Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tech: Facebook won’t force employees to settle sexual harassment claims privately thanks to the...

Facebook changed its company policy to eliminate required arbitration a day after Google made the same change.
Facebook is ending a policy of required arbitration in cases of sexual harassment at the company.
The policy requires employees to give up their right to sue.
This change came a day after Google also ended the practice, following demands from employees protesting sexual misconduct.
Forced arbitration has become a sensitive issue and has been interpreted as a way for companies to shield themselves from sexual misconduct claims being made public.
Facebook is putting an end to required arbitration in cases of sexual harassment, allowing employees to pursue claims in court.
Facebook announced the policy change in an internal message to staff on Friday. It also changed its policy on office relationships — now executives at a director level or higher must disclose if they are dating somebody at the company.
The change came a day after Google changed its policy to end required arbitration, which was a demand made when 20,000 Google staff walked away from their desks to protest sexual harassment at the company.
The Google protest followed a New York Times report which revealed high-level executives were credibly accused of sexual misconduct and had been allowed to leave the company with huge exit packages.
Read more: Here’s the memo Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent to employees on the changes to Google’s sexual-harassment policy after the walkout
The organisers behind the Google protest hailed Facebook’s decision on Twitter:
Required arbitration forces employees to settle disputes privately, precluding them from taking suits to court. The process has been criticised as being weighted against employees, and making it harder for people to band together in class actions. Facebook’s move means its employees now have a choice between going to an arbitrator or making their claims public in court.
Other Silicon Valley companies have got rid of required arbitration in the past, including Uber in May and Microsoft in December 2017.
“There’s no question that we’re at a pivotal moment,” Facebook’s vice president of people Lori Goler told the Wall Street Journal.
“This is a time when we can be part of taking the next step,” she added, and confirmed that while Facebook staff haven’t staged protests like their counterparts at Google, sexual harassment has been a growing topic of discussion at the company.
Business Insider contacted Facebook for comment.

Tech: 10 things in tech you need to know today

SAP will buy Qualtrics for $8 billion, Facebook drops forced arbitration, and Google employees want the firm to end racial discrimination.
Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Monday.
German enterprise software giant SAP is to buy feedback company Qualtrics for $8 billion, just days before its IPO. Qualtrics was on track for an IPO that would have valued the company at $4.8 billion in the middle of its price range.
Facebook has followed Google and dropped forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases involving employees. The move follows an unprecedented global protest from Google employees earlier this month.
Famed tech investor Mary Meeker is aiming to raise about $1.25 billion for her new growth fund. Meeker, a longtime partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, recently split off from the firm to create her own growth fund.
Apttus is scrambling to calm employees and partners following accusations of sexual misconduct against its former CEO. David Murphy, the chairman and interim CEO, told staff on Monday that he had to address the concerns of people like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
Japan’s SoftBank plans to take its mobile unit public at a $21 billion IPO. The unit will be listed on December 19.
Roku’s investors may not have been pleased with the company’s third-quarter earnings report, but CEO Anthony Wood insists that everything’s going just fine. Despite beating expectations, investors found the results disappointing, sending Roku’s stock down 12% in after-hours exchanges Wednesday.
Medium founder Ev Williams needs more money for the blogging service, which he says is still not profitable. He said: “We are coming out of this phase where it was assumed that the best quality journalism is free in unlimited quantities.”
Alibaba had the biggest online shopping day of all time, nearly tripling every company’s 2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined. Alibaba made e-commerce history on Sunday, with $30.8 billion in sales over the last 24 hours as part of the company’s massiveSingles’ Day celebration.
After a victory on sexual harassment, the Google walkout protesters have turned their attention to racial discrimination. They say Google must address issues of “systemic racism and discrimination.”
Twitter is struggling to curb fake Elon Musk accounts promoting cryptocurrency scams. Cryptocurrency scammers are pretending to be Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter, and some of their tweets are being promoted onto timelines through Twitter’s ad service.
Have an Amazon Alexa device? Now you can hear 10 Things in Tech each morning. Just search for “Business Insider” in your Alexa’s flash briefing settings.

Tech: Death toll rises to 31, thousands of homes destroyed in 3 dangerous wildfires...

