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Unlike 10 years ago when Steve Jobs unveiled the first MacBook Air, the newest one faces strong competition from Windows PCs and Apple’s own iPads…

Tom Warren / The Verge : Unlike 10 years ago when Steve Jobs unveiled the first MacBook Air, the newest one faces strong competition from Windows PCs and Apple's own iPads   —  It's not the same as 2008  —  Steve Jobs changed the world of laptops 10 years ago when he introduced the MacBook Air by removing it from a tiny paper office envelope.

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Virginia-based insurance comparison site Compare.com has raised $35M, bringing total raised to $185M since it was founded in 2013 (Gregory J….

Gregory J. Gilligan / Richmond Times-Dispatch : Virginia-based insurance comparison site Compare.com has raised $35M, bringing total raised to $185M since it was founded in 2013   —  Henrico County-based Compare.com, which enables consumers to price-comparison shop for automobile insurance online, has raised $35 million to help fuel its expansion and brand development.

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98point6, a Seattle-based startup developing a virtual primary care service delivered via its app and website, raises $50M Series C led by Goldman…

Clare McGrane / GeekWire : 98point6, a Seattle-based startup developing a virtual primary care service delivered via its app and website, raises $50M Series C led by Goldman Sachs   —  98point6, a Seattle-based startup developing an entirely virtual primary care service, has raised $50 million in a round led by Goldman Sachs' Merchant Banking Division.

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DHS election threat reports say hackers have had “limited success” in hacking election-related tools, despite publicly saying all attempts have been…

Jana Winter / BostonGlobe.com : DHS election threat reports say hackers have had “limited success” in hacking election-related tools, despite publicly saying all attempts have been thwarted   —  Hackers have ramped up their efforts to meddle with the country's election infrastructure in the weeks leading …

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Comcast drops bid for “gigabit” tax cut that was created for Google Fiber

(credit: Comcast ) Comcast has agreed to pay $155 million in back taxes to Oregon in order to settle a nine-year property tax dispute. Comcast will also drop its attempt to secure a tax break that Oregon created as part of a failed attempt to bring Google Fiber to the state. Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the settlement with Comcast yesterday, noting that the legal battle "likely would have continued for many more years because several distinct and complex legal questions were in dispute." Oregon accepted the $155 million payment despite previously arguing that Comcast owed $200 million. "The cable TV company's fight with Oregon tax collectors dates to 2009, when the state changed its methodology for assessing Comcast's telecommunications equipment," The Oregonian wrote . Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Drink-a-day startup Hooch adds a perk-filled premium membership plan

Hooch , the subscription startup that allows members to claim one free drink per day from hundreds of different bars and restaurants, is adding a new membership level called Hooch Black . Signing up for Hooch Black will cost you significantly more than the regular subscription — instead of $9.99 per month, it’s $295 per year. And you don’t just get in automatically; you actually need to fill out an application. But in exchange for that money and work, Hooch Black members get access to a variety of perks (on top of the standard drink-a-day option), including deals at more than 100,000 hotels worldwide — co-founder and CEO Lin Dai said that because they’re are only visible to members, Hooch gets access to lower “unpublished” prices that you won’t find elsewhere online, with discounts as high as 60 percent. It also offers preferred reservations, discounts and free champagne at select restaurants. And there are other giveaways, too — in New York City, the launch offerings include Hamilton and Governor’s Ball tickets. Dai suggested that Hooch has always been meant as an antidote to apps that “facilitate a couch economy” — instead of delivering stuff to your home, Hooch convinces you to go out to bars. Dai said Hooch Black “continues the concept” with all additional perks tied to real-world experiences. (There’s some couch-centric stuff too, like a $100 Postmates credit.) In addition, Hooch Black members will get access to what Dai described as an “concierge who can make travel arrangements and dining reservations for you.” (Those reservations don’t have to be with Hooch partners, by the way.) He compared the experience to an American Express concierge , but with the advantage that the communication is handled in the Hooch app: “No one wants to pick up the phone anymore.” About that application: Dai said he wants to limit the initial membership to around 295 people in the three launch cities of New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He hopes to bring in more people eventually, but at first, having thousands of members would “dilute the experience,” particularly since some of the benefits (like access to celeb-hosted parties) don’t really scale. At the same time, Dai said the application is “not about income or job title.” Instead, he sees the service as appealing to the same audience of “young professionals or millennial hustlers” as Hooch itself. So the application is focused on your bigger ambitions and “how hard you want to work to get there.” Dai also noted that Hooch’s current membership is roughly even between men and women, something he’s hoping to continue with Hooch Black. “We want to build a very inclusive community,” he added. “The primary criteria is, I would say, aspiration. We’re not just catering to a specific income level or race or gender.”

