How the US government created a fake university to snare immigrant students – The Guardian

How the US government created a fake university to snare immigrant students  The Guardian

Court documents reveal stunning scheme used to trap 161 foreign nationals; Ice maintains the students knew the school was fake.

Rakuten’s Viber chat app plans to charge to operate chatbots in controversial move

Viber, the messaging app down by Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten, is poised to implement a controversial new strategy that will see it charge companies that run chatbots on its platform.

The conventional wisdom is to work with content companies to help bring users to messaging platforms and keep them engaged but Viber, which has struggled to keep up with rivals like WhatsApp and Line, is turning that on its head.

Starting April 1, Viber will charge chatbot operators $4,500 per month for the ability to send up to 500,000 messages to users. Those who exceed that range will be eligible to send up to one million messages per month for $6,500. The new fees are being communicated to companies that operate Viber chatbots, but Viber hinted at its new monetization plans in an email to TechCrunch.

“Bots can be published for free; however, to ensure the highest discoverability and quality of content for bots, we will be introducing a commercial commitment in the coming months. A key aim with this move is to ensure that users are presented with a steady stream of highly relevant and relatable content and a commercial commitment is one key tool for ensuring a quality experience for users,” Debbi Dougherty, head of B2B Marketing & Communications for Viber, explained.

This is a risky strategy that is likely alienate companies that operate chatbots on Viber as well a brands who bought into a bot strategy.

These costs have come out of the blue, much to the surprise of startups that spent time developing chatbots for the Viber platform.

“For an early stage startup, this isn’t going to work,” Edmundas Balčikonis, co-founder of Eddy Travels — a travel concierge service that took part in Techstars’ Toronto program — told TechCrunch by phone.

Balčikonis said his startup was attracted to the Viber platform because it provided all the necessary documentation and APIs to build a chatbot up front and in public. Having spent eight months developing its Viber bot, Eddy Travels plans to double down on its efforts with Facebook Messenger and Telegram where its bot-based service runs without charge and has seen multiples more users and engagement.

“Viber encouraged us to built the bot, but never discussed the price and there’s no price in the website documentation,” he said. “Messenger is showing way more traction for us… we didn’t get any significant engagement on Viber.”

Indeed, the strategy seems to be quite the opposite that Viber needs to take if it is to gain marketshare from the chat app leaders. WhatsApp — the world’s largest messaging service with over 1.6 billion monthly active users — doesn’t currently support chatbots, but instead of playing to its strengths, Viber is trying to squeeze additional revenue here under the cloak of “a quality user experience.”

Times are already hard though at Viber. TechCrunch spoke to six chatbot startups who develop a range of services for customers, including banks, insurance companies and media, but we found that none run any projects on Viber. Each said their desire to work on the Viber platform would diminish further if they were forced to pay for the privilege.

The Viber service is popular in pockets of the world, including the Philippines, Myanmar and some Eastern European markets. Current CEO Djamel Agaoua, a seasoned advertising executive, promised to work on the revenue and business model when he took the helm in 2017. Under his leadership, Viber has pushed its communities chat feature for brands and tried to tap into e-commerce, but little is known of how that has progressed.

Rakuten’s recent 2018 financial report was released this month and it made scant reference to Viber, other than to note that the service and Rakuten Mobile, the company’s MVNO offering in Japan, had “substantially increased revenue thanks to their full-scale aggressive sales activities.”

No raw figures were provided but Rakuten’s ‘Internet Services’ division, which houses Viber and Rakuten Mobile, saw its annual revenue increase by 15.9 percent to 788.4 billion JPY. That’s around $7.1 billion and it sounds impressive, but the bulk of that revenue is from Rakuten Mobile, which has teamed up with traditional operator KDDI to take a crack at Japan’s mobile market.

What we know about Viber is that it has increased its content monetization — which included advertising, sponsored stickers and more — and that now accounts for the bulk of its revenue having surpassing income from Viber VoIP calling packages.

But, again, there’s no raw revenue data here. Rakuten also no longer provides active user information for Viber, which it said said has registered over one billion users since its creation in 2011. That’s not an informative statistic.

Things seem to be so bad that Viber doesn’t even provide an active user number to advertisers, according to a pitch deck seen by TechCrunch. The data shown includes a selection of actions that Viber claims happen per minute, including 1.2 million logins, but there’s no headline monthly active user statistic.

Now the service’s content monetization push has extended into chatbots, but the obvious risk is that companies and brands will simply go elsewhere where, frankly, they already have a larger and more captive audience.

Rakuten bought Viber for $900 million in January 2014, just one month before Facebook forked out $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp. The Viber deal seemed prescient. Sure it didn’t have the same scale as WhatsApp but it was comparable — 300 million registered compared to WhatsApp’s 450 million active — and teaming with a major internet company would bring a larger budget and opportunities.

The sad reality of today, however, is WhatsApp has grown into one of the world’s most important social services but Viber has floundered. Policies that are as short-sighted as monetizing chatbots will ensure Viber continues to be an also-ran. That surely wasn’t how Rakuten envisaged its acquisition progressing.

China wants its rural villages to go cashless by 2020

Residents of even the tiniest far-flung villages in China may soon be able to pay on their phones to run daily errands as Beijing announced this month that it aims to make mobile payments ubiquitous in rural areas by the end of 2020.

The plan arrived in a set of guidelines (document link in Chinese) jointly published by five of China’s top regulating bodies, including the central bank, the Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the Securities Regulatory Commission, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, in a move to make online financial services more accessible to rural residents.

The hope is that by digitizing the lives of the farming communities, from getting loans to buy fertilizers to leasing lands to city developers, China could bolster the economy in smaller cities and countryside hamlets. Hundreds of millions of rural Chinese have migrated to large urban centers pursuing dreams and higher-paying jobs, but 42 percent of the national population remained rural as of 2017. While scan-to-pay is already a norm in bigger cities, digital payments still have considerable room to grow in rural towns. All told, 76.9 percent of China’s adults used digital payments in 2017. That ratio was 66.5 percent in rural parts, according to a report released by the central bank.

Following the digital payments pledge was the release of the annual Number One Document (in Chinese) that outlines China’s national priorities for the year. Over the past 16 years, China has devoted the paper to its rural economy and this year, digital integration continues to be one of the key goals. More precisely, Beijing wants rural officials to ramp up internet penetration, the digitization of public services, sales of rural produce to city consumers, and more.

