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05.04.17 | 10:30 am

Want to stop personal bankruptcies? Save the Affordable Care Act

Medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the  United States. (It's also one of the leading causes of anxiety, headaches, and sudden-onset fervent belief in a single-payer health care system.) But personal bankruptcies have dropped by a stunning 50% since 2010, which Consumer Reports says is due in part to the Affordable Care Act. (Thanks, Obama.)

As Consumer Reports notes, trips to the emergency room and cancer diagnoses are not something most of us include in our financial planning, so when we're hit with those "unexpected, involuntary, and large" bills, many people are woefully financially unprepared. Personal bankruptcy becomes the only option. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) meant millions more people had access to (or were required to carry) health insurance, meaning that when tragedy struck, they were prepared. They were able to seek treatment without having to sell their homes or declare bankruptcy. Take a look at the Consumer Reports article, because it's an important read, particularly as Congress is once again looking to repeal the law that helped provide health insurance to some 20 million Americans who may not have otherwise been able to afford it. 

[Photo: via Pixabay]

06.27.17 | an hour ago

Florida now allows unmanned delivery robots on sidewalks

The Sunshine state is the fourth state to allow automated delivery robots on sidewalks and crosswalks, reports Recode. There are a few caveats: The robots cannot weigh more than 80 lbs. and are not allowed to go faster than 10 miles per hour. Florida joins Virginia, Idaho, and Wisconsin in allowing robots on sidewalks. 

06.27.17 | 2 hours ago

Google just got fined a record-breaking $2.7 billion by the EU for manipulating search results

The fine is well above the expected $1.2 billion dollars many were expecting and comes after a seven-year inquiry by the European Commission into whether Google broke anticompetitive regulations by favoring search results leading shoppers to Google's Shopping service instead of rival shopping comparison sites, reports Bloomberg. Google is expected to appeal, but, if it would lose, the company could be forced to tweak its algorithms to how it ranks sites in search results, potentially affecting the company's core business globally.

06.27.17 | 3 hours ago

Oracle, Yelp, and others have signed a letter of support for the EU’s imminent $1.2 billion anticompetitive fine against Google

Other signatories of the letter include News Corp, Disconnect, Getty Images, and News Media Alliance, reports Recode. The seven companies issued the letter ahead of the EU's actions, which is expected to fine Google this week for its alleged anticompetitive practices relating to its Google Shopping service, which aggregates prices and deals for products from around the web. The EU has been investigating whether or not Google favored its own shopping service in search results over others. If the fine is levied against Google it will be the largest competition fine in EU history. The letter in full:

Dear Commissioner Vestager,
We represent U.S. companies that employ hundreds of thousands of workers across 50 states. We are writing to express our support for the Commission's enforcement action against Google.

As you near final decisions in the Shopping and Android cases, Google and its allies will no doubt continue to press through its lobbying and public relations machine the fiction that any adverse decision amounts to European "protectionism." As U.S.-based companies, we wish to go on record that enforcement action against Google is necessary and appropriate, not provincial. We have watched Google undermine competition in the United States and abroad. Google operates on a global scale and across the entire online ecosystem, destroying jobs and stifling innovation.

Google and its allies may also claim that there is no factual basis for a decision against Google. That too is untrue. The case against Google, both in Europe and the United States, rests on sound legal and factual foundations. Indeed, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission legal staff found that Google has monopoly power and that it engages in anticompetitive practices.

We believe that decisive action is necessary to restore competition and once again open the internet to innovation and growth. We hope that your counterparts in the United States will use this as an opportunity to address similar anticompetitive conduct by Google.

Disconnect Inc.
Getty Images Inc.
News Corporation
News Media Alliance
Oracle Corporation
Yelp Inc.

06.27.17 | 3 hours ago

MIT team shows off a new approach to flying cars—drones that drive

When it comes to drones, they are usually built for one mode of transportation: flying or driving. This mono-modality means drones aren't as efficient as can be at navigating areas like cities where certain areas may be no-fly zones and other areas may have natural or artificial land barriers preventing a drone from driving through it, reports MIT News

Now a team of researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory aim to get around this single mode of navigation issue by creating hybrid drones that use artificial intelligence to identify why one mode of transport is better than the other and automatically switch between flying and driving depending on the physical and regulatory properties of the area the drone is in. You can check out how the system works in the video below.

06.26.17 | 7:37 pm

Report: Apple buys German company that holds key technology for augmented reality glasses

MacRumors sniffed out record of an Apple affiliate company in Germany buying a computer vision company called SensoMotoric Instruments. SensoMotoric is said to hold a trove of patents related to real-time eye tracking, which could be used as an input method in a future pair of Apple AR glasses. Here's the SensoMotoric technology in action:

06.26.17 | 7:13 pm

Attention iPad fans: iOS 11 is now an extremely tempting public beta

Earlier this month at Apple's WWDC keynote, one of the biggest pieces of news was the seriously ambitious new features Apple is building into iOS 11, especially for iPad users. The software isn't set to ship until the fall, but Apple has now released the first public beta—a test version that anyone can install on an iPad (or iPhone).

