‘Smart TV kit’ bundling Google Home Mini and third-gen Chromecast leaks on Reddit

Yet another Google product has leaked before the company’s October 9th Pixel event, and this time, it’s a Smart TV kit that bundles a Google Home Mini and the new, unannounced third-generation Chromecast. In a Reddit post that has since been deleted, a retail employee posted a photo of the upcoming Smart TV kit with the caption, “Just got these bad boys in at work today.” It’s unknown where the Reddit user works, but we can guess that the product is from Walmart, based on the fact that the previous…

White House calls on Google to abandon controversial Chinese search engine project

Google’s censored search engine and news app for China has seen a considerable amount of controversy since news of the project first broke, but it may have just gotten its biggest pushback yet in the form of direct opposition from the Trump administration. According to The Wall Street Journal, Vice President Mike Pence commented today in a speech that Google’s modified search engine — currently under the codename Dragonfly — would “strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers.” The Intercept was the first to break the…

More than 250 have people died taking selfies in recent years, study finds

Our interest in capturing selfies has introduced a new problem: a rise in selfie deaths, suggest a new study. The study by researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi found 259 people died while attempting to take a selfie between October 2011 and November 2017. Researchers pulled together a list of English newspapers worldwide and performed a comprehensive search of key words or phrases such as « selfie deaths » or « selfie accidents. » They then attempted to cross-match those search links with links…

Mark Cuban reportedly urged Tesla’s Musk to settle SEC fraud charges

Mark Cuban prodded Tesla CEO Elon Musk to settle his dispute with the Securities and Exchange Commission over charges he defrauded investors, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Cuban spent about 15 minutes on the phone urging Musk to reconsider his position after Musk rejected the SEC’s original settlement offer on Sept. 27 that would have required a $10 million fine and step down as chairman for two years. The deal settled charges that Musk made false and misleading statements about having secured the funding to take Tesla private. Tesla…

Elon Musk mocks SEC as ‘Shortseller Enrichment Commission’ days after settlement

Tesla CEO Elon Musk mocked the SEC in a tweet Thursday, calling the agency the « Shortseller Enrichment Commission, » days after settling fraud charges brought against him. Shares of the automaker fell more than 2 percent after hours following the tweet. The stock was already down 4.4 percent during regular hours. Late last week, Musk reached an agreement with the SEC to settle fraud charges in connection with an Aug. 7 tweet about taking the company private. Musk claimed at the time the necessary funding had been secured —…

Facebook stock is worth the risk, Mark Mahaney says

Facebook will come back stronger than ever from its data privacy scandals, so invest now, RBC Capital Markets’ lead internet analyst told CNBC on Thursday. « I think there’s a couple of pieces that are going to come together in terms of new monetization, new products and greater platform security — and that package, when it comes out, that’s going to be the asset to buy, but I think you can buy it here, » Mark Mahaney said on CNBC’s « Power Lunch. » Facebook said last week that it…

Houston blocks ‘sex robot brothel’ from opening. ‘We are not Sin City’

The city council of Houston, Texas unanimously passed an updated ordinance Wednesday that effectively blocks a proposed « sex robot brothel » from opening. A Canadian company that already operates an « adult love dolls rent before you buy service » in Toronto had hoped to open a location in Houston and even started construction before running into permit issues that halted work. The company, KinkySdollS, sells and rents human-like dolls that can cost more than $3,000 each. More from USA Today:There’s no evidence having sex with robots is healthy,…

Republican hopes rise for Kavanaugh confirmation; Democrats decry report ‘whitewash’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Confidence grew among President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans on Thursday that Brett Kavanaugh would win Senate confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, after positive comments from two wavering lawmakers about an FBI report on accusations of sexual misconduct by the judge. The report, sent by the White House to the Senate Judiciary Committee in the middle of the night, was denounced by Democrats as a whitewash that was too narrow in scope and ignored critical witnesses. The report was the latest twist in a pitched political battle…

Judge tells Tesla, SEC to justify settlement of fraud lawsuit

(Reuters) – A New York district court judge has asked Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to provide a joint statement by Oct. 11, explaining why their settlement should be approved. FILE PHOTO: Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk stands on the podium as he attends a forum on startups in Hong Kong, China January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File PhotoJudge Alison Nathan said it was a regular practice at the Southern District of New York Court to ask for a joint statement. Shares…

Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic group is funding research into why coral reefs live so long

Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy is about to reach new depths: The bottom of the ocean. Facebook’s CEO has invested more than $10 billion in a variety of causes, including a big chunk to the formation of a Bay Area-based research center called Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. Biohub, which is also backed by the Zuckerberg’s pediatrician-wife Priscilla Chan, has $600 million in committed funds to invest in researchers with bold ideas. For its next phase of investment, the group is providing $14 million in funds to several new programs ranging from aging to…

