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  • 6:44 am

Teen vape use doubled in the last year

Despite being a $16 billion company, the e-cigarette startup Juul has lately had a rough go of it. This is because, despite its best efforts, the company is consistently associated with teens’ penchant for vaping. And a new survey isn’t going to help this impression.

According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan–which has been happening on an annual basis since 1975–twice as many high schoolers used electronic cigarette devices this year compared to the year before. The survey, which queried 45,000 people, found that one in five high school seniors vaped nicotine at least once in the last month. This, writes the Associated Press, is an “unprecedented jump.”

This comes as companies like Juul try to clean up their act to avoid further scrutiny from regulators. The company has been accused of marketing to teens specifically, which it has denied. All the same, the numbers from this survey are sure to indicate that high schoolers are vaping nicotine more than ever before.

The silver lining of this study, however, is that teen use of other substances–like alcohol, cocaine, and heroine–has declined. So at least there’s that.

You can read the full report here.

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  • 6:30 am

Google will open a new $1 billion dollar campus in NYC

Google has announced that it is planning to open a new campus in New York City that will cost more than a billion dollars. The company has lease agreements at 315 and 345 Hudson Street in New York City as well as a letter of intent to lease space at 550 Washington Street. In total, the new campus will cover 1.7 million square feet of space, and Google says the Hudson Square campus will be the primary location for the company’s New York-based Global Business Organization–the search giant’s sales division.

Google says the new Hudson Square campus will give it the ability to more than double its current staff of 7,000 in the city over the next decade, meaning by 2028 Google could employ at least 14,000 people in NYC. But though Google is announcing the new campus today, it’ll be a few years before anyone can move in. Google says the buildings at 315 and 345 Hudson Street will be ready for employees starting in 2020, and the 550 Washington Street location will be ready in 2022.

Google isn’t the only tech giant opening new major campuses outside of its home state of California. Just last week Apple announced that it will open a new $1 billion campus in Austin, which will create more than 15,000 new jobs in the city.

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  • 6:15 am

Watch as a Kiwi delivery robot burst into flames on a California street

Kiwi, the autonomous food delivery startup that operates in Berkeley, California, had a major mishap on Friday. As one of its KiwiBot robots was cruising along a sidewalk in Berkeley, it suddenly burst into flames, the Daily Californian reports. Thankfully a quick-acting bystander used a nearby fire extinguisher to douse the flames, and the fire department later covered the smoldering robot in foam to eliminate the threat of reignition.

Kiwi operates a fleet of about 100 autonomous food-delivery robots in Berkeley. In a blog post, the company confirmed the incident and immediately pulled all of its other robots until they could investigate the cause. The company concluded that the cause was down to human error–a Kiwi employee had replaced the robot’s battery with a defective one. That defective battery then experienced “thermal runaway”–basically the same problem Samsung had with its batteries in the exploding Galaxy Note 7 phones. 

Kiwi says that to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again, it has now installed “custom software that will rigorously monitor the state of each battery” in all of its bots. You can check out the video of the KiwiBot below.

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Missed Obamacare open enrollment? You still have a few insurance options

Missed Obamacare open enrollment? You still have a few insurance options
[Photo: Chanikarn Thongsupa/rawpixel]

Despite a federal judge striking down the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) as unconstitutional on Friday, the healthcare law remains in effect during the appeals process. The case may very well head to the U.S. Supreme Court, but for now, the estimated 4.1 million people who signed up for plans on Healthcare.gov will be insured for 2019.

Unfortunately, the open enrollment period ended at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, December 15, in most states. If you’re reading this because life or work got in the way, and you missed the deadline, you’re not completely out of luck. Here are a few options:

  • You can still apply for ACA coverage if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to a life event like losing other coverage, moving, getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child. In a few very limited situations, you could qualify outside the enrollment period thanks to a Special Enrollment Periods for complex issues.
  • You can apply any time if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • Plans that aren’t minimum essential coverage, including short-term coverage, fixed indemnity plans, critical illness plans, accident supplements, etc. are not regulated by the Affordable Care Act, and allow year-round enrollment.
  • States that run their own exchanges can extend open enrollment, before or after the regularly scheduled enrollment period. For 2019 coverage, that includes California, Colorado, Rhode Island, New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and the District of Colombia.
  • If you applied, but your coverage was denied, you can appeal a decision. Download an appeal request form for your state from healthcare.gov.