The usual caveats apply: Beta software is buggy by definition and will likely break some third-party apps (even ones that will work fine by the time of iOS 11's official release). But it's unusual for any upcoming operating system to offer as many temptations to throw caution to the wind as this one does. Here's Mashable's Lance Ulanoff on the major additions, which include more advanced multitasking and a new file manager.

Me, I'm about to take the plunge—knowing that I have a backup that will, in the case of emergency, allow me to return (relunctantly) to iOS 10.

06.26.17 | 5:32 pm

CBO says Senate health care bill would leave 22 million people uninsured over the next decade

The numbers are in, and they're pretty scary. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today estimated that the Senate's version of the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026. That's slightly better than estimates for the House's version of the bill, which the CBO projected would leave 23 million uninsured. The plan, which Senate Republicans revealed last week after cooking it up in secrecy, would increase the number of uninsured by 15 million next year alone, mostly because of the elimination of the Obamacare penalty, the office said. The legislation would also reduce the federal deficit by $321 billion over 10 years. Read the full projections here.

[Image: CBO]

06.26.17 | 5:07 pm

Pharma bro trial’s first big challenge? Finding jurors who don’t think Martin Shkreli is terrible

With controversial pharma exec Martin Shkreli's fraud trial set to begin in Brooklyn, at least a dozen jurors have been excused for bias against the so-called "pharma bro," Bloomberg reportsPotential jurors have called Shkreli "an evil man," a "snake," and a "price gouger." While Shkreli is perhaps best known for his unapologetic decision to raise the price of a drug used by HIV patients more than 5,000%, he's facing federal criminal charges for allegedly defrauding investors. In recent months, he's faced comparisons to President Trump for his refusal to curb controversial social media posts, even as he awaits his day in court.

06.26.17 | 4:34 pm

NASA and Lockheed Martin hope you don’t hear this supersonic jet coming

NASA said today it has reached a "significant milestone" in a project to create an ultra-quiet supersonic passenger jet. The space agency has completed a preliminary design review of its QueSST aircraft concept and found that it is capable of fulfilling objectives for what NASA calls "Low Boom Flight Demonstration," which basically means it should be able to fly at supersonic speeds without that noisy sonic boom. As NASA describes it, the airplane will just make a soft "thump," which I'm guessing is more pleasant. 

Last year, NASA teamed up with aerospace defense giant Lockheed Martin on the experimental project. Now that the design review is complete, NASA says the next step is to start soliciting proposals to actually build the thing. It expects to award a contract early next year with the hope that flight testing could begin by 2021. Check out more on the project here

[Image: NASA/Lockheed Martin]

06.26.17 | 3:09 pm

Apple rents a few SUVs from Hertz, Hertz shares jump 14%

Apple is renting a small fleet of vehicles from Hertz, according to DMV documents seen by Bloomberg. Apple will reportedly use the vehicles to test autonomous driving software and sensor systems. 

Hertz investors have been looking for something to feel good about after seeing the company's stock drop by 75% over the past year. Some implied role for Hertz in the self-driving future seems to have done the trick. 

And Avis stock got its biggest jolt in five years (+21%) earlier on Monday after Alphabet said its Waymo autonomous driving division will pay the rental company to store and manage a few of its autonomous testing vehicles in Phoenix. 

06.26.17 | 3:00 pm

Get ready to (maybe) hear a lot more ads on your favorite podcasts

According to a recent study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), ad revenue from podcasts is about to go way up. Last year, podcast ad revenue was about $119 million; this year, that number is projected to hit $220 million. 

Thus far, a podcast's success has been measured by number of downloads; beyond that, however, many advertisers have had little sense of how many people are actually listening to their ads, beyond tracking promo code usage. (Ad skipping is a phenomenon in podcasting, too.) Podcast creators, too, received little feedback. But as Apple beefs up its podcast analytics, advertisers and creators alike can be smarter about how they spend their money. So while IAB's study indicates that advertisers will be pouring a lot more money into podcasting, the podcast ad biz is still young, so we don't want to make any proclamations just yet. 

06.26.17 | 1:01 pm

Missouri women are a Senate vote away from living in an early stage of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Ever feel like we are living in the first chapter of a dystopian novel? In an "emergency" special session, Missouri's Senate is currently considering legislation that would allow employers to fire or not hire women who use birth control or have had abortions. The bill has the support of the state's governor, Eric Greitens, and passed in the House last week. 

Under the bill, SB 5, landlords could also refuse to offer housing to women based on their reproductive health choices. The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act prevents discrimination against women who have had an abortion, but makes no mention of birth control. That means that if this bill passes it would be perfectly legal for a boss or landlord to ask a women what forms of birth control they use.

Under His Eye indeed. 

via Newsweek