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06.30.16 | 7:16 am

Boris Johnson abandons plans to become Britain’s new PM 

The contest on who will succeed David Cameron, who resigned after the Brexit vote, has taken on the drama of an ancient Roman political struggle:

• Yesterday an email was leaked by the wife of prominent Leave campaigner Michael Gove, revealing that Rupert Murdoch wasn't excited about the possibility of Boris Johnson becoming the new prime minister.

• The email from Gove's wife told Gove to hold out his support for Johnson until Johnson offered him a high-level position in the new government.

• In a shock to everyone today, Gove announced he would run to replace Cameron as prime minister, setting himself as the main challenger to Boris Johnson's campaign to be the new prime minister. This was a unexpected to say the least considering the two campaigned heavily together for a Brexit.

• To top things off, after Gove announced his bid, Johnson surprised everyone by announcing he will not run for prime minister any longer (which is why most people assumed he backed Leave—so if Leave won, he could become PM).

[Photo: Andrew Parsons/ i-Images]

10.28.16 | 3 minutes ago

Here’s the letter the FBI just sent to Congress, saying that it uncovered new evidence in the Clinton email probe

In a bombshell announcement that is sure to shake up the presidential campaign, the FBI said that it will conduct a new investigation of emails from Hillary Clinton's private server. In a letter to members of Congress, FBI Director James Comey said that the bureau had "recently "learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation" while looking at an "unrelated case." Noting that he had just been briefed on the new evidence on Thursday, he continued: "I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation." 

Back in July, Comey came under fire from Republicans after announcing that the FBI had closed its investigation into the matter with no charges, especially because he said that Clinton had been "extremely careless" in her handling of emails. As soon as the letter was revealed this afternoon, Republican nominee Donald Trump told a cheering crowd of supporters in New Hampshire that Clinton was "corrupt" and informing them of the development. 

Here is the letter that Comey sent to Congress today:

Scribd" href="" style="text-decoration: underline;" >October 28 Letter 2 by Marcus Baram on Scribd

10.28.16 | an hour ago

Facebook offers advertisers a way to exclude ethnic groups

It's hard to say exactly how marketers might use the feature, but according to ProPublica, Facebook offers them a way to exclude serving ads to people in specific "ethnic affinities."

If this tool is used to discriminate against people seeking housing, ProPublica wrote, it would be illegal under federal rules.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Fast Company request for comment. But the social networking giant told ProPublica, "We take a strong stand against advertisers misusing our platform: Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, and they require compliance with the law."

10.28.16 | an hour ago

That $999 kit that makes your car semi-autonomous isn’t happening

George Hotz, the first person to ever jailbreak the iPhone, promised last month that his self-driving car company,, would by the end of the year release a product that adds semi-autonomous capabilities to Honda Civics and some Acura cars.

Today, he ditched that plan after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a letter expressing concern over the safety of the product. Hotz announced the news on Twitter using the account:

10.28.16 | 2 hours ago

Hackers don’t need a gun to take down your drone

There's been plenty of discussion about whether irresponsible drone pilots pose a risk to airplanes or first responders. But what if the flying cameras start to fall out of the sky because of ones and zeros?

Researchers have shown it's possible for hackers to take control of a drone and even make it fall out of the sky, Ars Technica reports. And as Recode notes, different researchers recently showed that it's possible to remotely take over control of a number of different off-the-shelf drones.

So while we're unlikely to see hackers hijacking the flying devices any time soon, it's worth remembering that people upset with drones don't need no stinking gun to knock them out of the sky.

10.28.16 | 2 hours ago

Uber drivers in London are now entitled to workers’ rights

A tribunal in London today decided that Uber drivers are entitled to workers' rights such as paid holidays and the minimum wage.

Uber has argued that its drivers are their own employers, and that its app merely connects them to work—a setup that excludes the company from following laws such as those establishing a minimum wage that apply only to employees.

The London case was brought by one current and one former driver, but it exposes Uber to legal action from about 42,000 of its drivers who are based in London. It did not address the question of whether the drivers have been paid the minimum wage, but rather whether they are entitled to it.

Uber plans to appeal the decision.

10.28.16 | 2 hours ago

Due to Apple price hikes in the U.K., it’s now cheaper for Brits to fly round-trip to the U.S. to buy a MacBook Pro

On Thursday, Apple raised prices by as much as £500 on its products sold in the U.K.—thus making it cheaper to buy a round-trip ticket to the U.S. or Canada to buy your latest device and fly back to London, reports the Financial Times. For example, a MacBook Pro just jumped in price from £2,499 to £2,999, but starts in the U.S. at $2,999 and in Canada at C$3,499, about £530 and £800 less, respectively, than the price in pounds sterling.