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Note to cord-cutters: Netflix tops Hulu and Amazon when it comes to IMDb hits

Note to cord-cutters: Netflix tops Hulu and Amazon when it comes to IMDb hits
[Photo: freestocks.org/Unsplash]

Americans tend to have fiercely varying tastes when it comes to entertainment, which might explain why Game of Thrones remains bafflingly more popular than Match Game. But one thing we can all agree on is that we’re all paying for way too many streaming services. Between Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, CBS All-Access, and a bundled service like Sling TV, consumers could easily be paying north of $75 a month to stream all their favorite content–to say nothing of future costs incurred from forthcoming services like Disney+ and whatever WarnerMedia comes out with.

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It’s daunting to think about, especially when you consider that the reason you cut the cord in the first place was to save money.

A new report from analyst firm MoffettNathanson might help you figure out where to trim the fat. Using rankings from IMDb, the firm looked at the top 50 shows TV shows of all time, and then it figured out which of those shows are available on one of the top three streaming platforms: Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Netflix came out on top, with 22 of the top 50 shows available on its platform. Hulu had 16 of the shows, while Amazon had only five. The remaining eight shows were not licensed to any of the services, MoffettNathanson found.

Of course, it’s not a perfect metric. By IMDb standards, the top five most popular shows of all time are The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, and The Walking Dead, according to MoffettNathanson’s analysis. So take that for what it’s worth.

Still, it’s interesting in the sense that Netflix has a sizable head start that will prove a commodity as the streaming wars heat up. As we’ve seen with the fight over Friends a few weeks ago, that’s already happening. WarnerMedia owns Friends, in addition to Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, and that will certainly offer leverage when its parent company, AT&T, rolls out its planned streaming service next year.

In its analysis, MoffettNathanson also found that Hulu has the edge when it comes to controlling its own top content: Of those 16 top shows we mentioned, it gets 12 of them from one of its parent studios. (Hulu is a jointly owned by Comcast, Disney, and Fox.) On the flip side, only five of Netflix’s 22 top shows are made in-house.

Amazon, with five of the top 50 shows, only makes two of those on its own, so clearly it has some catching up to do. Then again, Amazon also owns IMDb, so if it really doesn’t like what it sees here, it can always just shut it down.

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Report: Johnson & Johnson knew its baby powder had asbestos for decades

Report: Johnson & Johnson knew its baby powder had asbestos for decades
[Photo: Flickr user Mike Mozart]

Last year, a jury awarded a California woman $417 million when she developed ovarian cancer after almost a lifetime of using Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. The award included $70 million in compensatory damages and a whopping $347 million in punitive damages. If a new Reuters report is accurate, though, that may be just the tip of the iceberg for Johnson & Johnson.

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Reuters reviewed internal documents indicating the company knew its baby powder was sometimes tainted with asbestos, a known carcinogen, but kept that information from regulators and the public, thereby letting its customers sprinkle asbestos on their bodies–and on their babies–for decades.

Both talc (the basis of talcum powder) and asbestos are naturally occurring minerals that are found together in the earth, making it easy to accidentally mine asbestos along with the talc. Because of that, Johnson & Johnson regularly tested its talc and, according to Reuters, “from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos” and executives and other employees failed “to disclose it to regulators or the public.”

Johnson & Johnson, of course, denies these claims and even Reuters admits that most tests did not find asbestos, but points out that “only a tiny fraction of the company’s talc is tested.” But to be clear, the World Health Organization says there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

We’ve reached out to Johnson & Johnson for comment and will update if we hear back.

Johnson & Johnson shares plunged 9% after the report came out, CNBC reports.

Per Reuters, around 11,700 plaintiffs are claiming that Johnson & Johnson’s talc caused their cancers, including thousands of women with ovarian cancer, and some juries are starting to find in their favor. The company has said it will appeal the recent verdicts against it.

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Prada made blackface monkey trinkets and didn’t know they were racist

Prada made blackface monkey trinkets and didn’t know they were racist
[Video: Prada.com]

I want to know who was in the room at Prada when they decided to launch little monkey keychains with black faces and red lips. Did the executives who greenlit these products think these monkeys were just adorable, in a kind of Paul Frank circa early-2000s way? Was there no one in that gorgeously decorated boardroom who thought, “Huh. You know, this is vaguely reminiscent of blackface?”

Clearly not. Prada has just launched a new line called Pradamalia, a set of figurines in the shape of “mysterious creatures” that were developed at Prada Labs, the company’s design department. But actually, the black monkey called Otto is not really that mysterious. Anybody who is familiar with history will immediately recognize this character, as it immediately draws to mind many hurtful stereotypes that have been directed at black people through racist blackface portrayals and references to monkeys.