Dangerous wildfires are raging California. The Camp Fire has charred 109,000 acres, the Hill Fire burned 4,500, and the Woolsey Fire scorched 83,000.
The death toll from the still-raging California wildfires has risen to 31 after six more bodies were recovered on Sunday, the Butte County sheriff said.
The Woolsey and Hill fires are burning on the outskirts of LA, and now stretch more than 100 square miles across the area, authorities said.
The Camp Fire in northern California destroyed an entire town in less than a day and has killed at least 29 people. Authorities said it was 25% contained by Sunday morning.
The flames are being fueled by dry, hot conditions as well as strong winds.
California wildfires are becoming so frequent and pervasive that officials there say there’s almost no need for the term “wildfire season” anymore.
Three dangerous wildfires are raging in California.
The Butte County Sheriff announced on Sunday that six additional bodies were recovered, bringing the death toll of all three fires to 31 so far, and it’s expected to rise, fire officials told The Associated Press.
The Camp Fire, in northern California, started Thursday morning and quickly charred the entire town of Paradise, which is home to 27,000.
The flames grew so fast — at a pace of 80 football fields per minute — that four people were burned to death in their cars, the Butte County sheriff Korey Honea told the Associated Press. One deceased person was found near a vehicle.
Authorities announced Saturday that two people were found dead in Malibu after the Woolsey and Hill fires raged over 100 square miles of Southern California.
As of 7 a.m. PT on Sunday, the Camp Fire had burned 109,000 acres and was 25% contained.
More than 6,700 structures were destroyed. The Camp Fire is now considered the most destructive wildfire in California history in terms of the number of structures destroyed.
To the south, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, two smaller fires also started Thursday and are now creating havoc for drivers and forcing homeowners to flee. The Woolsey and Hill Fires are burning through parts of Ventura and LA counties. The flames have threatened the homes of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West and shut down stretches of the 101 freeway.
By Sunday morning, CalFire reported the Woolsey Fire had burned over 83,000 acres and was 10% contained, and the Hill Fire had burned over 4,500 acres and was 70% contained.
Inside the city limits of LA, another smaller fire broke out Friday morning in Griffith Park near the zoo. Firefighters scrambled to reach the area by helicopter since the area was not accessible by truck. The fire scorched about 30 acres before it was fully extinguished Friday.
Southern California fire officials say the flames have burned at least 180 structures. They say that number is likely to increase.
Already this year, 7,578 fires have burned across California, fueled by hot, dry conditions and aggressive winds.
Camp Fire kills at least 29 people
The Camp Fire started about 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. So far, more than 6,700 structures have burned, and thousands more are threatened.
According to the Butte County sheriff’s office, five of the people whose deaths have been confirmed were found near Edgewood Lane in Paradise, California, in or near “vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire.” The sheriff’s office was not yet able to identify those victims because of their burn injuries. Other residents ran from the fire, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the county is working with anthropologists from California State University at Chico to help identify bone fragments among ash in the area.
Fire officials told the Associated Press that 228 people were still unaccounted for in the massive wildfire.
The blaze has destroyed more than 6,700 buildings, nearly all of them homes, as it grew to 170 square miles, Cal Fire said.
Cal Fire spokesman Bill Murphy warned that gusty winds on Monday could spark “explosive fire behavior,” according to The Associated Press.
California Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Butte County because of the Camp Fire Thursday, and sent a letter to President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asking for federal assistance.
Smoke from that fire is blanketing wide swaths of Northern California in a gray haze. On Friday morning, people in San Francisco woke up to the smell of smoke and poor air quality, and some donned masks to protect their lungs.
Federal air monitors have suggested that older adults, children, teens, and people with heart and lung conditions should limit their time outside because of the high number of dangerously small pollutants in the air. The air in San Francisco right now is as bad as Beijing, CBS reported.
Hill and Woolsey fires swallow 100 square miles in Ventura and LA counties
Authorities announced Saturday two people were found dead near Mulholland Highway in Malibu Los Angeles County sheriff’s Chief John Benedict said.
The bodies were found in a driveway in celebrity-studded Malibu, The Associated Press reported. Benedict did not explain further, saying detectives are investigating.
Late Friday night, fire officials downgraded the Hill Fire to 4,500 acres burned in Ventura County, and mandatory evacuation orders are in place for people at the Point Mugu Naval Base and California State University Channel Islands, among other areas. The blaze was 70% contained as of Sunday morning.
The Woolsey Fire (the one that forced Kim and Kourtney Kardashian out of their homes) has charred 129 square miles, and CalFire said the blaze was only 10% contained as of 7 a.m. PT on Sunday.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in areas including Malibu, Topanga, and Thousand Oaks (the same city where a mass shooter killed 12 people on Wednesday), the LA Times reported.
“Imminent threat! Malibu lakes residents must leave area immediately,” the LA County fire department wrote on Twitter Friday morning.
Shortly after noon on Friday, the City of Malibu said on its website that the “fire is now burning out of control and heading into populated areas of Malibu. All residents must evacuate immediately.” LA County Sheriff’s Deputies were knocking on doors there, telling everyone in the star-studded beach town to get out.
You can view the full evacuation orders on the Ventura County Emergency Information site and the LA County Woolsey Fire site.
As a result of the blazes, 250,000 people in Ventura and LA counties had been evacuated as of Friday night, the Times said.
By Friday evening, about 75% of the Ventura County city of Thousand Oaks had been abandoned, fire officials said according to the Associated Press.
Firefighters are racing to keep flames from charring people’s homes, but as the LA Fire Department’s Eric Scott pointed out on Twitter, some houses are better protected than others, since green vegetation can help keep flames back.
On Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the two fires broke out, acting Gov. Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Read More: Why wildfire season is getting longer and stronger
The fires forced the 101 freeway to shut down in a couple different areas.
In Ventura County, a nine-mile southbound stretch from Wendy Drive to Lewis Road where the Hill Fire raged, was closed. In LA County, a section of the freeway from the Mulholland Drive/Valley Circle Boulevard exit to Reyes Adobe Road was closed to traffic both ways after flames from the Woolsey Fire jumped across the highway.
Many of the Ventura County public schools closed on Friday, as well as Pepperdine University, Moorpark Community College, California State University Channel Islands, and Cal Lutheran University.
Wildfire “season,” in California used to run from late summer through the fall, since autumn’s Santa Ana winds help blow flames around.
But as the planet heats up, unseasonably high temperatures and drought conditions are becoming more common. So fire officials in the state are succumbing to the idea that fires may not be limited to any specific season anymore.
Bryan Logan and Kelly McLaughlin contributed reporting.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Tech: The CEO of SAP spent months convincing this startup to ditch its IPO...

The CEO of SAP says of the $8 billion Qualtrics buyout: “This is the No. 1 most transformative thing I’ve ever been involved in.”
SAP announced on Sunday that it was acquiring IPO-bound startup Qualtrics for $8 billion in cash.
Qualtrics was on track for an IPO that would have valued the company at $4.8 billion in the middle of its price range.
But McDermott, who had been talking with Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith for months, was insistent, and eventually came up with an offer that the startup couldn’t refuse.
Qualtrics offers comprehensive market research and data analysis cloud software that complements SAPs offerings.
Not only is it a fast-growing company, but it was also profitable, all of which helps SAP justify its premium price.
SAP announced on Sunday that it was acquiring IPO-bound startup Qualtrics for $8 billion cash.
Qualtrics was on the verge of its IPO — it was even on its roadshow with potential investors this past week. It had expected to raise about $495 million in its IPO and at the midpoint of its $18-to-$21 price range, it would have been valued at $4.8 billion.
And the roadshow was going well, said Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith in a press conference with SAP CEO Bill McDermott on Sunday. All signs pointed to a very successful first day of trading and beyond, because Qualtrics had been cash-flow positive for most of its history even amid its rapid growth, and it was reporting a net profit, said Smith. It had earned $289.9 million in revenue in 2017, up 52% from its $190 million in revenue in 2016 and reported a net income of $2.5 million, up from $12 million in losses in 2016.
“Our IPO was going extremely well,” Smith said on the call. “We were the only show on the road last week and it was going as well as any IPO of … a cash positive high-growth company.”
“We chose to be here,” Smith said of the acquisition.
SAP Bill McDermott doubled down on the idea, saying, “Ryan is being modest. I happen to know this was going to be the most successful IPO of 2018. He’s oversubscribed.”
All of that helps to explain why SAP is paying quite a premium for Qualtrics, which was valued at $2.5 billion at the time of its last private fundraising.
The two said on the phone that SAP had been in talks with Qualtrics for “a few months,” with Smith claiming that McDermott “really chased it down.”
With Qualtrics, McDermott is buying growth in the oh-so-important cloud software market. SAP is best known for its financial software, known to the industry as enterprise resource planning (ERP). It is the world’s largest supplier of ERP software, competing with the likes of Oracle.
But SAP is also going head-to-head with just about every other big cloud software player as well, including market and sales software. Qualtrics complements SAP’s flagship offerings, the same way that LinkedIn complements Microsoft’s customer relationship management (CRM) strategy.
Qualtrics is itself the leader in online market research software. And it has been repositioning itself into a new market that Smith has dubbed “experience management.” By that, he means helping companies get a complete world of their perception and performance, as seen by customers, employees, partners, and anyone else whose opinion matters for your business.
McDermott says of the Qualtrics deal that “this is the No. 1 most transformative thing I’ve ever been involved in.”
He explained the premium price tag in a more practical matter, too. “This is less of a multiple than others in the industry have done, but it’s the largest as far as the growth that we could realize from it. We’d have to do a whole lot of tuck-ins to do what we have one in one move here.”
He is, perhaps, referring to the surprise huge acquisition in the enterprise software world of IBM’s blockbuster planned purchase of Red Hat for $34 billion. Pound-for-pound, it definitely seems that SAP is paying less than IBM did to achieve growth of its own.