‘M*A*S*H’ star Alan Alda to get lifetime achievement award

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Alan Alda, the “M*A*S*H” TV star with a long career on stage and screen, will receive the annual lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild, the actor union said on Thursday. FILE PHOTO: Actor Alan Alda arrives for the International Emmy Awards in New York, U.S., November 19, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File PhotoAlda, 82, who announced in July that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, will receive the honor at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards dinner in Los Angeles on Jan. 27. Alda is…

Amazon quietly launched a new ‘accelerator’ program to create more exclusive brands for its website

As Amazon revs up its private label business with new household goods and clothing brands, the company is quietly rolling out another way to get more exclusive products onto the site. Amazon is inviting outside companies to « join the Amazon family of brands, » according to a web page for « Our Brands. » At the bottom of the page is a link where manufacturers can sign up to make products that become part of Amazon’s own collection of private brands. Meanwhile, Amazon has a job posting up that…

Onetime rap mogul Marion ‘Suge’ Knight sentenced to 28 years for manslaughter

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight was sentenced in a Los Angeles courtroom on Thursday to 28 years in prison for manslaughter in the death of a man he ran over with his pickup truck outside a hamburger stand in 2015. Former rap mogul Marion « Suge » Knight appears in court to formally receive his 28-year prison sentence for a manslaughter conviction in the fatal 2015 hit-and-run killing of a man he ran down with his pickup truck in Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 4,…

Oscars body launches new initiatives to support women filmmakers

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The organizers of the Oscars announced a string of new initiatives on Thursday aimed at encouraging female filmmakers. Called “Action: The Academy Women’s Initiative,” the program will include a one-year fellowship for women filmmakers and executives, a lunch that will bring together women across the industry, and a directory aimed at improving female networking and hiring opportunities. The announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences follows pressure from women in the movie industry for stronger voices, better pay and more jobs behind and…

Verizon ends sales of Google’s Pixel 2 as October 9th event nears

Verizon no longer sells Google’s Pixel 2 smartphone, ending the device’s retail run just days before the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are due to be announced in New York City. Droid Life first noticed the change. Verizon was still selling the five-inch Pixel 2 as recently as late last month, according to the Internet Archive. Google continues to offer the unlocked device, but only in the 64GB storage option. The retail EOL (end of life) is evidence that Google (or at least Verizon) won’t be keeping the Pixel 2…

US judge asks Musk and SEC to justify why securities settlement is ‘fair and reasonable’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission hit a snag Thursday after the federal judge charged with approving it asked them to justify the agreement. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan said she’s required by law to determine whether the enforcement action is « fair and reasonable, with the additional requirement that the public interest not be disserved. » Source: CNBC

Miami Beach cracks down on short-term rentals

One of the country’s most popular resort cities for short-term rentals is rolling out a strict new law designed to prevent widespread illegal rentals, a decision sharply criticized by Airbnb. Miami Beach, Florida, which already imposes stiff fines for illegal short-term rentals, is now requiring online platforms to list specific business license information on their sites. « We discovered Airbnb and the other platforms are allowing the rentals to happen in zoning districts that are patently illegal, » Aleksandr Boksner, chief deputy city attorney, told CNBC on Thursday. The new…

Whoops! Typos on highway signs vex drivers from New York to Ohio

NEW YORK (Reuters) – When a typo appears on a road sign, fixing the error is not as easy as hitting “backspace” or opening a giant container of Wite-Out. In some cases, it can take more than 50 years. FILE PHOTO: Cars approach the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn, as seen from Staten Island, in New York City, U.S., October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File PhotoGenerations of literate drivers in New York City, for example, have done a double take when passing a sign reading “Verrazano” – with a…

Natural gas prices are on fire this month — here’s why

The United States is in the middle of a traditionally weak period for natural gas demand, and production is booming, yet prices for the fossil fuel are rocketing to the highest level since January. What gives? The country is heading into the winter with natural gas stockpiles at their lowest in at least a decade, according to the commodities research group at Barclays. At the same time, power plants are grappling with a hotter-than-usual autumn that is keeping air conditioners running. Add a series of nuclear power plant outages to…

Gas prices nearing highest levels in four years, adding to calls to repeal gas taxes

LOS ANGELES – Gas prices are creeping up nationally, now pennies a gallon away from their highest level since 2014, just in time for the November midterm elections when California will vote on rolling back its gas tax. Average prices topped $2.90 a gallon for unleaded Wednesday for the first time since June, having risen about 6 cents a gallon in the past month, the Oil Price Information Service reports. If they rise by about another eight cents, they will be the highest in four years. That could spell trouble…

New Pixel 3 leak hints at pink ‘sand’ color

We’re just a few days away from Google officially announcing the Pixel 3, but that doesn’t mean we’re out of leaks yet. The latest from Android Headlines shows off renders for an as-yet-unseen “sand” (read: pink) color, joining the previously leaked black and white models. But what’s interesting about this leak (aside from its almost uncomfortably flesh-toned appearance in these renders) is that an earlier hint from Google had previously indicated that the third Pixel 3 color would be a green-toned mint (which would also match its latest Google Home…