After a Facebook user posted photos of these trinkets on display at Prada’s New York store–and pointed out how racist they were–Prada appeared to respond by taking down the display. In a statement, the brand said that it is withdrawing the monkey from display and circulation.

And yet it still denies that it had any connection to blackface: “Prada Group abhors racist imagery,” the statement says. “The Pradamalia are fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre. They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface.”

Racism is nothing new in the world of Italian luxury fashion. In 2016, Dolce & Gabanna released a pair of summer shoes, which it named “Slave Sandals.” And just last month that same brand launched a video for the China market featuring a Chinese woman struggling to eat pasta and cannolis with chopsticks. The video caused a major uproar in China and led to a boycott of the brand.

In this context, it’s surprising that Prada was not more sensitive to how this monkey trinket might be interpreted when it left Prada Labs and went out into the world. The products are so offensive, we initially wondered if they were a hoax. Sadly, it turns out they weren’t.

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CBS gives a whopping 1/6th of Moonves’ severance to anti-sexual harassment groups

CBS gives a whopping 1/6th of Moonves’ severance to anti-sexual harassment groups
[Image: Estoy Aquí/Wikimedia Commons]

As news breaks about CBS’s secret $9.5M settlement with Eliza Dushku over charges of sexual harassment, the network has offered some good news as counterprogramming.

CBS is reportedly allocating $20M from ousted CEO Les Moonves’ severance package to go to 18 organizations that fight against workplace sexual harassment. It’s all part of the network’s PR strategy to communicate the message: We now realize that sexual harassment, and covering it up or even aiding it internally, is Bad.

According to Variety, the organizations include: Catalyst; Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors); Free the Bid; Freedom Forum Institute – Power Shift Project; Futures Without Violence;  Girls for Gender Equity / “Me Too” Movement; International Women’s Media Foundation; National Women’s Law Center;  New York Women’s Foundation; Press Forward; Producers Guild of America Foundation; RAINN; STRIVE International; Sundance Institute’s Momentum program; TIME’S UP Entertainment; TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund; Women in Film Los Angeles; Women’s Media Center.

Whether Moonves stands to receive the remaining $100M of his severance remains to be seen.

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61 amazing independent bookstores worth supporting this holiday season

61 amazing independent bookstores worth supporting this holiday season
[Photo: Flickr user Shelby H.]

As Groucho Marx once said, outside of a dog, books are man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

So assuming everyone on your holiday gift list is outside of a dog, you may want to start spreading a little Christmas cheer by putting some pretty ribbons on books and doling them out to everyone you know, love, or just kinda like. Or just go buy yourself a stack of reading material and ignore your family over the holidays.

If for some reason you don’t feel like supporting Amazon, or you just want to live in a world where independent bookstores still thrive, here is a list of some of the best independent bookstores around, mostly chosen by the book-loving nerds at Fast Company. These stores don’t own Whole Foods, or share an owner with the Washington Post, or trade in face-recogntition technology (that we know of), but they do sell books:

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Robinhood’s new checking and saving accounts raise concerns from SIPC

Robinhood’s new checking and saving accounts raise concerns from SIPC
[Photo: Pixabay/Pexels]

Robinhood, a brokerage app popular among millennials, announced the launch of a new low-interest checking and savings product yesterday, but not everyone seems thrilled.

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Today, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which insures the company’s brokerage accounts in the event of company failure, spoke out to say it does not, in fact, insure checking and savings accounts or any cash that is not meant for the direct purpose of investing.

“SIPC protects cash that is deposited with a brokerage firm for one limited purpose . . . the purpose of purchasing securities,” Stephen P. Harbeck, president and CEO of SIPC, wrote via email. “Cash deposited for other reasons would not be protected. SIPC does not protect checking and savings accounts since the money has not been deposited for a protected purpose.”

In an interview with Bloomberg, Harbeck further expressed concern for the new product, saying he reached out to the Securities and Exchange Commission to confirm whether or not his perspective—that the checking and savings funds would not be protected—was correct.

SIPC spokesperson Kristen McCaughan noted that while Robinhood is an SIPC member firm, and its customers would be protected in the event the company failed, “The firm does have some lines of business that I believe fall outside the broker-customer relationship,” she said. Unless the cash in member accounts is for the express purpose of investing, it would not be covered. Additionally, SIPC only provides protection in the event that Robinhood fails.