Tech: America’s highways and roads are crumbling — here are the 10 states that...

Here are the 10 states that have the worst road quality in the US, as ranked by lvl5, a startup that’s building HD maps for self-driving cars.
Roads in the US need some serious help.
Even though states and the federal government spend over $400 million a year maintaining and building new roads, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 report found that 32% of urban streets and 14% of rural roads were in poor condition. Overall, US roads received a D on the study’s report card.
If roads were a pass/fail class in college, they would be failing.
On Tuesday, lvl5 — a company founded by ex-Tesla engineers that’s building HD maps for self-driving cars — dug deeper into the problem and published a list of US states ranked by road quality.
The company analyzed over 15 million photographs captured by its iPhone dashcam app, Payver, which pays users — typically Uber or Lyft drivers — up to $0.05 per mile to record their driving using their cell phone. To rank the states, lvl5 measured four distinct areas: road paint fading, pavement cracking, potholes, and surface flatness.
Think your state has the most pothole-stricken pavement in the country?
If you live in Florida, have no fear. According to lvl5, your state has the best road quality around. Hawaii had the second best roads, followed by Washington state in third place. Lvl5’s full findings can be found here.
Below, we’ve listed the 10 states that have it the worst:
10. Maine
9. New York
8. Wisconsin
7. Rhode Island
6. Illinois
5. Kansas
4. Ohio
3. Indiana
2.

Tech: Gerard Butler shares chilling photo of his home the California wildfires devastated and...

Actor Gerard Butler shared a devastating image of his Malibu home on social media, which has been destroyed by the Woolsey Fire in California.
Actor Gerard Butler shared an image of his Malibu home on social media, which the Woolsey Fire in California has destroyed.
The photo shows Butler in front of his home, which is completely burned down.
He also thanked the LA Fire Department and urged people to donate to help firefighters.
Three dangerous fires are burning across the state of California, destroying thousands of homes and lives.
Actor Gerard Butler, one of the many celebrities who had to evacuate, shared a photo of his home, which was destroyed by the Woolsey Fire in southern California that started on Thursday. His Malibu home was destroyed.
“Returned to my house in Malibu after evacuating. Heartbreaking time across California,” Butler said.
On Sunday, Butler shared a tweet about the devastation along with a chilling photo of what used to be his home:
He thanked the Los Angeles Fire Department and urged people to donate to support the “brave men and women” fighting the fires.
Read more: At least 25 people dead, thousands of homes destroyed in 3 dangerous wildfires burning across California
Butler also uploaded videos on his Instagram story that showed his former house burned down to the metal framing.
“Welcome to my home in Malibu,” he said, as smoke poured out of piles of rubble that used to be his home. “Wow.

Tech: Google’s new $150 Home Hub does a lot of things you probably don’t...

With its new Google Home Hub smart-home device, Google wants to run your life — or at least your home.
With its latest smart-home device, Google wants to run your life — or at least your home.
The Google Home Hub, which debuted last month and costs $150, is the first Google Home device with a screen. It’s intended to serve as a hub for all your smart-home devices, a place to watch YouTube videos, and a visual portal into your schedule, the weather, and nearby traffic.
Oh, and it has Google Assistant built in too.
I’ve been using the Home Hub in my home for the past few weeks, living with it and using it like my other Google Assistant products. Here’s what I’ve found.
The Google Home Hub is smaller than you think it will be.
The one thing that most surprised me about the Google Home Hub is its size. The device, which has a 7-inch touchscreen display, is less than 5 inches tall and 7 inches wide (or 188 millimeters by 178.5 millimeters). At first, its small size seemed like something of a mistake on Google’s part — after all, we’re in an era where everyone is making their displays as large as possible. But once I got the Home Hub into my home, I saw the value in making the device that size: It fits anywhere. The Home Hub has a small footprint, so it fits nearly anywhere you want it to, like a nightstand, a kitchen counter, or even on the bathroom vanity, if you’re so inclined. Plus, it’s good-looking. I’ve been testing the charcoal version, and it fits in perfectly with my kitchen, which has gray cabinets and white countertops.
Its display isn’t super high-end, but I had no issues with it.
The Home Hub has an LCD display, which is generally considered slightly inferior to the high-end OLED displays of devices like Google’s new Pixel 3 phone. That said, I’ve been impressed by the quality of the display so far. It’s bright and sharp, and everything from photos to videos looks great on it. One nice feature of the Home Hub display is the ambient EQ light sensor that lives directly above the screen. When that sensor detects it’s dark in a room, it will dim the display or shut it off. This is a nice feature if the Home Hub is in a spot like your living room and you dim the lights to watch a movie — and especially nice if you keep it on your bedside table.
I actually found myself wishing the Home Hub had a camera.
Google purposely didn’t include a camera on the Home Hub to make it more versatile. No camera means people will feel more comfortable putting it in their bedroom, or bathroom, or any other room in their home — at least, that’s what Google hopes. While that’s a noble decision, I was surprised that I found myself wishing it did have a camera, if only so I could video chat with my family. My family lives across the state from me, and two of my siblings have Pixel phones, meaning I use Google Duo, Google’s video-chat app, pretty often. The other night, I was video chatting with them and my niece and nephew while cooking dinner, and I would have loved to be able to take the call on the Home Hub sitting on my kitchen counter instead of on my phone, which was propped at an odd angle and has a pretty small screen. That said, most people probably won’t feel the same way I do. No camera means zero likelihood of a hacked camera — and more privacy for you and your family.
The Home Hub can do more than you probably need it to.
The Home Hub can do a lot of things, like play YouTube videos, show you directions, display recipes, and control your smart home. It quickly became part of my morning routine to use the Home Hub to look at my commute, my schedule for the day, and the weather. (The Home Hub will show you a visual forecast and read it aloud, which is much more helpful than just a spoken forecast from Google Assistant.) But there were a lot of Home Hub uses that I didn’t really find myself needing:
I didn’t enjoy listening to music on it. Perhaps it’s because I had a Google Home Max in the same room, but the Home Hub’s speakers sounded thin and weak compared with the impressive sound of the Home Max.
I never found the time to watch YouTube videos on it. At this stage in the game, most of us are oversaturated with screens, and the Home Hub was a prime example of that. While it can play YouTube videos, so can my phone, and I didn’t often think to turn to the Home Hub when I wanted to watch something — it was second or third on the list after my phone and laptop. I could see the Home Hub being great for people who avidly watch cooking or makeup tutorials, but I never had an instance where my phone wasn’t an easier option.
If you don’t have a maxed-out smart home, you’re wasting its potential. At first, I thought the Home Hub would be great for me because I already have several other Google Home devices in my house: the Max and two Home Minis. But they don’t require me to have a hub — they work just fine without one. I live in a pretty small apartment, and I’m not allowed to have a lot of smart-home devices, like outdoor security cameras, but I’m sure that if I had a Nest, or a video doorbell, or a security camera, or smart lighting, a hub would be a dream come true. As it is, it feels as though I’m wasting a chunk of the Home Hub’s potential.
But you can also just use the Home Hub as a smart photo frame, and that’s OK too.
The best feature of the Google Home Hub, hands down, is the ability to use it as a digital photo frame. I know, I know. Photo frames seem so mid-aughts. We’ve moved past that technology, right? Well, maybe not. What makes this Home Hub feature so great is that it pulls images of people and places you’ve preapproved from your Google Photos account. The device will automatically eliminate ones that are blurry or are of things like receipts. The photos show up when you’re not using the device — it’s one of the “ambient modes.” But you can also have the display show a full-screen clock or an art gallery. The Home Hub doesn’t just show an endless slideshow of random images. Over time, I’ve noticed the device displaying collages or side-by-side images with the same subject. I didn’t tell it to do that — it just figured out that I might like to see two photos of, say, my sister’s dog, right next to each other. I have noticed the feature gets tripped up from time to time. My niece and nephew looked very similar as newborns, and sometimes Google Assistant thinks it’s showing me a few photos of the same baby when it’s not. Otherwise, however, it’s been pretty accurate. The reason this feature has been my favorite is simple: It consistently brings me joy, and it makes the people who visit my apartment happy too. My parents and sister have all visited me in the past few weeks, and they’ve been delighted by the family photos scrolling by on the display. The Home Hub will often show me a photo I’ve forgotten about or an image from a vacation, and it makes me happy every time.
So should you buy the Google Home Hub?
There are two types of people who should buy a Home Hub: those who have a maxed-out smart home, and those who don’t yet own a single smart-home device. My reasoning with the former category is that the idea of the Home Hub is to take the hardest thing about setting up and maintaining a smart home — the countless individual apps you need to control everything — and put it in one easy-to-use location. Being able to watch a live feed from your security camera, or tapping the screen to control the lights, would be a game-changer. On the other end of the spectrum are people embarking on their first smart-home product, or their first device with a smart assistant. The Home Hub is great for that too, because it acts as a jumping-off point: You can start with the hub, then add other devices as you go. And if you learn how to use a smart speaker on the Home Hub, adding a Google Home Mini or Home Max down the line will be that much easier. I fall somewhere in the middle, and because of that, the Home Hub felt like a bit of an extravagance. I felt as if I were able to use only 50% of its capacity and that a lot of its potential use cases were wasted on me. But I can’t deny that the Home Hub made me happy on a daily basis, thanks to the Google Photos ambient mode, the on-screen weather, calendar, and traffic, and the additional nifty features, like the auto-dimming display. I even noticed that when I had a reservation at an Italian restaurant, Google Assistant adopted an Italian accent to tell me the details. For all that, $150 doesn’t seem like too big a price to pay. Note: All the photos in this review were shot with the Google Pixel 3.

