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How to watch Shark Week 2020 on Discovery live without cable

How to watch Shark Week 2020 on Discovery live without cable
Mike Tyson in Tyson Vs. Jaws: Rumble On The Reef [Photo: Jason Elias/Discovery Channel]

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to a socially distanced beach, Shark Week has returned to take a bite out of your summer.

For anyone who is endlessly fascinated by the ocean’s most magnificent beasts, look no further than the weeklong block of shark-related programming brought to you by the Discovery channel. It’s been a summer tradition at the network since 1988.

This year, Discovery has spared no expense to bring fans an eclectic, star-studded lineup of pure shark madness. (I would gladly describe it with a cute pun like “fintastic” or “jawsome,” but it’s impossible to find one that Discovery hasn’t shamelessly exhausted over the decades.) Programming on tap for Shark Week 2020 includes Tyson vs. Jaws, during which former boxing champ Mike Tyson will—we kid you not—fight an actual shark, and Shaq Does Shark Week, featuring NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.

Shark Week 2020 is scheduled to begin tonight (Sunday, August 9) at 8 p.m. ET and runs through Sunday, August 16. You can check out the full schedule on Discovery’s website.

Cord cutters who want to stream Shark Week without a cable or satellite TV subscription have a few different options. Watching it live will require a standalone streaming service that offers Discovery as part of a bundle. These are easy to cancel and you can often get a free promotional week. Here are some of the most popular services:

Discovery also makes some Shark Week content available for free on its website or via its Discovery Go mobile apps for iOS and Android. However, to watch all Shark Week content this way, you’ll need a login with a cable or satellite provider or a streaming service. Have a great week!

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As more schools go remote, Cuomo will allow NY schools to reopen

As more schools go remote, Cuomo will allow NY schools to reopen
[Photo: Bima Rahmanda/Unsplash]

New York governor Andrew Cuomo says that schools across the entire state can reopen this fall. The decision comes as more schools across the country are choosing a hybrid model or opting to stay completely remote.

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In mid-July, Governor Cuomo said schools could reopen if regional COVID-19 infection rates remained below 5%. This week, New York City’s infection rate dropped below 1%. Around the state, infection rates have remained below 2%. Cuomo has also stated previously that schools will close if infection rates reach an average of 9% in a given week.

In preparation for the fall, local district leaders have submitted reopening plans to the Department of Health, which is currently reviewing them. The governor has told leaders that they must publicly share those finalized plans, including plans for testing and contact tracing.

But even if the plans are approved, parents and teachers have to be comfortable for school to reopen.

“Just because a district puts out a plan doesn’t mean that if we reopen the school, parents are going to come or teachers are going to come. It’s not, ‘Well, the government said the schools are open. Now everybody must go.’ It’s not going to happen that way,” Cuomo said in a press conference earlier this week.

The announcement comes as schools across the country are weighing whether or not to bring students back into classrooms this coming semester. Facing a rising number of cases, the state of Maryland has chosen to start the school year at home with classes being conducted online. While both Florida and Texas had previously announced students could return to school in person, mounting cases of COVID-19 and backlash have forced the governors of both those states to reconsider. Texas governor Greg Abbott has decided to defer to schools on whether to reopen. Meanwhile, Florida’s largest teachers union is suing the state in an attempt to put individual school districts in charge of whether they return to school in person. The union has communicated that it does not want to send teachers back into classrooms until infection rates come down.

Even Cuomo has said there is a possibility that not all schools in the state of New York will reopen come fall. “It would take one of two things,” he said. “Either (a), the infection rate would have to go up where you knew you were dealing with a highly charged environment, or (two), a particular school district wouldn’t have an acceptable plan.”

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For 10% of the workforce, working from home could be here to stay

For 10% of the workforce, working from home could be here to stay
[Photo: Christina Morillo/Pexels]

The workforce currently working from home is poised to double after the pandemic ends, says the CEO of global commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield. Chief executive Brett White told CNBC that he believes as much as 10% of the U.S. workforce could be working from home permanently.

As a result of the pandemic, Cushman and Wakefield has seen a major decline in quarterly revenue. White sees this pain as just the beginning and estimates office vacancies will reach 15% to 18% in the future. He says employees and their fears about contracting COVID-19 are driving the trend.

“They don’t feel safe, and they also don’t feel it’s worth the hassle—because they’re not required to go to work, it’s not worth the hassle to go back to the office right now,” White said in the interview.