Those directives usher in huge opportunities for companies in the private sector. Tech heavyweights such as Alibaba and JD.com were already looking outside megacities a few years ago. Both have set up online channels enabling farmers to sell and buy as well as working with local governments to build up logistics networks.

Alibaba notably invested in Huitongda, a company that provides merchandising, marketing and supply chain tools to rural retail outlets. Despite posting the slowest revenue growth in three years, Alibaba saw exceptional user growth in rural regions. Similarly, JD’s daily orders from smaller Tier 3 and 4 cities were growing 20 percent faster than those in Tier 1 and 2 cities like Beijing and Hangzhou, the company said in 2017.

Other players went with a rural and small-town play early on. Pinduoduo, an emerging ecommerce startup that’s close on the heels of Alibaba and JD, gained a first-mover advantage in these less developed regions by touting cheap goods. Kuaishou, a Tencent-backed video app that rivals TikTok’s Chinese version Douyin, has proven popular in the hinterlands as farmers embrace the app to showcase the country life and sell produce through live streaming.

Here’s What Beto Could Unleash on Trump – POLITICO

  1. Here's What Beto Could Unleash on Trump  POLITICO
  2. Trump endorses Cornyn for reelection as O'Rourke mulls challenge | TheHill  The Hill
  3. Beto O’Rourke or Not, the Republican Market Share Is Eroding  Wall Street Journal
  4. Trump endorses Cornyn in Senate reelection bid  POLITICO
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Smollett lawyers suggest he’s being denied due process; conservative alleged attack victim speaks out – Fox News

Smollett lawyers suggest he's being denied due process; conservative alleged attack victim speaks out  Fox News

Welcome to Fox News First. Not signed up yet? Click here. Developing now, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. SMOLLETT'S LAWYERS BLAST CHICAGO POLICE FOR ...

Ricoh’s $899 large-sensor GR III compact will go on sale in March

Large-sensor compacts are a rare breed, but Ricoh is about to give you another option. It announced that the GR III, first unveiled last year, will go on sale in March for $899. It's a big improvement over the GR II, with a higher resolution 24-megap...

Time’s up CEO resigns after sexual assault allegations against her son: report – Fox News

  1. Time’s up CEO resigns after sexual assault allegations against her son: report  Fox News
  2. Time’s Up CEO Lisa Borders Resigned After Son Accused of Sexual Assault  TheWrap
  3. Time’s Up CEO Resigned After Son Was Accused of Sexual Assault  Variety
  4. Time's Up CEO Lisa Borders Resigned Following Sexual Misconduct Claims Against Her Son  Hollywood Reporter
  5. Sexual misconduct allegations against Time’s Up CEO Lisa Borders’ son prompted her resignation  Los Angeles Times
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Facebook pulls the plug on its data snooping Onavo VPN service – The Verge

  1. Facebook pulls the plug on its data snooping Onavo VPN service  The Verge
  2. Facebook will shut down its spyware VPN app Onavo  TechCrunch
  3. Facebook shuts down Onavo VPN app following privacy scandal  Engadget
  4. Facebook Axes Onavo Protect VPN App from Google’s Play Store Post Privacy Scandal  LatestLY
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Facebook shuts down Onavo VPN app following privacy scandal

Facebook has axed the Onavo VPN app for Android, pulling it from Google Play half a year after it yanked the iOS version from the Apple App Store. While Onavo was technically a VPN app that promised to limit other applications from using too much dat...

China rebound drives Asian shares higher By Reuters – Investing.com

China rebound drives Asian shares higher By Reuters  Investing.com

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shares in Asia recouped early losses on Friday, buoyed by strong gains in China as signs of progress in trade talks with the United ...

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All the President’s broken men – CNN

All the President's broken men  CNN

They once were Donald Trump's strutting, sharp-suited alpha male political and legal fixers, living high and playing the game hard, seemingly immune from the ...

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Virginia principal apologizes after students told to act as slaves for Black History Month – NBC News

  1. Virginia principal apologizes after students told to act as slaves for Black History Month  NBC News
  2. ‘Slavery is not a game’: Virginia school apologizes over Black History Month exercise  Washington Post
  3. Elementary school apologizes for 'runaway slave' gym lesson  New York Post
  4. Virginia elementary school draws outrage for ‘runaway slave’ gym lesson  Fox News
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California bill aims to strengthen data breach notification law

California might have more comprehensive data breach notification rules if a new bill becomes law. The golden state's Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, and Assemblymember Marc Levine want to require companies to notify customers if their passport num...

Listen to Offset’s New Album Father of 4 With Travis Scott, Cardi B, 21 Savage, More – Pitchfork

Listen to Offset’s New Album Father of 4 With Travis Scott, Cardi B, 21 Savage, More  Pitchfork

Offset's new album has arrived. Listen to Father of 4 below in full. The Migos rapper's first solo effort features Cardi B, Travis Scott, 21 Savage, J. Cole, Gucci ...

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Lakers vs. Rockets Final Score: Playoff LeBron activates as L.A. beats Houston 111-106 – Silver Screen and Roll

Lakers vs. Rockets Final Score: Playoff LeBron activates as L.A. beats Houston 111-106  Silver Screen and Roll

LeBron James had said he would take his play up a notch, and he did exactly that to help the Lakers take down the Rockets in their first game after the NBA ...

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Vynn Capital snags investment from Malaysia’s MAVCAP for its maiden Southeast Asia fund

Vynn Capital, a new entrant to Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem, is gearing up to close its maiden fund after it landed an undisclosed sum from Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd (MAVCAP) as one of its anchor LPs.

Founded by former Gobi Ventures VC Victor Chua and Singaporean investor Darren Chua (no relation) one year ago, Kuala Lumpur-based Vynn is targeting a $40 million fund for Southeast Asia. The firm has already made four investments and, on the LP side, gone after traditional businesses and Southeast Asia’s family corporations. Landing MAVCAP — which is Malaysia’s largest investor has backed VC funds including Gobi — is a major coup for a debut fund.

