Current Events and Blog

07Dec 2016

Nintendo Gives Out Rewards To Those Who Can Report 3DS Exploit Vulnerabilities – News Every day

  • (Photo : Drew Angerer / Getty Images) Nintendo is still in an ongoing crusade against piracy as they strengthen their devices from hackers via rewarding bounties.

Video game giant Nintendo is offering to reward detailed reports of 3DS systems exploit vulnerabilities. The bounty starts off at $100 and could be as high as $20,000. The campaign is channeled via San Francisco-based organization called HackerOne.

The page says that Nintendo focuses in vulnerability information with regards to its handheld Nintendo 3DS and its family of systems. They are not seeking data about vulnerabilities on other Nintendo platforms, servers, or network services. The actual words read:

“Nintendo is only interested in vulnerability information regarding the Nintendo 3DS …not seeking vulnerability information regarding other Nintendo platforms, network service, or server-related information,”

Giving bounties to reported system vulnerabilities isn’t new. This was pioneered by Netscape, which developed its program much thanks to its tech support engineer, Jarret Ridlinghafer. After that, many other companies have adapted the idea to convert attackers to collaborators instead. It seems that cash rewards have worked so far.

HackerOne has helped a plethora of companies such as Amazon Web Services, Starbucks, Dropbox, AirBNB, Yelp, GitHub, Slack, Uber, Twitter, among a lot of others. These companies offer various rewards for people who report valid risks to their systems.

Prevention of piracy, cheating, and exposure of inappropriate content to kids are the main focuses on why Nintendo is doing this campaign. Nintendo also lists “copied game application execution” under the Piracy heading which puts homebrew 3DS games away from the targeted scope.

Rewards will be offered to the first reporter who can prove qualifying vulnerability. The amount to be paid will be up to Nintendo’s discretion. The amount would depend on the importance of the information combined with the report’s quality. Information importance is prioritized when the hack becomes easiest to perform.

Any reports submitted becomes Nintendo’s property regardless if credible or not. Those who are interested may file their report here.

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07Dec 2016

Is business travel ruining your family life? – CNN

Story highlights

  • Business travel can put strains on family life and relationships
  • Top tips for maintaining relationships when your family’s far away
But business travel often comes at a cost to your family life.
What do you do when you’re stuck in Shanghai on your wedding anniversary? Or absent in America on your child’s birthday?
Maintaining solid, loving relationships with family while away on business can be the hardest part of the traveling executive’s life.
Even when you’re back home, jet lag and fatigue can take its toll on quality family time.
In July 2016, the Global Business Travel Association announced that a record breaking $1.2 trillion was spent on work trips around the planet in 2015.
Business travel is here to stay, so here’s how to cope.

Business travel: the dangers

Being a traveling executive can be tough on the whole family.
Couples have to weigh up the disadvantage of being apart with the benefits — a better job, more money and greater career opportunities.
Saying no to all this is not always easy.
Dr Wendy Walsh — a California-based relationship expert and author — has a less sympathetic view.
“Two people who emotionally feel strong in their relationship don’t accept jobs with lots of travel away from their spouse,” says Walsh.
“The likelihood is too great that the partner who is traveling will have a great deal of separation anxiety and look for another attachment in the form of an affair.”
Walsh also believes an absent parent is damaging for children: “Separations like these […] can cause amazing disruptions to their development […] you’re training these kids to have insecure romantic relationships.”
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Business travel: the advantages

My father has traveled abroad for business since I was very young — but my experience could not be further from that which Walsh describes.
Growing up in the UK, my dad was away in America sometimes every other week. Yet my childhood was stable and loving and my parents remain together.
The impact of my dad’s frequent travel on my younger brother and I was to open our eyes to the experiences, friendships and opportunities travel can offer.
Yes, we missed him. But thanks to his work we forged long-lasting ties with America and call this country our second home.
Mark Holbrook — director of Vast Pharma solutions and a longtime business traveler — is also quick to highlight the benefits business travel afforded his family:
“I think the confidence that my family’s got in traveling is probably helped by seeing me traveling so much,” Holbrook tells CNN.
“My children, they’re not frightened at all of going on a plane themselves and traveling to different countries because they think it’s the norm, it’s normal for Dad to do it.”