Still, he says, people are pining for the workplace. According to the report, Cushman and Wakefield surveyed 100 companies globally, and 90% of employees indicated that they want to go back to the office eventually.

White thinks employers will start moving small numbers of people back into offices between the fall and early 2021. However, he doesn’t see the office market returning to normalcy for another two or three years.

Several tech companies have been giving up office spaces, including Facebook and Twitter. Last week, industry analyst CBRE published a report showing that the 10 biggest markets for tech companies had a 12% increase in office space for sublease since the beginning of the pandemic.

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How to watch UEFA Champions League 2020 live in the U.S. without cable

How to watch UEFA Champions League 2020 live in the U.S. without cable
[Photo: Michael Regan/UEFA via Getty Images]

Sorry, coronavirus, but you couldn’t kill soccer!

The 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League is making its triumphant return, and Americans can stream all the action from the comfort of their quarantines. After Turner reportedly opted out of the broadcast and streaming rights for the international football competition, ViacomCBS swooped in to save the day. In July, the company announced the full schedule for all matches, including the UEFA Champions League Final.

It all begins this afternoon (Friday, August 7) at 3 p.m. ET with two matches: Manchester City versus Real Madrid and Juventus versus Lyon. (You can check out the full schedule here.) If you want to stream these games from the United States on your phone, computer, or smart TV, you have two ways to do that, which I’ve rounded up below:

CBS All Access

This is CBS’s standalone streaming service, and it will air all remaining UEFA games, including the Champions League matches and final. The service costs $6 a month with limited commercials or $10 a month for the commercial-free version. And if you haven’t signed up before, you can get a free one-month trial. Find it here.

CBS Sports Network

This network will air select games including the final. If you have login credentials from a pay-TV provider, you can stream it online via the CBS Sports website or mobile apps.

If you don’t have a cable or satellite TV subscription, you can sign up for a standalone streaming service that offers CBS Sports Network as part of a bundle. Those include YouTube TV, Hulu With Live TV, AT&T TV Now, and FuboTV. Make sure the package you sign up for includes CBS Sports Network, because not all of them do. Enjoy the games.

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Second stimulus check and unemployment update: What’s next with Congress going on vacation?

Second stimulus check and unemployment update: What’s next with Congress going on vacation?
[Photo: Stephen Walker/Unsplash; Clay LeConey/Unsplash]

The $600 weekly extra unemployment benefit ended last week, and the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses expires this weekend. Also, there is no second stimulus check in sight. What aid does Congress have in store for desperate Americans and businesses that are still suffering amid the coronavirus pandemic? Nothing. Congress begins vacation at the end of the day.

Say what? They’re going on vacation?

Pretty much. Many members of Congress are leaving Washington for the August recess, scheduled to return September 7. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said Congress isn’t “technically” in recess and could be called back for a vote. The August recess is “a chance for senators to spend time with family, meet with constituents in their home states, and catch up on summer reading,” according to Senate.gov.

You’ve got to be kidding. Why is there no new stimulus package?

Three-way gridlock between Democrats, Republicans, and the White House. Republicans want a $1 trillion package with $200-per-week unemployment benefits and say that further aid to the unemployed incentivizes people to not work. (A fresh study out from Yale rebuts this.) Democrats want the $600 unemployment benefit extended through the end of the year, along with substantial aid to individuals, states, and local governments, in line with the more than $3 trillion HEROES Act that passed the House in May.

Where’s the White House on all this?

Boarding its own train ASAP. The Trump administration is reportedly creating executive orders that will bypass negotiations and meet White House objectives, including pausing payroll taxes and rolling out relief on evictions protections, unemployment benefits, and student loans. More significant funding for these efforts, however, would likely be available through a Congressional bill.

Where do things stand now?

Lawmakers were supposed to reach consensus this week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is reportedly calling all parties today, “to determine whether it would even be worthwhile to convene in person for more negotiations.” Three hours of negotiations last night ended with large divides; it appears that McConnell has not attended this and other negotiations. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNBC of Republicans on Thursday, “Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn.”

Why is this taking so long?

Republicans delayed for over a month, with McConnell not releasing a proposed package until July 27. Historian Heather Cox Richardson, who writes the popular Letters from an American newsletter, has speculated that a more nefarious strategy is at hand: The federal moratorium on evictions just ended, and “evicted adults will be far less likely to vote” in November.