Tech: 3 red states just expanded Medicaid —here’s what the midterm election means for...

The midterms will have a big impact on healthcare. Three states voted to expand Medicaid, while two others adopted new anti-abortion measures.
The 2018 midterm elections will have some big healthcare consequences.
Democrats won control of the House of Representatives while Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate. That means Washington gridlock could prevent any big legislative changes.
Also likely off the table is repeal of the Affordable Care Act or big cuts to Medicaid, which were narrowly defeated in the Senate last year.
“We continue to believe a split Congress is the best case scenario for the healthcare sector because it likely means legislative gridlock for the next two years,” Cowen analysts Eric Assaraf and Rick Weissenstein wrote in a note Wednesday. “Most notably, it likely puts Obamacare repeal efforts on the shelf until at least 2020, to the relief of hospitals and Medicaid managed care companies.”
Some of the biggest healthcare changes will likely come on the state level. Voters in three states voted to make more low-income people eligible for their state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. Democratic victories in governor races in states like Wisconsin and Kansas could lead those states to expand Medicaid, too.
Read more: Midterm key takeaways: Trump’s message flops, and Democrats set the stage for 2020
In other states, voters rejected major changes to the way healthcare is paid for and administered, and passed new anti-abortion measures. Here’s a roundup of the results.
Three red states voted to expand Medicaid.
Residents of Idaho and Nebraska voted to to broaden access to their state Medicaid programs to more low-income people, in line with actions taken by 34 other states and Washington, DC under the Affordable Care Act. A similar proposal in Utah is projected to pass, with 54% of the vote, but ballots are still being counted in the state. If voters in all three states choose to expand eligibility for Medicaid, roughly 325,000 more people could gain access to the health program, according to Avalere. In Montana, voters rejected a proposal to raise taxes on tobacco products and make Medicaid expansion permanent, with 55% opposing it. That means the state’s Medicaid expansion is scheduled expire next year.
Utah and Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana.
Several states took up the issue of both recreational and medical marijuana. In the end, Utah and Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana, while North Dakota voted down a measure that would legalize its use recreationally. Michigan, however, became the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational marijuana.
Alabama and West Virginia supported new anti-abortion measures.
Voters in Alabama and West Virginia supported measures to explicitly ban abortion in their state constitutions. Both already have abortion bans in state law as well, according to Governing.com, though the bans can’t be enforced because of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Alabama’s Amendment 2 passed with the support of 59% of voters. The tally was closer in West Virginia, where 51.7% voted for Amendment 1. Oregon, meanwhile, rejected a proposal to prohibit the use of public funds for abortion, except in cases where a doctor determines that the procedure is necessary, or in cases where federal law requires the state to pay for an abortion. The measure would have stopped the state’s Medicaid program from covering abortions for low-income women. About 64% of voters opposed the Oregon measure.
California rejected limits on payments to dialysis providers.
One of the biggest fights in healthcare went down in California. Voters there rejected a proposition that would limit the amount of money dialysis providers make, after heavy spending by the industry. About 62% of voters opposed the measure. Dialysis helps patients whose kidneys aren’t working properly filter impurities out of the blood (healthy kidneys would remove those impurities). The process can be expensive — Medicare nationally spends $34 billion a year on the treatment. If Proposition 8 had passed, DaVita, one of the largest providers of dialysis, would have lost $450 million a year, California Healthline reported. About $111 million had been raised to defeat the bill, the Washington Examiner reported. Of that, DaVita contributed $66 million while rival Fresenius has contributed $33 million. DaVita, Fresenius, and American Renal gained in the stock market on Wednesday.
Massachusetts defeated a ballot measure to limit the number of patients assigned to nurses in hospitals.
Massachusetts voters soundly rejected Question 1, which would have placed limits on the number of patients nurses are assigned in the hospital. About 70% voted against the proposal. The idea was that by limiting the number of patients, it could keep nurses from getting overwhelmed and improve care. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed the measure. “Question 1 would set a safe maximum on the number of patients nurses can treat, so that patients can receive the quality care they deserve,” Sanders said in a statement. Hospitals opposed the measure, arguing that the limit would lead to increased medical costs and less flexibility, in part because they’d need to hire more nurses.
Maine voted down a proposal to increase taxes to pay for care for seniors.
Maine voters rejected a measure that would have increased taxes to fund care for elderly people in their homes. About 63% opposed the proposal. Maine’s Question 1 would have levied a 3.8 percent tax on income above $128,400. The money would be used to pay for in-home care for all people 65 and over who need it in the state. The measure would have raised taxes on about 10 percent of Maine residents, and generated about $310 million a year, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Oklahoma, Georgia, and Nevada also had healthcare issues on the ballot.
Voters weighed in on a number of other healthcare measures across the country. In Oklahoma, the vote was too close to call on a proposal to let places like Walmart and Costco give eye exams. Forty seven other states allow the practice. Georgia passed a ballot referendum that would help nonprofits in the state provide housing for those living with mental illnesses. Nevada voters passed a proposal to make medical equipment — like oxygen tanks and wheelchairs — exempt from taxation.