Establishing a routine

Mark Holbrook found that syncing phone calendars helped his family stay in touch.

“If you know the risks, you can take action to do something about it,” argues Dr Scott Cohen, Head of Department of Tourism and Events at the University of Surrey, and author of eye-opening paper ‘A Darker side of Hypermobility’.
Working out what works for your family might take some time — and will be different for everyone.
Holbrook pinpoints routine as the key factor in maintaining healthy relationships with his family while he is away.
“It’s been a learning curve,” he explains.
“For instance, when I used to travel to Groton [in Connecticut, USA] a lot, I always traveled with the same airline, I always stayed in the same hotel and it became a second home.”
“It meant I had stability. It also meant that I knew the Internet would work and I could FaceTime and keep in contact with the family. Also that routine means you can get into routine times of calling home.”
Holbrook rings his family every day, calling this his “number one rule”.
Business traveler Lynn Anderson has the same commitment: “I traveled over 100,000 miles last year, including many weekends,” she tells CNN.
“I try to keep to a routine and stay in touch with family and friends. I talk with my husband every day and try and keep in touch with friends via email and Facebook.”
“Technology has made a big, big difference,” agrees Holbrook.
For some families, this constant communication is essential. Others have different routines.
Toxicologist Vincent Meador explains that his family speak less frequently because that works for them.
“We have a very close family but it isn’t one that relies on daily phone calls and that sort of thing,” Meador tells CNN, “My wife and I […] know where each other is, but for the most part we don’t touch base every day.”
MORE: Lessons from 60 years as a flight attendant

Managing emotions

Cohen highlights the mixed emotions that both the partner traveling and the partner left behind can experience.
“The spouse or partner left behind can feel angry and resentful,” he notes.
“Business travel can be a predominantly male sphere,” Cohen adds, “That has changed but it’s still skewed towards men.
“If a female spouse or partner is, for lack of a better term, left behind, the male traveler is often alleviated of domestic responsibilities — an unfair amount of those obligations will then fall on the female spouse or partner.
“That can impair their own career developments.”
Meanwhile female business travelers could find they have a double burden of work and familial responsibilities due to societal expectations.
This is why communication is key.
“When you do talk, talk about real stuff, not just small talk,” advises Walsh.
“Conversations are important,” agrees relationship counselor Peter Saddington, of, “Saying to the person who has been at home, I really appreciate this, just as the person who is staying at home is saying it’s not easy to be away”.
“Anxiety needs a way of being managed. It’s easy to misinterpret. You start imagining the worse.
“If you’re in a relationship like that and you know you’re anxious, plan why you need regular contact, be slightly disciplined.
“Rather than making the other person account for everything they’ve done, you learn to manage that anxiety.
“Stop it from damaging the relationship.”
When one partner is away during the week, time spent together at weekends becomes even more precious.
“You have to be slightly selfish about the relationship, if you want it to be sustained,” advises Saddington.
“You have to say that we — the couple — need some time together, we’ve got to prioritize. Yes, the bills need sorting out, yes we’ve got to see parents, but we also need to set aside an evening just for us.”
MORE: These are the world’s best cities for expats

Helping children cope

Older children might be more comfortable with live chats than with phone calls.

Older children might be more comfortable with live chats than with phone calls.

