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04.26.17 | 2:33 pm

Juno is terminating its stock program for drivers

Today, Gett confirmed that it is acquiring Juno for $200 million. In a letter to Juno drivers announcing the deal, Gett said it would be suspending the restricted stock units program and replacing it with cash bonuses. One of Juno's early differentiators was that it offered drivers shares of the company based on the number of hours they worked. Half of the company's founding shares were reserved for drivers, so that even as the company eventually embraced automation, drivers would be taken care of. They're now only eligible to collect anywhere from $25 to "a four digit number," according to a Juno representative.   

Independent Drivers Guild isn't happy about it. In response, the group released the following statement: 

"Given the actions of driving apps to date, it comes as little surprise that Juno is cashing out, leaving the drivers who helped build the company with next to nothing. This latest bait-and-switch underscores the need for industry-wide protections to ensure a living wage for drivers in the face of deceptive tactics, empty promises and manipulation from ride-hail apps."

06.22.17 | an hour ago

Baby come back: Uber employees are passing around a petition to keep Travis Kalanick

Some employees want to bring back ousted CEO Travis Kalanick. An email is reportedly circulating among Uber staff, asking them to sign a petition calling for Kalanick's return. According to Axios, more than 1,000 current employees have signed. It appears there is a disconnect between employees who see Kalanick as an important driver of Uber's business and the board members who feel he has become a liability. The internal turmoil over how to revamp Uber's corporate culture and goals indicates a long and difficult road ahead for the ride-hailing company as it attempts to refashion its image. 

06.22.17 | 2 hours ago

Beautycounter’s scientists invented a moisturizer that mimics your skin’s biology

Moisturizer is a tricky product. Our skin's moisture levels change throughout the day, and depending on the season, many products that feel good in the morning don't work by the afternoon or evening, when conditions change. The ideal product would adapt to your skin, identifying when it is drier or sweatier. 

Beautycounter, a brand that focuses on creating safer beauty products, has been working on a solution. The challenge was made harder by the fact that the brand has a list of 1,500 ingredients that it will never include in a product because they are known to cause harm. But a Beautycounter scientist has managed to create a bio-mimicking formula that deploys ingredients in green olives, beetroot, and green rice. The moisturizer is supposed to match the structure of your skin and adapt to its hydration levels throughout the day. In a clinical study, the product appeared to keep users' skin optimally hydrated for 26 hours. 

There's clearly a market for an adaptive moisturizer. Beautycounter sold out of the cream in 24 hours after it launched earlier this week. The brand is now feverishly working to make more to meet demand. 

(Image via Beautycounter)

06.22.17 | 3 hours ago

John Oliver and HBO are getting sued by the coal industry after a “Last Week Tonight” segment

On Sunday night's episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver targeted the coal industry. Now they are striking back. In the episode, he pleaded with President Trump to "stop lying to coal miners" about his ability to revive the shrinking industry. Oliver also targeted Bob Murray, the notoriously litigious CEO of Murray Energy, even though he knew he was likely to be sued for doing so, as the company sent the show a cease-and-desist order before the episode even aired.

Murray runs the country's largest privately owned coal company, Murray Energy Corporation, and has sued media companies in the past, including recently filing a libel suit against the New York Times. Despite that cautionary tale, on the June 18 episode of Last Week Tonight, Oliver said Murray doesn't do enough to protect his miners' safety. He illustrated that point with a government report that concluded that the collapse of one of Murray's mines in Utah, which killed nine people, was due to unauthorized mining practices, while Murray claims the collapse actually happened because of an earthquake. 

A legal complaint filed on June 21 in the circuit court of Marshall County, West Virginia, states that Oliver and his team "executed a meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character of and reputation of Mr. Robert E. Murray and his companies,"  They called the segment a "callous, vicious, and false attack" that "childishly demeaned and disparaged" Murray, "a 77-year old citizen in ill health," which they claim caused "emotional and physical distress and damage." The complaint also says Murray's legal team tried to share studies with Oliver's staff that proved an earthquake was responsible for the mine collapse, but were ignored.

HBO, however, stands by Oliver and his team. "We have confidence in the staff of Last Week Tonight and do not believe anything in the show this week violated Mr. Murray's or Murray Energy's rights," HBO said in a statement to Fast Company.

 [Photo: Wikipedia]

06.22.17 | 3 hours ago

Here’s the full text of the new health care bill that GOP senators have been hiding from us 

After weeks of closed-door meetings, Senate Republicans have finally unveiled their revamped health care bill, which is intended to kill the Affordable Care Act. 

The New York Times writes that the new 142-page bill would create a tax credit system enabling citizens to purchase their own insurance. It also, reports the Times, gets rid of many Obamacare benefits, including "maternity care, emergency services and mental health treatment." 

While it was initially touted as a complete rewrite of the House health care bill from last month, it looks to be quite similar. You can read the full text of the bill here.

06.22.17 | 4 hours ago

Not even Rob Lowe can help KFC launch a chicken sandwich into space 

Extraterrestrials are going to have to wait a little longer to try KFC's spicy chicken sandwich. Back in April the company made Rob Lowe dress up like Colonel Sanders to help announce KFC's plan to launch a sandwich into space to prove it's out of this world or some other marketing malarkey. They weren't joking, though. KFC teamed up with World View to launch a high-altitude balloon/sandwich delivery system, which was supposed to reach the stars today, but has been delayed because of high wind conditions. "Due to weather, we won't be launching the Zinger today," KFC wrote on Facebook. "But technically mankind has waited all of eternity to launch a chicken sandwich into space, so a little longer probably won't hurt. Updated launch date to come."