Tech: Xbox will get mouse and keyboard support November 14 and ‘Fortnite’ is one...

In addition to the long awaited Xbox One keyboard and mouse support, Microsoft announced plan to acquire game studios Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment.
Microsoft announced that the Xbox One console would support mouse and keyboards on November 14, and that it was partnering with Razer to create a special line of keyboard and mouse products.
Microsoft also said it planed to acquire game development studios Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment.
Microsoft’s Xbox One console will officially get mouse and keyboard support on November 14, the company said on Saturday at its XO18 event.
Eight games including Fortnite will be ready to support keyboard and mouse support on the Xbox console in November, with several other game developers committed to support the feature after that. And Microsoft says it is partnering with gaming hardware company Razer to offer a special “Designed for Xbox” mouse and keyboard that will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Microsoft had previously said it would offer keyboard and mouse support, but it was not clear until now when the feature would arrive.
The news was among several announcements Microsoft made at the XO18 event. Microsoft also said it planned to acquire two small game development studios — Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment.
“These two creative teams will continue to operate autonomously and bring their unique talents, IP and expertise to Microsoft Studios as they build new RPG experiences for our players and fans,” Microsoft said. It did not provide financial terms of either acquisition.

Tech: ‘The Grinch’ easily wins the weekend box office, while ‘Girl in the Spider’s...

Universal and Illumination follow up their success on “Despicable Me” with a successful retelling of the holiday classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
The latest animated movie by the studio behind “Despicable Me” and “Minions” has another hit with “The Grinch.”
This most recent retelling of the classic Dr. Seuss story won the weekend box office with $66 million.
This opening bests the 2000 Jim Carrey-starring version, which had a $55 million opening.
But it wasn’t good news for “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.” The $40 million-plus reboot of the Lisbeth Salander franchise only had an $8 million opening.
It seems like everyone is already in the holiday spirit as the latest telling of the Dr. Seuss classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” took a nice bite out of the US box office over the weekend.
The most recent title from animation studio Illumination (creators of “Despicable Me,” “Minions,” and “Sing”) has definitely put a smile on Universal’s face, which releases the animation studio’s works. The movie took in an estimated $66 million to easily win the weekend.
Benedict Cumberbatch had the task of voicing the green menace of Whoville and seems to have passed with flying colors. Previously, the holiday classic was told with the ambitious live-action 2000 release, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” with Jim Carrey playing the title role.
That had a $55 million opening and went on to earn over $345 million worldwide.
Read more: Netflix’s Oscar contender ‘Roma’ will not be shown at Alamo Drafthouse in a big blow to its exclusive theatrical run
While Universal/Illumination found success dusting off a known property, Sony/MGM/New Regency didn’t have the same luck with “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”
The latest American release from the beloved Millennium book series that features the adventures of hacker Lisbeth Salander, “Spider’s Web” comes seven years after the US kickoff of the franchise with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Helmed by David Fincher and starring Rooney Mara in the Salander role, the movie opened with a soft $12.7 million opening (made for $90 million) but went on to earn a solid $232.6 million worldwide.
Sony will have to work a lot harder to make back its money this time. The revamp of the franchise with Claire Foy in the lead and Fede Alvarez (“Don’t Breathe”) directing didn’t excite audiences, as the movie only took in $8 million over the weekend (its production budget was around $40 million).

Tech: I explored the inside of a human nose and it convinced me that...

HTC VIVE announced its new headset, Vive Focus. Here’s how VR can be used for businesses and even seeing what the inside of a human nose looks like.
On Thursday, virtual reality company HTC VIVE announced its new headset called the Vive Focus, which is aimed at enterprises.
Although VR has previously mostly been used for gaming, it is quickly growing for enterprise use.
It can be used for business collaboration, training and education, such as teaching medical students about sleep apnea, showing car designers how to fix and prototype a car, and conducting remote meetings in a 3D virtual space.
As I put on a bulky white headset and adjusted it to fit my head, I found myself in a hospital room. One doctor leaned over a sleeping patient who had an air pumping device on his nose, while another was preparing tools. I felt like I was on an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Suddenly, a floating robot head appeared, explaining that we would be learning how to identify and treat sleep apnea. It guided me towards the patient’s nose, and before I knew it, I had jumped inside his nostril!
This was a simulation from SimforHealth, a French company that creates virtual reality simulations for medical students and pharmaceutical corporations. This simulation is supposed to teach medical students about sleep apnea, guiding students inside a virtual nose to show what happens to patients when they sleep. On this simulation, the inside of a nose looked like a pulsing red cave, with long, thin spikes coming out of the walls — nose hairs, I assume.
Although virtual reality is typically associated with consumers, such as for video gaming, the technology is increasingly being adopted for use in professional settings. VR and augmented reality are projected to grow to $162 billion by 2020, and more products are targeting enterprise use.
On Thursday, the VR company HTC VIVE announced its Vive Focus, an all-in-one headset that includes storage, built-in speakers and more. It’s targeted at businesses and can used for education and training simulation, including at NASA and hospitals.
What makes this hardware significant is that it’s much simpler and more portable for customers to use, says Dan O’Brien, General Manager of the Americas at HTC VIVE. Other VR headsets that only developers may use might involve expensive hardware and require users to stay in one place.
The possibilities for this are endless, O’Brien says. This could be used for surgical and medical training, like when medical students might work together to perform a virtual surgery. This could even be used for automotive design, where employees can prototype and design cars in VR, or even learn to fix cars. Innoactive, a German VR enterprise software company, had partnered with Volkswagen to create a training scenario for workers to learn to put together a car in a factory.
“Executives are understanding they can save time and money,” O’Brien said. “Their designers don’t all have to fly to Germany to meet in one room and talk about design. They can go to VR design room and talk collaboratively there.”
VR can also be used to collaborate on code. Primitive, which creates software development visualizations, created an app to review code. When I tried out this simulation, I was transported to a dark space with floating lines of code connected by a laser web — a scene almost straight out of “The Matrix.”
It showed me how different files of code were linked, and with my laser pointer, I could pull up an entire floating page of code in front of my eyes. With this application, developers can work together to review code, circle the parts they want to highlight and dig through open source projects.
“It was quite fascinating because I was not a software coder myself,” O’Brien said. “It’s also about efficiency. When I sat in and watched 5 developers get in the space together, they were having intense conversations about the code.”
Read more: How to pick out the best VR headset for you, even if you’ve never experienced virtual reality before
In addition, VIVE had also launched its own workforce collaboration tool built specifically for enterprise called the VIVE Sync. This can be used to help employees collaborate with each other in a virtual space, especially when they work remotely. Each employee’s avatar can share ideas, show presentations, import images, show videos and more all in a 3D virtual space.
In the coming months, Vive plans to launch developer kits to add to the headset so developers can create their own applications for VR. Although the buzz around VR has died down, O’Brien believes there will be tremendous growth for VR in the enterprise space.
“We see it growing at a really rapid rate,” O’Brien said. “We have seen consumer VR grow at a healthy rate. Now enterprise is growing faster than consumer.