As a child whose father was often away on business, I always wanted to know who he was traveling with — it was reassuring if he was with a friend — and where he was going.
If the children of a business traveler feel involved in their parent’s trip, they will feel less anxious about their absence.
Vicky Cooke left her HR job at a global company because she found traveling and spending time away from her children difficult.
But she tells CNN that she and her young family established coping mechanisms:
“My daughter did used to ask me: ‘Who did you go with Mummy?’ and she’d like to look at the map at where I was going, we used to have a look at the globe,” explains Cooke.
“Her dad also used to look up the flight online and they’d both watch my flight on the website coming in or going out.”
How children handle the time spent apart from the parent will depend on their personality and their age.
But whatever the situation, it is integral that the absent parent remains part of the family’s life — and that bonds with children are upheld — despite the distance.
Holbrook recalls the time he watched an important England rugby match with his then-teenage daughter over FaceTime.
Thanks to modern technology, the fact that she was in the UK and he was in the USA did not prevent them breaking their tradition of watching the sport together.
Staying in touch with children is also different depending on their age.
Teenagers often prefer texting to phone calls.
“You can do live chat [Facebook chat, iMessage or WhatsApp],” advises Saddington, “That suits younger people much better.”
For very young children, however, video chatting can be confusing.
“It’s fantastic now that we’ve got Skype and Facetime,” says Cooke, “But I’m not sure my little boy quite understood it.
“When the kids are really little, it’s more for you than them. […] I’m not sure it’s good — it just reminds them that you’re not there.”
MORE: A hotel that’s good for your health?

Can you cope with the business traveler lifestyle?

So can a business travel lifestyle be sustained indefinitely — or does it need an end date, as Walsh advises?
Some people are better suited than others — either due to personality, familial circumstances or job prospects — to the business traveler lifestyle.
Similarly some partners and children will adjust better to being “left behind.”
For Cooke, the timing was not right. She wants to be present for her young children.
“I loved travel and exploring new places and seeking out new experiences and different cultures,” she says. “Maybe in 10-15 years time, that is something that I could go back to.”
Meador, meanwhile, concedes it was easier for him as he did not start to travel frequently until his children were older.
“My extensive travel came at a good time, as it was after my kids went to high school […] I think that made it easier for me. My wife and I weren’t having to juggle things at home in the same way.”
Notably, for Meador, travel became an essential part of his life.
“Six years ago, I had cancer and a bone marrow transplant and a lot of complications,” Meador tells CNN. “I traveled a lot through that […] in part to try and gain a normal life again”.
Travel was an integral part of Meador’s life before his illness — and once he had recovered he wanted to return to his business traveler schedule.
“It’s hard to explain,” he ponders, “But it was a critical component in my recovery from cancer.”

Group decision

Any family or relationship in which one partner is a traveling executive should frequently take time to consider how the family is coping and make changes accordingly.
Don’t be afraid to call time on the job if the family is suffering — and don’t be afraid to continue to travel if it is working.
Ultimately every family is different:
“It’s unique to each couple family or person,” says Saddington, “Having an always do this isn’t necessarily going to work. If you have got to start living apart […] you have to discuss, you have to plan for it.”
“It all depends on individuals,” agrees Cohen.

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07Dec 2016

Hidden credit card perks can save shoppers – Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) uses a credit card to buy an item at the Shinola watchmakers flagship store in Detroit, Michigan January 20, 2016.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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06Dec 2016

A UFC undercard fighter weighs risks and rewards: 'I'm taking years off my life' –

In a lot of ways, Sean O’Connell is a useful case study in the life of the mid-tier UFC fighter. For one thing, he’s got a day job (though he’s somewhat rare in that he works in broadcasting as a sports talk radio personality). For another, he’s had to get creative in order to get noticed by fans.

His brawling style has made for some exciting battles, earning O’Connell (17-8 MMA, 2-4 UFC) “Fight of the Night” bonuses in three of his six UFC fights. It’s also earned him a losing record in the UFC, and a lot of physical damage that he said may not be justified by the money he’s making under his current deal.