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Beirut residents are turning to Instagram to locate missing loved ones after the explosion

Beirut residents are turning to Instagram to locate missing loved ones after the explosion
French rescuers search the Beirut port on August 7, 2020, three days after a massive blast there shook the Lebanese capital. Rescuers combed through the rubble of Beirut port today in a search for survivors watched breathlessly by relatives of the missing, after an investigation. [Photo: Joseph Eid/AFP via Getty Images]

In the wake of a devastating explosion that tore through a section of Beirut on Tuesday, Instagram is emerging as a significant resource for residents there who are trying to locate lost loved ones.

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Days after the blast killed 154 people and left up to 5,000 more injured, dozens of people are still missing in the Lebanese capital. According to Sky News, international rescue teams are combing through the rubble and debris in a desperate search for survivors, but many are unaccounted for. At least 300,000 people are said to have been displaced by the incident.

The Instagram page “Locate Victims Beirut” has been posting images of missing persons along with contact information and other details that might help locate them. The work is critical at a time when casualties are still being counted and every second counts.

“We are trying to locate the individuals posted,” the description explains.

Taken together, the images on the feed are a heartbreaking real-time record of a tragedy still unfolding in a country that was already reeling from economic strife—photos of mothers, fathers, and children, accompanied by impassioned pleas to help track them down.

The page description does not say who runs the account, but it’s already been verified by Instagram and had more than 110,000 followers as of Friday morning. Photos of missing persons are accepted and vetted through Instagram’s DM feature.

In an Instagram story posted Thursday, the organizers said they were seeking a more streamlined, more automated way to let people report missing loved ones. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

View this post on Instagram

Follow and share please. If you have any loved ones you are looking for dm me and I will share as much as I can.

A post shared by LOCATING VICTIMS (@locatevictimsbeirut) on Aug 4, 2020 at 11:51am PDT

The Instagram page is just one of a number of resourceful ways that activists and relief workers are using digital tools in the aftermath of the explosion. Carrd, an online platform for no-frills websites, has proven a vital repository for donations and other emergency relief campaigns, and crowd-sourced Google Maps are helping displaced people find shelter.

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Trump bans U.S. ‘transactions’ with TikTok and WeChat

Trump bans U.S. ‘transactions’ with TikTok and WeChat
[Photo: Shealah Craighead/The White House/Flickr]

President Trump has issued two sweeping executive orders banning “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” with TikTok and WeChat. The executive orders say the bans go into effect 45 days from yesterday.

Trump’s executive order against TikTok, while unprecedented for an app, isn’t that surprising considering the president has been waging an ongoing war against that app for the past few months. What is more surprising is the second executive order against WeChat, which the president has generally remained quiet about in the past.

While TikTok is owned by China’s ByteDance and is one of the most popular social media platforms out there, WeChat is owned by a completely separate Chinese company called Tencent and the app is one of the most popular messaging, mobile payment, and communication platforms in the world.

In both executive orders, Trump uses the same language, saying the apps present a “national emergency.” In the TikTok executive order, Trump explained, “the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.” In the WeChat executive order, he noted, “To protect our Nation, I took action to address the threat posed by one mobile application, TikTok. Further action is needed to address a similar threat posed by another mobile application, WeChat.”

In short, Trump believes TikTok and WeChat could be funneling data about U.S. users to the Chinese Communist Party. What remains to be seen, however, is if either of these executive orders will be held up by the courts, as both TikTok and WeChat are sure to challenge them. As TikTok noted in a statement about the executive order:

This Executive Order risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth. And it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets. We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the US courts.

Days before the executive order, Microsoft announced it was looking to purchase TikTok. The order should have no effect on those negotiations. Microsoft says it plans to announce its decision on any purchase by September 15, just days before the executive order goes into effect.

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Expect double the number of hellish hurricanes this year

Expect double the number of hellish hurricanes this year
[Photo: Pixabay/Pexels]

In addition to multiple plagues, murder hornets, and locusts, this year will also bring us a doubly active hurricane season, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Today the agency released a warning of an “extremely active” hurricane season, with double the usual number of named storms through November.

In a typical year, NOAA names a dozen storms, each with winds over 39 mph. This year, it expects to name 19-25 storms.

This year’s severe storms have already ranked far heavier ahead of the norm: Typically, only two storms are named by early August. NOAA has named nine this year: Arthur, Bortha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias. NOAA says that Americans need to be prepared for storms now, including disaster kits. (Here is how to prepare.)

One cause is warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, which is combining with other weather forces to spur an active hurricane season. La Niña, a Pacific Ocean weather pattern that typically appears every few years, is also expected to develop this year, which will further fuel Atlantic basin storm formation.