Tech: Here’s how the new Gmail compares to the old version — and how...

Google recently updated the desktop version of Gmail. There’s new visual changes and features, but the user experience mostly remains the same. If you were dying for a change in your email status-quo, Google recently rolled out some updates to the desktop version of its popular email client, Gmail.
With the new Gmail design, you’ll find some user interface upgrades, some visual changes, and a few other additions — those who used the old Gmail will still find the new version recognizable, and it’s not a game-changing update where you’ll have to relearn everything.
But there’s some new features thanks to some additional integrations with other Google apps like Calendar, Keep, and Tasks, as well as third-party plugins.
To switch to the new Gmail version, click on the gear in the upper right-hand corner of the Gmail page, and click ‘Try the new Gmail.’ You can use the same process to switch back to the old version of Gmail as well.
Here’s how the new and old versions of Gmail compare to each other:
Here’s what the old Gmail inbox looked like.
And here’s what the new inbox looks like.
The new inbox has three ‘views’ — default, comfortable, and compact. Upon first glance, the new inbox doesn’t look much different from the old one. However, there are a few additions that are meant to improve your experience within the app. On the right side of the screen, there’s now an area for plugins. By default, Google has included Calendar, Keep (a note-taking app), and Tasks. These have been included so you don’t have to keep tabbing out of your email to check things like upcoming meetings on your calendar, or to look at any important information in your notes or tasks.
Here’s a preview of what the ‘default’ view would look like.
This view will show the names and file types of any attachments in the email below the subject line.
And ‘comfortable’ view.
This view will only show whether or not there’s an attachment, and is slightly more compact than default view.
And finally, ‘compact’ view.
This view is the most compact, hence the name, and will show the most emails per page in your inbox.
Here’s what the Calendar integration will look like, located at the right side of the screen.
Now you don’t have to switch tabs to see what’s coming up on your Google Calendar.
Under the Calendar, you can keep track of your notes with Keep.
You can import your notes from any other device that you use the Keep app with.
Finally, here’s the Tasks integration.
You can also choose to add third-party plugins from the G Suite Marketplace to Gmail.
You can add more plugins by clicking on the ‘plus’ sign on the right side of the screen, underneath the three integrated Google plugins.
You can now choose to archive, delete, mark as read/unread, or ‘snooze’ emails in your inbox, by clicking on one of the icons on the right.
You can pick a specific date and time for the ‘snooze’ effect to end.
You can also collapse the menu on the left side by clicking the three bars next to the ‘Gmail’ icon at the top left.
This lets you have more space for your inbox, while still retaining the menu icons to navigate through different folders.
You can also send messages in ‘confidential mode,’ which adds some extra security to your messages.
People you send emails to in confidential mode won’t be able to forward, copy/paste, download, or print your email. However, if you really need to send something securely, you probably shouldn’t be using Gmail for that in the first place.
The verdict: There’s really not much of a reason to keep using the old Gmail.
The improvements are minor, but this wasn’t intended to be a dramatic overhaul of the Gmail platform. It’s definitely convenient to be able to check your calendar, notes, and tasks all within your Gmail tab — and that means two fewer tabs that you would have needed to open. The inbox does look noticeably different, but barely. It is nice to be able to see exactly what attachments are in your inbox, but I found that it adds more clutter and chose to use the ‘comfortable’ inbox view. So the biggest reason to switch is probably the plugin integration — other than that you’re not missing much. And if you switch over and decide you don’t like the change, you can easily switch back to the old Gmail.

Tech: Google once rejected this founder for a job — but then went on...