As reported by Space.com, World View tweeted that the next interstellar sandwich delivery attempt could come as early as Saturday.

06.22.17 | 10:03 am

BuzzFeed’s NYC office may or may not be infested with bedbugs 

Well, this tweet from BuzzFeed's media reporter isn't disconcerting at all:

Bedbugs, while a disturbingly common problem in New York, are still the stuff of urban nightmares. Hopefully the issue is exterminated swiftly. My thoughts will be with all BuzzFeed—or BugzFeed (I'm so sorry)—staff who may or may not be carrying the insects. Good luck, but please stay away from my apartment. 

06.22.17 | 9:41 am

Farfetch is about to drastically amp up its China operations

JD.com, which Recode describes as the "Amazon of China," has just invested nearly $400 million into the luxury e-commerce retailer Farfetch. JD.com founder and CEO Richard Liu will also join Farfetch's board. This will drastically amp up Farfetch's presence in China, which is already the world's largest luxury market. 

Farfetch is shaping up to be a powerful force in luxury e-commerce. Last week, Condé Nast International announced that it would be killing off its e-commerce site Style.com and, instead, investing $20 million in a partnership with Farfetch. 

[Photo: Igor Ovsyannkov]

06.22.17 | 9:33 am

Facebook gives Indian users more control over their profile pictures, citing safety concerns for women

Facebook is offering a new feature to its users in India aimed at curbing profile picture misuse. The new controls stops people from being able to download other people's profile pictures, or tag themselves or other people in them. Additionally, Facebook says it's going to try to prevent users from taking screenshots of profile pictures, when possible.

In a blog post, Facebook says many Indian women choose to not show their face on their profile picture because of potential misuse. These solutions, says the company, will help give them more control.

[Photo: Alejandro Photography]

06.22.17 | 9:13 am

Qatar Airways may buy a stake in American Airlines just to mess with them

Qatar Airways plans to dole out $808 million to buy a 10% stake in American Airlines, making the state-owned airline one of American's largest shareholders, Bloomberg reports

It's an interesting strategy for the Doha-based airline, which has been suspending flights to Middle Eastern neighbors as tensions in the region grow. American has accused Middle Eastern carriers of unfair competition in international air travel. It argues that state subsidies allow the carriers to offer lower ticket prices on international flights.  According to Bloomberg, American said the proposed investment doesn't change its stance on the issue and hopes the U.S. government will protect the U.S. aviation industry against what it sees as shady practices. Qatar Airways' move is also interesting in the wake of the Trump administration's seeming indecisiveness on Qatar, having both accused Qatar of harboring and funding terrorists, and then selling it $12 billion in fighter jets, and then accusing Middle Eastern nations of being unfair to Qatar for failing to justify their embargo on the nation.

[Photo: Wikipedia]

06.22.17 | 8:00 am

From Facebook to Slack, civic engagement just got a little bit easier

Behind the reality-show circus of political scandals are the hidden technical and bureaucratic happenings that most affect our work and lives. To help people keep on top of them all, San Francisco company IFTTT has announced a slew of new automatic update services that expand on a pilot program launched in March.

Short for "if this, then that," IFTTT is a point-and-click tool that allows people to string together online services and trigger actions based on specific criteria. For instance, if the U.S. State Department issues a travel warning for a country, you can trigger it to send the info to a particular email address. That's one of 40-plus of pre-built scripts that IFTTT released today, tying information from mostly U.S. government agencies and other organizations into services like email, Google Sheets, Evernote, Slack, Facebook, and Twitter. Other examples include automatically:

* Entering new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis into a Google spreadsheet

* Sending email updates when ClinicalTrials.gov announces new  trials for diabetes or cancer treatment

* Posting new Department of Labor monthly employment data to project-management app Trello

* Tweeting the latest news from the EPA for a specific topic, like air pollution

* Saving FCC press releases to read later in bookmarking app Pocket

* Saving environmental information from the National Science Foundation to filing app Evernote

* Sharing SEC investor alerts with coworkers in chat app Slack

* Posting Department of Agriculture food recall news to Facebook or Twitter

There are some more down-to-earth ones, like updates on public transit services, as well as some entertaining and whimsical items. For instance, Library of Congress IFTTT scripts can email users the Today in History blog post or update an Android phone's wallpaper with a new photo.

You can find the whole list of scripts, and instructions for making your own, on IFTTT's website.

06.22.17 | 7:08 am

Now Trump wants a “solar wall” along Mexico’s border

Because Mexico is sunny, or hot, or something, so the wall will pay for itself. Take it away, Trump (via Bloomberg):

"We're thinking of something that's unique, we're talking about the southern border. Lots of sun, lots of heat. We're thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy, and pays for itself. And this way Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that's good. Is that good?"

"Think about it, the higher it goes, the more valuable it is. Pretty good imagination, right, good? My idea."

06.22.17 | 6:42 am

Twitter’s Periscope will now let you tip broadcasters using virtual currency

The company has added a feature to its Periscope app that allows users to purchase "Super Hearts" during live streams and then give them to that broadcaster, reports MacRumors. Viewers purchase the Super Hearts with Periscope's "Periscope Coins" virtual currency. The Super Hearts can then be redeemed by broadcasters at the end of each month for cash. Read our story on Super Hearts here