His last disclosed payout saw O’Connell earn $18,000 in a loss to Ilir Latifi on the prelims of UFC Fight Night 81. On Friday he’ll step into the octagon against Corey Anderson (8-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 102 for the last fight on his current UFC contract. Whether he signs a new deal will depend on what’s he’s offered, he said, and his opinions on what that offer should look like are colored by everything from the recent UFC sale to the push for a fighters association.

So how does a thoughtful, intelligent fighter weigh his options in a changing sport? In this conversation (edited for length), O’Connell takes us through a complicated calculus currently being performed by fighters and managers all around the UFC.

MMAjunkie: You’re approaching the last fight of your contract this Friday. Usually that’s a decision point for people. Are you hoping to sign a new deal once this is over, or are you considering moving on to another organization, like Bellator?

O’Connell: You know, the UFC still, despite its warts, is the best MMA organization in the world. Ideally I’d be able to negotiate and find an agreeable point when it comes to things like pay, but there are competing organizations out there that might be interested. But I think to make anybody interested, I’ve got to win this fight. That’s the only real priority right now.

If the UFC offered you something similar to what you’re making now, is that an agreeable point for you, money-wise?

Sean O’Connell and Matt Van Buren

No, it’s not. Realistically, for any fighter in the UFC, we’re all real excited when we sign our first UFC contract, and sometimes even our second UFC contract, because it’s more money than you’ve ever made fighting anywhere else.

But now that we know how much this organization profits, what it’s worth and what that sale was about, I think it’s time for everybody, not just me, to demand a slightly larger piece of the pie. I’m very aware of what my value to the UFC is. I don’t expect Conor McGregor money. But I don’t expect to be making what I’m making now either. Hopefully we can find some middle ground.

I’ve heard some fighters and managers mention that, the price tag of the sale, as the thing that opened their eyes to the financial reality. But the UFC has been saying it’s worth billions for years. How much did it affect your thinking to see a hard number come out from the sale to WME-IMG?

The number that people should being paying attention to is the split. I’ve seen estimates of anywhere from 8-to-12 percent of (UFC revenues) going to fighters. In other sports, the split is much more generous to the athletes, much more evenly divided. That’s the number we need to be paying attention to.

Because, yeah, that $4 billion or whatever it was, that opened my eyes. This company is profiting a lot. If a group like WME-IMG is investing that kind of money in this, it’s not because they’re just big MMA fans. It’s because there’s that much money in this. And if there’s that much money to be made, it means there’s that much money to be paid.

The tough thing about MMA, because it’s a developmental sport and because it’s a live-the-dream type sport, a lot of times you take what you’re offered and you say thank you and you make the sacrifices necessary for that to work. Only a select few have pushed past that point.

Do you think it can be done that way, one at a time, with fighters like you stepping up at the end of a contract to say, ‘I need to be paid more’? Because a lot of people seem to think collective action in a union or an association is the only way to do it.

It’s tough to say, because there is some precedent for individuals getting what they’re worth without the help of anyone else. And it’s not just Ronda (Rousey) or Conor, but if you look at the disclosed pay for some guys, like (Gabriel) Gonzaga, I remember looking at his disclosed pay and realizing, wow, that guy is making significantly more than fighters at his level on the same kind of card, so why is that the case?

There’s obviously some precedent for managers to negotiate and position their guy well. In individual sports, that’s the most realistic path to getting the financial rewards without relying on Tim Kennedy and (Donald) Cerrone to get me more money.

You look at athletes in other sports, even the ones who aren’t superstars, they’re still comfortable. And they’re comfortable because they’re sacrificing and getting paid on a level commensurate with that sacrifice. Every fighter needs to demand that and stop saying, ‘Sure, I’ll take $8,000 to show up and fight for the biggest organization in the world.’

You’re a guy who seems to have done the extra stuff to get your name out there and make yourself memorable. You’ve always got something fun planned for weigh-ins. You’ve got a sports talk radio show. You’re definitely the only fighter I know who’s written and published a novel. Is that what it takes to stand out in the UFC if you’re not one of the few superstars? Is winning just not enough?

