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12.08.16 | 7:17 am

U.S. Surgeon General says use of e-cigarettes among youth is “a major public health concern”

Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy urged policy makers to do more to keep e-cigarettes our of the hands of young people while their effects are studied because researchers still don't know what the long-term effects of vaping are, reports the Washington Post. During the last year's e-cigarette use by middle school and high school students has tripled.

"We know enough right now to say that youth and young adults should not be using e-cigarettes or any other tobacco product, for that matter. The key bottom line here is that the science tells us the use of nicotine-containing products by youth, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe," Murthy said.

03.27.17 | 39 minutes ago

Uber’s self-driving cars are already back on the road after Arizona crash

Look both ways if you're crossing the street in San Francisco today. Uber has resumed testing its self-driving cars in the city after one of its vehicles was involved in a collision in Tempe, Arizona. The company had suspended its program after the crash, which follows a slew of bad PR for the ride-hailing company. Cars remain grounded in Pittsburgh and Arizona, but were expected to resume testing soon. Read more from Reuters here.

Photo: Uber

03.27.17 | 2 hours ago

Like Google Maps, Facebook Messenger now lets you share your location

The idea of using a GPS-enabled smartphone to let friends and family know exactly where you are—especially when you're on your way to meet them—is at least as old as Glympse, an app that debuted in 2009. Lately, though, it's turning into a standard little bit of functionality in a variety of apps. Last week, for instance, it arrived in Google Maps.

And now Facebook Messenger is adding its own Live Location feature. Like Google's version, it's opt-in and lets you choose who gets to see where you are. But Messenger's variant only shares your coordinates for an hour (or less, at your discretion), with no option to transmit it indefinitely—a limitation that might allay any fears that you might forget it's on and accidentally disclose your whereabouts forever.

03.27.17 | 2 hours ago

When it’s finally released, Magic Leap’s headgear is likely to cost more than $1,000

It's been over a year since the secretive company's CEO, Rony Abovitz, promised that its AR eyewear would launch "very soon." Since then, Magic Leap has made headlines for some high-profile executive departures, raising doubts about the production status of the highly anticipated product, and sparking plenty of fresh rumors. Now, the Financial Times reports that the company is planning to release the "light-field" eyewear later this year. It will be smaller than Microsoft's HoloLens "with a wider field of view, but larger than a regular pair of glasses. The headgear will be tethered to a small pack that provides battery and processing power, to put in a pocket or attach to a belt, and is likely to cost in excess of $1,000." 

Read the full story here (paywall).

03.27.17 | 3 hours ago

Amazon’s cashier-free convenience store is delayed amid technical glitches: report 

Cashiers, you can breathe easy for now. Amazon was apparently forced to postpone the opening of its automated convenience store in Seattle as the location grapples with technical issues, the Wall Street Journal reports. The store, which uses cameras, algorithms, and sensors to figure out what people are buying, was initially set to open at the end of this month. According to the report, the automated checkout system is prone to glitches when the store gets too crowded. Our Noah Robischon wrote last month about how Amazon has been doubling down on efforts to reimagine the physical shopping experience, although some investors remain skeptical that high-tech automated stores will be a cost-effective alternative to traditional retail. Read more from WSJ here.

03.27.17 | 7:11 am

Ivanka Trump will attend a German summit on the economic empowerment of women

The first daughter was personally invited to the W20 summit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, reports the Associate Press. The summit focuses on how to economically empower women within the Group of 20 countries, which include the U.S., Japan, Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Canada, Russia, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and the EU.

03.27.17 | 6:59 am

Lyft is letting riders round up their fare to make charitable donations

The ride-hailing company announced that its new Round Up & Donate program will begin rolling out in testing over the next few weeks. The program gives riders the option to opt in to have their final fares for each trip rounded up to the next dollar, with the difference going to charity:

So, for example, if a passenger has opted into the program and their fare is $12.75, we'll round up the total to $13. That difference of $0.25 will then be donated to a charity.

Lyft hasn't named which charities it is supporting yet, but the company says the money will be donated to organizations working toward causes that affect everyone everywhere, from climate change to equality issues.

03.27.17 | 6:16 am

Director Brett Ratner thinks Rotten Tomatoes is destroying Hollywood films

Ratner told an audience at the Sun Valley Film Festival (via the BBC):

"The worst thing that we have in today's movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. I think it's the destruction of our business."