“The investment from MAVCAP is a very good validation for Vynn Capital,” said Victor Chua, who is Malaysian. “Personally, having been active in the local and regional ecosystem, I’ve benefited from the growth trajectory of the ecosystem and am now able to launch a new fund that is addressing the need of the traditional businesses to be innovative.”

“The thesis of the fund is Southeast Asia, but through our investment we are focused on how it will be invested in Malaysian deals,” MAVCAP’s Shahril Anas told TechCrunch in an interview. “We have some carry and expect returns that we can invest into local entrepreneurs in Malaysia, we are also keen to look at how other countries’ economies interact with startups.”

Anas said the approach is to be very hands-off, MAVCAP has various other fund investments, but he reiterated that there may be specific data or insight that the organization looks to glean.

Southeast Asia is emerging from the shadows of China and India to become a target market for startups and, by extension, the investors who write the checks to finance them.

Beyond a cumulative population of over 600 million people, the region’s ‘digital economy’ is tipped to grow to $240 billion by 2025 from $31 million in 2015, according to a report from Google and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek.

Some of the other investors vying for a slice of the opportunity include new funds from Openspace Ventures ($135 million), Indonesia-focused Intudo ($50 million), Qualgro ($100 million) and Golden Gate Ventures ($100 million) and Sequoia India ($695 million).

Dem 2020 hopefuls Harris, Warren say they embrace idea of reparations for black Americans: report – Fox News

  1. Dem 2020 hopefuls Harris, Warren say they embrace idea of reparations for black Americans: report  Fox News
  2. 2020 Democrats Embrace Race-Conscious Policies, Including Reparations  The New York Times
  3. Warren, Harris back reparations for black Americans affected by slavery | TheHill  The Hill
  4. Democrats for Family Values  The New York Times
  5. Is Putin attacking Sanders, Harris and Warren to help Trump? | TheHill  The Hill
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North Korea warns of food crisis before Kim-Trump summit – Al Jazeera English

North Korea warns of food crisis before Kim-Trump summit  Al Jazeera English

Memo says Pyongyang forced almost halve rations, blaming high temperatures, drought, floods and UN sanctions.

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NOAA Researcher’s Ashes Were Dropped Into The Eye Of Hurricane Michael – NPR

  1. NOAA Researcher's Ashes Were Dropped Into The Eye Of Hurricane Michael  NPR
  2. Forecaster wanted his ashes released into a hurricane. His family found the perfect storm.  Miami Herald
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AT&T and Hasbro Become Latest Companies to Yank Ads From YouTube Over Pedophilia Content – Gizmodo

AT&T and Hasbro Become Latest Companies to Yank Ads From YouTube Over Pedophilia Content  Gizmodo

Amid reports that a pervasive network of pedophiles is operating in the comments of YouTube videos of children, several major companies have paused their ad ...

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Google announced an end to forced arbitration for all internal matters – Business Insider

  1. Google announced an end to forced arbitration for all internal matters  Business Insider
  2. Google ends forced arbitration for employees  TechCrunch
  3. Google will end forced arbitration for employees in all disputes  The Verge
  4. Google eliminating controversial forced arbitration practice  CNN
  5. Google to End Arbitration Agreements for Employees  Gizmodo
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Uber is reportedly close to making a tactical exit from India’s food delivery industry

Uber has said adamantly that it won’t exit India (or any more markets) following a hattrick of retreats from China, Russia and Southeast Asia, but does that include its food delivery business?

The answer could well be yes. If media reports are right, Uber is on the cusp of a tactical exit from India’s food delivery industry.

India’s Economic Times is reporting that Uber is in the final stages of a deal that would see Swiggy, the food delivery service that recently raised $1 billion and expanded to general deliveries, eat up Uber Eats in India in exchange for giving the U.S. ride-hailing firm a 10 percent share of its business. Swiggy was most recently said to be valued at $3.3 billion following that billion-dollar round, which was led by Naspers and added Tencent to its cap table.

Uber Eats is touted as a major revenue generator for the company, The Information previously reported that it grossed $1.5 billion in sales in the first quarter of 2018 alone, and the company has pushed expansion hard in Asia. Uber Eats landed in India nearly two years ago but it finds itself in the middle of a dogfight between Swiggy, which raised capital three times last year, and Zomato, which is backed by Alibaba.

Already, the battle has taken its toll on peripheral players that include FoodPanda, the service acquired by Uber rival Ola in late 2017. Ola is reported to have slashed costs at FoodPanda and shift the focus to a more sustainable cloud kitchen strategy. Yet Zomato and Swiggy continue to be aggressive.

Based on that backdrop, and Uber’s upcoming IPO, it would make sense to consolidate costs and yet retain a stake in the market. Uber did exactly that through its exit deal with Grab in Southeast Asia, which saw it hand over its transport and food delivery businesses in exchange for a 27.5 percent stake in Grab. That deal, which I argued was a win not a loss for Uber, got the company out of an expensive subsidies war and gave it a stake in a growing business. It could well be a recipe that Uber repeats for India’s food delivery space.

Chicago police scolds media for Smollett hype – Fox News

Chicago police scolds media for Smollett hype  Fox News

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Mirotic makes a ‘great’ Bucks debut, re-adjusts quickly to East race – NBA.com

  1. Mirotic makes a 'great' Bucks debut, re-adjusts quickly to East race  NBA.com
  2. Kyrie Irving misses game winner as Celtics fall to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks | NBA Highlights  ESPN
  3. Giannis, Bucks Squeak by Kyrie Irving, Celtics in Eastern Conference Battle  Bleacher Report
  4. Gordon Hayward unlikely to play in Celtics-Bucks  Boston.com
  5. C’s, Bulldogs’ Schedules Align, Allowing Hayward, Stevens to Bond as Fans  Celtics.com
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Bowser is taking over Nintendo … for real – CNN

Bowser is taking over Nintendo ... for real  CNN

Nintendo has appointed Doug Bowser as the next head of its American operations — and the joke hasn't been lost on anyone.

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‘Space Jam 2’ will be in theaters on July 16, 2021 – SB Nation

‘Space Jam 2’ will be in theaters on July 16, 2021  SB Nation

We don't have a ton of details just yet, but we do have a release date for the long-awaited 'Space Jam 2', which will be in theaters on July 16, 2021, a mere 2½ ...