Right now, Air India is offering roundtrip tickets from London to New York from $441 and WestJet is offering roundtrip tickets from London to Toronto for £349. Oy, how badly do you want one of these new laptops?

10.28.16 | 4 hours ago

78,000 Corinthian Colleges students have filed debt relief claims

Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit education chain that once operated over 100 campuses across North America, filed for bankruptcy last year amid a torrent of lawsuits alleging that many of the company's programs were a sham. 

Corinthian's collapse left thousands of students in the lurch and on the hook for thousands of dollars of debt, prompting the Obama Administration to review its write-down policies in cases of fraud and abuse. In the months since, over 78,000 Corinthian students and an additional 4,000 students from other trade schools have requested debt relief.

The Education Department said today that is has already approved more than 15,000 claims, together worth $247 million. All told, student-friendly changes in policy could cost taxpayers as much as $21.2 billion over the next 10 years. 

[Photo: Flickr user college.library]

10.28.16 | 4 hours ago

This online master’s program is now producing more computer science grads than any other university

These days there are dozens of ways to learn how to code, from bootcamps to YouTube videos. But until the Georgia Institute of Technology introduced a low-cost, online version of its master's degree in computer science in 2014, earning an advanced credential in the subject was expensive and often inconvenient.

Now, for just $7,000, students can earn the same CS diploma as master's students who attend Georgia Tech in person. In just two years, the program has become the nation's largest computer science MS in terms of annual graduates, increasing production by roughly 7%.

Even better: the average student in the program is 34 years old and would not otherwise have had the means to attain the degree, implying a significant increase in access for lower-income, mid-career professionals.  

10.28.16 | 9:50 am

N.Y.C. becomes first city in U.S. to pass wage protection for freelancers

The "Freelance Isn't Free" bill, aimed at protecting freelance professionals in New York City from clients who don't pay or pay late, was passed unanimously by the New York City Council yesterday. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign it into law, and it would go into effect 180 days later.

The law mandates that employers pay freelancers in full within 30 days after they render services (unless otherwise specified in a contract). It is still not determined whether the protection will extend to freelancers residing outside New York who work for N.Y.C.-based companies.

One of the chief complaints of freelance professionals is getting paid on time. As many as 7 out of 10 freelancers encounter this costly problem, according to the most recent survey from Upwork/Freelancers Union. The survey estimates as many as 38% of New York City's workers are independent contractors.

10.28.16 | 9:20 am

Facebook mimics Snapchat again with its new messaging camera

It's happening again—Facebook is mimicking Snapchat with its new product. Just like Instagram Stories was considered a copy of Snapchat Stories, Facebook is testing a new camera and messaging features that ape its rival, including facial masks and photos or videos that disappear if you don't respond within 24 hours, reports Recode. Facebook says that the new features let users "share moments as they happen and express yourself more" . . . and, they're hoping, have fewer reasons to use Snapchat.

[Image: Facebook]

10.28.16 | 9:00 am

Morning intel: WhatsApp’s privacy policy in Europe, Tesla’s solar roof reveal

• European regulators have asked WhatsApp to stop sharing user data with Facebook, to ensure WhatsApp's new privacy policy complies with European laws. 

• Speaking of privacy: The FCC just ruled that AT&T, Comcast, and other broadband providers can no longer collect user data without getting permission—a big step forward for online privacy advocates. 

Soylent is reformulating its powder, after finding that the new version was inducing stomach issues in customers similar to those caused by Soylent's bars

• Both Microsoft and Apple released new computers this week. Here's how Apple's new MacBook Pros compare to Microsoft's new Surface Studio, according to Fast Company's Mark Sullivan, who said Microsoft was the clear winner in terms of innovation.

• ICYMI: Vine is dead. What platform will Vine creators flock to now? After the news broke, PornHub offered to buy Vine because, as VP Corey Price said, "six seconds is more than enough time for most people to enjoy themselves."

• Coming up today: Tesla is unveiling its solar roof at 5:30 p.m. PT, a first look at what will come of the Tesla-SolarCity acquisition. 

10.28.16 | 7:08 am

Now Soylent is pulling its powder from shelves after customers get sick

First it was Soylent's Food Bars that were making customers vomit, causing it to halt sales and shipments. Now, it's the powder that is making a "handful of customers" extremely ill, prompting them to pull the product from shelves, according to a blog post on Thursday. Soylent says that "for the past several weeks, we have worked aggressively to uncover why people were having these negative experiences" and has failed to uncover any "food pathogens, toxins, or outside contamination." Yet it has been able to isolate the problem to Powder 1.6, since customers who tried the earlier versions didn't get sick. 

Soylent says it is reformulating the bar and powder, sharing its findings with the Food and Drug Administration, and expects both products to be ready in the first quarter of 2017. So far, it hasn't heard complaints about Soylent Drink or Coffiest.

[Image: Soylent]