Ilir Latifi and Sean O'Connell

Ilir Latifi and Sean O’Connell

Well, you have to win. When the UFC talks to you and says, ‘Here’s what we’re going to pay you,’ they use your win-loss record as the first jumping off point. I don’t have much leg to stand on if I say, ‘Hey man, that silly weigh-in compilation video I did has 40,000,000 views on YouTube.’ Which, it got up to that number at some point. But they don’t care. Or even if they care, they’re not going to tell me that they care. It’s a results-oriented business. You don’t have a lot of leverage if you’re not winning.

That seems tough in a sport like this, where you can do all the right things and still lose. Especially at light heavyweight, where almost everyone hits hard, and especially with some questionable judging from time to time, there are a lot of ways to put on a great fight and still lose.

It’s tough, but you have to accept this sport for what it really is. I don’t know how many people agree with me, but I feel like both times I’ve gone to a decision in the UFC, I’ve been on the wrong end of a bad decision. Were they both very close fights? Absolutely. But when I go back and watch those I always think, ‘Man, I won that fight!’

And everything is compromised as a result. You get less money. You have no job security. You’re worth less to the company. They put you on cards that almost nobody is going to be watching, on Fight Pass the day before a pay-per-view. It damages everything.

So you have to accept that reality that, until you’re one of the favored sons or daughters of the UFC, it’s all about the outcome. You can’t delude yourself into thinking, ‘Well, if I go out there and put on a good performance, that’s enough.’ Because I’ve put on good performances many times in my career, and they say, ‘Good job.’ But they don’t give you your win bonus. It’s in the contract. So it is a lot of pressure, but that’s the nature of this sport.

Your last fight with Steve Bosse, for example, that was a brutal one. It was fun to watch, but you both took a beating. Does that factor into your thinking when you’re aiming for a pay raise?


Sean O’Connell and Steve Bosse

Absolutely it does. When you have a fighting style like mine, I’m taking years off my life. That’s not the UFC’s fault. That’s my choice. But they are reaping the benefits of it. That was a big fight on the card that, I don’t know how many people watched it live, but it got recycled on social media and elsewhere as many times as the UFC would allow it. If we were higher profile fighters, maybe it was a fight of the year candidate.

That’s my fighting style, that’s what I do as often as I can, and that means I’m risking more than some guys are. And I don’t care what other people are making. I just know what I want to make. I’m confident in what I’m worth and hopefully the UFC and I can reach an agreeable point and I can continue my career there, but I have to weigh the risk versus reward. If one outweighs the other, then I have to consider other options.

What do you make of the MMA Athletes Association? It has some high-profile fighters involved. It also has the former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. Are you encouraged by the chances for something like that to improve things across the board for UFC fighters?

First of all, I’m very impressed with all the guys who stepped out on that limb. Georges (St-Pierre) and “Cowboy” (Cerrone) and Tim Kennedy and Cain (Velasquez) and T.J. (Dillashaw), all those guys. That’s a difficult position to put yourself in as a UFC fighter.

Now, I think all of them have enough clout within the organization and enough cache in their name value that it might be a little less of a risk for them, and if a fighters association is ever going going to work, which I’m highly skeptical of, it’s going to take the support of the biggest stars. Those guys took an important step.

I’m skeptical for a lot of reasons, Bjorn’s involvement being one of them, but I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon. Saying, ‘Hey, we created this organization,’ it’s great, but I don’t think it creates any kind of results in real time, real life for guys like me. I don’t know how long it’s going to take for it change how the UFC negotiates contracts or offers peripheral benefits, but it won’t be soon enough to help someone like me with my next contract.

At the very least, though, it will make (the UFC) think, make them talk to lawyers, make them consider ways to avoid these pissing matches with guys like GSP. But in this sport, we’ve kind of seen the proof that no fighter is bigger than the organization. We all have to pick our battles. But I’m a believer that if you pick those battles intelligently and if you win your fights, ultimately you’ll get the result that you want. I hope so. That’s where my focus is right now.