In a blog, posted late Friday night, Robinhood released a statement in reaction to the “confusion” around its recently announced product. “As a licensed broker-dealer, we’re highly regulated and take clear communication very seriously. We plan to work closely with regulators as we prepare to launch our cash management program, and we’re revamping our marketing materials, including the name,” the page reads. The post did not mention SIPC or Harbeck’s comments and asked readers to “stay tuned for updates.”

Fast Company reached out to Robinhood in hopes the company could elucidate the matter. We have yet to receive a response.

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Another day, another Facebook scandal: Bug gave access to unposted photos

Another day, another Facebook scandal: Bug gave access to unposted photos
[Photos: Pixabay/Pexels; heladodementa/Pixabay]

Facebook today tried to quietly announce a bug it discovered on its platform. Essentially, between September 13 to September 25, 2018, certain third-party apps were given access to users’ photos beyond what they were supposed have. In fact, the screw-up gave the developers access to users’ photos they uploaded to Facebook but didn’t actually post.

Facebook says the problem impacted as many 6.8 million users who used around 1,500 apps. These were all apps Facebook approved to use its photo API.

It’s just the latest in a series of privacy blunders for Facebook. Beyond the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company admitted to a security breach involving about 50 million users last October. Not only that, but this problem happened over two months ago, and the company is only now owning up to it.

Yesterday, Facebook’s VP of marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, told Digiday, “We care deeply, as deep as a company can care about privacy. It’s the foundation of our company, and we want people to know that we care.” As time goes on, statements like these sound more hollow.

Facebook says it will be informing both developers and users involved in this bug. “We are also recommending people log into any apps with which they have shared their Facebook photos to check which photos they have access to,” the company wrote.

We’ll see what privacy or security blunder the company cops to next week.

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Amy Schumer’s new clothing line is light and relaxed like Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer’s new clothing line is light and relaxed like Amy Schumer
Leesa Evans and Amy Schumer [Photo: courtesy of Jake Rosenberg/Saks Off 5th]

When Amy Schumer gets dressed in the morning, she wants her clothes to make her feel like she is wearing a cloud. She often struggles to find off-the-rack clothing that suits her body and makes her feel good. Schumer speaks frequently about challenging the entertainment industry’s unrealistic expectations about what a woman’s body should look like. And she’s shared that she struggles to find clothes that look flattering. “Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and say, no I don’t want to do standup tonight,” she said in an interview with Maria Shriver.

As a successful actress and comedian, Schumer is fortunate to have a personal stylist and costume designer, Leesa Evans, who can make her clothes from scratch. Schumer and Evans met on the set of the 2015 movie Trainwreck, but since then, Evans has made Schumer many outfits that look elegant but feel, in Evans’s words, like “sweat pant alternatives.”

[Photo: courtesy of Jake Rosenberg/Saks Off 5th]
Schumer and Evans believe they have a marketable idea on their hands, and so they worked together on a new line of clothing that drops this week at Saks Off 5th, Saks’ less expensive sister store. The new brand is cheekily called Le Cloud, a name that reflects Schumer’s personal preference for soft, comfortable apparel. The 23-piece collection consists of jumpsuits, maxi dresses, pencil skirts, and crop pants, all made from soft, light fabrics, like crepe, terry, and satins.

The pieces are designed to be affordable, ranging from $38 to $248, and in sizes ranging from zero to 20, although Schumer says she would like to go all the way to size 40 eventually. And 30% of net proceeds from Le Cloud will go to supporting Stylefund, a charity cofounded by Schumer and Evans to encourage women to use fashion as a tool to feel more confident in their own bodies.

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Postmates’ new rover, Serve, is adorable by design

Postmates’ new rover, Serve, is adorable by design
[Animation: courtesy of Postmates]

The tiny autonomous robot can carry up to 50 pounds of cargo and deliver items within a 30-mile radius–and do all that while looking cute and approachable. Serve features a pair of eyes with dynamic lighting around them. The lighting will activate whenever the adorable little bot wants to communicate with a pedestrian that it is changing direction or performing some other task.

Serve is able to navigate city streets and even avoid objects on sidewalks, such as pedestrians and fire hydrants, thanks to its advanced lidar sensors found on the unit. Lidar is the same type of sensors used in self-driving cars. The rover also features a video touch screen on its surface so customers can interact with it.

“One thing we learned early on is that we need to develop a language for rovers and humans to understand each other’s intentions,” Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann said in a press release. “We have developed a specific rover-human interface so that people understand what rovers are doing at any moment.”