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U.S. to leave about 200 troops in Syria, White House says – NBC News

U.S. to leave about 200 troops in Syria, White House says  NBC News

About 200 U.S. troops will remain in Syria after the withdrawal of most U.S. military forces from the country, the White House said Thursday. President Donald ...

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Japan’s Hayabusa 2 has landed on an asteroid, shot it with a special bullet, and returned to space

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 has just completed the next phase of its multi-part, multi-year mission by shooting a bullet into the asteroid it had been circling and returning to space.

Hopefully, the spacecraft has been able to collect samples of asteroid material kicked off from the surface by the impact from the specially made bullet that the Hayabusa craft shot.

The landing and mining mission is the sequel to an earlier mission (the first Hayabusa voyage), which was a seven year voyage during which the spacecraft observed an asteroid, collected samples and returned to Earth.

Scientists said that collecting material from the Ryugu asteroid could offer clues to support a hypothesis of how water and life formed on the surface of the Earth in the early days of the planet’s formation. Ryugu is a near earth asteroid that scientists have identified as carbon-rich (a C-type), which may have water in their rocks.

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 is expected to return to Earth in 2020 with its rocky haul.

According to the rocket’s Twitter feed the rocket began its descent roughly 20 kilometers above the asteroid’s surface in the early hours of the 21st and touched down a few hours ago.

The descent and collection was supposed to take place last year, when the spacecraft deployed two rovers on the surface of the asteroid to scout its geography. Those rovers relayed images of a terrain that was a bit more rocky than scientists had expected, so more planning had to be done before the mission could be carried out.

 

Astronomers discover solar system’s most distant object, nicknamed “FarFarOut” – Science Magazine

Astronomers discover solar system's most distant object, nicknamed “FarFarOut”  Science Magazine

For most people, snow days aren't very productive. Some people, though, use the time to discover the most distant object in the solar system. That's what Scott ...

Ohio girl dies one day after strep throat, flu diagnoses – Fox News

Ohio girl dies one day after strep throat, flu diagnoses  Fox News

An Ohio girl died this week, just one day after being diagnosed with strep throat and the flu, the girl's mother said.

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Baidu’s video site iQiyi adds 37M subscribers in 2018 amid mounting losses

China’s Baidu, which is often compared to Alphabet’s Google, is showing no signs of slowing down its pace of betting on video content as its core advertising unit feels the squeeze from rivals. The company’s latest financial results show its video streaming business iQiyi posted a net loss of 9.1 billion yuan or $1.3 billion in 2018, compared to just 3.74 billion yuan in 2017.

Not long ago, iQiyi announced raising $500 million in convertible notes to fuel its spending spree. The video site, which filed for a $1.5 billion U.S. IPO last February, aspires to be the “Disney of China” with a Netflix-style production house and a plan to merchandise a library of intellectual property. Baidu also felt the heat as content costs from 2018 jumped 75 percent to $3.42 billion mainly on account of iQiyi expenses.

The cash burn appears to be paying off. IQiyi added 36.6 million subscribers last year, bringing its total users to 87.4 million. 98.5 percent of them were paying, a promising ratio given Chinese users were long used to getting free content in a country with rampant online piracy. IQiyi’s most serious contender Tencent Video had 82 million users as of Q3.

2018 also turned out to be the first time Baidu has crossed the 100 billion yuan earnings mark as the firm pocketed 102.3 billion yuan ($14.88 billion) in total revenues, an increase of 28 percent from 2017.

In Q4 alone, Baidu’s total revenues grew 22 percent to $3.96 billion at a slower rate compared to the previous quarter. Online advertising from search results, news feed and video content still made up the majority of the company’s income despite the considerable resources the behemoth has poured into autonomous driving and other AI-focused efforts.

Meanwhile, Baidu’s lucrative advertising business is facing heightened competition from ByteDance, the fast-ascending new media company with a suite of news and video apps that are proven popular with marketers. The Beijing-based firm that’s also unnerved Tencent was expected to achieve $7.4 billion in revenues last year, Bloomberg reported citing sources.

To fend off attackers, Baidu has broadened its advertising inventory beyond the web to include the likes of elevators. In another move, Baidu paid $133 million in cash prizes luring users to its namesake search app on the eve of Chinese New Year. But its search service has over the years been a repeated target for criticism on issues ranging from false medical ads to more recently the subpar quality of its search results. Baidu has nonetheless held onto its commanding position in a market where Google is absent and smaller players like Bing and Sogou remain the underdogs.

On the AI front, Baidu made a total of 13 investments in 2018 that made it the most prolific corporate venture capital focused on the realm, according to a report from CB Insights. Microsoft’s M12 venture and Google Ventures followed closely behind.

Though Baidu’s AI business is far from achieving mass commercialization, the segment has scored some notable landmarks. Over 200 million devices now use DuerOS, the company’s answer to the Alexa voice assistant. Baidu’s autonomous driving open platform Apollo has accumulated 135 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including Volvo, which is working with its Chinese ally to deliver level four self-driving passenger vehicles that can operate on pre-mapped roads with minimum human intervention.

Rare snow falls in Southern California, residents freak out – CBS News

  1. Rare snow falls in Southern California, residents freak out  CBS News
  2. It Snowed In Los Angeles For The First Time In Years And People Freaked Out  BuzzFeed News
  3. There’s snow in LA, Inland Empire and people don’t know how to react  San Bernardino County Sun
  4. Snow comes to L.A., with powder in Malibu, Pasadena, West Hollywood  Los Angeles Times
  5. Snow dusts parts of SoCal, prompting a tongue-in-cheek offer from Boston’s mayor  The Boston Globe
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U.S. Will Leave 200 ‘Peacekeeping’ Troops In Syria – NPR

  1. U.S. Will Leave 200 'Peacekeeping' Troops In Syria  NPR
  2. About 200 US troops to stay in Syria following Trump's order for 'full' removal  CNN
  3. White House Says 200 Troops Will Stay in Syria, Retreating From a Full Withdrawal  The New York Times
  4. U.S. to leave about 200 troops in Syria, White House says  NBC News
  5. Trump to leave 200 US troops in Syria as 'peacekeeping' force | TheHill  The Hill
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SU women’s basketball coach Quentin Hillsman on Boeheim accident: ‘It’s a sad day’ – syracuse.com

SU women's basketball coach Quentin Hillsman on Boeheim accident: 'It's a sad day'  syracuse.com

Syracuse, NY. -- Syracuse women's basketball coach Quentin Hillsman opened his news conference after a win over Pitt on Thursday night with words of ...