For more on UFC Fight Night 102, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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06Dec 2016

First heavy snow, ice storm in northwestern US to snarl travel –

By Alex Sosnowski , AccuWeather senior meteorologist
December 06, 2016, 2:19:09 PM EST

The first substantial snow and ice storm of the season will hit travel hard along the Interstate 5 corridor, as well as the interior northwestern U.S. by Thursday.

While the storm will begin as rain along the immediate coast of Oregon during Wednesday night, enough cold air will be in place for an icy mix to develop east of the Coast Range.

“Along I-5 in Oregon, especially from Eugene to Salem and Portland, travel will be slippery during the Thursday morning commute,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

Feature graphic hd29

As the storm expands farther to the north and east, more of a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain will occur during the midday hours on Thursday.

The swath from Tacoma to Seattle and Bellingham, Washington, will likely receive its first inch or more of snow and sleet of the season, before a change to rain occurs during the night. Part of this area received its first coating of snow on Monday.

AccuWeather Winter Weather Center
Northwestern US interactive radar
15 strange things that happen in cold weather

“For the I-5 corridor around Puget Sound, the evening commute Thursday will be slippery,” Anderson said.

Several inches of snow are in store for the Olympic Range with a foot of snow possible over the peaks, prior to a change to rain.

The hilly areas in the I-5 region, as well as bridges and overpasses, are the most likely to become slippery.

“Icy conditions may linger into the evening commute around Portland,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Houk.

The combination of snow and ice, followed by rain and a low cloud ceiling, will lead to airline delays at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Farther inland, cold air will hold on. Areas east of the Cascades can expect a prolonged period of snow and/or ice as a result.

“Icy travel is likely to persist through the Columbia River Gorge into Thursday night,” Anderson said.

Enough snow to shovel and plow will fall on Spokane and Yakima, Washington, as well as Pendleton and The Dalles, Oregon.

Travel along the I-82, I-84 and I-90 corridors will be hazardous, prior to temperatures approaching the freezing mark, Anderson stated.

Feature graphic hd19

Even as temperatures creep upward and snow transitions to ice and rain, the weight can lead to power outages, due to falling trees and tree limbs from late Thursday to Friday.

As a second storm rolls in from the Pacific, rain will fall along the coast, and either rain or a rain, ice and snow mix will occur inland as far to the east as Idaho on Friday.

Where a few inches of snow is followed by drenching rain, urban and poor drainage area flooding will occur.

Meanwhile, the air will remain cold enough for heavy snow to fall over the Cascades and Bitterroots. From 1 to 2 feet of snow will fall over the high country of the Cascades with a foot of snow likely over the ridges in the Blue Mountains and Bitterroots.

It is possible the passes in the Cascades and Bitterroots may close for a time, due to the heavy snowfall rate.

Farther south, at Donner Pass, California, and Siskiyou Summit, Oregon, icy conditions to start will be followed by plain rain later Thursday. Both of these passes should remain above freezing during Thursday night and Friday.

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06Dec 2016

Credit cards and divorce: What you should know – Christian Science Monitor

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Christian Science Monitor

Credit cards and divorce: What you should know
Christian Science Monitor
If you mix in credit cards into the equation, things get even more complicated. They can introduce both assets and liabilities into a marriage that will often need to be divided in some way. This article will go over the most problematic components

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06Dec 2016

Minnesota attorney: AutoZone class action similar to frequent flyer suits – Legal News Line

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) — A Minnesota attorney from Kennedy & Kennedy law firm says a recent lawsuit filed against AutoZone over its customer loyalty reward program is similar to those that were filed against airlines in frequent flyer miles disputes.

Mary Ruth Hughes and Kevin Shenkman filed the class action complaint in Superior Court of the State of California against AutoZone, alleging breach of contract, fraud and negligent misrepresentation. The defendant subsequently removed the lawsuit to U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Oct. 27. 