Stay tuned for storms Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred.

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These states have the longest life expectancies: Thank liberal policies

These states have the longest life expectancies: Thank liberal policies
[Photo: Cristian Newman/Unsplash]

Where you live has a deep impact on life expectancy—as much as nearly eight years. And state policies are the culprit.

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A new study from Syracuse University looked at state life expectancies from 1970 to 2014 and cross-referenced them with 18 of those states’ policies on topics ranging from abortion to guns to labor law, while controlling for population differences such as income and age. The researchers found that 10 of the 18 policy categories strongly predict life expectancy, and that in all cases except for marijuana laws, more liberal policies predict longer lives, particularly on tobacco, immigration, civil rights, labor laws (including minimum wage) and the environment. Labor laws alone, when in line with blue states’ policies, add one year onto lives.

“Americans die younger than people in other high-income countries,” says lead author Jennifer Karas Montez, a sociology professor at Syracuse University. “This gap emerged in the 1980s and has grown ever since. Since that time, gaps in life expectancy between U.S. states also expanded. These two trends are related.”

According to 2017 data, some notable state life expectancies are:

High:

  • Hawaii: 81.62
  • California: 81.19
  • New York: 81
  • Minnesota: 80.78
  • Connecticut: 80.71

Low:

  • Arkansas: 78.42
  • Alabama: 75.41
  • Kentucky: 75.32
  • Mississippi: 74.77
  • West Virginia: 74.65

In 1980, before Oklahoma embarked on one of the most conservative policy tracks in the country, Oklahoma and Connecticut had similar life expectancies, of 73-74 years. They have since diverged sharply, with Oklahoma’s life expectancy (76) in line with those of Serbia and Brazil, and Connecticut’s (80.7) in line with that of Denmark. Conservative policies, the researchers found, have had a particularly brutal impact on life expectancies over the last decade.

Women’s lifespans are disproportionately impacted by changes in policy. The researchers found that if more liberal policies were instated nationwide, women’s life expectancies would increase by 2.8 years and men’s by 2.1 years, returning U.S. life expectancy to par with high-income countries. Nationwide conservative policies would decrease life expectance by 2 years.

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New York Attorney General seeks to dismantle the National Rifle Association

New York Attorney General seeks to dismantle the National Rifle Association
[Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images]

New York Attorney General Letitia James has moved to dissolve the National Rifle Association in a lawsuit filed Thursday alleging that the powerful gun group is rife with fraud and financial misconduct.

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“The organization went unchecked for decades, as top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James said at a news conference this morning. In addition to naming the organization as a whole, the lawsuit also names four former and current executives—including CEO Wayne LaPierre, who has served as the face of the NRA for nearly 30 years.

LaPierre and his team, the lawsuit claims, “instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA that was illegal, oppressive, and fraudulent. They overrode and evaded internal controls to allow themselves, their families, favorite board members, employees, and vendors to benefit through reimbursed expenses, related party transactions, excess compensation, side deals, and waste of charitable assets without regard to the NRA’s best interest.”

An 18-month investigation by the attorney general’s office alleged that LaPierre and other high-ranking executives siphoned off more than $64 million in just three years. The funds were diverted from the NRA’s charitable mission, and spent on “lavish trips for themselves and their families, private jets, and expensive meals.”

LaPierre himself had flown to the Bahamas with his family in a private air charter at least eight times, and traveled on multiple hunting safaris in Africa—all on the NRA’s dime, the suit alleges.

“Mr. LaPierre created an illegal pass-through arrangement to conceal the very nature of these expenditures,” James said. Auditors and whistleblowers were either ignored or retaliated against, and some employees were paid to keep quiet.

In a response, LaPierre called the suit “a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend.”

In seeking to shutter the NRA, James is pursuing the toughest possible sanction against the organization, which is registered in New York. James is also asking the court to order LaPierre and other executives to pay back unlawful profits.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine also filed a lawsuit against the NRA and the NRA Foundation, which is incorporated in D.C., for misuse of charitable funds.

The lawsuit adds to a mounting pile of legal troubles for the country’s largest gun lobby. The group is already embroiled in ongoing litigation with Ackerman McQueen, its former public relations firm, which filed a brief earlier this year estimating that the NRA has spent more than $54 million on legal representation. And a secret recording of an NRA meeting, obtained by NPR, revealed that the group has spent more than $100 million on legal issues. Additionally, the NRA is still paying off debt from the $30 million it donated to the Trump campaign in 2016.