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Japan’s Hayabusa2 lands on asteroid Ryugu to collect samples – Engadget

Japan's Hayabusa2 lands on asteroid Ryugu to collect samples  Engadget

Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft has successfully touched down on the surface of asteroid Ryugu to accomplish one of its ultimate goals: collect samples for ...

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Japan’s Hayabusa2 lands on asteroid Ryugu to collect samples

Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft has successfully touched down on the surface of asteroid Ryugu to accomplish one of its ultimate goals: collect samples for scientists back on Earth. The probe has briefly landed on the asteroid to fire a bullet into its...

A Star’s Shoe Breaks, Putting College Basketball Under a Microscope – The New York Times

A Star’s Shoe Breaks, Putting College Basketball Under a Microscope  The New York Times

When Duke's Zion Williamson injured a knee after one of his Nike sneakers split open, it raised questions about amateurism and shoe companies' influence in ...

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LeBron James’ ‘Space Jam 2’ Books Summer 2021 Release Date – Hollywood Reporter

  1. LeBron James' 'Space Jam 2' Books Summer 2021 Release Date  Hollywood Reporter
  2. Warner Bros Dates ‘Space Jam 2’, Shifts ‘Annabelle’ Sequel & ‘Godzilla Vs. Kong’  Deadline
  3. 'Space Jam 2' Starring LeBron James to Premiere on July 16, 2021  Bleacher Report
  4. Space Jam 2 Release Date Set for 2021!  ComingSoon.net
  5. You win, nostalgia Monstars: Space Jam 2 officially has a release date  The A.V. Club
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Jordyn Woods ‘Devastated’ by Cheating Scandal: Here’s How the Kardashians Are Responding After Her Apology – Entertainment Tonight

Jordyn Woods 'Devastated' by Cheating Scandal: Here's How the Kardashians Are Responding After Her Apology  Entertainment Tonight

The drama and fallout over the Khloe Kardashian-Tristan Thompson split continues to unfold.

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For The First Time, Scientists Have Made Synthetic DNA With 4 Additional Letters – ScienceAlert

For The First Time, Scientists Have Made Synthetic DNA With 4 Additional Letters  ScienceAlert

Earth might have a dizzying array of life forms, but our biology ultimately remains a solitary data point - we simply don't have a reference for life based on DNA ...

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IRS analyst charged with leaking Cohen’s financial data to Avenatti – POLITICO

IRS analyst charged with leaking Cohen's financial data to Avenatti  POLITICO

John C. Fry is accused of downloading multiple sensitive documents with Cohen's private banking information and quickly passing that along to Avenatti.

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Park ranger furloughed by the government shutdown cashes out with $30 million in the New Jersey lottery – CNN

  1. Park ranger furloughed by the government shutdown cashes out with $30 million in the New Jersey lottery  CNN
  2. Judith Smith lottery: Park ranger furloughed during shutdown wins $29.5M lottery  CBS News
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Park ranger furloughed by the government shutdown cashes out with $30 million in the New Jersey lottery – CNN

Park ranger furloughed by the government shutdown cashes out with $30 million in the New Jersey lottery  CNN

During the longest government shutdown in US history, many employees were concerned about the status of their jobs and when they would return to work.

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Facebook removes its Onavo surveillance VPN app from Google Play

Facebook will end its unpaid market research programs and proactively take its Onavo VPN app off the Google Play store in the wake of backlash following TechCrunch’s investigation about Onavo code being used in a Facebook Research app the sucked up data about teens. The Onavo Protect app will eventually shut down, and will immediately cease pulling in data from users for market research though it will continue operating as a Virtual Private Network in the short-term to allow users to find a replacement.

Facebook has also ceased to recruit new users for the Facebook Research app that still runs on Android but was forced off of iOS by Apple after we reported on how it violated Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program for employee-only apps. Existing Facebook Research app studies will continue to run, though.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the change and provided this statement “Market research helps companies build better products for people. We are shifting our focus to reward-based market research which means we’re going to end the Onavo program.”

With the suspicions about big tech giants and looming regulation leading to more intense scrutiny of privacy practices, Facebook has decided that giving users a utility like a VPN in exchange for quietly examining their usage of other apps and mobile browsing data isn’t a wise strategy. Instead, it will focus on paid programs where users explicitly understand what privacy they’re giving up for direct financial compensation.

Facebok acquired Onavo in 2013 for a reported $200 million to use its VPN app the gather data about what people were doing on their phones. That data revealed WhatsApp was sending far more messages per day than Messenger, convincing Facebook to pay a steep sum of $19 billion to buy WhatsApp. Facebook went on to frame Onavo as a way for users to reduce their data usage, block dangerous websites, keep their traffic safe from snooping — while Facebook itself was analyzing that traffic. The insights helped it discover new trends in mobile usage, keep an eye on competitors, and figure out what features or apps to copy. Cloning became core to Facebook’s product strategy over the past years, with Instagram’s versions of Snapchat Stories growing larger than the original.

But last year, privacy concerns led Apple to push Facebook to remove the Onavo VPN app from the App Store, though it continued running on Google Play. But Facebook quietly repurposed Onavo code for use in its Facebook Research app that TechCrunch found was paying users in the U.S. and India ages 13 to 35 up to $20 in gift cards per month to give it VPN and root network access to spy on all their mobile data.

Facebook ran the program in secret, obscured by intermediary beta testing services like Betabound and Applause. It only informed users it recruited with ads on Instagram, Snapchat and elsewhere that they were joining a Facebook Research program after they’d begun signup and signed non-disclosure agreements. A Facebook claimed in a statement that “there was nothing ‘secret’ about this”, but it had threatened legal action if users publicly discussed the Research program.

But the biggest problem for Facebook was that its Research app abused Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program meant for employee-only apps to distribute the app outside the company. That led Apple to ban the Research app from iOS and invalidate Facebook’s certificate. This shut down Facebook’s internal iOS collaboration tools, pre-launch test versions of its popular apps, and even its lunch menu and shuttle schedule to break for 30 hours, causing chaos at the company’s offices.

