 million monthly active users. That's bad, but when compared to Q2 2016, it's a 5% increase. As you might recall, this follows the rather surprising news of 9 million new users last quarter, which Twitter attributed to resurrected users—particularly those seeking political news—and its burgeoning live content. 

During its Q2 earnings call today, Twitter noted, yet again, that its monthly active user metric had taken a backseat to "daily active users." In terms of the latter, Twitter saw 12% growth year over year, as compared to 14% last quarter, but it never disclosed the actual number of daily users, and whether or not an increase there is the result of live content is harder to parse. 

In Q2, Twitter logged more than 1,200 hours of live content and attracted 55 million unique viewers—which means it clocked an additional 400 hours of content and 10 million users this quarter. But it's hard not to be skeptical about whether live video has meaningfully impacted Twitter's bottom line; those unique viewers don't necessarily translate into users who will return to and engage with Twitter long term. 

Last quarter, Twitter also posited that its harassment policies may be responsible for bringing in new users, but the company's Q2 numbers almost seem to argue the opposite: Perhaps cracking down on abusive accounts has hampered its growth. 

[Photo: vivalapenler/iStock]

07.27.17 | 7:22 am

Move over, Breathalyzer, here comes the “textalyzer”

Police in New York state might soon have a device which allows them to tell if the driver of a car crash had been texting while driving, reports the Associated Press. The aptly named "textalyzer" will enable a police officer to plug your smartphone into it to see if you've sent any texts, emails, were surfing the web, or otherwise using your phone in an unsafe manner while driving. Opponents of the device are skeptical it would only read a smartphone's usage patterns—such as only confirming a text was sent—and not be able to access personal communications on the device—such as who that text was sent to and what it said. Supporters of the tech, made by Israeli security company Cellebrite, assert that such information would be unable to be accessed using the textalyzer.

And then there is the issue of the textalyzer's seeming inability to tell who was using the device while the car was in motion. After all, just because the textalyzer shows the driver's phone was being used to send a text while the car was in motion, it doesn't necessarily mean the driver was the one using that phone if there were multiple occupants in the car.

[Photo: Flickr user kellybdc]