The complaint stated that Hughes and Shenkman suffered monetary damages as a result of AutoZone’s allegedly misleading rewards program. The plaintiffs said AutoZone changed expiration dates of credits built up by their customers. 

Chris Kennedy, managing partner at Kennedy & Kennedy, often speaks on legal matters with the media in Minnesota. He spoke on the strength of the case in the class action suit brought forth by the plaintiffs in California. 

“Negligent misrepresentation is the strongest allegation of the three,” Kennedy said. 

“The defendant likely never fully explained that the program could go away or be limited in certain instances or it made it difficult for the consumer to know. Like with frequent flyer programs, people didn’t realize there were blackout dates. 

“Large companies are usually good at putting out disclaimers, just not always in a manner that anybody looks at.”

Why would a company change its expiration dates on credits for rewards? Kennedy had a simple answer.

“Profit,” Kennedy said. “If by changing the dates, they may reduce liabilities, or in some way they can increase what is in their balance sheets, then there is a motive to do it.”

Kennedy continued to compare the suit to frequent flyer mile program lawsuits against the airlines in recent decades. He also mentioned how other types of promotions from companies have led to class action suits under similar pretenses. 

“There were several regarding frequent flyer mile programs,” Kennedy said. “In the past four or five years, there have been lawsuits brought forth regarding gift cards.”

Hughes and Shenkman sought trial by jury, compensatory and general damages, interest, an order for the defendant to make a payment to a cy pres fund, court costs and any further relief the court grants. They are represented by attorneys Todd W. Bonder and Ryan M. Lapine of Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman LLP in Beverly Hills, California, and by Seth Yohalem of Waskowski Johnson Yohalem LLP in Chicago.

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06Dec 2016

Prius plug-in drivers in Japan can earn real-world rewards for … – Engadget

Because saving money on gas just wasn’t incentive enough.Buyers of new plug-in Prius models in Japan (known as the Prius Prime in the US) will have another incentive, besides using less gas, to drive in EV mode as much as possible. Toyota has formed a partnership with five major electricity providers in Japan to offer a program that rewards points to drivers who maximize the electric mode. And these points aren’t arbitrary. They have actual monetary value and can be used to help pay electric bills or be exchanged for products. We’ve come a long way from adding leaves to a Ford Fusion hybrid’s digital tree.

According to Toyota, points are awarded using a few types of data. One component is how far drivers travel on electric power only, and since the program is meant to encourage electric driving, it’s safe to assume that longer distances earn more points. The other components include how much home charging is performed, and various other unnamed data collected by the car’s data communication module. Toyota tracks the data of people in the program, and provides it to the power companies that award points. Exactly how the other data affects points wasn’t given by Toyota.

This happens to be the second program Toyota has launched that gamifies driving. Just a few months ago, the company teamed up with coffee chain Komeda to create an app to keep people off their cell phones while driving. The app would recognize when the phone was face down and not being used, and when drivers reached a certain distance, they would receive a coupon for coffee at a Komeda shop. Toyota reported that the app was downloaded 37,000 times and drivers racked up over 1.6 million miles of phone-free motoring. It will be interesting to see how many people sign up for this new Prius program, and whether similar programs show up in different countries with different companies.

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06Dec 2016

Obama family travel, vacations, cross $85 million mark – Washington Examiner (blog)

The first family has spent over $10 million a year on travel and vacations, and the still growing bill has crossed over $85 million in eight years, according to a watchdog group.

Judicial Watch, which has charted the travel of presidents for years, on Monday said that it has received a new batch of bills for the first family’s Christmas break in Hawaii, bringing that trip to nearly $5 million. The Obama’s are expected to return to Hawaii this Christmas.

The expenses cover items such as security, flights and hotel rooms for staff and U.S. Secret Service. They do not include the price of prepositioning ships and aircraft in the area or much of the communications costs.