In an attempt to preempt any more scandals around Onavo and the Facebook Research app or Google stepping in to block the apps, Facebook is now taking Onavo off the Play Store and stopping recruitment of Research testers.

Kraft Heinz posts huge loss, slashes dividend and reveals SEC investigation – CNN

Kraft Heinz posts huge loss, slashes dividend and reveals SEC investigation  CNN

Kraft Heinz had one of the worst days imaginable Thursday.

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Two sons of ‘El Chapo’ indicted on drug conspiracy charges, remain fugitives – Fox News

  1. Two sons of 'El Chapo' indicted on drug conspiracy charges, remain fugitives  Fox News
  2. El Chapo's Sons Indicted After Former Sinaloa Drug Cartel Leader's Conviction  NPR
  3. 2 of El Chapo's sons have been indicted  CBS Evening News
  4. El Chapo's sons indicted on drug conspiracy charges  New York Post
  5. Mexican drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzmán's sons indicted on drug charges  CNN
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Military Families Report High Stress and Unemployment – NPR

  1. Military Families Report High Stress and Unemployment  NPR
  2. Military spouses experience high stress and unemployment, report says  USA TODAY
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Military Families Report High Stress and Unemployment – NPR

Military Families Report High Stress and Unemployment  NPR

It is not easy to be married to a person in the military. Their spouses in 2017 experienced high levels of stress, anxiety, depression and unemployment, ...

New Election Ordered in North Carolina Race at Center of Fraud Inquiry – The New York Times

New Election Ordered in North Carolina Race at Center of Fraud Inquiry  The New York Times

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina officials on Thursday ordered a new contest in the Ninth Congressional District after the Republican candidate, confronted by ...

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Hogan blasts RNC for ‘unprecedented’ steps to shield Trump from a primary – The Washington Post

Hogan blasts RNC for ‘unprecedented’ steps to shield Trump from a primary  The Washington Post

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who is flirting with a 2020 White House run, on Thursday accused the Republican National Committee of taking ...

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Samsung Galaxy S10+ tops DxOMark’s selfie rankings, ties for best rear camera performance

Samsung Galaxy S10+ rear cameras

Samsung always places a major focus on camera performance with its Galaxy flagships, and so the company is pretty happy about the latest news from camera testing group DxOMark.

DxOMark announced today that it's awarded the Samsung Galaxy S10+ camera performance with a score of 109, tying it for first place in the overall smartphone rankings with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and P20 Pro. The report says that the Galaxy S10+ offers "outstanding dynamic range as well as very good exposure, color, and bokeh simulation."

Diving deeper into the report, DxOMark praises the Galaxy S10+'s target exposure and dynamic range, saying that it "captures a noticeably wider tonal range than its closest rivals". The S10+'s bokeh simulation is described as one of the best on the market, too. Samsung's flagship did get dinged for over-sharpening artifacts and some soft corners in the frame, and its autofocus exhibited some instabilites when tracking moving subjects. 

"The Galaxy S10+ comes with the best camera we've seen on a Samsung smartphone, and will no doubt be one of the devices to beat in 2019," DxOMark says.

Samsung's new flagship also performed well in DxOMark's selfie rankings, which just launched last month. In fact, it's now the group's top-ranked selfie camera, earning a score of 96 to beat out the previous champs, the Pixel 3 and Note 9, which scored 92 points. DxOMark says that the S10+'s front cameras capture "very good color" and that skin tones look "natural and pleasant," adding that the addition of a secondary depth-sensing camera has resulted in improved boken in portrait mode.

Samsung's Galaxy flagships are regularly praised as having some of the best mobile cameras around, and so it's no surprise to hear that the Galaxy S10+ offers great front and rear camera performance as well. That said, this news is still exciting for folks that pre-ordered the S10+, and it may help to push anyone on the fence about pre-ordering to pull the trigger.

For more on the Galaxy S10+'s camera performance as well as lots of sample images, hit the source links below.

Larry Hogan lapping up 2020 attention but won’t commit to ‘kamikaze mission’ just to wound Trump – Washington Examiner

  1. Larry Hogan lapping up 2020 attention but won't commit to 'kamikaze mission' just to wound Trump  Washington Examiner
  2. Hogan blasts RNC for ‘unprecedented’ steps to shield Trump from a primary  The Washington Post
  3. Hogan rips RNC for shielding Trump from primary challenge  POLITICO
  4. Maryland gov says he's not interested in 'kamikaze mission' to defeat Trump | TheHill  The Hill
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Stanford University announces Tim Cook as its 2019 commencement speaker – 9to5Mac

Stanford University announces Tim Cook as its 2019 commencement speaker  9to5Mac

Stanford University today announced that Apple CEO Tim Cook will be its commencement speaker this year. Cook is set to speaker at Stanford's ...

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Stanford University announces Tim Cook as its 2019 commencement speaker – 9to5Mac

  1. Stanford University announces Tim Cook as its 2019 commencement speaker  9to5Mac
  2. Apple CEO Tim Cook to speak at Stanford Commencement  Stanford University News
  3. Apple CEO Tim Cook to Deliver 2019 Commencement Speech at Stanford  MacRumors
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Report: NBA Formally Proposes Lowering Draft Age Limit To 18 – Deadspin

  1. Report: NBA Formally Proposes Lowering Draft Age Limit To 18  Deadspin
  2. NBA proposes changing draft age from 19 to 18 to players union  ESPN
  3. NBA officially proposes lowering draft age from 19 to 18  USA TODAY
  4. NBA draft proposal could lower eligibility to age 18  SB Nation
  5. NBA Proposes Lowering Eligible Draft Age to 18 After Zion Williamson Knee Injury  Bleacher Report
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Eminem is also mad about Netflix cancelling Marvel’s ‘The Punisher’ – Mashable

  1. Eminem is also mad about Netflix cancelling Marvel's 'The Punisher'  Mashable
  2. Eminem buries hatchet with old rival, The Punisher, by slamming Netflix for canceling his show  The A.V. Club
  3. Eminem Throws Slim Shady On Netflix Over ‘Punisher’ Cancellation  Deadline
  4. What should we expect from Marvel's new TV universe?  The Guardian
  5. Eminem slams Netflix for canceling ‘The Punisher,' reignites Machine Gun Kelly feud  Fox News
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Asia shares fall as weakening global outlook offsets trade progress – Reuters

Asia shares fall as weakening global outlook offsets trade progress  Reuters

Shares in Asia slipped on Friday as a deteriorating global economic outlook outweighed further signs of progress in trade talks between China and the United ...