Ratner, whose production company co-financed the critically panned 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justicesaid the website's method of aggregating only professional critics' reviews in its official Tomatometer rating system can do great damage to a film—damage that he believes is unjust considering the aggregated user reviews are typically much higher than those of film critics. Batman v Superman got a 27% score from critics, while it got a 63% score from users. "The Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman, I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful," Ratner said.

03.27.17 | 5:55 am

These are the tech titans on Trump’s new SWAT innovation team

The new team, which will be made up of consultants from across the business world, will be led by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The team aims to overhaul federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises by taking ideas from the business world, reports the Washington Post. According to the Post, members of the team include:

• Apple CEO Tim Cook

• Microsoft founder Bill Gates

• Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

• Tesla founder Elon Musk

03.24.17 | 5:54 pm

The YouTube ad revolt continues with Pepsi, Starbucks, Walmart, GM, and others joining the exodus

More blue-chip advertisers are pulling out of YouTube as the backlash over ads appearing on extremist videos continues. Per the Wall Street Journal: PepsiCo, Walmart, Starbucks, GM, and Dish Network have all suspended their campaigns—despite Google vowing to do better. The companies join other big-name brands, including AT&T and Verizon, which suspended their campaigns earlier this week. The ad industry wants Google to be able to guarantee that ads won't be placed near videos promoting extremist views like those that condone white nationalism or terrorism. 

Earlier today, Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, released the following statement: 

"We join the ecosystem in calling upon all digital advertising platforms to take the necessary steps to guarantee the safety and reputations of our brands. Brands choose those platforms to work hard for them to achieve all of their business and brand building objectives. But the most important of those priorities is 'to do no harm.'"

[Photo: Flickr user Rego Korosi]

03.24.17 | 4:52 pm

Obamacare may still be alive, but it’s on life support

Today's massive defeat for President Trump and Paul Ryan, who were forced to pull the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare in the face of lackluster support for the bill, has Democrats gloating for the first time in many months. "We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future," said Ryan amid plenty of commentary about how embarrassing the debacle was for Republicans and the administration.

But all those GIFs of Obama laughing on Twitter don't change the fact that his signature achievement is still in trouble. Here are four ways that the GOP is slowly starving Obamacare:

•  Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is using all the regulatory means at his disposal to cripple Obamacare, proposing to tighten its special enrollment periods, adding extra verification requirements, and changing the plans' "actuarial value" in a way that makes it more costly for patients.

• The administration slashed Obamacare's marketing budget soon after the inauguration, clawing back millions of dollars in pre-paid TV ads during the 2017 sign-up period, causing enrollment to dip for the first time in more than two years.

• Due to uncertainty over the fate of the law, more insurers like Humana have pulled out of the exchanges. 

• And the administration and Republican leaders in Congress are intent on removing Obamacare's contraception coverage requirement and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood.

[Flickr user: Jeff Kubina]

03.24.17 | 4:40 pm

People at Uber couldn’t see their own diversity data

Unlike many large tech companies, Uber doesn't release its diversity data. In fact, the company apparently doesn't even track it, according to a report from Bloomberg. This revelation isn't entirely surprising. In a conversation with Fast Company earlier this year, Uber's head of human resources, Liane Hornsey, said she's never seen diversity reports have any measurable effect on a company's diversity:

"I haven't seen it move the numbers. I haven't seen anyone who's done it say it's made any difference for them. I reserve to right to really think about that over time. But it hasn't worked for anyone, so why would I?"

It is true that tracking and releasing diversity stats have not led to fast-paced diversification at major tech companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook. What is has done and how it works is by 1) keeping the conversation going about workplace diversity 2) providing transparency for prospective employees. "It's important to know that [as a minority] I'm not going to represent a token for you or I'm not going to be in charge of making your team diverse when you haven't made it a priority in the past," Jewelbots founder Sara Chipps told me recently. Workplace culture shouldn't be an afterthought, and it seems Uber may finally be learning that. After much pressure, the company said it will be releasing a diversity report next week.

03.24.17 | 4:00 pm

Trump’s “art of the deal” skills couldn’t save the GOP healthcare bill

House Republicans pulled their healthcare bill from the floor today after it became apparent that the would-be Obamacare replacement didn't have the votes to pass. The move is a big legislative setback for President Trump who campaigned on his dealmaking abilities. Here are a few of the more interesting tweets going around at the moment:

Photo: Unsplash user Emmad Mazhari