The fact that Serve was designed to look more like Wall-E than a Death Star mouse droid will help with that understanding–after all, you’re more likely to approach an autonomous object you find cute rather than alarming.

Postmates will first launch Serve in the Los Angeles area before rolling the rover out to other “key cities” across the United States throughout 2019.

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YouTube removed 1.67 million channels last quarter for breaking community guidelines

YouTube removed 1.67 million channels last quarter for breaking community guidelines
[Photo: Leon Bublitz/Unsplash]

Google’s video-sharing platform removed a staggering 1,667,587 channels from the site between July and September this year, its most recent community guidelines enforcement report states. Keep in mind that’s 1.67 million channels–not just videos. This is the first time the company’s community guidelines enforcement report has broken down removals of entire channels.

The report states that an overwhelming majority of the channels removed, 468,458 of them, or 79.6%, were taken offline due to the channels being spam, scams, or featuring other misleading content. 73,924 channels, or 12.6% of those removed, were taken down for featuring nudity or sexual acts. 26,529 channels, or 4.5% of those taken down, were removed for violations involving child safety. The rest of the channels removed were taken down for a myriad of violations including impersonation, promotion of violence, harassment and cyberbullying, hateful or abusive content, and other community guideline offenses.

In all, 7,845,400 individual videos were removed from YouTube last quarter. 6.3 million of the videos removed were automatically flagged by YouTube’s systems, while just a little more than 878,000 were flagged by an individual trusted flagger. Random users flagged another 547,000 videos, while NGOs flagged around 32,000, and government agencies flagged 34 videos. An overwhelming majority, 74.5%, of the videos flagged for removal were removed before being viewed a single time.

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Apple will update the iPhone next week to get around Chinese court ban

Apple will update the iPhone next week to get around Chinese court ban
[Photo: Torsten Dettlaff/Pexels]

This week a Chinese court ruled that older iPhone models would be banned from sale in the country because they contained technology that infringed on two Qualcomm patents. The iPhones included in the ban comprise every model from the iPhone 6s to the iPhone X. The ban, if enforced, would mean Apple would need to cease selling all but the most recent models of iPhone in the country–costing it millions of dollars a day.

But now it appears Apple thinks it’s found a way around that ban. Next week the Cupertino company will reportedly push out a software update to its iPhones in China “to address any possible concern about our compliance with the order,” the company told Reuters. It’s not quite clear how Apple’s upcoming software update to Chinese iPhones will fix iPhones there so they are no longer infringing on Qualcomm patents, however. Those patents cover features related to the resizing of photographs and app management on a touchscreen.

“Based on the iPhone models we offer today in China, we believe we are in compliance,” Apple told Reuters. “Early next week we will deliver a software update for iPhone users in China addressing the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the case.”

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Taylor Swift is coming to Netflix—watch the Reputation trailer here

Taylor Swift is coming to Netflix—watch the Reputation trailer here
[Photo: Flickr user Jana Beamer]

Your holiday dreams are about to come true, if a live Taylor Swift show is what you dream of. Yesterday, the beloved (and sometimes derided) pop star announced she inked a deal with Netflix to air a film about her most recent Reputation tour.

She put the trailer on her Instagram account:

The preview shows some behind-the-scenes footage as well as, of course, Swift singing and dancing. “I’m really excited that we will have this memento of the memories we all made together this year,” she wrote on the Instagram post.

This is all part of Netflix’s attempt to keep growing at all costs. It’s spending $8 billion a year on programming–and some analysts fear new competition will make growth difficult for the streaming service. A Taylor Swift movie is one way to keep a certain type of younger person on the platform. It is anyone’s guess how much Netflix paid Swift for the rights.

The concert film will be available January 31. Something to watch while pregaming New Year’s festivities, I suppose.

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Congress seems really bad at understanding technology

Congress seems really bad at understanding technology
[Photo: Skitterphoto/Pixabay]

Earlier this week Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before Congress regarding transparency and accountability about the company’s data collection. The questioning of the CEO of one of tech’s most powerful companies was something that was long overdue–unfortunately many of the wrong people were asking the questions.

That’s because at times it seemed like several congressman only had a rudimentary understanding about Google and how the internet works in general, as the NowThis “highlights” reel below shows.

But this wasn’t the first time Congress flubbed an opportunity to ask hard-hitting questions of tech’s most powerful CEOs. Back in April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat in front of Congress to face questioning about the social media giant’s policies. Again, many of the questions fielded to Zuckerberg were wasted because it appeared that those questioning him just had no idea about how social media works.