“The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse,” said James, “which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”

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These are the most gender-biased languages in the world (hint: English has a problem)

These are the most gender-biased languages in the world (hint: English has a problem)
[Image: Vac1/iStock; Martin Janecek/iStock]

If you want to know why low percentages of women lead corporations and populate STEM fields, look no further than the words coming out of our mouths: A fascinating new study from Carnegie Mellon looks at the male-career bias in 25 languages across 39 countries, and finds that languages that heavily associate men with careers and women with family also have speakers who live out those biases. “If you speak a language that is really biased, then you are more likely to have a gender stereotype,” says the study’s lead author, cognitive scientist Molly Lewis, a special faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University.

Here are the languages, listed from most male-career biased to least:

  1. Danish
  2. German
  3. Norwegian
  4. Dutch
  5. Romanian
  6. English
  7. Hebrew
  8. Swedish
  9. Mandarin
  10. Persian
  11. Portuguese
  12. Hindi
  13. Italian
  14. Finnish
  15. French
  16. Korean
  17. Spanish
  18. Indonesian
  19. Arabic
  20. Japanese
  21. Croatian
  22. Turkish
  23. Filipino
  24. Polish
  25. Malay

The researchers looked at the statistical relationship of words to each other, finding that in many languages, for example, “man” often occurs near “work,” “career,” and “business.”  They also found that gender associations are heightened in languages that have gendered occupations, such as “steward” and “stewardess.” The results indicate that languages’ gender associations may partially shape (rather than reflect) people’s implicit gender biases. Pivotally, the researchers discovered that countries with high male-career gender bias also have low percentages of women in STEM fields, and fewer female students in STEM higher education.

The implications are profound: This may partially explain where some early stereotypes about gender and work come from. Children as young as 2 exercise these biases, which cannot be explained by kids’ lived experiences (such as their own parents’ jobs, or seeing, say, many female nurses). The results could also be useful in combatting algorithmic bias.

The researchers hope to further confirm the relationship between implicit biases and word distribution using other study designs.

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Everything we know about Reels, Instagram’s new TikTok clone

Everything we know about Reels, Instagram’s new TikTok clone
[Photo: courtesy of Instagram]

Today the internet is abuzz over Reels, Instagram’s new feature for short video clips. Here’s everything you need to know about Facebook’s new tentacle:

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What is it?

Reels lets users record and edit 15-second video clips. You can add music, overlay stickers or filter effects, and speed up or slow down snippets of a clip. Clips can be strung together into a longer series or kept solo, and—most crucially—everything can be shared with followers via your Instagram Feed. (If it’s not on the ‘gram, does it even exist?)

Reels also occupies a new, dedicated spot in Instagram’s Explore section where you can scroll through public community posts from users around the world, which “showcases the best of trending culture on Instagram.” You can like, comment, or share any post.

Wait, haven’t we seen this before?

Um, yes! Reels is nearly a carbon copy of TikTok, the hugely popular video-sharing platform owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance.

So when is it coming out?

Reels is launching in more than 50 countries today, including in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, Japan, Australia, and Brazil.

[Photo: courtesy of Instagram]

How’s the rollout looking so far?

It’s looking suspicious. Observers have pointed out the convenient timing of Reels’s launch, which is occurring during a torrent of negative press for its predecessor-and-rival TikTok. Last month, India banned TikTok over concerns that the company could share user data with the Chinese government, and a number of countries are currently considering following suit, including the U.S., Japan, and Australia (all of these are countries where Reels debuts today). In the U.S., President Trump has been threatening a TikTok ban for weeks now.

Reels’s launch also comes on the heels of a Capitol Hill hearing that interrogated four U.S. tech CEOs—including Mark Zuckerberg of Instagram’s parent, Facebook—on their companies’ anticompetitive practices. Members of Congress noted that Facebook has, in the past, unfairly leveraged its vast user base to transition consumers into new, competitive ventures—as was the case with Instagram’s Stories, which copied functions from Snapchat, and then surpassed it within a matter of months.

Reels—which, like Stories, is housed within the already massive Instagram app—could prove another example of that.

What’s TikTok saying about this?

TikTok’s parent, ByteDance, released a statement Sunday stating that it has faced “all kinds of complex and unimaginable difficulties,” including the “plagiarism and smear of competitor Facebook.”

And in a statement last Wednesday, TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer took jabs at both Reels and Facebook’s failed standalone app Lasso, which he called “copycat” products.