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Wigged Out Wednesday provides custom wigs to women battling cancer – KCRA Sacramento

Wigged Out Wednesday provides custom wigs to women battling cancer  KCRA Sacramento

With the help of their community, a group of women battling cancer is getting an added boost of confidence.

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The Oscars show is shaping up as such a hot mess, we can’t wait to see it – USA TODAY

  1. The Oscars show is shaping up as such a hot mess, we can't wait to see it  USA TODAY
  2. Oscars producers on landing Queen, going host-less and dealing with this year’s ‘curveballs’  Los Angeles Times
  3. Queen is officially opening the Oscars. Plus, more details from the show's producers  USA TODAY
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Watch SpaceX launch the first private moon landing mission

Calling all lunatics — the first fully private moon landing mission is about to take off from Cape Canaveral. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander is set to take off about an hour from now, at 5:45 Pacific time. Watch it right here!

The launch isn’t just the lander — in fact, the lander is only a small part of the payload. The primary passenger is Nusantara Satu, an Indian communications satellite that will provide connectivity to rural areas in the country difficult to reach by ordinary means. Once it gets to its geosynchronous orbit it will deploy the U.S. Air Force Research Lab’s S5 experimental satellite, which will track objects and debris around that altitude.

But by the time those deploy (about 44 minutes after launch), Beresheet will be well on its way; it’s entering a transfer orbit with an eye to lunar insertion and touchdown on the surface there in April.

Should it accomplish its task, the Israeli satellite will be the first private mission to land on the moon. So far it’s just been us, Russia and China — others have passed by or orbited, to be sure, but no one has made a soft landing and taken pictures, as Beresheet intends to do.

It was originally planned to do this for Google’s ill-fated Lunar Xprize, which went unclaimed despite serious interest — the truth is it was just a bit too ambitious for its own good. But several of the companies and teams that entered are still going strong, moving forward at their own paces.

At around $100 million, Beresheet will be the cheapest moon landing mission by far, and as the first to do so on a privately engineered and built (not to mention previously flown) rocket, as a secondary payload and with a private launch coordinator… let’s just say that it’s likely to set records all over the place if all goes well.

The first thing that needs to happen, of course, is takeoff. So tune in below at 5:45:

IRS analyst charged with leaking Cohen’s financial data to Avenatti – POLITICO

  1. IRS analyst charged with leaking Cohen's financial data to Avenatti  POLITICO
  2. IRS analyst charged in leak of Michael Cohen's bank records  CNN
  3. IRS agent admits giving Michael Cohen's financial records to Stormy Daniels' lawyer  NBC News
  4. IRS worker charged with leaking reports on former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen  East Bay Times
  5. IRS analyst charged with leaking financial documents on Michael Cohen  The Washington Post
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Schiffting to Phase 2 of Collusion – The Wall Street Journal

Schiffting to Phase 2 of Collusion  The Wall Street Journal

Conspiracy theorists look for something new, anticipating a Mueller letdown.

Pakistan-Based Jihadists Kill 40, and Indians Demand a Response – The Wall Street Journal

Pakistan-Based Jihadists Kill 40, and Indians Demand a Response  The Wall Street Journal

As elections approach, Modi is under pressure from enraged citizens.

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Podcasting startup WaitWhat raises $4.3M as interest in audio content explodes

WaitWhat, the digital content production engine behind LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale podcast, has secured a $4.3 million Series A investment led by Cue Ball Capital and Burda Principal Investments.

Launched in January 2017, WaitWhat will use the cash to create additional media properties across a variety of mediums, including podcasts.

Investors are gravitating toward podcast startups as consumer interest in original audio content skyrockets. Podcasting, though an infantile industry that hit just $314 million in revenue in 2017, is maturing, raking in venture capital rounds large and small and recording its first notable M&A transaction with Spotify’s acquisition of Gimlet and Anchor earlier this month. The music streaming giant shelled out a total of $340 million for the podcast production platform and the provider of a suite of podcast creation, distribution and monetization tools, respectively. It plans to spend an additional $500 million on audio storytelling platforms as part of a larger plan to become the Netflix of audio.

WaitWhat, for its part, dubs itself the “media invention company.” Founded by June Cohen and Deron Triff, a pair of former TED executives responsible for expanding the nonprofit’s digital media business, WaitWhat is today launching Should This Exist, a new podcast hosted by Flickr founder and tech investor Caterina Fake.  Fake will interview entrepreneurs about the human side and the impact of technology in the show created in partnership with Quartz.

“People don’t just transact with content; they want to feel connected to it through a sense of wonder, awe, curiosity, and mastery,” Cohen said in a statement. “These are contagious emotions, and research shows they stimulate sharing. Where many media companies aim for volume — putting out lots of content with a short shelf life — we’re building a completely distinctive portfolio of premium properties that are continually increasing in value, inspiring deep audience engagement, and creating opportunities for format expansion.”

Other investors in the round include Reid Hoffman, MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito and Liminal Ventures. WaitWhat previously raised a $1.5 million round from Victress Capital, Human Ventures and Able Partners, all of which have joined the A round.

The list of bogus ‘hate crimes’ in Trump era is long – New York Post

  1. The list of bogus 'hate crimes' in Trump era is long  New York Post
  2. Trump touts economy, criminal justice reform at Black History Month event  USA TODAY
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Venezuelan Official Breaks With Maduro – The Wall Street Journal

  1. Venezuelan Official Breaks With Maduro  The Wall Street Journal
  2. Maduro shuts Venezuela's border with Brazil amid aid standoff l Al Jazeera English  Al Jazeera English
  3. Venezuela’s Ex-Spy Chief Rejects Maduro, Accusing Leader’s Inner Circle of Corruption  The New York Times
  4. Venezuela's Maduro closes border with Brazil, says Colombia crossings could be next  CNBC
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Samsung says Bixby button remapping coming to previous Galaxy flagships running Android Pie

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Yesterday brought some big news for the Galaxy S10, as we learned that Samsung would allow owners of the S10 devices to remap the dedicated Bixby button to launch any third-party app. Now we've got some more good news, this time for owners of previous Samsung flagships.