Perhaps it’s time for some tech journalists to run for Congress?

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The Geminid meteor shower is peaking right now: Here’s how to watch

The Geminid meteor shower is peaking right now: Here’s how to watch
[Photo: Austin Human/Unsplash]

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Sure, we mean the holidays, but also the spectacular astronomical event known as the Geminid Meteor Shower. The annual astronomical display takes place as a “weird” (NASA’s technical term) space rock called 3200 Phaethon zips by Earth, leaving a trail of space dust and other debris in its wake to burn up in the atmosphere. The result is a brilliant display of shooting stars that light up the sky, which is set to peak between late Thursday and the pre-crack-of-dawn hours on Friday morning.

While the showers have occurred in mid-December every year since at least the 19th century, according to NASA, this year should be the best year ever with as many as 100 meteors per hour streaking across the sky.

Here’s how to watch, according to NASA:

  • Head outside after the moon sets around 10:30 p.m. local time.
  • Then, find the darkest place you can, and give your eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, which means not looking at your cell phone for 30 whole minutes, because it will mess up your night vision.
  • As you go through your phone withdrawal, lie flat on your back and look straight up, taking in as much sky as possible.
  • Then just wait for the nature’s laser light show to begin. NASA says the meteor shower should hit about 100 per hour at around 2 a.m., although that is for people in dark sky reserves or, you know, nature. Light from cities and even suburbs will dull the display a little.

The meteor shower is expected to be so (ahem) out of this world that Google celebrated it with an interactive Doodle, designed to give a little starry fun to those of who don’t want to lie around outside in the pre-dawn hours.

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The surprising reason why Chipotle is offering free burritos to Hinge users

The surprising reason why Chipotle is offering free burritos to Hinge users
[Photo: Flickr user T.Tseng]

If your Hinge date takes you to Chipotle, don’t feel too flattered: The food was free. On Thursday, dating app Hinge announced a new promotion with Chipotle in which Hinge members get a free burrito. (No word on extra guac charges.)

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Starting today through the end of year, Hinge users can buy one entree item, then get one item free at participating Chipotle locations. Members redeem the promotion through the app or though a unique code emailed to users.

According to a press release provided to Fast Company, tasty Mexican food is very much part of dating culture. Hinge’s research found that profiles that mentioned queso were up to 70% more likely to receive a “like” than profiles that didn’t, while out of all Chipotle ingredients mentioned during Hinge conversations, chatting about chorizo led to the most dates.

Chipotle needs this promotion to perform better than past ones. This past summer, the fast-casual restaurant was overwhelmed by consumers looking to partake in its free guacamole promotion for National Avocado Day. The company didn’t fully calculate how much people love their guac, resulting in a halt of the promotion. Chipotle called the event “internet-breaking,” which only further infuriated its audience. (Rival chain Qdoba jumped on the opportunity to remind the public it offers free guacamole every day.)

It’s been a rough year for Chipotle following serious food safety problems that led to hundreds of customers reporting symptoms of nausea and high fever. As such, the brand has increasingly advertised promotions ranging from National Nurses Week to buy-one, get-one-free deals for parents and students (that too suffered “technical issues”).

Let’s hope they find better luck with cheap dates.

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Bogus bomb threats across the U.S. are the scary new way for scammers to seek bitcoin

Bogus bomb threats across the U.S. are the scary new way for scammers to seek bitcoin
[Photo: Braden Hopkins/Unsplash]

Businesses, schools, hospitals, and other institutions around the country received what appeared to be hoax bomb threats in their email inboxes Thursday, demanding ransom payment in bitcoin in exchange for not blowing up their facilities.

“I can call off my man if you make a transfer,” said one, published by the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Police Department. “20.000 dollars is the cost for your life and business. Pay it to me in BTC and I warrant that I will withdraw my man and the device won’t detonate.”

Generally, published versions of the threats appear to be generic messages not actually geared to any particular organization.

Other threats have been reported around the country, leading to police investigations and evacuations. People were evacuated from a Georgia courthouse, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and schools around the country evacuated or took other actions to protect students. Newspapers including Park City, Utah’s Park Record and Raleigh, North Carolina’s News and Observer reportedly evacuated their buildings as well.

So far, police agencies say no actual explosives have been found. Local, state, and federal authorities are investigating the threats.

The Cedar Rapids message ended with an odd disclaimer: “If the explosive device detonates and the authorities see this letter: We are not terrorists and dont assume any liability for explosions in other places.”

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