Mayer also fired shots at Facebook itself, accusing the social media platform of trying to snuff out its rivals—specifically, TikTok—with underhanded techniques “disguised as patriotism.” He was, presumably, referring to Facebook’s role in circulating claims from the Trump campaign that TikTok was “spying” on its American users, which bolstered the president’s crusade for a TikTok ban.

I’m too old for this. Should I even bother with Reels or TikTok?

You’re never too old to be a social media influencer!

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What is acute flaccid myelitis? CDC warns parents to watch out for these symptoms

What is acute flaccid myelitis? CDC warns parents to watch out for these symptoms
[Photo: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash]

Coronavirus isn’t the only virus family on the lam: The common cold also has a deadly cousin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning parents to be on the lookout for sudden limb weakness or pain, which are the primary symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a neurological condition that peaks every two years.

The symptoms usually appear abruptly, according to a CDC report: gait difficulty, neck or back pain, fever, and limb pain. The CDC’s message is that waiting and seeing is a terrible plan with these symptoms. Children need to receive immediate medical attention, because paralysis and respiratory failure can ensue, and also result in long-term debilitation. Though the last outbreak, in 2018, only affected 238 children, 98% were hospitalized and over half entered the ICU, a quarter on ventilators.

The bad news: The CDC is concerned that parents might avoid taking children to doctors or hospitals during the pandemic, or confuse kids’ symptoms with those of COVID-19, which can involve fever and overall fatigue or weakness. The good news: Social distancing may result in fewer cases this year.

AFM is associated with multiple enteroviruses, which infect approximately 10-15 million people per year and sometimes cause colds. AFM develops subsequently in a tiny percentage of children.

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Here’s why Beyond Meat stock is down, even though we’re eating more fake meat

Here’s why Beyond Meat stock is down, even though we’re eating more fake meat
[Photo: Maude Frédérique Lavoie/Unsplash]

Among the consumer trends that have emerged during the coronavirus pandemic (more TV, more takeout, more Nestlé Toll House cookies), there is evidently a larger appetite for sustainable meat.

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Beyond Meat reported yesterday that its supermarket sales have nearly tripled year-over-year. The plant-based meat company’s U.S. retail sales jumped by 194.9% in the second quarter, and its international retail sales by 166.7%. The global boost in consumer sales can be attributed to a number of factors, including more cooking at home, more time to experiment with food, a real meat shortage in grocery stores, and the in-aisle placement of Beyond Meat products right next to the real meat products.

But despite a surge in the company’s stock price on Tuesday, following its earnings release, Beyond Meat’s stock tumbled back down on Wednesday, falling 8% during premarket trading, and now down 4.5% mid-market.

So why the slump? Despite Beyond Meat’s burgeoning grocery-store sales, the company has been hit hard by shutdowns in the restaurant industry. Its food-service sales dropped 60.7% in the U.S., and 56.5% internationally, with Beyond Meat acknowledging a “meaningful slowdown” in the sector, which accounted for 49% of its total revenue in the same quarter last year.

And with COVID-19 cases spiking across the country, it’s unclear when restaurants will reopen in full force, creating a significant question mark in Beyond Meat’s financial forecast. The company’s 2020 guidance “remains suspended until further notice.”

Furthermore, while the company is emphasizing a pivot toward its thriving retail business to offset the loss of food-service business, Beyond Meat will have to battle rival fake-meat producer Impossible Foods for its grocery-store customers.

The two plant-based meat giants are currently locked in a distribution war as the companies race to secure vendors. Earlier this week, Beyond Meat revealed new partnerships with Walmart and bulk-sale warehouses Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club. Those retailers will join Beyond’s list of vendors, which also includes Costco Wholesale. Impossible Foods, whose vendors include Safeway, Albertsons, and Wegmans, snagged its own deal with Walmart last week.

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Philo is winning the hearts and wallets of cord cutters with cheap streaming TV and no sports

Philo is winning the hearts and wallets of cord cutters with cheap streaming TV and no sports
[Photo: rawpixel]

For the first time, Philo is revealing how many people subscribe to its $20-per-month service for cord cutters. The startup says it now has 750,000 subscribers, up 300% year over year. Philo says that makes it the fastest-growing live TV streaming service.

Philo is unique in that it doesn’t include any channels owned by Disney, NBCUniversal, or Fox. As such, it doesn’t have to carry the local broadcast channels or sports networks that drive up the cost of cable and satellite TV service. While other live TV streaming bundles have seen drastic price hikes over the past year, Philo has only raised prices once since launching in late 2017, eliminating a $16-per-month tier that included fewer channels.