Chip stocks drop after analyst cuts industry earnings estimates due to big ‘downturn’ risk

The semiconductor industry may be facing a significant downturn, according to Deutsche Bank. The firm reduced its 2019 earnings estimates by 5 percent on average for eight chip stocks, citing increasing weakness in business activity. « Over the past few months, cyclical fears have risen across the semiconductor sector as macro uncertainties (tariffs, falling PMIs, etc.) have combined with a growing list of ‘slowing’ data points across the supply chain, » analyst Ross Seymore said in a note to clients Wednesday. « Our net conclusions are that current consensus [estimates]…

U.S. indicts seven Russians for hacking nuclear company Westinghouse

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday indicted seven Russian intelligence officers for conspiring to hack computers and steal data, including attempts to break into the computer networks of the nuclear power company Westinghouse Electric Co. The Justice Department said one of the Russian officers performed online reconnaissance and stole log-in credentials of Westinghouse workers, including staff that work at its advanced nuclear reactor development and new reactor technology units. Westinghouse, which is located outside of Pittsburgh, provides fuel, services and plant design to customers, including Ukraine. Three of…

Senators get FBI report on Kavanaugh, Republicans push vote

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Thursday rejected Democratic criticism of its handling of an FBI probe into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as Senate Republicans maneuvered to confirm the conservative judge within days. President Donald Trump, pushing to get his nominee for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court, said in a Twitter post on Thursday after the FBI finished its investigation that the allegations against Kavanaugh were “totally uncorroborated.” The White House sent the report to the Senate Judiciary Committee early on…

Google Assistant now helps you compare ride-hailing prices and summon a car

After announcing some updates to the Google Assistant user experience yesterday, today Google is rolling out a new way of booking rides with your voice — or at least getting most of the way there. Starting this week, you’ll be able to say “Hey Google, book a ride to” or “Hey Google, get me a taxi to” your destination. Assistant will then respond by listing off price estimates and current wait times for Uber, Lyft, Ola, Grab, GO-JEK, “and many more” ride-hailing apps, according to Google. You can avoid the…

Sell IBM shares because its profits are in an ‘irreversible structural decline,’ analyst says

IBM’s shares will struggle as most of its profits are in a « likely irreversible structural decline, » according to MoffettNathanson. Analyst Lisa Ellis initiated the stock with a sell rating and a 12-month price target of $150 a share, which is about 2 percent below Wednesday’s closing price of $153.22. « We love this 100+ year-old American icon, and support management’s turnaround strategy, but six+ years in, the company’s recovery remains protracted and uncertain, » Ellis wrote in a note to clients Thursday. « Even after shedding >$20B in…

Shares of the small server company at the center of a China tech spying scandal are down more than 50%

Shares of Super Micro, the small server component manufacturer cited by Bloomberg as central to a spying scandal involving China, shed more than half their market value Thursday. Super Micro has denied the claims, as have Apple and AWS, who were cited in the report as having received rogue microchips capable of spying in equipment made for their data centers. Trading of the small server company’s common stock was suspended on the Nasdaq was Aug. 23 after repeatedly missing SEC filing deadlines. Super Micro shares now trade on over-the-counter markets.…

Fork over passwords or pay the price, New Zealand tells travelers

Travelers entering New Zealand who refuse to disclose passwords for their digital devices during forced searches could face prosecution and fines of more than $3,000, a move that border officials said Tuesday made the country the first to impose such penalties. « We’re not aware of any other country that has legislated for the potential of a penalty to be applied if people do not divulge their passwords, » said Terry Brown, a New Zealand Customs spokesman. Border officials, he said, believe the new fine is an « appropriate remedy…

Russia cyber plots: US, UK and Netherlands allege hacking

Russian spies have been accused of involvement in a series of cyber plots across the globe, leading the US to level charges against seven agents. The US Justice Department said targets included the global chemical weapons watchdog, anti-doping agencies and a US nuclear company. The allegations are part of an organised push-back against alleged Russian cyber attacks around the world. Russia earlier dismissed the allegations as « Western spy mania ». The US statement came after Dutch security services said they had expelled four Russians in April over the plot…

Digital pregnancy tests recalled over inaccurate results

Women are being advised to check their pregnancy tests after some Clear & Simple devices gave inaccurate positive results. Manufacturer Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech is recalling more than 58,000 digital pregnancy tests that have been distributed in the UK. Women are advised to return the test devices to their pharmacy and use another testing method. The specific lot number of the affected tests is on and inside the packaging. Description – Clear and Simple Digital Pregnancy Test Catalogue Number – DM-102 Lot Number – DM10220170710E Expiry Date – January 2020 Dr…