From Judicial Watch:

Judicial Watch announced today that it obtained records from the U.S. Secret Service revealing that its travel expenses for the First Family’s 2015 Hawaiian vacation cost taxpayers $1.2 million, which bring the total cost of the vacation trip to at least $4.8 million. This was the Obamas’ eighth Hawaiian family vacation. The trip has become an annual event for the Obamas. To date, Obama’s and his family’s travel expenses total at least $85,029,819.

The records obtained by Judicial Watch for Obama’s Secret Service travel to Hawaii reveal the following expenses totaling $1,234,316.67:

Hotel and lodging costs totaled $1,000,458.63.

The Secret Service spent $165,893.88 on car rentals.

Air and rail expenses totaled $67,964.16.

Report: Paul Ryan delays committee assignments until January

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House Speaker Paul Ryan will wait until January to issue committee assignments to members.

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Although the vacation officially lasted from December 18, 2015, to January 3, 2016, the Secret Service rented several Kailua homes for 19 nights, starting from December 16. The total for the rentals, located near the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay was $245,993.12.

According to bills obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Secret Service also paid for rooms at the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki and Golf Club. The Secret Service also reserved rooms at the Moana Surfrider resort on Waikiki Beach, and the Ala Moana Hotel, which cost a total of $40,249.48 and $671,895.99, respectively.

The Secret Service rented cars from Avis, Alamo, and Hertz – 103 cars for the two-week vacation, totaling $165,893.88 in taxpayer money.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at

Texas elector won't vote for Trump, calls him enemy of the Constitution

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A Republican elector from Texas wrote Monday that he will not cast his vote for President-elect Donald Trump.

12/05/16 11:01 PM

Joe Manchin: Unwise to block Trump's Supreme Court pick

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On the leadership team, Manchin has said he’s going to work to try to bring his party “back to the middle.”

12/05/16 5:34 PM

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06Dec 2016

Hackers can now guess Visa credit card details in less than six seconds – The Next Web

Ever bought something online with your credit card, and thought you were safe? Think again, because it appears it’s never been easier for crooks to nip your bank credentials.

According to research from the University of Newcastle, there’s a gaping hole in credit card security that makes it easy for hackers to retrieve sensitive information. The researchers discovered that if guesses for the card’s CVC number are spread out between a lot of different websites, the card’s security systems aren’t triggered and the owner isn’t notified that a fraudulent activity might be taking place. The video above shows it only takes six seconds for a specially designed toolkit to reveal a card’s secure code.

By building up data gathered from guesses on different websites, the software is able to quickly compile information like the card’s expiry date, the holder’s address or postal code and CVC. The technique is rumored to have been used in an incident that involved 20,000 Tesco Bank account getting drained of their money earlier this month.

Only Visa cards are susceptible to the security flaw, as other card issuers like MasterCard track the hacker’s guessing efforts across different websites. The Visa ecosystem, however, isn’t setup to take actions on multiple websites into account.

Before publishing their findings in a paper published in IEEE Security & Privacy 2017, the researchers informed Visa, but the company unfortunately didn’t seem to take the findings too seriously, telling The Independent that “the research does not take into account the multiple layers of fraud prevention that exist within the payments system, each of which must be met in order to make a transaction possible in the real world.”

Credit cards are a perfect example of old technology still persisting in a modern world. As my esteemed colleague Bryan Clark wrote two months ago, the future of payment isn’t plastic, but can be found inside your smartphone or other highly secure devices.

The problem is that we’re not moving to a cardless world quickly enough. Systems like Apple Pay and Android Wallet aren’t available globally, and it would take some time before the technology eventually becomes available to everyone. As long as we continue to rely on the credit card system, it’s likely we’ll be experiencing security breaches like the one at Tesco Bank for a long time to come.

via BoingBoing

Does The Online Card Payment Landscape Unwittingly Facilitate Fraud?
on IEEE Security & Privacy 2017

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