Samsung has confirmed that it will extend its Bixby button remap feature to previous flagship phones. In a blog post detailing Bixby's features, Samsung highlights Bixby Key Customization, explaining how you can map the Bixby button to launch your favorite app or quick command with a single or double press and then Bixby will launch with the other action that. And then at the bottom of the post is this tidbit:

"Bixby Key Customization is compatible with the Galaxy S10, and will be available via a software update on previously released Bixby-enabled flagship smartphones running Android Pie OS."

There's no telling exactly when these updates will roll out, but this is exciting news for owners of the Galaxy S8, S9, Note 8, and Note 9. In the past, many of those users have tried hacks and workarounds to let them remap the Bixby button, but soon it'll be an officially supported feature. Kudos to Samsung for finally making it happen.

So, Galaxy flagship owners, what will you remap your Bixby button to do?

Antitrust Law Could Help Mueller Prove That Trump Officials Conspired With Russia – Slate

Antitrust Law Could Help Mueller Prove That Trump Officials Conspired With Russia  Slate

As the special counsel investigation nears its end, its most anticipated area of inquiry remains unresolved: Did the Trump campaign “collude” with Russia during ...

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Schiffting to Phase 2 of Collusion – The Wall Street Journal

  1. Schiffting to Phase 2 of Collusion  The Wall Street Journal
  2. Democrats gear up for Mueller's investigation to conclude  CBS News
  3. Trump weighs in on potential release of the Mueller report  ABC News
  4. The Mueller Report Is Coming. Here’s What to Expect.  The New York Times
  5. Who's who of the Trump-Russia collusion collapse red carpet | TheHill  The Hill
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Venezuela crisis could spark surge in infectious diseases – study – Channel NewsAsia

  1. Venezuela crisis could spark surge in infectious diseases - study  Channel NewsAsia
  2. Life-threatening, insect-borne diseases spike in Venezuela, report says  NBCNews.com
  3. Venezuela crisis threatens disease epidemic across continent - experts  The Guardian
  4. Venezuela compared to war zone as number of malaria cases rocket  The Telegraph
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Kendra Wilkinson & Hank Baskett Split ‘Kendra On Top’ Royalties After Divorce – Yahoo Entertainment

  1. Kendra Wilkinson & Hank Baskett Split 'Kendra On Top' Royalties After Divorce  Yahoo Entertainment
  2. Kendra Wilkinson's Divorce from Hank Baskett Finalized  TMZ
  3. Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett Agree to Split Child Custody as They Finalize Divorce  PEOPLE.com
  4. Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett Finalize Their Divorce  E! NEWS
  5. Kendra Wilkinson, Hank Baskett Finalize Divorce 10 Months After Filing to Legally Separate  Us Weekly
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Vatican Sexual Abuse Summit In Rome Hears From Survivors – NPR

Vatican Sexual Abuse Summit In Rome Hears From Survivors  NPR

Thursday at the Vatican, Pope Francis stood before some 200 participants in an unprecedented summit on preventing clergy sex abuse and said Catholics are ...

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Ford stock dips amid news of gas mileage inquiry – Detroit Free Press

  1. Ford stock dips amid news of gas mileage inquiry  Detroit Free Press
  2. Ford hires outside firm to investigate US fuel economy and emissions compliance after employees raise concern  CNBC
  3. Ford investigating accuracy if its fuel economy numbers  Fox News
  4. Ford looking into issues with fuel economy and emissions tests  CNN
  5. Ford investigating if mpg ratings could be skewed  The Detroit News
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NBA’s proposal would leave only NFL with draft waiting period – NBC Sports

NBA’s proposal would leave only NFL with draft waiting period  NBC Sports

Tennis players, track athletes, golfers, hockey players and baseball players all can turn pro right out of high school. Basketball players have to wait until they turn ...

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Sunsama’s $10/month task management calendar cleans up your online productivity

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard friends lament how difficult it is to find a decent calendar app. The stock calendar apps are certainly serviceable but there’s so much that they can’t handle in terms of managing and prioritizing tasks.

Sunsama, launching out of Y Combinator’s latest batch, is taking a crack at solving the calendar conundrum with a $10-per-month professionals-focused productivity planner.

Co-founders Ashutosh Priyadarshy and Travis Meyer began with the idea that the relationship between task managers and calendars were a mess. Devotees to “get things done” to-do apps end up re-typing tasks they’ve been assigned to on project-based systems like Trello and Asana which just leads to a whole lot of confusion. Sunsama’s third-party integrations make it easy to drag these tasks into your to-do list every morning and keep things updated as your tasks evolve and priorities need to shift.

“[Sunsama is] more than just a bunch of integrations,” Meyer told TechCrunch. “It’s a methodology for planning your day and streamlining your daily workflow, on your own, or with the teammates you work closely with.”

The company takes some pretty clear design inspiration from existing enterprise apps. The influences from Google Calendar, Slack and Trello are pretty clear but the resulting interface all works together very thoughtfully with a drag-and-drop organizational flow that lets you import projects from linked services. It all makes for a very friendly, pretty system that can enable you to fly through the often cumbersome of populating your to-do list in the first place. The company currently supports integrations with Asana, Trello, Slack, Github, Gitlab, Jira and Todoist.

While a lot of other task management apps rely on a freemium model or low annual subscription, Sunsama takes $10-per-month for their service. It’s definitely an expense, but the founders see apps like $30-per-month email service Superhuman as a sign that professionals are willing to drop some cash on a service that cleans up their digital life.

The company wants to snag individual users but getting small teams onto the service could be their clearest route to wider adoption. When your entire team is on Sunsama, you’re able to check out what other members of your channels have on deck when they’re working on a particular project. There’s the risk of getting lost in the fray of other necessary platforms on the company level, but the founders think the deep integrations will keep people turning to Sunsama when they want to see how a project is going.

The startup seems to have taken more than a few on-boarding cues from Superhuman, which takes you off the waitlist only after they’ve gotten a chance to personally talk you through their service and see whether you’re a good fit. You can sign-up to request Sunsama access on their site now.

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