Pointy partnered with Google to help bricks-and-mortar retailers compete with Amazon to show what they have in stock online.
Irish entrepreneur Mark Cummins is the founder of Pointy, a startup that helps bricks-and-mortar retailers show what they have in stock online.
Cummins is a serial entrepreneur and sold his first startup, visual search app Plink, to Google in 2010.
Ironically, he was rejected for a job at Google years earlier as a graduate from Oxford University.
Pointy has announced a major partnership with Google and has won investment from the founder of Google Maps.
The startup says it has signed up thousands of US retailers.
LISBON — As an engineering and computer science graduate from the University of Oxford, Mark Cummins fancied his chances of landing a job at Google.
Oxford is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and ranks highly on global league tables for computer science. Cummins had graduated top of his year from Balliol College and, as he put it, “thought I had a pretty good CV.”
Cummins filed his application and, like any Oxbridge graduate with a top-tier degree, expected the offers to roll in.
“I didn’t even get a phone call,” he told Business Insider during an interview at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon. “I had a back and forth with a recruiter, but I never really understood it.”
Cummins had the last laugh. Five years later, Google would go on to buy his first startup. And a few years after that, Google would also be integral to the success of his second.
Mark Cummins’ first startup was Plink, an app that recognised artwork
After several more job rejections, Cummins opted to stay at university and do a PhD in the then-unfashionable area of robotics and machine learning. This was before breakthroughs like DeepMind’s AlphaGo made AI sexy again, and the entire field of learning was still emerging from a second “AI winter.”
The interest in robotics provided the germ of a startup idea. Cummins was working on place recognition for robots for his thesis, specifically around how they process images to determine their location.
“My PhD work was on a robot [that] would collect images as it drove along to determine: ‘Have I come back to a place I’ve been before?’” Cummins explained. “The first iPhone had just come out, the first Androids were just coming out, and mobile was just starting to take off. I thought, this seems interesting, maybe we can do something with photo matching, so we launched a company around that.”
The company, Plink, was a kind of Shazam for art. Users would photograph a piece of artwork, and the app would identify it. The app garnered 50,000 users in its first six weeks and Cummins and his cofounder, James Philbin, won $100,000 during an Android Developer Challenge. That brought the app to the attention of Google, Cummins’ one-time dream employer.
Google began courting the startup and the young Oxford founders ended up meeting senior execs at the time, such as Android product spokesman Hugo Barra and Google+ architect Vic Gundotra. They impressed the top brass enough to field an offer.
The pair accepted what Cummins described as a life-changing amount of money, and took jobs within Google. While Plink’s consumer app shut down, its technology ended up being used in several Google image recognition services, such as Google Lens and Google Photos.
Cummins hit on his second startup idea while working at Google
Three years later, Cummins had moved to Australia and was still working for Google. He had an inkling for his second startup when he realised there were still elementary questions the search engine couldn’t answer for users.
Specifically, he was drinking craft beer at a party one night, and then wasn’t able to find a nearby shop that sold the same brand. “Where’s the nearest store that has this product available? It seemed like a basic question,” Cummins told Business Insider.
The problem is that most small local retailers don’t bother to log all the inventory they have. Their cash registry, as Cummins put it, can “look like it’s from a Western.” There’s no way for consumers to know for sure whether a local shop is selling an item they need — and so they turn to Amazon and deprive the smaller retailer of valuable footfall.
Cummins began nosing around small retailers in Australia, asking what it would take for them to upload their inventory and make it searchable online. He concluded that some hardware would be required and set about looking for another technical cofounder.
Philbin, his Plink cofounder, had a young family and was not available. Cummins rang up another old friend from his Oxford days, Charles Bibby, a sailing expert who was in the middle of a yearlong sailing trip around the Mediterranean.
Bibby found the vision so compelling that he cut the trip short after three months and sailed home to start Pointy.
Pointy helps people find what their local shops have in stock
The end result is the Pointy box, a small device that looks a little like a 9-volt battery.
It plugs into a retailer’s barcode scanner and logs items as they’re being scanned for purchase. Eventually, Pointy’s software logs what a retailer is selling and can take a good guess as to when it’s out of stock.
That information is then listed online on a dedicated page hosted by Pointy, so anyone trying to find a local shop that sells, for example scotch tape, can click on a Pointy link and see whether it’s available nearby.
While it’s easy to see on Google when your local hardware store is open, it’s currently quite difficult to check what it might have in stock. “It’s not ecommerce, it’s more about driving footfall,” said Cummins.
The box costs $499 for US retailers. Pointy also offers to place local ads for retailers on Google, and takes a slice of the ad revenue.
It feels like a strange decision to focus on bricks-and-mortar stores in the age of Amazon, but Cummins argues that online shopping only accounts for 10% of US commerce. The majority of the population still prefers to a trip to a local store when they need something.
Cummins says that Pointy “ranks very well” on Google. And over the summer, the startup announced a partnership with search firm that means product information appears on the “knowledge panel” in search and Google Maps.
To date, the firm has raised $19 million from Vulcan Capital, Polaris, Boston Ventures, LocalGlobe, Seedcamp and well-known angels such as Google Maps founder Lars Rasmussen, TransferWise cofounder Taavet Hinrikus, and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. It is headquartered in Dublin — Cummins is Irish — and manufactures the Pointy box in Ireland.
For now, Pointy is focused on persuading retailers to adopt its technology. Cummins says that 1% of all US retailers are on board, citing US Census Bureau statistics. That amounts to around 10,000 US retailers. It also has some pickup in its home market and across the UK.
On the consumer side, it looks like the startup is pretty reliant on Google — which is fine, as long as the firm plays ball and integrates Pointy’s data into its search results. The current partnership is a blessing, but the startup might need to branch out to defend its turf. Cummins says Pointy plans to build out its offering so that retailers can do more than just have a store page online, but he wouldn’t give any further detail at this point.
And could another Google acquisition be in the offing? Cummins said his former employer came sniffing around to be involved with Pointy early in its development, but gives a firm denial that there might be a buyout. “There’s nothing on the cards,” he says.

Tech: At least 11 people dead, thousands of homes destroyed in 3 dangerous wildfires...