With 750,000 subscribers, Philo is still well behind other streaming bundles such as Hulu + Live TV (which just reported 3.4 million subscribers) and YouTube TV (which last reported 2 million subscribers in February). Growth for those services is stalling, however, while Philo seems to be booming as a cheap alternative.

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What’s up with that Google Plus lawsuit settlement email? It’s real, but it’s also weird

What’s up with that Google Plus lawsuit settlement email? It’s real, but it’s also weird
[Photo: Arthur Osipyan/Unsplash]

“You are not being sued.”

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Those words should be welcome news for most people, but they’re oddly disconcerting when they appear at the top of an email from Google. That was the reality for many Gmail users this week when an email with the subject line “Notice of Class Action Settlement re Google Plus” appeared in their inboxes.

The strange letter, which did not include a personal greeting, purported to inform users of the now-defunct Google Plus social network that they may be eligible for a cash payment from a lawsuit settlement. But it instantly aroused suspicion, with users taking to Twitter, Reddit, and other social networks to speculate whether it was some kind of phishing scam. Here’s what’s going on:

Is this email legit?

Yes! A Google spokesperson confirmed with Fast Company that the company sent out the email. The lawsuit from 2018 revolved around a privacy snafu at Google Plus, which has since been shut down. It was settled this year for $7.5 million. All the details are on the website GooglePlusDataLitigation.com. The message came from google-noreply@google.com, which totally sounds like a fake email address, but is in fact real.

But that website looks sketchy and the links don’t even work

Google confirmed that the settlement website experienced a brief outage, which added to the speculation that it was a scam. If the website looks sketchy, that’s because Google doesn’t run it. It’s managed by a third-party “settlement administration” company called Angeion Group.

How much money can I get?

If you received the email, you might be able to claim up to $12, but you waive your right to future litigation in the case. You have until October 8 to file a claim or opt out. A hearing is planned for November 9.

All this for $12? Is that even worth it?

Your call!

Where can I get more information?

It’s all on the settlement website. You can read more about the Google Plus privacy breach here.

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Report: The SEC is investigating details around Eastman Kodak’s government loan

Report: The SEC is investigating details around Eastman Kodak’s government loan
[Photo: Adam Birkett/Unsplash]

After Eastman Kodak received a $765 million loan from the government to produce drug ingredients, the Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly investigating some of the details.

The probe is focused on how the deal was disclosed, the Wall Street Journal, reported, citing anonymous sources. Kodak’s stock rocketed to $60 after news of the loan broke, gaining more than 2,100%. It has since dipped to about $14.40 a share.

Reached for comment, a Kodak spokesperson said the company would “fully cooperate” with any potential investigation. The company also pointed out that the loan agreement is not finalized.

President Donald Trump announced the deal last week during a White House press conference. “Kodak will now produce generic active pharmaceutical ingredients, which is a big deal, using advanced manufacturing techniques,” he said. “Kodak will also make the key starting materials that are the building blocks for many drugs in a manner that is both cost-competitive and environmentally safe will be competitive with almost all countries.” 

Trump also said that this partnership will produce about 25% of all active ingredients needed to make generic drugs in the U.S. But shares of Kodak rose 25% before the announcement was public. Yesterday, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts publicly called for the SEC to investigate the circumstances.

According to WSJ, the SEC is still in the early stages of its investigation. 

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Ancestry.com is selling a 75% stake to Blackstone for $4.7 billion

Ancestry.com is selling a 75% stake to Blackstone for $4.7 billion
[Photo: Laura Fuhrman/Unsplash]

Genealogy and DNA-testing behemoth Ancestry.com is selling 75% of itself to alternative asset manager Blackstone Group, according to a report from Bloomberg. The total deal is valued at $4.7 billion including debt.

The sale for a 75% stake in Ancestry.com is a big win for its owners. Just over a decade ago, Ancestry.com went public for only $100 million. A few years later in 2012, it went private again for $1.6 billion. Blackstone’s reported purchase for just 75% of the company is almost three times the 2012 valuation for the entire company.

Ancestry.com used to offer genealogy services based on data trails only. However, in recent years the company has begun offering DNA-based genealogy tracking to better compete with other DNA testing kit providers such as 23andMe. Currently, the Utah-based Ancestry.com has 3 million paying subscribers and over 18 million people in its DNA network.

