Uber loves competition, when it's the one doing the competing

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Uber terminated access to its API for Urbanhail, a startup that compared pricing and availability among ride-hailing apps and taxi companies, after chastising the company's founders for violating its terms of service, which forbid creating competitive uses. Read the rest

Elon Musk Says Humans Will Go To Mars by 2024

Elon Musk (Reuters / Stephen Lam)

In my weekly segment on KCRW's “Press Play” news program with host Madeleine Brand, we listen to Elon Musk wax poetic about artificial intelligence and whether life might be a dream--and his plans to send humans to Mars by 2025.

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Prestigious Pets of Dallas wants $1M from customers who said they overfed a fish

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If you hire Prestigious Pets of Dallas, TX to take care of your pets, you have to sign a sleazy nondisparagement contract through which you promise not to complain in public about the company's service. Read the rest

Amazon is suing its own retailers over fake reviews

REUTERS

If you're an Amazon seller and you pay people to review your products on Amazon, the company may sue you. The online commerce giant sued three sellers today for using sockpuppet accounts to post glowing but phony product reviews.

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Uber gets $3.5 Billion from Saudi investors

REUTERS
A Middle East investor is now Uber's single largest source of cash. On Wednesday, the global ride-sharing startup said it had raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the main investment fund of the kingdom.

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US Patent and Trademark Office refuses to issue "Drumpf" trademark

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When John Oliver revealed that Donald Trump's family name had been changed from "Drumpf" and called on America to #makedonalddrumpfagain, it provided a handy hook for a way of talking about the orange one's micron-thick layer of slickness and the everyday rot within it. Read the rest

How an engineer/public health whistleblower led the citizen scientists who busted Flint's water crisis

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When Marc Edwards was a young Virginia tech engineer, he landed a job with Cadmus Group, an EPA subcontractor who'd been hired to investigate problems with the DC water-supply, but when he discovered a lead contamination crisis and refused to stop talking about it, he was fired. Read the rest

Starbucks to roll out nitro cold-brew this summer

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Cold brew is the easiest, most foolproof way to make amazing coffee (seriously, all you need to do is fill a $6 cloth bag with coarse-ground coffee, put it in a pitcher of water overnight, squeeze it out in the morning and discard the grinds). Read the rest

Ice cream drivers at war

Photo: Rjsswf8 (CC)

The New York Times' feature about ice cream trucks in the city is packed with fantastic details and quotes from those who operate "bell-jingling fleets of pleasure craft festooned with pictures of perfectly swirled desserts and beaming children." It's brutal out there, and Mister Softee has just been muscled out of Midtown.

In 2012, a frozen yogurt vendor said that a Softee duo snapped his brakes with a crowbar, and the founder of the Van Leeuwen ice cream company said he had gotten death threats from Softee drivers. (A lawyer for Mister Softee, Jeffrey Zucker, said that while he had not heard about the 2012 allegations, “a franchisee could lose his or her Mister Softee franchise for engaging in that type of criminal activity.”)

“Let me tell you about this business,” Adam Vega, a thickly muscled, heavily tattooed Mister Softee man who works the upper reaches of the Upper East Side and East Harlem, said on Wednesday. “Every truck has a bat inside.”

If you're surprised that such a light-hearted product could result in such a ruthless, cutthroat business, enjoy the great Ice Cream Wars of Glasgow. Read the rest

Salt Lake City apartment complex threatens tenants with eviction if they don't "Friend" the building

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The landlords at City Park Apartments stuck memos on their tenants' doors last week, outlining a "Facebook addendum" requiring tenants to Friend the building on Facebook or lose their lease. Read the rest

Tell the EU: don't put price-tags on hyperlinks!

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Ruth writes, "The link tax is back, but we have a chance to stop it. The Save the Link network are pushing back against proposals in the EU for a new hyperlinking fee (AKA 'ancillary copyright') that will affect us all. If lobbyists succeed copyright rules will be extended to hyperlinks - giving publishers the right to charge business fees for linking to content." Read the rest

Internet economics 101: "bandwidth hogs" considered harmless

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Big telcos and cable operators demand the right to impose data caps that punish their most enthusiastic customers for using too much Internet (with exceptions to the caps made for services that have paid bribes for "preferred carriage" of course), and they say that it's simple economics: if you use up more of a service, you should pay more for it. Read the rest

Rich people don't move when their taxes go up

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In Millionaire Migration and the Taxation of the Elite: Evidence from Administrative Data, Stanford sociologist Cristobal Young builds on his substantial research on "millionaire migration," to show that only a small minority of millionaires move when local taxes go up -- far too few to represent a net loss to the tax coffers. Read the rest

DDoSers sell attacks for $5 on Fivver

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Many years ago, EFF co-founder John Gilmore and I were discussing the prevalence of botnets, which are commonly used to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that overwhelm websites with floods of traffic; John said that if the botnets were really on the rise at the reported rate, we should expect to see a massive crash in the price of DDoS services, following simple supply/demand logic. Read the rest

Anonymous Analytics: self-proclaimed Anon "faction" that tanks companies through stock reports

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Anonymous Analytics describes itself as "a faction of Anonymous" that uses its "unique skills to expose fraud and corruption among public companies." Read the rest

How a pharma company made billions off mass murder by faking the science on Oxycontin

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When Purdue Pharma's patent on the MS Contin was close to expiry, the Sackler family who owned the company spent millions trying to find a product that could replace the profits they'd lose from generic competition on MS Contin: the result was Oxycontin, a drug that went on to kill Americans at epidemic scale. Read the rest

If Donald Trump ever talks to a real journalist, these are the questions he should answer

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The questions posed by David Cay Johnston include some tough-to-avoid queries about Trump's involvement with the mafia, the regulatory findings against his company for unfair and unsafe employment practices, and times when Trump had admitted to shading the truth or lying outright about his affairs. Read the rest

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