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01.09.17 | 6:04 am

Baidu and the Chinese government just teamed up to bring autonomous cars to the streets

The "Chinese Google" and the state-owned Beijing Automotive Group will unveil its first autonomous driving car in April, with the goal of having up to 10% of cars in the country fully self-driving by 2030, reports Bloomberg.

05.24.17 | 4 hours ago

Did Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body slam a reporter today? Update: he did.

At an event in Montana this afternoon, Guardian political reporter Ben Jacobs tried to ask congressional candidate Greg Gianforte a question. A violent-sounding tussle then ensued, which resulted in Jacobs getting his glasses broken. 

Gianforte is a tech entrepreneur who sold a company to Oracle for $1.5 billion, catalyzing the state's startup boom.

"You just body slammed me and broke my glasses," Jacobs can be heard saying in audio posted by the Guardian. "Get the hell out of here," says a voice that sounds like Gianforte. 

Gianforte's campaign released a statement confirming the altercation, and blamed the incident on "aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist."

Here's the Guardian's audio:

Update: A camera crew from Fox News Channel witnessed the altercation and confirmed Ben Jacobs' account:

"Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter."

Read their report here.

Second update: Greg Gianforte has received a citation for misdemeanor assault, the Gallatin County sheriff tells Politico.


05.24.17 | 7:29 pm

Casper is the latest company to pull ads from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News

On Wednesday, amid controversy over Sean Hannity's promotion of a conspiracy theory about Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich's death, several companies pulled their ads from his highly rated show. First, removed its ads, saying in a statement: "The fact that we advertise on a particular program doesn't mean that we agree or disagree, or support or oppose, the content. We don't have the ability to influence content at the time we make out advertising purchase. In this case, we've been watching closely and have recently made the decision to pull our advertising from Hannity."

Later in the day, Peloton, the  indoor exercise bike company, announced that it has decided to pull its ads from the show.

And now Casper, the mattress startup, says that it is also pulling its ads from Hannity, a spokesperson tells Fast Company: "We have reviewed our programmatic television media strategy with our agency partners and reassigned this allocation."

05.24.17 | 5:27 pm

The latest Republican health care plan would leave 23 million uninsured over the next decade, says the CBO

An independent analysis of the Republican plan to replace Obamacare was released on Wednesday afternoon, highlighting the impact of the bill on Americans. These are some of the most significant findings:

*The plan would leave an additional 23 million Americans without health insurance over the next decade.

*It would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over the same period of time. That's a slight difference from the first version of the bill, which would have left 24 million people without health insurance over the same time period, and would have reduced the deficit by $337 billion.

*Premiums would decline on average.

*People who live in states that allow insurers to drop specific benefits could see huge increases (to the tune of thousands of dollars) for maternity and mental health services, substance abuse services, and pediatric dental care.

05.24.17 | 2:30 pm

Trump wants to be able to hack your drone

The Trump administration wants federal agencies to be able to track, hack, or even destroy drones that pose a threat to law enforcement and public safety operations, The New York Times reports

A proposed law, if passed by Congress, would let the government take down unmanned aircraft posing a danger to firefighting and search-and-rescue missions, prison operations, or "authorized protection of a person." The government will be required to respect "privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties" when exercising that power, the draft bill says. But records of anti-drone actions would be exempt from public disclosure under freedom of information laws, and people's right to sue over damaged and seized drones would be limited, according to the text of the proposal published by the Times. The administration, which would not comment on the proposal, scheduled a classified briefing on Wednesday for congressional staff members to discuss the issue.

The proposed rules come after repeated reports of drones behaving badly at locations like airports and sporting events, and after a drunk federal employee crashed his drone on White House grounds. ISIS has also been using civilian drones as weapons in Syria and Iraq, and there's no reason to think terrorists wouldn't try similar things in the U.S. (Given those concerns, last month the Pentagon restricted civilian drone flights over military bases.) The new White House proposal could also address the existing upheaval around who, if anyone, regulates hobbyist drones, and would likely be a boon to the growing industry dedicated to hacking drones out of the sky

[Photo: DroneDefender Battelle]

05.24.17 | 1:24 pm

Tesla replaces head of HR amid claims of poor working conditions 

On Tuesday, Tesla announced the hiring of a new head of people, Gaby Toledano. She replaces Arnnon Geshuri, who has been in charge of human resources for the last eight years. The change comes shortly after reports surfaced that Tesla's factory workers are allegedly being put in harm's way to meet production demands.   

[Photo: Flickr user Maurizio Pesce]

05.24.17 | 1:01 pm

Now you can raise money for personal emergencies and medical bills on Facebook

Starting today, you can raise money for things like unexpected medical expenses, personal emergencies, funerals, and your local community right on Facebook. Facebook has allowed charitable organizations to get donations on the platform for quite a while, but individuals who wanted to raise funds had to use another service, such as GoFundMe, to create personal fundraisers. 