Dangerous wildfires are raging in California. The Camp Fire has charred 90,000 acres, the Hill Fire burned 6,000, and the Woolsey Fire scorched 35,000.
California is dealing with several dangerous wildfires. The Woolsey and Hill fires are burning on the outskirts of LA, and the Camp Fire in northern California destroyed an entire town in less than a day.
Authorities said at least nine people were killed by the Camp Fire, which remained at only 5% containment as of early Saturday.
Two people were found dead Saturday in Malibu after the Woolsey and Hill fires stretched more than 100 square miles across the area, authorities said, bringing total fatalities across the fires to 11.
The flames are being fueled by dry, hot conditions as well as strong winds.
People in San Francisco, more than 170 miles from the Camp Fire, woke up to a hazy sky and extremely poor air quality.
Another small brush fire started Friday morning near the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park, and quickly scorched three acres.
California wildfires are becoming so frequent and pervasive that officials there say there’s almost no need for the term “wildfire season” anymore.
Three dangerous wildfires are raging in California.
The Camp Fire, in northern California, started Thursday morning and quickly charred the entire town of Paradise, which is home to 27,000. The flames grew so fast — at a pace of 80 football fields per minute — that four people were burned to death in their cars, the Butte County sheriff Korey Honea told the Associated Press. One deceased person was found near a vehicle.
According to the sheriff, the department has received 35 missing persons reports. So far, at least nine people have died as a result of the Camp Fire. In addition to those found in or near a vehicle, one person was found inside a home.
Authorities announced Saturday two people were found dead in Malibu after the Woolsey and Hill fires raged over 100 square miles of Southern California.
As of 6:00 a.m. PT, the blaze had burned 90,000 acres in just over 24 hours and was 5% contained.
More than 6,700 structures were destroyed. It is now considered the most destructive wildfire in California history in terms of the number of structures destroyed.
To the south, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, two smaller fires also started Thursday and are now creating havoc for drivers and forcing homeowners to flee. The Woolsey and Hill Fires are burning through parts of Ventura and LA counties. The flames have threatened the homes of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and shut down stretches of the 101 freeway.
Inside the city limits of LA, another smaller fire broke out Friday morning in Griffith Park near the zoo. Firefighters scrambled to reach the area by helicopter since the area was not accessible by truck. At 4:30 p.m. on Friday, the fire was 60% contained.
Southern California fire officials say the flames have burned at least 150 homes. They say that number is likely to increase.
Already this year, 7,578 fires have burned across California, fueled by hot, dry conditions and aggressive winds.
Camp Fire claims at least 9 lives
The Camp Fire started about 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. So far, more than 6,700 structures have burned and thousands more are threatened.
According to the Butte County sheriff’s office, five of the people whose deaths have been confirmed were found near Edgewood Lane in Paradise, California, in or near “vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire.” The sheriff’s office was not yet able to identify those victims because of their burn injuries. Other residents ran from the fire, the Sacramento Bee reported.
California Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Butte County because of the Camp Fire Thursday, and sent a letter to President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asking for federal assistance.
Smoke from that fire is blanketing wide swaths of Northern California in a gray haze. On Friday morning, people in San Francisco woke up to the smell of smoke and poor air quality, and some donned masks to protect their lungs.
Federal air monitors have suggested that older adults, children, teens, and people with heart and lung conditions should limit their time outside because of the high number of dangerously small pollutants in the air. The air in San Francisco right now is as bad as Beijing, CBS reported.
Two found dead as Hill and Woolsey fires swallow 100 square miles in Ventura and LA counties
Authorities announced Saturday two people were found dead near Mulholland Highway in Malibu Los Angeles County sheriff’s Chief John Benedict said. Benedict did not explain further, saying detectives are investigating.
Late Friday night, fire officials downgraded the Hill Fire to 4,500 acres burned in Ventura County, and mandatory evacuation orders are in place for people at the Point Mugu Naval Base and California State University Channel Islands, among other areas. The blaze was 15% contained as of 6:15 a.m. local time Saturday.
The Woolsey Fire (the one that forced Kim and Kourtney Kardashian out of their homes) has charred 35,000 acres, the AP reported Friday evening, and the LA County Fire Department said the blaze was still 0% contained as of 6:15 a.m. PT Saturday. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in areas including Malibu, Topanga, and Thousand Oaks (the same city where a mass shooter killed 12 people on Wednesday), the LA Times reported.
“Imminent threat! Malibu lakes residents must leave area immediately,” the LA County fire department wrote on Twitter Friday morning.
Shortly after noon on Friday, the City of Malibu said on its website that the “fire is now burning out of control and heading into populated areas of Malibu. All residents must evacuate immediately.” LA County Sheriff’s Deputies were knocking on doors there, telling everyone in the star-studded beach town to get out.
You can view the full evacuation orders on the Ventura County Emergency Information site and the LA County Woolsey Fire site.
So far, there are no reported injuries or deaths from either of the Southern California fires. But as a result of the blazes, 250,000 people in Ventura and LA counties had been evacuated as of Friday night, the Times said.
By Friday evening, about 75% of the Ventura County city of Thousand Oaks had been abandoned, fire officials said according to the Associated Press.
Firefighters are racing to keep flames from charring people’s homes, but as the LA Fire Department’s Eric Scott pointed out on Twitter, some houses are better protected than others, since green vegetation can help keep flames back.
On Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the two fires broke out, acting Gov. Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Read More: A California wildfire just demolished an entire town and forced the Kardashians to evacuate. Here’s why wildfire season is getting longer and stronger.
The fires have forced the 101 freeway to shut down in a couple different areas. In Ventura County, a nine-mile southbound stretch from Wendy Drive to Lewis Road where the Hill Fire raged, was closed. In LA County, a section of the freeway from the Mulholland Drive/Valley Circle Boulevard exit to Reyes Adobe Road was closed to traffic both ways after flames from the Woolsey Fire jumped across the highway.
Many of the Ventura County public schools closed on Friday, as well as Pepperdine University, Moorpark Community College, California State University Channel Islands, and Cal Lutheran University.
Wildfire “season,” in California used to run from late summer through the fall, since autumn’s Santa Ana winds help blow flames around. But as the planet heats up, unseasonably high temperatures and drought conditions are becoming more common. So fire officials in the state are succumbing to the idea that fires may not be limited to any specific season anymore.
Ellen Cranley contributed reporting.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Tech: A former Google employee has written a hilarious survival guide for women: how...

The book was inspired by true stories from the Sarah Cooper’s own Google career, as well as her friends and co-workers. And it’s hilarious.
Former Google employee turned comic Sarah Cooper has help for women in tech with a new book called “How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings.”
The book is, of course, a satirical look a corporate life for women. And it’s hilarious.
Still, the author tells Business Insider, it was inspired by true stories from her own Google career, as well as her friends and co-workers.
Sarah Cooper is like the anti-Sheryl Sandberg
Instead of telling women to “lean in,” the former Google employee is offering more practical advice for women in tech with her new book, called ” target=”_blank”How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings.”
“Ambitious women are scary. In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they’re not perceived as pushy, aggressive, or competent,” the book’s promotional materials explains. Chapters include “How to be harassed without hurting his career” and “How to bring your true self to work and then hide it completely.” Each chapter ends with a list of “inaction items.”
Behind the humor there is, of course, a serious message.
“‘How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings’ was sparked from all the things I did at Google to seem more likable and approachable, like being less direct with feedback and using all those smiley faces in my emails, as well as the double standards I saw between my male and female coworkers,” she said.
Read more: One of Google’s new sexual harassment policies could be the key to changing all of Silicon Valley’s bro culture
It was inspired by a blog post she wrote called ” target=”_blank”9 Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women” which went instantly viral with “many women writing to tell me they experienced the same thing,” she said.
That post has become part of the book. It offers such gems as: “If a male coworker steals your idea in a meeting, thank him for it. Give him kudos for how he explained your idea so clearly. And let’s face it, no one might’ve ever heard it if he hadn’t repeated it.”
The stories and illustrations in the book are sometimes fictionalized, sometimes not, but all inspired by real incidents experienced by Cooper, her friends, and her co-workers.
‘I got free food and lots of free material’
After spending five-plus years as a woman in tech working her way up to a manager position at Google, Cooper had plenty of inspiration for the book and her new career as a comedian. She’s best known for her previous book, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings and for her blog, The Cooper Review.
Although Cooper also did a short stint at Yahoo, both books and much of her blog was mainly inspired by Google, she told Business Insider.
“At Google, I got free food and lots of free material,” she said.
Beyond giving women in tech a much-needed laugh, Cooper hopes to let women know that, no, they aren’t imagining it.
That’s a super helpful message in today’s #MeToo world. It is particularly potent given the recent uproar at Google as the company comes clean over how it has dealt with various sexual harassment incidents.
A Non-Threatening Women’s Foundation
We asked Cooper if she considered reaching out to Sandberg with a copy of the book. Sandberg is, of course, the former Googler, now COO at Facebook, who is famously leading today’s renewed feminist movement seeking gender equality in the workplace.
Cooper tells us she didn’t send the book to Sandberg, but if she ever gets a chance to hang with her, “I’d like to hear how much she leans back after leaning in, and then leans in again, and then has to lean back again, and if it’s good workout for her abs.”
We also asked her if she would model her book after Lean In organization and start a Non-Threatening Women’s Foundation, with meetups and support circles.
“Yes I’d love to start a non-threatening woman’s foundation where we’d probably spend all our meetings just apologizing to each other,” she quipped.