While the sale might be good for those who hold ownership of Ancestry.com, its users may feel a little more skittish. Now an alternative asset manager will presumably have 75% ownership over 18 million people’s DNA. While there’s no reason to believe Blackstone would do anything nefarious with such information, it goes to show how even our most personal information—our literal DNA—can quickly change hands in the era where data is the new gold and companies want as much of it as possible.

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Surprise! The Big Tech antitrust hearing was a PR boost for Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple

Surprise! The Big Tech antitrust hearing was a PR boost for Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple
[Photo: Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images]

Last week’s dramatic Big Tech hearing by the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee gave a surprising PR boost to the companies that took part.

According to a new survey conducted by Harris Poll for Fast Company, nearly half of 18- to 34-year-olds said their perception of tech giants improved due to news about the antitrust hearings, in which the CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Alphabet were grilled on Capitol Hill. In that same age group, 63% said that their usage of the companies’ products and services increased. This is unexpected given some of the brutal questioning tactics used during the hearings and some of the juicy company emails that were revealed. (The emails revealed much more than the executives.)

But overall, Americans are still extremely uncomfortable with the Big Four’s business models, which are built on the backs of user data. Though nearly all Americans (86%) use services like Amazon.com and Instagram, and 75% access them daily, only 9% feel that it is “completely worth it” to give up the personal demographic and preferences information that those companies sell to marketers.

The survey of 1,020 American adults was conducted on July 31, two days after the hearing.

As for the question on the table at the antitrust hearings, the country is thoroughly divided over whether Big Tech should be broken up:

  • 41% say that the government should break up some or all, over concerns of too much control over the market and personal data, as well as limited competition.
  • 30% are not sure.
  • 29% say the government should not break them up.

Next up, the subcommittee will release a report, and all four companies reportedly face antitrust probes from the Justice Department and state attorneys general.

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How to help Beirut explosion victims: 7 things you can do for Lebanon right now

How to help Beirut explosion victims: 7 things you can do for Lebanon right now
[Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images]

Thousands of people were injured in Beirut Tuesday after a massive explosion in the city’s port warehouse district rippled throughout the Lebanese capital, flattening buildings, blowing out windows, and causing widespread devastation.

Social media was flooded with dramatic videos of a mushroom cloud enveloping the area, followed by apocalyptic scenes of the aftermath that seemed to stretch for miles. According to The New York Times, Beirut’s governor, Marwan Abboud, could not immediately identify the cause of the blast. Officials are pointing to a stockpile of ammonium nitrate, an explosive compound, that was being stored in a warehouse.

More than 130 people are dead, another 4,000 are injured, and an estimated 300,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Those counts are likely to change as new details emerge.

The tragedy comes at the worst possible time for Lebanon, which is already facing the collapse of its currency, deepening political unrest, a crushing economic crisis, and the coronavirus pandemic on top of it all. To make matters more urgent, Lebanon’s government has been largely ineffectual in dealing with existing crises, according to Human Rights Watch, meaning it’s that much more difficult to provide aid to people who need it most.

As hospitals are inundated with new victims today, relief groups in the country need money and resources fast. Here are a few ways you can help right now:

  • The Lebanese Red Cross: Among other things, this group helps provide ambulance services in the country. It said on Twitter today that it has already set up “triage and first aid stations” to help people with noncritical injuries. The group could use donations. Find it here.
  • Impact Lebanon: This group is raising disaster relief through the crowdfunding site JustGiving. It has raised almost £150,000 as of Tuesday afternoon. Find it here.
  • Other local NGOs: Activists have been building a crowd-sourced list of additional local groups and resources on Carrd.co. Find it here.
  • Humanity & Inclusion: This group focuses on rehabilitation services and post-surgical physical therapy and just launched a campaign to help victims of the explosion. Find it here.

Additional campaigns

  • Unicef has staff on the ground in Beirut and says it is “helping authorities assess urgently needed medical and vaccine supplies and rushing drinking water to rescue workers at the Beirut port.” The group has set up donation page if you want to help with its efforts. Find it here.
  • Save the Children says more than 500,000 children in the Beirut area were already struggling with basic survival needs due to the economic crisis. The group is assisting in relief efforts in the wake of the explosion. Find it here.
  • Care has a team on the ground and says it’s putting an emphasis on “managing PTSD and preventing gender based violence, which has been shown to spike in emergency situations.” The group is also providing cash help for people in need of shelter. Find it here.

This post has been updated with additional campaigns along with new details about the explosion and casualties.

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