The social network currently has a short list of approved reasons for personal fundraisers: Education, Medical, Pet Medical, Crisis Relief, Personal Emergency, Funeral and Loss, Sports, Community.

Fundraisers are available on Facebook both on mobile and desktop. The social network takes 6.9% + a $0.30 fee for donations that goes towards payment processing, fundraiser vetting, and security and fraud protection. The company claims that the cost is to sustain the service and that it will not make any profit off of donations.

05.24.17 | 12:53 pm

Take two: Airbnb launches another travel magazine

Airbnb has launched a new magazine in collaboration with Hearst that will appear on newsstands soon. It is Airbnb's first attempt at printed content since the failure of Pineapple—and round two might not be any easier. Between 2014 and 2015, travel magazine readership in the U.S. slipped by 3%, according to Statista. Hearst hopes that Airbnb can reinvigorate travel magazines much the way it has done so for the travel and lodging industry. Hearst's Chief Content Officer Joanna Coles said in a statement, "By partnering with Airbnb, we are able to serve their global community and provide readers with the most inspiring and most real-life travel stories, experiences and tips." Which may means she thinks there's a ready readership Hearst can tap into. For Airbnb, getting a magazine placed on the coffee tables of the homes on its platform can only help create a complete experience for their users. Subscribers can get six issues of the magazine for $15.

05.24.17 | 12:30 pm

You can now book your Cuban vacation on Expedia 

U.S. travelers can now book hotels in Cuba on Expedia, making finding lodgings and paying for them a bit easier, the New York Daily News reportsWhile U.S. travelers can't book flights or vacation packages on Expedia yet, the hotel booking feature is up and running. Options aren't limited to state-approved hotels, either, but include guest rooms, so-called casa particulars, and a few apartments, which could cut into Airbnb's business in Cuba. 

The move comes after President Obama eased Cold War-era travel and trade restrictions with Cuba, making it possible for visa-holding travelers to visit the island nation. The Trump administration, however, is reportedly reviewing the U.S.'s relationship with Cuba. According to the Miami Herald, Trump's Cuba policy review was supposed to be announced by Saturday, but it was postponed as it has not yet been completed and the president is traveling out of the country.

05.24.17 | 12:30 pm

Tourism taking a big hit in the age of Trump 

Donald Trump claims he wants to make the U.S. borders impervious to "bad hombres," but turns out he's making the borders nearly impervious to just regular old tourists, too. A new study by Foursquare reveals that since October 2016, tourism has tumbled in the U.S. by as much as 16%. Foursquare analyzed visits by international tourists to the U.S. and found that the decline in tourism began in October 2016 (aka right before the election). Its decline continued through March 2017, when it dropped all the way to -16%. According to Foursquare, there is no sign of recovery. It's not just Foursquare, either. Earlier, reported that international air searches to the U.S. were down by 12%.

The decline comes in the wake of the Trump administration's crackdown on undocumented immigrants with or without criminal records, deportations of lawful immigrants, laptop bans, and the so-called Muslim ban that was widely denounced and thrown out by the federal courts (twice). Those policies have made tourists from the Middle East and Central and South America think twice about coming to the U.S., because why risk being turned away at the U.S. border when you could rent the entire country of Sweden.

[Photo: Flickr user hjl

05.24.17 | 12:17 pm

DJI’s new Spark drone is made for the masses, with a budget price, and it’s controlled by hand gestures

DJI's new Spark consumer drone promises to make the technology a plaything for even non-techies, with a budget price ($499) and ease of use (you can control just by waving your hand). The company says it's the first drone controllable by hand gestures alone and is made for everyman, even if you've never flown a drone before.

In a glitzy event at New York City's Grand Central Terminal, executives introduced the drone, which weighs just 10.6 ounces (less than a can of soda, they note), is ready to launch within seconds, and comes in five colors: Alpine White, Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Lava Red, and Sunrise Yellow.

"Spark's revolutionary new interface lets you effortlessly extend your point of view to the air, making it easier than ever to capture and share the world from new perspectives," said Paul Pan, senior product manager at DJI.

In terms of specs, it can achieve speeds up to 31 mph, comes with a camera with 1/2.3" CMOS sensor that captures 12-megapixel photos, shoots stabilized HD 1080p videos, and a 2-axis mechanical gimbal that reduces shake.

05.24.17 | 11:40 am

Taiwan could become the first country in Asia to allow same-sex marriage

Taiwan's highest court has just paved the way for the country to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. In their landmark decision, the court held that Taiwan's current law preventing same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional.  

In a press release following the ruling, posted by The Straits Times, the court said that "disallowing two persons of the same sex to marry, for the sake of safeguarding basic ethical orders" constituted a "different treatment" with "no rational basis" and was "incompatible with the spirit and meaning of the right to equality." Taiwan's parliament can now choose to either amend the law in the next two years or same-sex marriages can go forward, according to The Straits Times. Marriage equality supporters may not wait that long, though, and will push for new laws to allow same-sex marriage now, which has the support of Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen.

[Photo: SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images]