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Uber whistleblower Susan Fowler backs California legislation to end forced arbitration

Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer whose blog post about  sexual harassment and troubling internal workings led to the departure of CEO Travis Kalanick , is backing new legislation that aims to give victims of sexual harassment and other workplace discrimination the freedom to seek legal action, and to do it publicly. Fowler is lending her support to bill AB-3080  — proposed by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, the California Labor Federation, and the Economic Policy Institute — which would forbid employers from the practice of forced arbitration in response to discrimination complaints. The proposed legislation tackles a worrying norm in which companies, including throughout tech, mandate that employees air any grievances before a private, third-party arbitrator who is typically paid for by the company itself. The hearings happen in secret, with non-disclosure clauses preventing the claimant from talking about the details or filing a class-action lawsuit, and they are on the rise. The percentage of nonunion, private-sector employees covered by mandatory-arbitration clauses has more than doubled since the early 2000s, according to a study last year by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. Though the issue has come up periodically in Silicon Valley — venture firm Kleiner Perkins tried to force former employee Ellen Pao into arbitration when she sued the firm for gender discrimination — it hasn’t received widespread attention “for the same reason that it hasn’t gotten much attention from people who work in other industries,” says Fowler via email. “They don’t realize that it affects them, and they don’t realize how widespread and sinister the problem really is.” Fowler says that she was “one of those people” for most of her life, knowing nothing about forced arbitration until she experienced what she describes as illegal treatment at Uber, after which she says she discovered that she “had no way to get justice.” Now that she knows about forced arbitration, she says, “I’m hell-bent on bringing attention to it and doing everything I can to prevent what happened to me at Uber from happening to anyone else.” The proposed legislation isn’t the first of its kind. A 2015 bill banning mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment wended its way all the way to California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Faced with stiff opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce, which labeled it a “ job killer ,” Brown vetoed the bill . Caitlin Vega, legislative director of the California Labor Federation, an organization that works with 1,200 labor unions across the state, is hoping the timing is better for  AB-3080 given   the   #MeToo movement and the awareness it has raised around sexual discrimination and harassment in particular. Vega also says the bill differs from its predecessor in ways that may make it more palatable to Governor Brown. For example, gone is language that required that any waiver of any legal right by an employee must be knowing and voluntary, in writing, and may not be an express condition of employment. This time, the focus is more narrowly on ensuring that people not be forced to agree to potential arbitration as a condition of their employment and that employers be prohibited from “threatening, retaliating or discriminating against, or terminating any applicant for employment or prospective employment or any employee because of the refusal to consent to the waiver of any right, forum, or procedure for a violation of specific statutes governing employment.” Either way, proponents — including Fowler — hope far more attention will be paid to the bill’s benefits instead of to the perceived benefits to corporations in continuing to use arbitration agreements widely. “The dominant view is that it helps manage long-term legal risk, ensuring that companies won’t become embroiled in costly, drawn-out lawsuits,” Fowler wrote in a recent op-ed for the New York Times .

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Oregon’s Governor Signs Net Neutrality Bill Into Law – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Oregon's Governor Signs Net Neutrality Bill Into Law Ubergizmo In a couple of weeks, the net neutrality rules put into place during the Obama administration will be repealed. This decision was made by the FCC a couple of months ago and it is expected to come into effect on the 23rd of April, save for any last ... and more »

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Logitech’s $49 Crayon stylus and $99 Rugged Combo keyboard case, coming in summer, don’t support iPad Pro and are only available via Apple’s channel…

Lory Gil / iMore : Logitech's $49 Crayon stylus and $99 Rugged Combo keyboard case, coming in summer, don't support iPad Pro and are only available via Apple's channel for schools   —  As Apple announced today that the 6th-generation 9.7-inch iPad will be compatible with Apple Pencil, it also mentioned that Logitech …

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US DOJ’s inspector general says the FBI’s order to compel Apple to assist in unlocking iPhone in February 2016 was sought before exhausting its…

Dustin Volz / Reuters : US DOJ's inspector general says the FBI's order to compel Apple to assist in unlocking iPhone in February 2016 was sought before exhausting its options   —  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation did not exhaust possible solutions to unlock an iPhone connected to a gunman involved …

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